When God shakes a local assembly...
Rachael HillMemorial Website
"I will overturn, overturn, overturn . . . until he come whose right it is; and I will give it to him."
based on Ezekial 21:27 by T. Austin Sparks
INTRODUCTION: Today, God is shaking to the core many local assemblies of His people. Many saints
are leaving companies where they have been committed for years. Why is this happening? I personally believe that
this article written by T. Austin-Sparks perhaps 50 or more years ago most accurately, and most prophetically,
explains what God is doing, and why. May all those who have been caught up in "judgment begins in the house of
God" (Jas. 4:17) be helped and comforted in reading the anointed words below. All emphasis is mine except where
- richard a. hanes
You will see, if you look, that those words have an immediate and much wider context. Their immediate context is the life-ministry of the prophet.His times were to see the beginning and the carrying forward, to some quite serious degree, of the fulfillment of these words. But there is also an expanded context and the expanse of the context has not yet reached its final phase. But here in the Scriptures much of that expanded context is noted and mentioned.
The overturning had begun when the prophet was caused to make this proclamation of Jehovah's intention. The immediate context, then, was that of Jerusalem as the symbol and representation of the nation: the nation which was chosen of God for a purpose, God's special purpose: the nation which had been carefully, painstakingly and patiently constituted and disciplined unto that purpose, and then had so lamentably failed, so tragically missed the mark.Unto that nation the words were addressed: "I will overturn, overturn . . . until . . ." It was a progressive movement unto Christ's first coming.
And in and amongst His people there was the lost distinctiveness of their life, the lost vitality in the means which God had provided tabernacle and temple, priesthood and ordinance, sacrifices and feasts, and much more. He had made great provision in this way, but all was intended to be a vital and effective means to an end, not as an end in itself. That vitality had been lost in temple, priesthood, sacrifices, ordinances, and they had all become a formality, a mere daily routine; something being kept up, something just in itself: a great formalism, without life.
Vitality in the means had gone and God's deposit was dead in their midst. They had lost the vision as to the purpose of their existence. They had lost both the consciousness and the knowledge of why they were the Lord's people. They were claiming to be a special people amongst the peoples of the earth. They were using His Name, but the purpose for which they were the Lord's people had been lost to their consciousness; their vision of the great object and end of God, in choosing them from among all the people of the earth, had been lost.
You know that that is the cry of the prophets. Their cry is against this mixture, this defilement, and against this mere formalism. Through Isaiah the Word of the Lord came: "Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet and show my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins. Yet they seek me daily, and delight to know my ways." (Isaiah 58:1,2). They were carrying on, but without vision, without purity, without vitality.
All that led to this, "I will overturn, overturn, overturn." It was as though the Lord was saying, "I am not going to preserve mere form, mere shell, mere profession. To me it is all hypocrisy, unreality. "I will overturn." Why? Because these things, the things that really matter, the things that characterize a people under the true government and in the true energies of the Holy Spirit, are gone. Because of the lack of these things authority was lost in Israel, authority in the nations, and authoritative voice in their own midst. They were not registering in life, in word, and in testimony.
It is a tragic situation when the people of God lose their authority in the world, and they always do so when they mix in with the world and when the world is mixed with them.
Then there is lost unity. We see the crumbling of the nation, the breaking up and disintegration, until the only suitable picture is that of the valley of dry bones, very many and much scattered, unrelated, unarticulated, disintegrated.
Then again there was the loss of the position to which God had brought them. He had brought them to covenant into the land and set them there as His own place for them. God's place for the nation was the land, and they lost their position, their God-appointed position, and were cast out of it.
Finally, the prophecies led to the lost glory in and over the people of God. The glory was lifted up and moved right away, and the Lord says about such a state: "I will overturn, overturn, overturn." "THIS CANNOT GO ON." . . .
And, dear friends, may I have your forbearance if I remind you that these prophecies are not exclusively concerning Israel in the Old Testament and the old dispensation. There is that in the New Testament which corresponds to this immediate context. This terrible chapter 21 of Ezekiel's prophecies has been called, "The Song of the Sword." If you read immediately associated with these words of verse 27, "The sword, the sword, the sword, the point of the sword, God's unsheathed sword." And that by the sword He is going to "overturn, overturn, overturn," I would remind you that we have two corresponding passages in this other realm of the Church in the New Testament. One is in the Letter to the Hebrews: "I will make to tremble not the earth only, but also the heaven" (12:26). The other? It is in the coming of the Lord Jesus into the midst of the seven lampstands, and in that comprehensive and matchless description and presentation of Him there is this: "He that hath the sharp two-edged sword."
