“Should we again break thy commandments and join in affinity with the people of these abominations, would you not be angry with us till you have consumed, so that no remnant nor escaping?”
The hand of Almighty God had revealed His majesty and power over all flesh as He moved and turned the hearts of the kings of Persia, Cyrus and Darius, Ahasuerus, the king of the Chaldeans and Artaxerxes, king of Persia, to be gracious to His people Israel. They had been granted permission to return, as many as God had impressed to return, “with all them whose Spirit God had raised to go up to build the house of Yehovah which is in Jerusalem” (Ezra 1:5). Many adversities and obstacles were encountered along the way and over many years yet all things were orchestrated according to the good purpose of the will of God. Even when the adversaries of Yehovah were raised up in opposition of the work and made accusations of treason against His little flock, the power and authority of the Sovereign God in, through and over all events was manifestly demonstrated. Yehovah God put it in the heart of these kings to beautify His house which was in Jerusalem, to provide for His people and to protect them along the way. He extended mercy to His elect servant (Ezra) in the presence of the king, his counselors and his mighty princes and His hand strengthened as he gathered together the chief men out of Israel to undertake this daunting task (8:27f).
What a glorious sight it must have been to see the armada of men and materials, garnished with the letters from the king, returning again to the land from whence God had marched this very people into captivity not seventy years earlier. The promise of the Law of God in covenant with the nation of Israel was that a man must live by that law and keep it without fail or deviation lest the condemnation of the just demands fall upon him. The law was symbolically broken before the nation received the tablets of stone as Moses shattered them on the rocks when the people rose up to play (Ex. 32:6). This signified that Adam could never keep the law and therefore he could never obtain mercy in the sight of God for “by the deeds of the law shall no flesh be justified in His sight” (Rms. 3:20).
So it came to pass as no surprise to God that the nation of Israel, in deference and rebellion to His commandments, adopted and embrace the abomination of the nations which caused their desolation. But this was not the end for within that natural entity called the nation of Israel, as a treasure hidden in a field, was the remnant according to grace. God showed forth His long suffering and mercy as He brought them forth out of captivity in the appointed time and in a manner most contrary to the logic or contrivances of Adam.
God raised up His servant, Ezra (helper) who was the son of the ‘power of Yah’ (Seraiah), who was the son of ‘my help is Yah’ (Azariah) who was the son of ‘my portion is Yah’ (Hilkiah), unto whom His hand caused him to “prepare his heart to seek the law of Yehovah and to do and to teach, in Israel, statutes and judgments” (Ezra 7:10). God assigned him a task that he and been properly prepared for, being “a ready scribe” (skilled learned man) and, at the appointed time, he came forth, gathered the people together and the temple was rebuilt; “not by might nor by strength but by My Spirit saith Yehovah of Hosts (Zech. 4:6). The men who had seen the glory of Solomon’s temple wept as the foundation was laid for this second edifice and the Spirit of prophesy proclaimed that; “the glory of this latter house shall be greater than the former, saith Yehovah of hosts and in this place will I give peace” (Hag. 2:9).
The Word of the Lord spoke not of buildings of earth and stone fashioned by the labour and hands of sinful polluted man but He spoke of the Temple of God, His body, that New Jerusalem. In this tabernacle dwells nothing that is unclean or defiles and because of His faithfulness His people, the Israel of our God, have peace with God. This is the tabernacle of God with man, His beautiful Bride in whom there is neither spot nor blemish.
“The people of Israel and the priests and the Levites have not separated themselves from the people of the land…” (Ezra 9:1)
The power and wondrous work of God was being displayed in plain view for all the nations to see. He had made known His salvation, His righteousness He openly displayed in the sight of the nations (Ps. 98:2) and yet the very people He came to deliver could not separate themselves from the natural lusts of the flesh. His law had commanded that there be no fraternizing with the people of other nations. There were to be no alliances, no confederacies and no marriages lest the people of the land should draw away the sons of Jacob when they rose up to worship their gods and burn incense to their idols (Deut. 7:2). As the Word of the Lord proclaimed, so it came to pass and in the midst of their being carried into captivity, the nation of Israel not only carried the same false gods and idols into the land of Babylon but they continued to make affiliation in the land of ‘confusion by mixing’ (Babylon). The very people, whose hearts were made willing and whose arms were strengthened for the work, 42,300 in total (“besides their servants and maids 7,337 in total”) had not obeyed the Lord and sought to hide their condition from Him. There were strangers living amongst the nation of Israel of subjugation, fear, humanisms, desecration, an entrenched, tribal people of their father (9:1) who spoke with great swelling words of lust (II Pt. 2:18) and loved to be heard for their much speaking (Matt. 6:7).
