Principles of God's Intervention

1915 245 A most interesting thing it is to observe that all God's people, the simplest and least intelligent even, when confronted in some terrible way with the wickedness and violence of the world around them, at once turn to, and instinctively, one may say, count on, the intervention of God to set things right. They know that these things are not happening in a sphere beyond His love and care; but that somewhere, somehow, He will step in and sin and conflict ceases. History has for them this one great lesson that God will interpose. Prophecy, they are ready to believe, speaks clearly of it. Their own common sense of the fitness of things confirms them in this that in the affairs of men, plan them carefully as they may, carry out their projects ruthlessly as they do, God will, at least ultimately, actively intervene.

We see this instinctive sense, if one may so call it, of God's interest in human concerns clouded over for the time being in a very remarkable scripture, Ps. 73. The great problem of history, the apparent dominance of evil, its seeming success in the world, and its counterpart — the subservience, and to all appearance the adversity attaching to a righteous course — is there come up for solution. "I was envious at the foolish when I saw the prosperity of the wicked," proceeds the Psalmist, recounting his experience. It is a common experience. We all know it well. Hard thoughts and perplexing doubts chase one another through the despondent mind. Sin, pride, and violence are so apparently successful, His own people so poor, oppressed, despised, tried. These on the one hand "are not in trouble as other men, neither are they plagued like other men. Therefore pride compasseth them about as a chain; violence covereth them as a garment. Their eyes stand out with fatness; they have more than heart could wish."

Of those, on the other hand, it is said, "Therefore his people return hither, and waters of a full cup are wrung out to them." God seems Lo have forgotten, to have withdrawn His interest, to have relinquished all government of the earth, when things are so out of course. All this, says the Psalmist, when he sought to know it, was too painful for him. "Until I went into the sanctuary of God, then understood I their end." The right perspective is restored in the presence of God. Intelligence as to God, as to the nature and principles of His actions, brings enlightenment and relief. So at all times. Carefulness in observing the revealed principles of God's intervention in human history will preserve us from either perplexity as to the delay, or any wavering as to the fact, of His so intervening.

This intervention, one's moral sense suggests, is imperative. In presence of the evil, the disorder, the violence, and corruption in the world, we feel that God must intervene. If righteousness is to have any place in the world at all He must. And He intends it to have supreme place. The day is coming when "judgment shall return unto righteousness, when a king shall reign in righteousness. With righteousness shall He judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth, and He shall smite the earth with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips shall he slay the wicked." "Of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David and upon his kingdom to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever (Isaiah 9:7). He has destined, too, the creation of "new heavens and new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness." A reclaimed, restored, reconciled universe is not only to witness the supremacy of righteousness, but is also to be filled with, and be for ever characterised by it. The present world, needless to say, must experience vast changes before either can come about. And only by a direct active intervention on God's part can such change be effected. Those who look to the gradual development of existing agencies for righteousness being brought in and established, the gradual spread of the gospel, the permeating of society and the whole social order by civilising and righteous influences, are wholly wrong. Not by human effort; but by divine intervention shall, or can, the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness.

Mere philosophy of course, the philosophy which today underlies all world-politics and statecraft, looks not for, nor reckons on, any such divine interposition. The whole thought is alien to its reasoning. Man is no fallen creature here, nor his world a moral wreck in this view. At most he is but immature, and steadily, slowly, as the years pass, is evolving his own destiny. No thought is more foreign to democratic ideas and ideals alike than that man is a sinful creature in a morally-ruined creation. The whole system of human government and politics, as it is conceived generally today, is based on man's competency to look after himself in that field. Representative government, democracy, assumes both his power and ability to govern himself, as also to so adjust his environment as to conduce to progress. Utterly oblivious to any thought or consciousness of the presence and dominance of this defiling element, sin, in the world they seek to deal with, it escapes the observation of philosophers and politicians that the progress they make is largely superficial, and only material. They make the great initial mistake of leaving out the fall of man, and reasoning on the present as a normal moral state. Even where they do bring God in, it is not in any thought of Himself having plans ultimately to deal directly with the situation; but simply in the idea of His general over-ruling providence. God is in His heaven, all's well with the world.' What we do have, on the contrary, is, by reason of the presence of sin's lingering disease throughout the body politic, a very mixed and disordered state, where justice and righteousness are only, in a very general way, by the present over-ruling providence of God secured and maintained in the face of the hostile elements predominating. That which the scriptures reveal also is that, in addition to this, God Himself shall, in His own wise and suitable time, actively, directly, immediately, take the case in hand, deal with the malady of sin, and give this weary, war-worn, sin-scarred earth its glorious rest and reign of righteousness and peace.

