“And she conceived again, and bare a son; and she said, Now will I praise the Lord: therefore she called his name Judah; and left bearing” (Gen. 29:35).
For at least the fourth time, Jacob and Leah have engaged in normal marital activity and the result, by the hand of God, was another conception. This time there appears to be no more bitterness or anger on the part of Leah and a superficial evaluation may even lend itself to what appears to be a change of heart. Leah turns her attention away from earning the love of Jacob and proposes, now, to ‘praise the Lord’. After all that she has been through at last, repentance had come and she has seen the error of her ways. She has bowed herself beneath the constant pressures and ‘longsuffering’ of the pleading god who, knocking at the door of her heart, wants nothing else but for her to open the door and shew him her love and obedience. Finally she has surrendered her will to god and desires to serve him alone. Even the conclusion of the matter, calling her son’s name “praised’, might give credence to support this supposition, but it is nothing more than a carnal maneuver to find favour with God.
Most religious institutions and people, in particular, would applaud such a demonstration and testimony of conversion as an evidence of one being, ‘born again’. Confession has been made with the mouth; the knee has bowed before the throne; the words have been sounded out in the presence of all to hear, and praise is forthcoming to God. This would immediately qualify this contrite candidate for the waters of a ritual baptism and then a warm welcome by the ‘right hand of fellowship’ into whatever organization or fellowship is available. Many long time members in good standing, having experienced the same event in their own lives, will welcome this new convert into the fold with open arms, teary eyes and faux praise to god. These events would then serve, in years to come, as a reminder or memorial for this wayfaring pilgrim who is need of reassurance of heaven. They need only to call to mind the former things works they have performed to find peace and hope for the remainder of the journey. This ‘Ebenezer’ will stand no matter what may occur through the ages as proof that they are ‘saved’ and en route to the heavenly shores because there was an event at a specific time in which, accordance with approved tried and true guidelines of Ashdod, they experienced a feeling of guilt, confessed their faults and accepted whatever was offered.
Notice what Leah says, “Now will I praise the Lord…”
Had something transpired in her natural cognitive reasoning that prompted her to conclude that it was time to begin to attempt to confess the name of Jehovah? This catalyst, the birth of the fourth child, was an event that occurred at an exact time for her, the child and the nation of Israel. Many elaborate and intricate factors had precisely come together by the hand of God at His appointed time, to the praise of His name, but this had produced a purely carnal response in Leah. As if to say, ‘it is raining so, now, I shall put on a raincoat’, Leah says, ‘now that the fourth child is born I will begin to praise God’. She, not only expected her ‘praise’ to be accepted at the throne of God, but anticipated reciprocal blessings be given her because of her actions. She was no longer ‘the victim’ trying to gain the favour of her husband. She had turned her attention to a religious endeavor on a higher plane. She was going to rise above the worries and cares of this existence and seek a nobler purpose for her life.
Does this sound familiar? According to the doctrine of the will-worshiping, work monger, conditionalists and others of sensual carnal persuasions, it does. This is what is preached from their ‘pulpits of wood’, printed in educational materials and sounded forth as ‘gospel’, saying, “Today, if you will hear his voice, harden not your heart, as in the day of provocation, as in the day of temptation in the wilderness…” (Ps. 95:7). But is this the sure sound from the trump of God?
The most essential ingredient for repentance and praise is missing, however, and that is LIFE. The attempt to persuade the mind and heart of Adam, that the time for a decision has come, in which he must choose Jesus or loose his immortal soul, is not only impossible since Adam is dead in trespasses and sin, but because no offer has been made for him to accept or reject. He can perceive neither offence nor guilt and thus no need for deliverance. He is dead to the Law of God and therefore alive unto himself and sin. His deeds are dark and he loves the darkness. If his passions be stirred within after the manner of ‘Ham’, he may be deceived, by ‘signs and wonders in the heavens’, of the events of the ‘end times’ and the calamity that follows. If his itching ears have been tingled by the enticing words of man or the wisdom of the flesh, he may respond to the personal, social or economical distress of Adams condition and seek deliverance from this ‘present evil generation’. But the natural man, Adam, cannot receive the things of the Spirit neither can he know them for they are spiritually discerned. Without the presence of the Holy Spirit and that which is born from above, there can be no life, no faith, no hope and no deliverance.