When the servant of God heard these things he was astonished and prayed unto the Lord for forgiveness. He was not advising God of something that had slipped through the cracks or had passed un-noticed in God’s predestination of all things. He was ashamed and “blushed to lift up my face to thee, my God, for our perversities are increased over out head and our guilt is grown up to heaven” (9:6). The nation of Israel, the kingdom of heaven, was likened unto a grain of mustard seed, which a man took and cast into his garden, and it grew and waxed a great tree and the fowls of the air lodged in the branches of it (Luke 13:18f) and Ezra was made prostrate before His God in confession of his sin. He made intercession for the nation, not for the sin of the other people but for the corporate sin of all His people. Ezra, as a type of Christ, acknowledged that “we cannot stand before thee because of this” (9:15).
When it pleases God to reveal the commandments to His people, every man in his order, they are brought low and abased at their guilt and shame. When He causes them to pass under the rod to come to His Holy mount, when He brings them forth out of the kingdom of darkness and reveals the kingdom of light, then His people remember their ways and all their doings in Adam and they loathe themselves for their defilement (Ez. 20:43). When the Spirit of truth manifests the corruption of the flesh and the bondage of sin, the children of light groan within because of the abominations committed in the body of this death (Ez. 6:9). This is because the incorruptible seed is of the same Holiness of God and cannot behold iniquity , but He does not leave His people in this condition. He reveals His mercy to them and enlightens them to the fact that He has afore prepared this earthen vessel unto glory. He has cleansed them from this unrighteousness and turned unto them a pure language that they may call upon His name and serve Him with one consent. In that day they shall no more be ashamed for all their doings, wherein they have transgressed against God for He will take away them that rejoice in pride and they shall no more be haughty because of His Holy Mountain (Zeph. 3:9ff).
Ezra was not intimating in any way that the remnant according to grace had sinned against God for that is IMPOSSIBLE. Those who are born from above are of an incorruptible seed and cannot commit sin because His seed remains in them. Therefore they cannot sin because they are born of God (I John 3:9). The Bride of Christ has never been tainted with sin for She is One as her Beloved is One and there is no shadow of turning in Him. She stands as His Beloved in His eternal love and because of His immutability so She cannot change. He has loved Her with an eternal love and nothing can separate Her from that love. She has never embraced sin nor darkness, yet She became partaker of flesh and blood of Adam. She became subject to the vanity of this world and the bondage of corruption in Adam, not willingly but by reason of the One who subjected the same in hope (Rms. 8:20). This Adam is the earthen vessel formed from the dust of the earth, or Canaan, that constitutes the stranger among the people. Neither the people of Israel, nor the priest nor the Levites can or ever will be able to separate themselves from the strangers among them until such time as the tabernacle of this dwelling be dissolved, but this is not a license for complacency.
“...there assembled unto him a great congregation out of Israel of men and women and children for the people wept very sore” (10:1).
Not all Israel is the Israel of our God. The whole assembly of the people, whom God raised up to return from captivity and perform the work on the temple, did not come forth unto the ‘helper’ because repentance had not been granted unto the nation. There was a select group within the nation whose hearts were pricked by the Spirit of God. These were condemned by the words of the Law and sought redress at the mercy seat of God after the ‘helper’ (Ezra) “confessed, weeping and casting himself down before the tabernacle of God”. Ezra stood in representation of this group and their sin was his sin, (though the record does not indicate that he had made these alliances or affinities with the people of the land). When his heart was moved and his guilt realized, he repented for the sin of his people which was imputed unto him and he who knew no sin was made sin of His people that they might be made the righteousness of God in Him (II Cor. 5:21).
Then arose ‘one who dwells with Yah’ (Shechaniah) the son of the ‘living God’ (Jehiel) of the eternal (Elam) sons and confessed the particular, ‘secret’ sin of the assembly gathered together with Him. He not only confessed the rebellion and guilt of the eternal sons in Adam but He proclaimed the remedy for the matter, and it was not divorce.
The Spirit of God had separated His election according to grace from those who simply call themselves of God for the purpose of confession and understanding. The eternal Son of the living God, being the fullness of the Godhead, instructed the ‘called out assembly’ of their alliance with and in Almighty God. He then directs them to identify the sin among them and to “separate yourselves from the people of the land and from the strange wives” (10:11). He did not tell them to sever the marital bonds or disown their children for no where in the Law of Moses is there any liberty granted for the divorcement of a wife because she was a stranger. He commanded them to mark the difference and make a distinction between themselves and the strangers among them.
There are many provisions for the acceptance of the stranger and a commandment to not vex or oppress the stranger among you for you were strangers in Egypt (Ex. 22:22). The stranger that sojourned among the nation of Israel was to keep the commandments and statutes of God and abandon the abominations of the land (Lev. 18:26). The people of Israel were to accept this stranger as one born among them and to love him as they loved themselves for they were strangers in Egypt (Lev. 19:34) and these strangers were to serve Yehovah God in the same manner that the natural branch abides in the vine.