It is then the nature of this intervention, the principles on which it is based, that is here the subject of enquiry. Two Psalms there are which in conjunction seem to give light on this subject. Psalms 75. and 76 stand as close in spiritual relation to each other as they do in numerical order. If, in the first mentioned, the confidence in God displayed in presence of imminent danger bases itself on the fact that His intervention is near, in the second that same intervention is thankfully commemorated as an event just newly experienced A wicked and proud adversary was on the scene in Ps. 75. He is solemnly adjured — "Lift not up your horn on high; speak not with a stiff neck." He is reminded that "promotion (or lifting up) cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south. But God is the judge. He putteth down one, and setteth up another." He is warned that "in the hand of the Lord there is a cup. — but the dregs thereof, all the wicked of the earth shall wring them out, and drink them." Such is the atmosphere of Ps. 75. Psalm 76 is the sequel. Arrogant opposition had been persisted in, God had been defied, the threatened attack on His people had been delivered, and God had interposed in power for their deliverance, and to the enemy's destruction. God had "arisen to judgment, to save all the meek of the earth." "At thy rebuke, O God of Jacob, the chariot and horse are cast into a dead sleep." Arrows, shield, sword, yea, battle itself had been broken and ended, and now, "in Judah is God known, His name is great in Israel. In Salem also (city of peace) is His tabernacle, and His dwelling place in Zion." The intervention of God clearly is the theme in both.

Many expositors take these two Psalms as speaking directly of an incident in Israel's history, Hezekiah's wonderful deliverance from Sennacherib of Assyria (2 Kings 18; 19). The one Ps. 75, they say, anticipating; the other (Ps. 76.) celebrating God's deliverance on that occasion. This cannot be conceded. The marks of their application to the future, to the anticipation and celebration of a still greater deliverance, are too certain and evident. As an illustration, however, that former intervention of God on behalf of His people is of great value and force in this connection. Dark indeed was the day for the people of God when the king of Assyria with his armies came up against them. Few and feeble they were themselves, as even their adversaries reproached them with. It was a handful against a host. Their adherence to their king, and their faithful, if feeble, stand for God was likely to cost them dear. Proud and cruel Senna.cherib, and his arrogant, blaspheming captain were of that generation spoken of in Ps. 76. "Pride compasseth them about as a chain; violence covereth them as a garment." "They are corrupt, and speak wickedly concerning oppression, they speak loftily. They set their mouth against the heavens and their tongue walketh through the earth." Surrounded by such powerful and unscrupulous enemies, they well might fear the result of so unequal combat. But, in answer to Hezekiah's prayer, as also in reply to the enemy's taunts, God Himself intervened in power. By a stroke of His judgment, deliverance was effected, and vengeance executed. The stout-hearted were spoiled, they slept their sleep, and none of the men of might found their hands. For God caused judgment to be heard from heaven, and His people were delivered. Illustration as it is, however, the future crisis will in magnitude and importance far surpass this remarkable incident. And to that in its full extent these Psalms apply.

