- The term ‘reaction’, as employed in these
chapters, means that acting-again on the part of God
when that which ostensibly represents Him no longer
truly represents Him, either vitally or adequately.
He reacts AGAINST what is merely ostensible and FOR
what is living and wholly according to His mind.
two things which we need to keep very clearly before us.
These two things, as we put them, may seem to contradict
one another or be paradoxical.
1. All the
way through the ages, God has constantly done a new
2. That which, from man’s standpoint, has always
been God’s new thing, from His own standpoint has
not been new at all.
unto God are all his works from the beginning of the
world”. (Acts 15:18)
“The works were finished from the foundation of the
world”. (Hebrews 4:3).
In all His
fresh activities and revelations, God is working backward
to an original position and design. God never leaves His
This is a
far more important truth and law than may at first be
recognised. It carries with it these three things:-
1. God has before Him all the time the finished and
completed thing, and He knows exactly, to a detail, what
2. He must and will have that. He cannot be denied it,
and He will never give it up or take less.
3. Whenever there is a deviation from or a falling short
of it there will be a Divine reaction, and God will begin
again, somewhere, somehow. A hurried survey of these
reactions through history will both establish the fact
and bring out the nature and features of that upon which
He has set His heart and which He is determined to have.
The earlier instances and forms are very simple, but the
greater truths and principles are there, either patent or
first deviation - that of Adam and Eve - has taken place,
the reaction of God is through Abel and his altar. That
altar stands for the securing for God of His rights in
creation – in man and the earth. While Cain offers
the fruit of the earth and of his own effort, he ignores
the curse resting upon all such, and he with his offering
is rejected. God’s seal is upon Abel’s way. The
elements are these:-
1. God has a right to all.
2. God can and will only have that without the trace of
the curse in it.
3. In order to remove the curse, the cursed thing must be
destroyed in death, in either an actual or a
representative living form; and a new life must emerge
over which death has no power.
4. Fellowship with God is thus, and only thus, possible.
to Noah the deviation becomes more intense and
deliberate. The earth - which is the Lord’s - is
taken possession of by man for his own ends. God reacts
to this in the deluge. Emerging from the judgment, Noah
builds an altar and offers sacrifice, and in so doing
declares, in intent and effect: “The earth”
(the renewed earth) “is the Lord’s, and the
fullness thereof” (Ps. 24:1). Again God gets His
rights - PROPHETICALLY - through death and
resurrection. But all too soon deviation sets in again.
Even Noah is a part of it and fails.
built and cursed, and under that curse men are scattered
to the four corners of the earth. Enoch breaks a long
line of death and darkness, as God’s reaction. Then,
when, it would appear that the testimony has disappeared
from the earth, there is another Divine reaction and
Abraham is apprehended. With Abraham, while the old
elements reappear, new ones appear. The features of his
1. Revelation. - Vision.
2. A walk of faith. - Relationship.
3. A country. - The Instrument.
4. An altar. - The Basis.
5. Conflict. -The Challenge.
6. A covenant. - The Assurance.
7. A city. - The ultimate Object.
8. Death and Resurrection. - The Method.
factors are elemental and eternal, and behind all
historical, typical, symbolic, or earthly presentations,
spiritual realities persist unto a universal realisation.
Isaac comes in, not as a separate breaking in of God, but
to give special prominence to the method by which
everything has its fulfilment. In his very being he is
death and resurrection, and, as such, the way by which
human limitation is changed for universal expansion and
realisation (Genesis 22:16-17). There are other elements
in his life which foreshadow the intentions of God - such
as his marriage with Rebekah.
reaction of God comes with the growing up of Jacob and
Esau. These were twin brothers, and represent two halves
of a whole; two developments from a spiritual origin; two
histories from a holy beginning. Esau takes the earth
course, the course of the world and the flesh. Heavenly
callings and inheritances are obscured by temporal
interests, pursuits, and fancies. The gratifying of the
soul life in its earthward relationship is the limit of
his horizon. Jacob becomes the type of that which
receives the heavenly calling and vision, and passes
through the experience of the withering of the flesh to
be a spiritual instrument in relation to a heavenly
purpose. With Jacob there is a still further introduction
of Divine elements. Up to this point the altar has fixed
the bounds of advance. That factor remains basic, but
Jacob goes a further step. At Luz he has an open Heaven;
a revelation of God; a connecting link between Heaven and
earth; a voice from God heard; and certain truths from
God deposited with him. On the strength of all this he
erects a pillar, anoints it with oil, and calls that
place “Bethel”, “the house of God”.
House of God, an abiding heavenly object comes into view,
and is defined by all those elements which we have
mentioned. A “pillar” in Scripture always
stands for a witness or a testimony (Genesis 31:51;
Isaiah 19:19-20; 1 Timothy 3:15; and many others). All
this has to be seen more fully; we are only seeking in
this chapter to indicate the truth and establish our
fact, or rather to point out an established fact.
