From “Feast of Tabernacles,” Chapter 9- Tabernacles – The Feast of Joy, continued
Israel did not have one percent of the glory that the Church had in the beginning, and yet her people expressed far more sorrow and repentance in their desolation than we have in ours. “The elders of the daughter of Zion sit upon the ground, and keep silence: they have cast up dust upon their heads; they have girded themselves with sackcloth: the virgins of Jerusalem hang down their heads to the ground. Mine eyes do fail with tears, my bowels are troubled, my liver is poured upon the earth, for the destruction of the daughter of my people; because the children and the sucklings swoon in the streets of the city. They say to their mothers, Where is corn and wine?” (Lam. 2:10-12).
Where is corn and wine? Where is purity of thought and conduct? Where is holiness of life, and separation from the world and its charms? Where is victory over sinful habits, freedom from covetousness, from lying and falsehood, from malice and bitterness? Where is the desire to pray and seek God? To intercede on behalf of others? To deliver those who are held captive by Satan, and set the oppressed free? Where is the mind of Christ, the life that is hid with Christ in God? Where is corn and wine?
But Babylon has been good to us; so good, in fact, that we are one with them, participating in her pleasures, her politics, her wars, her earthly programs, her strife, and her religious systems. Consequently, as it was with Israel, so it is with the Church; as the cry goes forth in this hour for separation from the world and its systems, there is dismay. God says, “Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues” (Rev. 18:4). Babylon means “Confusion.” It speaks of this whole world-system, political as well as religious. But we have been utterly deceived by her veneer and her charm, not realizing that “her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities” (Rev. 18:5). In her there is no good thing. Satan is “prince of the power of the air,” and “god of this world,”–and the whole world-system is anti-God and anti-Christ. Her doom is sealed. “Babylon the Great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit…” (Rev. 18:2). “The abundance of her delicacies” have deceived all nations, including the majority of God’s people. “She hath glorified herself, and lived deliciously,” and all nations of the earth have “committed fornication and lived deliciously with her” (Rev. 18:9). Has the Church of Jesus Christ not followed hand in hand with the course of this world for centuries, befriended her in all her devilish programs, and lived as her captive slaves? “Ye adulterers and adulteresses,” says the apostle James, “Know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God?” (Jas. 4:4).
But what else could we do? We were captives in a strange land, with no power to deliver ourselves. However, the cry goes forth, “Escape from Babylon…” Let the Church arise from the dust and shake herself, and return unto her land and Temple, even “Zion, the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem.” And God will abundantly pardon, and give grace to re-establish the praise, the worship, in the Temple of the once-glorious Church.
THE LORD TURNETH OUR CAPTIVITY
With the turning of the captivity of the Church, joy is once again being restored, even the joy of the Holy Ghost. Songs of Zion can be heard once again in the congregation of the saints, and the Choir of Praise has been restored to the Church. Singing in the Spirit is one sure evidence that Zion’s captivity is coming to an end. Says Paul, “Teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord” (Col. 3:16). Surely it is significant that Psalm 126 has now been restored by the Spirit, music included:
“When the Lord turned again the captivity of Zion,
We were like them that dream.
Then was our mouth filled with laughter,
And our tongue with singing:
Then said they among the heathen,
The Lord hath done great things for them.
The Lord hath done great things for us;
Whereof we are glad.
Turn again our captivity, O Lord,
As the streams in the south.
They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.
He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed,
Shall doubtless come again,
Shall doubtless come again,
Shall doubtless come again with rejoicing,
Bringing his sheaves with him.”
This, then, is a time for rejoicing. “Be ye glad and rejoice forever in that which I create: for, behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy. And I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in my people: and the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, nor the voice of crying” (Isa. 65:18, 19). A faithful remnant are returning from the captivity to raise again the walls of Jerusalem and restore the gates of Zion. And God is in the midst of her to bless and to impart the joy of the Holy Ghost. GHW
It is always God’s will that His people be free, but at times the church has not even recognized her captivity. It is only when the Holy Spirit is given place in her midst and she listens to His voice, that the church realizes how in need she is. Then she will cry, “Create in us a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within us. Cast us not away from Your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from us. Restore unto us the joy of Your salvation and renew a right spirit in us. Turn again our captivity, O Lord.” Amen