1915 262 Of the principles of God's intervention which come out here, and of which all such interpositions of His bear witness, more than one may be noticed. One very remarkable principle is that whenever God intervenes in a crisis there is a seeming delay that allows the enemy to go to the farthest extremity of his power before He Himself steps in. "Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee; the remainder of wrath shalt thou restrain" (Ps. 76. 10). He makes the wrath of man to praise Him; but it is the remainder of wrath, the overplus, that which would go beyond this, that He restrains Over and over again has this been seen in God's dealings. It is nothing else than this timely intervention which Ps. 75:2 when correctly read, speaks of — "When I shall reach the set time I will judge uprightly." This is Messiah's utterance in response to the faith of His elect as expressed in verse 1, where the fact that His name is near, a signal manifestation of His power on their beflalf anticipated, become occasion even then for thanksgiving. "We give thanks to thee, O God. We give thanks; and near [is] thy name; thy wonders declare [it]." This confidence is not misplaced; for, when the proper season has arrived, declares their Messiah, He Himself shall come in to perform the looked-for work of judgment. Paul tells us "He hath determined the times before appointed" (Acts 17:26). And here the time for God to arise and have mercy upon Zion is come. "The time to favour her, yea the set time, is come." A set time for mercy, there is also a season of ripeness for judgment. And who can judge of that save He in Whose hand all issues lie. With perfect knowledge of all that is involved, shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?

Now this consideration corrects the mistake many make in looking for, and demanding, the active intervention of God today. Nothing is more common than to hear the exclamation — "Why does not God step in and put a stop to all this." And prayer is continually being made asking for such divine interference. It is generally on the plea that, if God is sovereign, it is surely to be expected that He will do so. Perfectly true it is that in His wise and holy providence He at all times marks all things, over-rules all happenings, and works throughout all history the counsel of His will. But His government today is not immediate, or in any sense direct. The character of our times, and the general course of events show that it cannot be so. Operative in providence He ever is; actively intervening in history He is emphatically not, today. He cannot be so regarded, nor appealed to on that ground. "When God ariseth to judgment" there will be no dubiety or mystery about His actions. It will be no indirect, unseen, control that He exercises. The time for His active participation in events will have arrived, and the shaping of their course taken directly into His own hands. We cannot say what are the features that determine the stage of maturity when God will so interfere. It is not for us to know the times and seasons which the Father hath put in His own power. But as showing that it is more than a simple question of it being open to God at any time, in His providence, to intervene, let us remember that there are other factors in the situation, factors very commonly not taken account of at all.

It may be quite confidently stated of all history that there are at least three factors to be recognised as going to its constitution. Particularly is this true of the crisis of history, when momentous issues hang in the balance, and epoch-forming events are in the making. There are then to be seen the wrath of man (Ps. 76:10; James 1:20) the working of Satan (2 Thess. 2:9); and the over-ruling government of God (Ps. 76:10; Dan. 2:19; Dan. 4:32, 34, 35). The latter is not to be considered apart from the two former, any more than are these two in themselves, man's wrath and the great adversary's activity (large as they bulk) to be allowed to monopolise the field of vision. It is well to be reminded of all the agencies at work; a situation cannot be understood otherwise. There is no question but that men are apt to forget all but the immediately visible. The wrath of man all can see. The fact remains that behind and beyond all the activities of men, in war as in peace, there are forces and actors concerned, too often neglected. Take the greatest crisis of history ever known, the crucifixion of the Lord of glory. It was in truth the act of man (Acts 4:26, 27). It was none the less an action in which the prince of darkness had his part, inciting to it, and co-operating in it (John 13:27; John 14:30; Luke 22:53). Yet, withal, was it the determinate counsel of God (Acts 2:23; Acts 4:30). The greatest event in history as it is, most fruitful in issues that determine the course of events ever afterwards, what is true of that in this respect is true of all. Man acts, Satan works, God disposes of all that happens, causing each detail to fall into line with the working out of His own purposes and plans. Only thus can we understand the very evident fact already referred to that God in choosing His own time to intervene rather than coping with opposition at an early stage, and nipping it in the bud, always seems to delay His own action until antagonism has reached its height, and the enemy gone to the full extremity of his power.