“Then said he to the multitude that came forth to be baptized of him, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee the wrath to come?” (Luke 3:7). Whenever worldly religion is preached, especially the duty faith of today, the multitudes respond in droves. The meeting houses become full as Esau seeks for an answer to the doubt and fears within. When one gives his ‘good talk’ they jump and run because one has said, ‘now is the time’. They seek the bread to fill their bellies, the social reforms for a better life in an earthly kingdom and a sense of purpose in doing and pride in accomplishing whatever the taskmasters set before them. They draw nigh with their mouths but their heart is far from the truth, having a shew of godliness but denying the truth thereof. Leah said, ‘NOW will I praise God.’ (Try the Spirits to prove if they be of God. Search the scriptures to see if these things be true.)
“God is Spirit and they that worship Him must worship Him in Spirit and in truth” (Jn. 4:24). Is then praise, stimulated by the rationale, logic or perception of man? Is the true worship of God dependent upon time or even creation itself? Do not the heavens declare the glory of the Lord and the firmament show forth His praise? Are not all His works verity and truth to the praise of the Father? Could then the greatest discourse ever presented by man, with the most elaborate oration of the wisdom of the flesh and the most exhilarating enticing words man has ever uttered to tickle the most sensitive of uncircumcised ears, bring about a spiritual response and praise unto God? Can carnal man control the Spirit of God to dictate when and where praise will be forthcoming?
The Spirit moves like the wind in His operations, upon the earth (Jn. 3:8) and only the effect of those ‘born from above’ may be detected long after His work is performed. Can natural man detect such things? “For the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit neither can he know them” (I Cor. 2:14). Can man control the wind? Can you or I say, ‘Now will I call the wind forth to do my bidding’? How then could Leah, if this be alleged to be proper worship and praise, call forth the Spirit of Holiness and say, “Now will I praise the Lord”?
God cannot change and He exists in eternity. In the beginning He created time, (Gen. 1:14), as the environment in which His unalterably irresistible will is accomplished exactly as He ordained it to be. Time is the stage on which the pageant of creation is performed. Can any actor of this presentation pick and choose a specific time when he or she deems it fit to call forth the Spirit and praise the most holy name? No! God, the creator, has set the time of the habitation of each of the actors. He alone dictates when, where and in what manner each will take the stage. He has written the custom tailored script to the specific to the particular act in the play, the exact time period of that act and to each and every actor essential to the performance. He has set the boundaries and limitation of each performer and performance, causing all actions and interactions to come to pass, for the sole purpose of bringing praise unto Himself. “For by him were all things created that are in heaven and that are in the earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones, dominions, principalities or powers: all things were created by him and for him: and he is before all things and by him all things consist: and he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the first born from the dead; that in all tings he might have the preeminence” (Col. 1:16-18).
Adam was the first actor of his kind. He had no control or command over anything. God created him and gave him dominion over the fish, the fowl, the beast of the field and every living thing upon the earth (Gen. 1:28). It was assigned to him to name the animals in the garden and God brought them to him (Gen. 2:19). His job was to subdue the earth but all this was given him from the hand of the creator, but, here is Leah who has now determined that the time is right (in reference to the birth of her child) to praise the Lord.
And what of her praise? “Now will ‘I’ praise the Lord”
When Adam ushered sin into the world by his disobedience, he died. He did not fall to the ground and expire, as we may understand death to occur in the flesh. He became dead in trespasses and sin when his eyes were opened and he knew the difference between good and evil, “And the Lord God said, Behold, man is become as one of us, to know good and evil;” (Gen. 3:22). His life was forfeited by the decree of God, through his disobedience, “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men for all have sinned;” (Rms. 5:12). Although he now knew the difference between good and evil, his offence caused every subsequent act, by he and every member of his progeny, to be tainted and polluted by reason of his inability to measure up to the standard of the Holiness of God, (sin), which dwelt within his members. He tried to make a covering for himself and his wife, (Gen. 3:7), but it was insufficient for the demands of a blood sacrifice according to Gods Holy law. He attempted to hide himself and his action from the presence of God, mindful of the consequences of his failure, (3:8), but, as David would write centuries later, “Whither shall I go from thy Spirit? Or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into the heaven, thou art there; if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost part of the sea; even there shall thy hand lead me and thy right hand shall hold me” (Ps. 139:7ff). Adam tried to justify his action by saying that Eve acted first and finally he blamed God, “The woman, whom Thou gavest with me unto me, she gave me of the tree and I did eat” (Gen. 3:12). Death had come upon him, his hands were polluted, his rationale was inferior, and his logic flawed, his methods inadequate and his desires solely carnal. He could do nothing to please God, appease His wrath or obtain His righteousness. So, again we ask, what of Leah’s praise which was brought about by the birth of her fourth son? Is this lip service in attempt to gain favour or is this holy praise unto our God in Spirit and truth?
