WHEN GOD TURNS
Joshua 24:20 If ye forsake the LORD, and serve strange gods, then he will turn and do you hurt, and consume you, after that he hath done you good.
Isaiah 63:10 But they rebelled, and vexed his holy Spirit: therefore he was turned to be their enemy, and he fought against them.
In all actuality God never changes. He is so perfectly glorious there is no need, nor benefit of change, regarding his being. Malachi 3:6 For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed. But in order to convey himself to human sinfulness and transgressions he makes these implications, responding in kind to that which is expressed to him. Psalm 18:25 With the merciful thou wilt shew thyself merciful; with an upright man thou wilt shew thyself upright; 26 With the pure thou wilt shew thyself pure; and with the froward thou wilt shew thyself froward.
The cloud that separated the escaping Israelites from the pursuing Egyptians clearly reveals this principle of God’s revelation of Himself. For it beamed light unto the Israelites, but darkness to the Egyptians. Therefore we read in 2 Peter 2:9 The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished: And as with the cloudy pillar, he does this at one and the same time.
We must realize the fullness of the statement of God’s holy Person as given in Hebrews 12:29; For our God is a consuming fire. For this conveys to us the glorious holiness of the Lord God! Consider this revelation of Himself to the Prophet Ezekiel in this manner. Ezekiel 1:3 The word of the LORD came expressly unto Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldeans by the river Chebar; and the hand of the LORD was there upon him. 4 ¶ And I looked, and, behold, a whirlwind came out of the north, a great cloud, and a fire infolding itself, and a brightness was about it, and out of the midst thereof as the colour of amber, out of the midst of the fire.
Of course we are more familiar with the wind representing the Third Person of the Trinity than we are of the fire expressing the gloriously holy Being of Almighty God. For it is recorded that the coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost was as a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And of the Lord’s words to Nicodemus in John 3:8 The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.
Also we know of the final requirement to bring life to the former dry bones to the Prophet Ezekiel as recorded in Ezekiel 37:9 Then said he unto me, Prophesy unto the wind, prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live. For they must have the spirit of life imparted to them for their standing before the Lord God. Yet we may not be as familiar to this matter of God being a consuming fire.
But in that coming of the Holy Spirit it is also stated that there appeared cloven tongues like as of fire. Acts 2:3 And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.
Therefore we must see that God’s appearance to the Prophet Ezekiel is seen in “a fire infolding itself.” And this brightness of infolding fire reveals to us that God is solely ‘contained’ within Himself and can only be fully perceived and understood by Himself. For that Hebrew word seen as “infolding” is elsewhere interpreted as “hath received” in Ezekiel 18:17, and as “shall accept” in Exodus 22:11. The Amplified Bible reads, “enveloping.” And the New King James Bible reads, “engulfing.” For only God himself can fully receive and accept the fullness of his pristine and immaculate glory.
This is well stated by our Lord. Matthew 11:27 All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him. And we also read: John 1:18 No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him. 14:9 Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?
Therefore we see the Lord God accommodates Himself to us in words in which we can relate. So our two verses (Joshua 24:20 & Isaiah 63:10) speak of God ‘turning.’ Yet it is actually the religionist turning from their former stated profession away from God. The Apostle Peter clearly relates this to us by revealing that in spite of their profession they never had the nature of the sheep. They were dogs and sows all the while. Therefore they were so lightly affected by the gospel that they only obtained a legal morality! They never had Christ’s imputed righteousness!
Peter informs us that by the influence of the knowledge of Christ by the preached word, they only obtained legal morality, but not that imputed righteousness! 2 Peter 2:20 For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. 21 For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. 22 But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.
And our Lord clearly revealed to us this same situation in the four types of soil upon which the word was scattered as sown seed. He states that the stony ground hearer actually has the seed to be received “with joy.” But then he turns away from the Lord due to the shallowness of his heart. Matthew 13:5 Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: 6 And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. 20 But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; 21 Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.
Therefore like fire, which is consistent within itself, God, as a consuming fire, has a twofold effect in His manifestation. For as fire both benefits and destroys, so it depends upon the pureness of the heart as to whether the Lord God purifies, or is said to turn and punish. 2 Samuel 22:25 Therefore the LORD hath recompensed me according to my righteousness; according to my cleanness in his eye sight. 26 With the merciful thou wilt shew thyself merciful, and with the upright man thou wilt shew thyself upright. 27 With the pure thou wilt shew thyself pure; and with the froward thou wilt shew thyself unsavoury. 28 And the afflicted people thou wilt save: but thine eyes are upon the haughty, that thou mayest bring them down.
Therefore the Lord calls for man to turn as he has no pleasure in their punishment. Ezekiel 33:11 Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel? But even though he calls this punishment his strange work (Isaiah 28:21), be assured that his nature as a consuming fire will manifest himself in wrath against all unrighteousness, at the same time revealing his warmth upon the righteous. Psalm 7:11 God judgeth the righteous, and God is angry with the wicked every day. Consider again 2 Peter 2:9: The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished:
For the Babylonian guards who threw the three Hebrews into the fire were killed! Daniel 3:22 Therefore because the king’s commandment was urgent, and the furnace exceeding hot, the flame of the fire slew those men that took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
But that same fire only burned off the bonds that restrained the movement of the Hebrews! Daniel 3:23 And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell down bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace. 24 Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonied, and rose up in haste, and spake, and said unto his counsellors, Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? They answered and said unto the king, True, O king. 25 He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God. 27 And the princes, governors, and captains, and the king’s counsellors, being gathered together, saw these men, upon whose bodies the fire had no power, nor was an hair of their head singed, neither were their coats changed, nor the smell of fire had passed on them.
Dear Reader, there is a vast difference between the dedicated religionist, only devoted to his traditions from the truly Spirit-born believer devoted to the Person of the Lord Christ! The former only knows God’s acts. i.e. David and the giant! Moses and the burning bush! Zacchaeus climbing up the tree. The shepherds attended by the angels announcing the birth of Christ! Saul stricken on the road to Damascus! etc..
But the truly born again believer not only knows God’s works, (for he sat on the same pews learning the same Bible lessons), but due to the Holy Spirit residing within him, he also knows God’s ways! Psalms 95:8 Harden not your heart, as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness: 9 When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my work. 10 Forty years long was I grieved with this generation, and said, It is a people that do err in their heart, and they have not known my ways: 11 Unto whom I sware in my wrath that they should not enter into my rest.
For it is not enough just to know what God did! But one must know who God is! John 17:3 And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. Philippians 3:10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;
Consider the difference in the last thing religionists shall hear, which shall determine their unalterable, eternal plight! Matthew 7:21 ¶ Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
Due to their religious morality they might have turned “from idols,” but they never turned “to God!” Both are essential! 1 Thessalonians 1:9 For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God;
Don’t be like Ephraim – like a pancake not turned in order to cook both sides! Hosea 7:8 Ephraim, he hath mixed himself among the people; Ephraim is a cake not turned. 13 Woe unto them! for they have fled from me: destruction unto them! because they have transgressed against me: though I have redeemed them, yet they have spoken lies against me. 16 They return, but not to the most High:
Hebrews 10:38 Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.
Acts 2:40 Save yourselves from this untoward (“perverse, wicked”), generation.
Pastor Gene Breed
May 27, 2023