So was it with the Lord Jesus Christ in the solemn event already spoken of. Crucified and slain by hand of lawless men, He had reached a point where the enemy could pursue no farther. They had done their worst. Human hate and Satanic malice could do no more. And just there did God come in. "He trusted in God that he would deliver him," was the taunt with which they derided Him on the cross. "Let him deliver him now if he will have him," was a challenge virtually to God now to intervene on His behalf. It was thus they jeered at Him as one for whom, spite of His claims, God had done nothing in the way of interference or protection. But your challenge, proud Pharisees, shall be answered. God will interfere, and that to some purpose, in His own wise time and season. Into death itself Christ descends; yet wherefore, but that by death He might destroy him that had the power of death, and from the dead He is brought again by the power of God. He, the Son of God, was manifested for this purpose that He might destroy the works of the devil, and thus is it accomplished. He, the first, and last, and living One, became dead, but now is alive for evermore and has the keys of death and of hades. "Him whom ye have taken and by hands of wicked men have crucified and slain, God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that he should be holden of it." The malice of men and the adversary's hatred are allowed to go far, in this instance, to fully expend themselves. Then does God come in, and, making it all to praise Him, He puts a period to all that man and Satan can do, and carries forward His great purpose.

Again, if in lesser degree, do we observe the same principle in the illustrative case of Hezekiah, also already referred to. To what lengths are Sennacherib, Rabshakeh, and the Assyrians allowed to proceed in their attack on Judah. With a great host they come up against Jerusalem. Their investing of it seems complete, and no escape possible. What fury against God's people they manifest! What boastings of former victories they make! What blasphemy and railing against God they are permitted to utter! "Let not thy God in whom thou trustest deceive thee, saying, Jerusalem shall not be delivered into the hand of the king of Assyria." Effectual intervention of God on His people's behalf they plainly scoff at, and prepare to carry forward their terrible designs to fullest execution. But just then God does interfere. The angel of the Lord went forth and in the night smote in the camp of the Assyrians a hundred and fourscore and five thousand. The slain of the Lord were many. "Whom hast thou reproached and blasphemed?" said God, ". . . even against the Holy One of Israel." "Because thy rage against me and thy tumult is come up into mine ears, therefore will I put my hook in thy nose, and my bridle in thy lips, and I will turn thee back." Ungoverned as was their rage, and unbridled as seemed their fury, God still retained control, and in His own time reined them in. "The remainder of wrath," does He restrain.

Then also in that still future and incomparably greater crisis, in view of which Pss. 75 and 76 were penned, and to which in full their true application is, the same principle shall be observed. Throughout the different phases of that crisis, and in regard to the different actors in it, — for of antagonists there are to be more than one in that day, — nothing is more clearly to be observed, as the prophetic word makes plain, than the fearful extremities to which, ere God interposes, all are allowed to proceed. The attack of Zech. 12:1-9, may be the particular one Ps. 76. refers to here. If so, the fact is very plain once more that only on the verge of his triumph, to all appearance, is the enemy pulled up, and God's power re-asserted against him. Vast forces of men evidently, a gigantic hostile confederacy of nations, arrayed against Jerusalem and full preparations made for the overthrow and annihilation of God's restored earthly people, such is the picture set before us in this prophecy. Once again God intervenes just when opposition had fully blossomed out, and rage had reached its height. "In that day, saith Jehovah, I will smite every horse with astonishment, and his rider with madness." "And Jehovah shall go forth and fight against those nations as when he fought in the day of battle." "And this shall be the plague wherewith Jehovah will smite all the peoples that have fought against Jerusalem; Their flesh shall consume away while they stand upon their feet." "A great tumult from Jehovah shall be among them, and they shall lay hold everyone on the hand of his neighbour, and his hand shall rise up against the hand of his neighbour." "And Jehovah shall be king over all the earth" (Zech. 12:4; Zech. 14:3, 12, 13). "The remainder of wrath," that which would, in its vehemence and ruthlessness, run past what God sees fit to allow as its measure, He restrains.