Consider also that since God is Spirit and eternal the only acceptable worship before His throne must be eternal. John said he saw God’s angels, the four and twenty elders, the four beasts and His saints seated before His throne, in heavenly places singing praises acceptable to his name; “ and they had rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come. And when those beasts give glory and honour and thanks to Him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever, the four and twenty elders fall down before Him that sat on the throne, and worship Him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying ‘Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power; for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure are and were created” (Rev. 4:8-11).There is no time in eternity and all events are present so there can be no event in time to initiate praise. The events of eternity are ever present, before the never changing, ‘I Am’, therefore there can be no happenings that would change the status quo, for He is immutable and cannot change. Only the redeemed of the Lord, because of the finished work of the Redeemer, may say, ‘we shall praise His name forever and ever, world without end, Amen’. The Psalmist wrote, “Praise the Lord, oh my soul, and all that is within me praise His Holy name” (Ps.103:1). This praise comes from within and is generated by the Spirit of Holiness. No amount of external persuasion could stimulate or enable the natural man to utter one peep of thought, word or deed that would constitute true praise.
Leah did not have the love of Jacob and could not attain it. She also did not have the eternal everlasting Love of the Father and even her feeble attempts to lift her polluted hands to Him could not change His eternal decree. Unlike the mythological creatures of modern religion, the Lord of Hosts does not cater to the pleas for mercy from the children of man. Nor does He recognize the fleshly overtures of false praise and elaborate worship. He has no respect for people or actions. He does not re-act to them; they act according to His eternal decree to perform His will. And just as Adams fig leaves could not protect him nor his attempt to hide conceal him from the all knowing, all seeing God, so no feigned contrition, carnal obedience or false worship shall ever procure one drop of mercy form He who said, “I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy” (Ex. 33:19).
Leah is emulated by all modern religious entities. The main tenants of these groups are the doctrines that man has to come to a point in time when he is either convinced or coerced into making a decision for God. After sufficient argument and persuasion the natural mind must be brought to an understanding of his ‘state of affairs’ and the eternal ramifications of his failure to act for the procurement of the salvation of his immortal soul. He must ‘look to Jesus’ and live. He must ‘accept’ Jesus into his heart asking forgiveness for his sins in order to receive his eternal life. The Holy Spirit is ‘softly and tenderly calling, calling oh sinner, come home’. All this poor wretch needs to do is open the door of his heart and let him come in and he will come in and abide with him. This is all, like Leah, based on what man can and must do and the time to do it in; “Now will I …”
Are we inferring that there is no reaction to the work of the Holy Spirit? Banish the thought. It is the action of the Spirit of God that produces a re-action by the seed of Adam. This is cause and effect and it is not contingent upon the recipient at all. Lazarus was dead four days lying wrapped in grave clothes and, “By now he stinketh”, but when the Spirit acted upon him, he re-acted and came forth. There is a time to every purpose under heaven and when it pleased God, who had separated Saul of Tarsus from his mother’s womb, to reveal His Son, Jesus the Christ, in him, Saul re-acted. He did not accept anything but responded to the voice from above because of the Spirit within. He did not go to an anxious bench to await the assistance of a well meaning yet totally ignorant attendant. He did not join the local assembly, to be taught but rather he said, “Immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood” (Gal.1:16).