Therefore, a confession by the Spirit of God, by the sons of the living God (I Jn 1:9), as to the fact that there are strangers in their midst as they sojourn here in the wilderness of this world is an acknowledgment of the weakness of the flesh, the constant and voracious desires of the natural man for the things of the earth and the acceptance of the Word of God that he is there in servitude to the will of God. God has expressly afore prepared an earthen vessel particular to the seed within, fashioned in accordance to the needs and specifications of His design unto the work He has assigned unto them to perform during the time of this habitation. The corruption and limitations of the natural man of the dust of the earth and his proclivity to the vulgar and base elements of this existence is an essential part of the time of the habitation of the child of grace. It serves as a constant reminder that our frame is dust, our desires are carnal and our understanding is finite. It causes the Spirit to groan within the tabernacle of this dwelling in earnest expectation of the manifestation of the sons of God, waiting for the deliverance from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God (Rms. 8:19ff).
“And whosoever would not come within three days, according to the counsel of princes and elders, all his substance should be forfeited and himself separated from the congregation of those that had been carried away” (10:8)
The commandment from Ezra the priest in the chamber of the ‘grace of Yehovah’ (Johanan) the son of those ‘my God has restored’ (Eliashib) was that all whose hearts did tremble at the commandments of God should be gathered together in three days according to the covenant of God. At this time the distinctions and differences of the strangers among them were to be identified and dealt with according to the law. Now if God Himself had left these strangers in the land, in the midst of the children of Israel to prove them by, why now was the servant of God telling the people of God that they could do what God did not do? He left them there as thorns and briers and, according to the good pleasure of His will, forbade and prevented the children of the inheritance from driving them out (Jud. 2:23). The ‘helper’ is not instructing the children of Adam to rise up and be like and even better than the Most High God and finish the work that He started.
These that were gathered together by this covenant after three days would inherit their substance and never be separated from the congregation but those who were bid who did not come would be cast out. After three days, those who had been delivered from the captivity, whose hearts were made contrite before the Lord, would be raised up with Shechaniah (He who dwells with Yah) the son of Jehiel (Living God) as the sons of Elam (eternity). What a beautiful representation of Christ and His ‘dead men’ that arose after three days. The rest who were bid (invited) did with one consent make excuses (Luke 14:18). These forfeited the inheritance of the land, their names were strickened from the congregation of the true Israel of God and their house was left to them desolate.
“If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us” (I John 1:8)
The philosophy of Adam is to rid ones self of the condemnation of sin and to live a victorious life without doubt or fear. Brethren, we have not so learned Christ. The natural man shall never corrupt the Spiritual inward man who delights after the Law of God. The Spirit within quickens the mortal body, working in him both to will and do His good pleasure, but He will never make the earthen vessel any more than dust of the earth. The Canaanites were put to tribute to the children of Israel (Josh. 17:13) just as the elder, natural man, Esau, serves the younger, spiritual man, Jacob (howbeit that which is Spiritual, the child of promise, is eternal but was manifest as the younger). If we say that we may overcome and banish Esau then our warfare is carnal and the opposition is of the earth. But “the weapons of our warfare (that struggle within) are not carnal but are mighty through God to the pulling down strong holds, casting down imaginations and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (II Cor. 10:4). We wrestle not against flesh and blood but are in constant objection to the Canaanites, the Philistines, the Sidonians, the Perizzites, the Ammonites, the Amorites, the Hivites, the Hittites, the Moabites and the Egyptians that dwell in our midst and seek, as did father Adam, to promote their worth and build their righteousness before God. Until such time as we are absent from this body and present with Yehovah God, we shall endure the contradiction of sin against ourselves, mindful of the fact that “the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Rms. 8:18).
“For which cause we faint not. But though our outward man perish, yet the inward is renewed day by day, because our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding, eternal weight of glory” (II Cor. 4:16).
Every child of grace is saddened and ashamed when the Spirit reveals the affiliations and alliances that the natural man enjoys. Each day the truth reveals the evil within the body of this death and the children cry out for deliverance but they continue to walk the path by faith. The Lord chastens His vessels of mercy and scourges everyone He loves with trials and tribulation which reveal the vanity of the body of this death.
Thanks be unto God that neither the actions of man nor the intents of his wicked heart can ever bring forth the wrath of God against His children for the blood of the Lamb is the propitiation for their sin. The natural instincts will continue as the outward man perishes until the natural life over and as he grows closer to the end he fights harder and harder in rebellion against the truth. But as the light of His countenance grows brighter and brighter, thus revealing the corruptions of Adam, the children of the King know they are nearer to the time when they shall be returned home to their Heavenly Father. Then shall they see the glory of the latter house, then shall they see Him in the beauty of His Holiness for they shall be like Him.
Your servant in Christ,
(Elder) Chet Dirkes
August 11, 2013