1915 278 As a second principle of God's intervention regularly to be seen in operation it may be remarked that what is generally put as the motive or incitement to such intervention is the deliverance of His own people. "When God arose to judgment to save all the meek of the earth." (Ps. 76:9). Upon very little reflection we can readily understand how valid a reason to Him for interfering that must be. In this it is a question of His heart being engaged. We can hardly imagine our God remaining quiescent or inactive in face of the suffering and persecution met by His people in this scene. Their relief and their vindication must be objects kept in view by Him, and to which He applies Himself in suited time. Accordingly, we find it a principle with Him that when He does intervene, it is on behalf of His own, their position and circumstances being such as to call it forth.

This also comes out in Hezekiah's eminently illustrative case. It was a case of king and people seeking in a measure to be true and faithful to God, falling under the might and tyranny of the wicked. We can hardly be in doubt but that this will, humanly speaking, prompt early and decisive action on God's part. "The eyes of Jehovah" we read "run to and fro throughout the whole earth to show himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him." One cannot but notice therefore how steadily and progressively the issue comes to be one, not between Hezekiah and Sennacherib, but between God Himself and the Assyrian. He makes Hezekiah's cause His own, and having been appealed to on the ground of His interest in, and relationship to, His people Israel, gives striking manifestation of that interest, and affirms the reality of that relationship by their merciful and timely deliverance.

An earlier instance occurs to the mind also where this comes out not less clearly. When Israel, on their way from Egypt came into the region of Moab, marked hostility from that people, and also from the Ammonites and Midianites, was manifested to their approach. A form of that hostility, which they themselves had no knowledge of even, Balaam the prophet with his enchantment and divination being the agent, was being employed against them on the high places overlooking their camp. Again and again did Balak, king of Moab, seek to utilise these hostile influences against this people whom he hated as much as he feared; but God intervened on each occasion. Truly could it be said of His people "No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper." There was "no enchantment against Jacob, neither any divination against Israel." Jehovah their God turned the curse into a blessing unto them, and — wherefore? "Because Jehovah thy God loved thee" (Deut. 23:5). And that always is the great reason of God's intervention.

It shall, in that day to come, be called "the day of the Lord" principally for the very reason that it is the day of the Lord's intervention. Take Deut. 32, where the history of their defection and apostasy, sketched so vividly, connects itself with the story of their future restoration. The very first steps of God's renewed dealings with them ultimately are seen to be prompted by His love for them. Chastised for their sins they had been, downtrodden of the nations and oppressed; but these same oppressors in their turn have God to reckon with, and He will render vengeance to His adversaries, as He now calls them, "and will be merciful unto his land and unto his people." For these are the same of whom it is said "Jehovah's portion is his people; Jacob is the lot of his inheritance. He found him in a desert land, and in the waste howling wilderness; he led him about, he instructed him, he kept him as the apple of his eye. As an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her young, spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth them on her wings, so Jehovah alone did lead him." His love for them truly is no new thing, but old as their history, and evident throughout its varied course. It is His love for them still that brings Him in here again for their deliverance, and it is that which the enemy have to dread. Their guilt is that those whom they have afflicted and persecuted are God's chosen and beloved people. And that love will assuredly not desert them finally, grievously as they have sinned against it, but will, when their oppressors least expect it, cause Him to intervene in power for them.

