Monday, November 19, 2012

The Desolating Law (The Gospel According to Isaiah, Part 2)

"Then said I, 'Woe is me! For I am undone, because I am a man of unclean lips and dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips! For my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of Hosts.'" Is. 6:5

Herein is the meaning behind those mysterious phrases about how "the letter kills" and works "the ministry of death" (II Cor. 3:6-7). When we catch sight of the Law, of God's holy standard, which is the substance of His quality and character, there can be no other response but despair and desolation. That standard is not simply beyond us; it is completely outside of our categories. We could not even approach such a venture, and all of our tools and plans fall from our hands as useless things. The perfections of God shatter all of our vanities and unravel all of our tightly woven self-delusions, bringing us face to face with the truth: Who then can be saved? There are none righteous. No, not one. There are none that understand. There are none who seek after God. We have all gone astray and become unprofitable. There is none that does good. No, not one. Our end is everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His might, and we will cry to the mountains and rocks, "Fall on us! And hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne!" (Luke 18:26; Rom. 3:10-12; II Thess. 1:9; Rev. 6:16).

If you would find salvation, then there is no way past this dark night of the soul. The horror of great darkness must fall upon you, for your confidences are your failures, and your strengths are your weaknesses. The foundations must be destroyed if new ones are to be laid, and is not God's word "like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces" (Jer. 23:29) and "a sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit" (Heb. 4:12)? Is not the Word Himself like a great stone, and "whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken, and on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder" (Matt. 21:42-44)? So you see, destruction and desolation are tied up into the nature of salvation, for we are not in need of rehabilitation but a revolution, a great upheaval of our being, uprooting and unknotting the fabric of our corrupt constitutions so that they made be made new. In short, when we catch sight of the heavenly vision, we are undone. We must be undone, for there can be no beginning of the new if there is not first an end to the old (II Cor. 5:17).

-Jon Vowell (c) 2012


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