There was a definite impact of the work of the Holy Ghost upon his earthen vessel. He fell to the ground, just as those who sought to arrest the Lord in the garden, (John 18:6), and was blinded by the glory and brightness of the light. Unlike those in the garden, who fell down as dead however, Saul re-acted because of life. He had been changed, old things passed away and behold all things were new. Not of his own volition or at a time of his choosing but in the fullness of time by the hand of God, who causes all things to come to pass. Saul did not act in order to obtain mercy unto eternal life. He re-acted because God had acted upon one, created in Christ Jesus unto good works. “Let all Israel say, except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain which build” (Ps. 127:1).
God revealed His Holy Spirit to Saul because of who he was, an eternally chosen child of grace, a vessel of mercy afore (the foundation of the world) prepared unto glory, and because of that which was already within him, the Spirit of the Most High God. This is not a mere ‘cart before the horse’ scenario or a matter of perspective; it is a question of sovereignty and power. Who is He who acts out His sovereign will is sovereign wilwand who is it who obsequiously re-acts? “O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself. It is not in man that walketh to direct his steps” (Jer. 10:23).
Nor is this the so called ‘hollow log’ doctrine. (We are not sure of the origin or entomology of this phrase but this accusation it is often used as a slanderous rebuttal against those who both hold to the doctrine of the eternal seed, born from above and deny progressive sanctification. It is alleged that we mean to insinuate that there is no effect upon the flesh of Adam by the presence of the Spirit and that there is a complete separation between the inward man and the outward man, such as a rabbit in a hollow log. Time and space does not permit discussion of these deep subjects and we are not sufficient to enter into such a discourse.) We emphatically affirm that that which is flesh shall never be Spirit and that which is Spirit shall never be flesh. Thus we ask, the earthen pots which Gideon’s army prepared to conceal the torches as they surrounded the host of the Midianites, (Judges 7), were they not made brittle from the heat of the torches within and were thereby made easier to break at the appointed time? The Glory of the Light within, which represents Christ in you the hope of glory, had an effect on the outward image, fashioned from the clay of the earth, which is Adam. It was a deteriorating effect and the only way the true light shown forth in power and glory was when the flesh, the earthen pot, was completely broken and fell back to earth, from whence it came (Gen. 3:19).
Is this warfare, which Paul speaks of in Romans chapter 7, not caused by the presence of the inward spiritual man, who delights in the law of God? And does not this new man manifest the evil in the members of the old man (Adam), which war against the law of his mind? The presence of the Spirit caused Paul to cry out, ‘Oh wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death?’ (7:24).
And lastly, but in no way finally, is not the branch which is taken away when the bearing of fruit is concluded, an essential component, according to Gods determinate counsel and foreknowledge, in the development of the fruit (Jn. 15:2), as the field for the seed (Mat. 13:23)?
BUT! The pots did not cause the lights, the natural man does not enhance the inward man, the branches do not produce the fruit and the field did not give life to the seed. That which is flesh is flesh and that which is Spirit is Spirit and that Life does not come from the earth. It does not come by the will of man, but by the presence of the Spirit within. That which is born from above is Holy, Righteous and pure and cannot sin. That which is of the dust of the earth shall never become Spirit for from the dust Adam came forth and to the dust, he and all his children, whether a vessel of mercy or a vessel of wrath must return (Gen. 3:19).
A child of grace has, in this life, a constant desire to praise his Lord and worship Him aright. Even in his ignorance he seeks the ability and the experience of singing the glory of God and the wonders of His Majesty. He loathes the re-occurring reality of the thought and desires of the flesh which bring reproach upon the Precious Name of his Redeemer. This frustrates the child of hope as he is shown, by the Holy Spirit which dwells within, the constant proof of the inability of the flesh to perform the former and avoid the latter. Even the desire is absent in the Adamic nature for, as the Apostle Paul wrote, “For I know that in me, (that is in my flesh), dwelleth no good thing; for to will is present with me, but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would, I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do” (Rms. 7:18f). Yet with this daily struggle, the Spirit reveals unto His chosen few that worship and praise are not attributes of the nature of Adam. They are not conjured up in times of appreciation for the abundant acquisition of possessions by the ability of the arm of the flesh nor are they forthcoming in times of ease and comfort. Rather, it becomes evident by experience and the teaching of the Holy Spirit, through the growing in the grace and knowledge of his will that worship and praise usually follow after times of tribulation and sorrow. When forgiveness and deliverance are revealed, then the Spirit cries out, “Salvation is of the Lord” (Jonah 2:9). When the burden is lifted then sense of freedom and relief enables those heavy laden to properly offer the spiritual sacrifice of thanksgiving. When comfort comes as the morning rays of the rising sun, dispelling the darkness and chill of the night, then can he who has been wandering in the valley of the shadow of death, worship God aright in contrition and humility, in Spirit and truth.