It could not be otherwise in that crisis which is approaching. Objects of His love are upon earth here, suffering under tyranny and oppression of evil men, and open to the attacks of Satan. Shall the malignity and hatred of the enemy be allowed to triumph, and His own be for ever oppressed? It cannot be. "O Jehovah God of revenges" is the prayer of the oppressed remnant in Ps. 94, "O God to whom vengeance belongeth, show thyself." "How long shall the wicked triumph?" "They break in pieces thy people, O Jehovah, and afflict thine heritage." "They say Jehovah shall not see, neither shall the God of Jacob regard it." How far wrong are their thoughts in this matter. The seeming delay is only "until the pit be digged for the wicked. For Jehovah will not cast off his people" but will prove Himself their help, their defence, and the rock of their refuge. It is upon the ground of His interest in them, and because of His love for them, that "He shall cut them (i.e., the oppressors) off in their own wickedness; yea, Jehovah our God shall cut them off." "Shall not God avenge his own elect" said the Lord Jesus "which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them. I tell you that he will avenge them speedily" (Luke 18:7, 8). The souls of the martyred witnesses (Rev. 6:9-11) cry from under the altar, and their appeal is loud in God's ears "How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth." And that appeal shall be answered,for God shall judge, and one of the most important features of that judgment is that it shall be an avenging, a vindication, a deliverance of His own. "When God ariseth to judgment," verily it is "to save all the meek of the earth." If the first principle looked at gives a clue to the time or seasonableness of God's intervention, this shows its motive.

Still another principle governing the occasion of God's coming in upon the scene here in an active way is the fact, already in part alluded to, that God has a plan and purpose of His own for the earth. We can never surely suppose that He who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will has no such thing as a settled design regarding this earth. Is it to be imagined that while, as to heaven and heavenly things the counsel of God is settled and sure, the earth has been left entirely out of account? That, while God is to be sovereign, and righteousness supreme, throughout the universe, this scene is not to be privileged to witness and share in the restoration and release from the dominion of evil? On the contrary, it is distinctly testified that, in whatever respect heavenly things are hereafter to be affected by Christ, earth is to be likewise. God's purpose, now disclosed, is that in the dispensation of the fulness of times He is to gather together, sum, or head up, all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth (Eph. 1:11). At the name of Jesus every knee shall bow, confessing Him Lord, of things in heaven, things on earth, and things even under the earth (Phil, 2:10). By Him all things are to be reconciled, in which is to be embraced not only things in heaven but also things on earth (Col. 1:20). His beneficent purpose of future blessing then includes the earth in its range and scope.

A purpose this is, too, which nothing that the enemy can do or contrive, can in any way frustrate, but to the working out of which, on the contrary, God can bend and adapt happenings seemingly the most adverse. The germ of this truth is contained in Ps. 76. io, "Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee." He maketh the wrath of man to praise Him. This, it is admitted, is a principle which is true all round, and on all occasions, being generally accepted as indisputable. Many have difficulties as to a Particular Providence, as it is termed, concerned with minutest details of individual life. Few can have as to a General Providence, a disposing and shaping of historical events,the things that figure on the world's stage as crises. "He doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth and none can stay his hand, or say unto him What doest thou?" (Dan. 4:35). The purpose, however, for which He does so supervise and over-rule throughout history is not so generally recognised. What is, in one sense, the precise point, or object, of all Divine Providence in history is somehow missed. In fact there is altogether a serious gap or deficiency in the outlook of Christians generally in this matter, which is to be deplored. How defective must be the vision of believers who do not perceive the great and grand purpose of God for the establishment of a scene of blessedness and glory on this earth! To have no idea of, or hope regarding, the future for this world and its peoples, a future of blessing and peace and rest, must be a serious limitation, particularly in times of national stress and turmoil. To know that this entire creation, equally in its highest and it lowest spheres, long as it has groaned and been oppressed, in its age-long subjection to ills and disorders of every description, is one day destined to have its burden removed, and to be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the liberty of the glory of the children of God how this brightens and enlarges the vision! To any who intelligently study scripture it is quite apparent that a scheme and dispensation of blessing and glory lies in store for man, for earth, and all this lower creation. Conflict and confusion, defilement and disorder reign now; but what comfort and confidence it gives to know that there is a plan, and that these or any uprising of evil cannot thwart it, but will Imply fall into line with it, and be made contributory to the carrying of it out. "Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee."

