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Torch and Compass

Written by Gary North on July 30, 2016

For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little: For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people. To whom he said, This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing: yet they would not hear. But the word of the Lord was unto them precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little; that they might go, and fall backward, and be broken, and snared, and taken (Isa. 28:10-13).

Are you sick and tired about being sick and tired? Well, you should be used to it by now. This is the normal state of affairs in the church today. It is the normal state of affairs in most periods of church history. It is not normative–because sin isn’t–but it is normal.

Sinful people grow impatient. They are not satisfied with the slow process of biblical education: line upon line, precept upon precept. They are equally dissatisfied with the present rate of their institutions growth. They refuse to accept the fact that the way of God is progressive. Progress takes time. It takes a lot of time.

But then, in a relatively brief period of time, the church can make a major breakthrough. Like an army attacking a rival army’s front, a section of the rival’s defensive line collapses. The question then is this: Will the offensive commander concentrate his forces on the breach in the enemy’s line? Second, will the rival commander have sufficient mobile reserves to throw into the breach? Will he commit his reserves in time?

The fact remains, however, that these historically rare major breakthroughs are always preceded by long periods of grinding frontal assaults. I think these periods last about 250 years, at least in Western history: the biblical ten generations. And the closer we get to the next breakthrough, the more tired and hopeless things seem, especially for those troops in the front line. “When will it all end?” Answer: “Later.”

How Long, O Lord?

The angels in heaven, prior to the fall of Jerusalem, “cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?” (Rev. 6:10). Now, if angels sound impatient with Gods timetable, consider men. Consider us.

Each generation of Christians finds itself in the wilderness. But there is no pillar of fire or cloud of smoke to guide us. There is only the Bible. We are more like a group of lost men who are wandering in a Scottish bog at nighttime. Our feet slosh through the water-logged soil. We hold up a torch, hoping to see three steps in front of us. But we have a compass: the Bible. We know we are headed in the right direction. So we keep on slogging.

There are those who say there is no pathway out of the bog. Some Christians think that there is no way out until Jesus comes personally, takes us by the hand, and leads us to firm ground (after a heavenly period of R&R).

(For the rest of my article, click the link.)

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