Oneness with God In His Repudiation of This World (continued)
The first five books of the Bible are books of a pilgrimage. The Bible opens with man at home. God had made a home for man, and he was there with God in that home. It was called 'Paradise;' but man lost his home, was driven out from it, and he became a stranger, a homeless stranger, a displaced person. He was a wanderer in the earth and a foreigner to God's hoe, all because he was out of friendship with God. When that friendship broke down, man lost his home, and he has been a pilgrim and stranger in the earth ever since. There is no restful home for the soul of man in this world because the world is no friend of God. That is how the Bible begins, and then that truth is broken up, firstly in the case of Abraham. All through his life Abraham was a pilgrim. We are told that he lived in a tent, and he moved up and down the land with that tent. You may think it is ll right to be in a tent for a week's holiday (although that depends upon circumstances) but I doubt whether there is anyone here who would like to spend their whole life in a tent. Abraham was one of those of whom it is written: "They are seeking after a country of their own" - a place which they could call 'home.'
We pass from Abraham to Israel, who for forty years of their life were pilgrims and strangers in a wilderness. God had promised them all a home, a rest at the end of the journey, but they never received that promise in their lifetime - "These all died in faith, not having received the promises." Even when they went into the land of promise they never had rest. Why was this so? Because they were in a world which God had rejected and repudiated, a world with which God wan not in friendship, and a world which was no friend of God.
That brings us to our first stage in the spiritual pilgrimage, and we must look at other passages of Scripture.
"Now these are the generations of Terah. Terah begat Abraham, Nahor, and Haran; and Haran begat Lot. And Haran died in the presence of his father Terah in the land of his nativity, in Ur of the Chaldees." (Genesis 11:27, 28).
"Now the Lord said unto Abram, 'Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto the land that I will shew thee and I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and be thou a blessing: and I will bless them that bless thee, and him that curseth thee will I curse: and in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed.' So Abram went, as the Lord had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him" (Genesis 12:1-4).
"And Terah took Abram his son, and Lot the son of Haran his son's son, and Sarai his daughter-in-law, his son Abram's wife; and they went forth with them from Ur of the Chaldees, to go into the land of Canaan" (Genesis 11:31).
God had said to Abraham: 'Get thee out of thy country, thy kindred, thy father's house, unto the land that I will give thee.' Many hundreds of years afterward Stephen said: "The God of glory appeared unto our Father Abraham, when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Haran" (Acts 7:2). How I would like to stay here to tell you something about Ur of the Chaldees! What a great city it was, and what a wonderful civilization existed right back there at that time! I would like, too, to tell you something about father Terah, and about his three sons, the eldest of whom was Abraham, and about the kind of life they were living in that great city; of how the son, Haran, died there, and of how Haran's son, Lot, joined himself to Uncle Abraham, but time will not allow us to talk about all that, however interesting it may be. We have come to this first step into the heart of God.
God had said emphatically and precisely: "Get thee out!" In those words it is quite evident that God had repudiated the old world of Abraham, and, so far as he was concerned, had finished with it, and finished with it in finality. In effect, He said to Abraham: 'Now that is absolutely finished with for you.'
This marks the first step into the heart of God. God's heart was not in Chaldea, but outside of Chaldea.
Now mark carefully: this was not a stage in the spiritual journey, but a definite, basis step. There was a point at which one foot of Abraham was in Chaldea and the other was outside, and when he lifted that one foot and put it at the side of the other he had crossed the line. There was just a line between Chaldea and outside of Chaldea. In our New Testament language: between the world and outside of the world. It was intended by God to be absolute and final at that point. He was allowing no compromise - Abraham's heart had to go over the line toward the heart of God. All the phases and the stages will follow that. This basic decision and step will afterward be applied and tested all through his life. Many situations, many trials and many difficulties will arise to challenge that step, and every one of those circumstances will ask the question: Did you really mean it when you began? How far did you really mean it when you said that you were going all the way with God?
You see,there stands right at the beginning of the spiritual pilgrimage, which ends in the heart of God, this crisis: the crisis which is in these words of God - "Get thee out!" All God's intention and purpose are bound up with our reaction to that first command.
Perhaps many of you older Christians do not need this word, but there are a number of young people, and there may be some older in years who are young in the journey. What God is saying is this: If you are at all concerned with finding a place in the heart of God, this is where you must begin. You must come to this first step of oneness with God in His repudiation of this world.
You see, what we are concerned with is the heart of God, that is, friendship with God. It is said of Noah that in building the ark "he condemned the world" (Hebrews 11:7). It was not a matter of whether the world believed that it was being condemned. The fact is that it was a condemned world, and it was only a matter of time before the flood came and destroyed it. It was a good thing that there were eight persons in the heart of God! They escaped the coming judgment.
(continued with # 3)