1915 289 The evident conclusion then to which all Divine effort — as it affects things here below — tends and moves is the establishment, according to His revealed will, of the kingdom of God in power here upon earth. Thus only, and then only, can be secured the ascendancy of good, and the predominance of righteousness, and that in permanence. The kingdoms of this world rise and flourish and decay. The time is approaching when it shall be announced, and that from heaven, "The world-kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ is come, and he shall reign for ever and ever" (Rev. 11:15). Empires succeed each other, and the strife for place and power and dominion continues. God's purpose is, and He has definitely and unmistakably attested it, that Christ's rule and sway shall yet throughout the earth be universal and unchallenged (Dan. 2:34, 35, 44, 45). In the direct line of succession, as it were, to the great world empires of the past, and supplanting the revived form of it which shall be then in force, there is to be a kingdom which the God of heaven shall set up, which shall never be destroyed, and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever." That purpose is opposed by men; but in spite of all opposition, "Yet have I set my king," says God, "upon my holy hill of Zion." He is to have the heathen for His inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for a possession.

The first effect, no doubt, of His advent is that "He shall break them with a rod of iron, and dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel." For "He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God," and there are sons of Bella' who must be all of them as thorns thrust away and consumed; but judgment upon evil once executed, "He shall be as the light of the morning, when the sun riseth, even as a morning without clouds, as the tender grass springing out of the earth by clear shining after rain (2 Sam. 23:3-7). For the sending of Jesus will mean the coming of times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord, the times of restitution of all things which God hath spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began. Such is God's plan and purpose regarding the earth. We may count on Him carrying it into effect, and thus may look for Him to intervene in His own good time in judgment, yet for blessing!

How antagonistic to the carrying out of that purpose, and how alien to the moral features of that time the elements predominating today are, — how needful, therefore, also His intervention, — a moment's reflection will show. For what are the features characterising this age, and particularly this period of unrest and crisis now in progress? Man and Satan between them have filled the earth with corruption and violence. The deceitful working of Satan and the ungovernable passions of men predominate. This working of Satan has been spoken of as an important factor of history. So also the wrath of man. The relation of these to the third factor spoken of, the providence of God (thank God that is supreme), has been in a measure considered; but that there are questions about these, the wrath of man and the working of Satan, both in themselves and in regard to their relation to each other, must be plain. How far do they act in concert? Or are they independent of each other? Does Satan plan and scheme all the devices of men? or do they, in their opposition to God, simply follow the bent of their own passions? Again, with what measure of intelligence must we credit the great adversary? Does he act in merely blind, hasty, unreasoning malice? or is it cunning, calculating, far-seeing malignity that is to be perceived in all the dispositions he makes?

These are questions, perhaps, scarcely admitting of definite answer in our present state of knowledge. One thing at least recent happenings makes clear. We are not to suppose that every ebullition of human wrath and strife is directly attributable to Satan's immediate influence. For instance, an outburst of violence that betokens the breakdown of what we call civilisation cannot be thought of as being purposely, deliberately planned and manipulated by Satan, the god of this age. It is rather the triumph of civilisation than its failure that evidences his working (2 Thess. 2). The truth would seem to be that, finite as he is, after all, the great enemy frequently outwits himself. His instruments carry matters farther than he intended, or raise issues prematurely, and thus there are many historical crises not at all of his creation. His agents are not always docile and amenable to timely restraint. The wrath of man must often prove a very unreliable instrument to use, an exceedingly unmanageable and erratic medium to invoke!