We make a
long leap and come to Israel in Egypt. Here in this
mighty reaction or intervention of God all the elements
so far mentioned are gathered up. God is working back to
His original purpose. The elements are clearly seen:-
The Altar; the heavenly people for a House of God; a
revelation; a testimony; a conflict; a country and city
in view, and so on. This God secures, even if it means
hurling a mighty empire to judgment.
commences the long and chequered history of that which
was intended to be in itself a revelation of the mind of
God. But again and again they departed and deviated and
the Lord had to take up things from the inside. Thus we
have those movements back to God’s original thought
under Hezekiah (2 Chron. 29:1-9), under Josiah (2 Chron.
35:17-19), and others. But in none of these was the heart
of the entire people restored. It was a partial thing. No
sooner had the leader gone than the apostasy and
declension set in and deepened. It was not the common
inclination of the whole people to return, but the strong
lead of a few which influenced them for a time - and then
they declined or reverted to their worldliness and
idolatry. These were beautiful breaks of sunshine in days
of deepening spiritual darkness and departure. At length,
even these ceased; there was hardly a residue of
faithfulness found amongst the people, and they were all
sent into captivity. Babylon is the synonym for
confusion, lost distinctiveness, lost testimony,
spiritual paralysis, and a false life. Yet, even here God
does not abandon His intention and in Babylon He reacts
to things in and by a small group of men: Daniel,
Shadrach, Meshach, Abed-nego. They are faithful to all
the elements of the Divine purpose and have their
prayer-gaze fixed upon Jerusalem.
the Lord breaks in and reacts again. It is by but a
remnant, but this weak and chastened remnant is His
instrument for reviving and perpetuating His testimony in
the earth. There follow the heart-warming events as
recorded in Ezra, Nehemiah, Haggai and Zechariah. It is a
great epoch, but, alas -
‘The radiant morn hath passed away,
And spent TOO SOON her golden store.’
apostasy, declension, until we get the terrible
conditions recorded in Malachi, leading up to the awful
announcement: “Ye are cursed with a curse.” How
black and dark things are! Were they ever worse? And yet
- and yet - God is not defeated; for, in the midst of and
over against the blackness, there is that which - because
of the darkness - represents the most blessed triumph.
THEY that feared the Lord spake often one with another:
and the Lord hearkened (bent down), and heard, and a book
of remembrance was written before him, for them that
feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name. And they
shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in the day
wherein I do make A PECULIAR TREASURE”. (Mal.
closes, and for three or four hundred years there is
chaos. Surely now the testimony has ceased and
faithfulness has disappeared? Surely now the Lord has
Take up the
New Testament record, as Luke essays to give a certain
history to his friend Theophilus. He does not travel far
before he lights upon certain people of whom he says very
significant things from our present point of view. He
speaks of one Zacharias and his wife Elisabeth,
“both righteous before God, walking in all the
commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless”.
speaks of Mary, to whom the angel Gabriel said:
“Thou that are endued with grace, the Lord is with
later he refers to another thus: “And behold, there
was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and this
man was righteous and devout, looking for the
consolation of Israel: and the Holy Spirit was upon
him. And it had been revealed unto him by the Holy
And yet a
little further on this: “And there was one Anna, a
prophetess... she... spake of him to ALL THEM THAT WERE
LOOKING for the redemption of Jerusalem.” (2:36,38).
Thus we see
that there is still left a remnant of the faithful after
hundreds of years of seeming death. God maintains a
the revival of Pentecost - surely a new beginning of God.
They are wonderful days; but again, all too soon, we come
upon signs of declension. In not a few places in the New
Testament Scriptures do we find expressions indicating
that the general condition is marked by sad contradiction
of and inconsistency with the testimony. Jude, for
instance, has a sorry business in his letter; but even
there we find the thing which is true, indicated by the
discriminating words: “BUT YE, beloved,
building up yourselves on your most holy faith...”
(Jude 20). This is the offset to the declension to which
we come to the Revelation, where parts of the Church are
well-nigh completely decadent. Grievous things have to be
laid to its charge. What will the Lord do? He may have to
set the main thing aside, but He will not abandon His
purpose. There are those in every place who are true,
hungry, dissatisfied with things as they are, wanting to
go on with the Lord. These are the Lord’s
reactionary instrument. These are the
‘overcomers’ who hear what the Spirit is
saying. These are God’s new beginning by which He
comes back to His first purpose.
thus hurriedly ranged the whole Scriptures to reveal the
method of God. We should like to pursue it through the
ages since New Testament times, but that must wait. We
close this introductory consideration by saying that what
God has always done He will do again, and when that which
is ostensibly His representative instrument on the earth
ceases to be actually and vitally such, although He may
have raised it up Himself and used and blessed it, He may
have to look within the general condition for those who
will pay the price and give to Him the fuller measure for
which He ever seeks.