He begins with it at the churches (Revelation 2:12). His is an overturning in the churches. The sword is cleaving, dividing, finding out, searching and judging. There is that which, having so largely resulted in the loss of the specific purpose, falls to the sword of the Lord. These are hard words, but suffer them for the moment. It is like that. The Lord is saying to the churches, as representing the whole church, the same things as He said to Israel here. "I am not a bit interested in or concerned with your religious form. I am not a bit interested in or concerned with much religious or Christian activity. 'I know thy works.' I am not concerned with your profession. The thing for which you were raised up, elected, and constituted is my eternal purpose concerning My Son, that in ALL THINGS [TAS] He might have the pre-eminence, occupy the first, the full, and final place; and anything that either falls short of that or contradicts that must come under the sword." "I will overturn, overturn, overturn." "And judgement begins at the House of God. " [RAH note: George Warnock says about this passage, �and God always begins with �the elders, and the leaders, when He begins to judge His sanctuary - Ezek. 9:6, I Peter 4:17 �]
Dear friends, if this is true and we are not mistaken, the church in general is going to meet the sword, is going to be dealt with in this way, and there is going to be a whole lot of activities and works and professions and whatnot that is going to the sword, going to be overturned, overturned, overturned, in order to get to that end which God has appointed.
And what is true of the whole church will be true of any local company of believers. If the Lord sees unreality, sees hypocrisy, mere formality, making His divine things just an end in themselves, sees us turned in on ourselves and not ministering to and forging toward the great end, progressing and developing as we go on with this increasing fullness of Christ, the Lord will, sooner or later, overturn that local company, upset it, will bring the sword in and will scatter and will break down and overturn. It is the history of many a company of the Lord�s people who have become merely formal and traditional, having lost their vitality and their vision.
And let us come nearer. It will be the history of individual lives. As soon as you and I resolve everything - teaching, doctrine, practice, and meetings - into some thing [TAS] which is just a rota being carried on, and it loses that great, mighty, dynamic vision of the purpose of God, and loses that tremendous impact of a sense of purpose, then our own individual Christian life will come under the sword. We will just go to pieces and will have to come to this place: "I have been on false ground. I have been in a false position. My position has not been true, not real. All the teaching that I have received is simply something in my head, in my mind, and not a vital part of my being. "The Lord must overturn."
. . . .
What is the teaching of all this? In the first place, over all the thrones we have already mentioned, there is a Throne, another Throne, which is seen at the beginning of Ezekiel's prophecies. "Above the firmament...the likeness of a throne...and upon the likeness of the throne was the likeness...of a man upon it above" (1:26). Above! That spreads over all these kingdoms, dominions and powers. To use a fragment from Daniel: "Thou shalt have known that the heavens do rule." There is a throne over all, and that ought to comfort us.
I have been saying hard things, painful things. Perhaps, you say, gloomy things, depressing things. But what is the lesson? Over all these terrible things there is a Throne.What is the explanation of the downfall of all these world powers? There is one explanation. Every one of them sought to take the place that was eternally appointed for God's Son. God had appointed Him "heir of all things" (Hebrews 1:2). And every one of these had stretched out a hand to take to itself what belonged by eternal covenant to the Son of God.
(These things....) In a very limited scope, spreading out and out and out until (like) Rome spreads itself over all the world, to possess it, to rule and govern it for their own ends.And God said, "WAIT!THAT IS MY PRESERVE.THAT IS THE PRESERVE OF MY SON.DON'T TOUCH THAT.DON'T LAY A HAND ON THAT. THAT IS SACRED TO MY SON. TOUCH THAT AND I WILL OVERTURN, OVERTURN, OVERTURN UNTIL HE COME WHOSE RIGHT IT IS: AND I WILL GIVE IT TO HIM."That is history......
AND THE THRONE ABOVE SAYS, "IF YOU CAN'T READ HISTORY, YOU WILL LEARN IN EXPERIENCE."