How fully on occasion it comes to dominate the whole situation needs no emphasising. Time and again, throughout history, it breaks forth. Storm after storm of human violence has arisen, swept the earth in its fury, and left its appalling mark on earth's face and history's page. Elemental to the race some would consider war, and the martial spirit generally. Inherent in the fallen nature we all of us possess, it certainly is at any rate. In this disordered and discordant scene it cannot be otherwise than that individual interests must clash, social jealousies and animosities assert themselves, national philosophies and ideals be found radically inimical to each other, imperial aspirations and ambitions fiercely antagonistic and, given the fact that man, a fallen creature, is constituted as he is, the appeal to arms would seem to be inevitable in a great many instances. And war is only one form of the outbreak of man's violence.

The wrath of man, of what is it not capable? All the righteous blood shed upon the earth from Abel downwards is witness to its fierceness against God. It is not less truly so against each other. Of all the human race generally who have passed away, the number who have fallen by the hand of their fellows is not small. That, again, evidences the length to which men, hateful and hating one another, will go. And all the strife and clamour and hate and violence characterising us as a race, "the dark places of the earth full of the habitations of cruelty," what does it show but that the wrath of man is, of influences adverse to God's beneficent working in this world, one of the most potent! It "worketh not the righteousness of God" we read (James 1:20).

Is it not well to be reminded of this today? If the ends God has in view are achieved by it on occasion, as no doubt they are, we must remember it is by virtue of His so over-ruling, or so utilising it as to secure them by its means, and not on any account by reason of such being its real, or even ostensible, object. A Christian even (the passage exhorts), a new-born creature of God, is to be slow to wrath, remembering that the mere ebullition of human passion, into which even righteous wrath is so apt to degenerate, expresses not, furthers not, never in itself evolves, the righteousness of God. To praise Him He can make it. Turn it to the execution of His will, and harness it to the working out of His purposes — this He does continually. But, of itself, in its own aim, intent, direction and purpose, the righteousness of God is not what it seeks, nor is it at all calculated to advance it. How solemn to reflect that this wrath of man, this human violence, so antagonistic to God, so inherent in man, so useful to the enemy, is in some ways the most predominating element about him! History is simply, or largely, the record of its various outbreaks and achievements.

What a welter of disruptive and anarchical forces the scene presents! "An enemy hath done this," its most revolting features clearly proclaim. A comforting thought it is that, in any case, powerful though the enemy may be, mysterious to us in his personage, and subtle in his working, he, and it, and all the instruments he may use will never, we may be assured with much confidence, thwart God, for He will make their very antagonism a means of furthering His purposes, and the remainder the rest, that which would go beyond this He, at any rate, will restrain.

The often-desiderated intervention of God, then, seems, by analogy with the past, and in keeping with what is revealed as to the future, to be based on, and conditioned by, these principles. The ripeness of the situation seems to determine the time of it, the deliverance of His beloved people to supply the motive for it, and the fact that He Himself has His purposes of blessing for this scene here below, to be the end He steadily keeps in view. It remains but to emphasise how strongly and solemnly attested is the fact that He will intervene. What one might call the official announcement of the same is given in Rev. 10. It is there announced, and that from heaven, with all the formalities befitting such a momentous, universal, divine proclamation. A mighty angel, pictured as girded with cloud and rainbow, descends from heaven, and, with loud and far-resounding tone, accompanied by the seven thunders' voice, gives notice of the imminence of such a change of God's attitude towards earth and man's doings upon it. For how long ages, evil in its dominant and apparent triumph has usurped place and power on earth, to the detriment of good, and the oppression of the righteous! Mystery it has been that for so long, and in so striking measure, this state of things has prevailed, with no marked interference on God's part. Now, however, that long-expected, long-desired Divine interposition is to take place. This august messenger, with foot on sea and on earth, with hand uplifted to heaven "sware by him that liveth for ever and ever, who created heaven . . . . and the earth . . . . and the sea, etc., that there should be delay no longer," and that "the mystery of God should be finished as he hath declared to his servants the prophets." Divine intervention! come it shall, as sure as God is eternal in His person, supreme in His creation, and sovereign in His universal control. J.T.