The name ‘Judah’ or ‘Jehudah’, means ‘praised’ but it differs from the simple concept of a verbal acknowledgement of a person or an event. This word for praise begins with the root word for the hand and encompasses the idea of power, strength and control. It also has the concept of ‘casting forth’ like the shooting of an arrow. Like the names of all his brothers, the name Judah is a representation of cause and effect.
The root word for hand demonstrates command and authority, especially in the idea of the ‘right hand’, so that the ‘work of the hand’ is authoritative. The archer takes and holds the bow in his hand. He draws back the string which cradles the arrow that he has placed there and in accordance with his skill of his hand, he sends the arrow to the mark. His hands have compensated for the wind and distance and his aim avoids any obstacles that would interrupt the flight of the arrow. He has drawn the bow string to the proper tension to apply sufficient force to enable the arrow to reach its destination. The final resting place of the arrow demonstrates his knowledge and command of the bow and his marksmanship. Praise is forthcoming to the archer for the demonstration of the ability of his hands and a prize of either trophy or sustenance is obtained. This casting forth out of the hand leaves not only empty hands and an accomplished goal. The archer may walk throughout the town all day with bow and arrow in hand and no one take note. But when he returns with an empty quiver of arrows with his quarry in tow, there is praise for the archer, the action and the result. Jehudah!
“Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world and death by sin; so death passed upon all men in whom all have sinned:” (Rms. 5:12). Sin is the inability to measure up or to miss the mark. Man, by reason of Adam’s transgression and his eyes being opened, cannot measure up to the Holiness of God, for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God (3:23). Man has no authority in his hands nor command over the actions which he performs being completely subservient to the One who created him and his hand. Adam was not created with the ability to control anything so that no flesh should glory in the sight of God. Therefore no man can properly praise God and no flesh shall glory in His sight.
The Creator has assigned the labours of man according to His good pleasure to His praise, “I gave my heart to seek and search out by wisdom concerning all things that are done under heaven; this sore travail hath God assigned to the sons of man to be afflicted therewith. I have seen all the works that are done under the sun: and behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit” (Ecc. 1:13f). God created the hand and fashioned the bow. He is the source of all knowledge. His wisdom is as one brought up with Him from everlasting, (Pro. 8:30). He commands the wind and the waves. He has set the course of the flight of the arrow from before the foundation of the world and declared its final mark before man was formed from the dust of the earth. Therefore the wrath of man, created by God according to the pleasure of His will, shall praise Him by accomplishing His will and the remainder of wrath God has restrained (Ps. 76:10).
True praise can only be the absolute and total accomplishment of all that God has decreed. Hence the Son came forth not to do His will but the will of Him who sent Him. He became a partaker of flesh and blood, in the same manner as His children did, in a body prepared by the Father for Him and was fashioned after the image of sinful man. The Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace, made Himself of no reputation and took on Him the form of a servant and humbling Himself, became obedient to the righteous demands of His Holy Law. His hands were full (consecrated) of the service of the ministry of the sanctuary, which is the ministry of reconciliation, whereby He reconciled the world unto Himself, (2 Cor. 5:18), and not one jot or tittle fell to the ground until all was accomplished, (Mk. 13:31). When He said “It is finished”, His hands were empty, save for the nails which held Him to the cross, having the names of His children, indelibly engraven, in the palms of His hands (Is. 49:16). God looked and saw that there was none righteous and none that sought after Him, therefore, He brought salvation to Himself by His right hand and His Holy arm, (Ps. 98:1). He alone has the power to hit the mark and the Holiness to measure up to the Beauty of His Holiness.
How presumptuous for Leah to say, “Now will I praise the Lord”.
(To be continued, Lord willing)
(Elder) Chet Dirkes
Banner of Hope
Volume 3, No. 1