God - The Master Craftsman - Part 2

A God Who is Near

an article based on a sermon

by Jon Bowles

given 28 April 2007

(PLAY FROM START)

In Part 1 we looked at God "the Master Craftsman" particularly in the areas of the physical creation, the Mind behind that creation, as well as in the examples of physical birth, the Sabbath and spiritual birth. I would like to continue with the subject, but from a different approach.

Recently European astronomers, using a telescope in Chili, discovered what appears to be the first exoplanet (a planet outside our planetary system that orbits a star) that is earth-like - of solid material (as opposed to gas), due to its size and distance from its sun, and within what is called the "Goldilocks Zone" (a zone where temperatures are just right to allow liquid water on its surface, and therefore possibly life). It is some 20.5 light years away from us and is a phenomenal find. Yet, the universe as a whole is estimated to be (at last count) 150 billion light years across - a vast distance beyond our ability to grasp.

When we hear of these discoveries, when we turn our minds to contemplate the vastness of this universe, the great power that controls it, the incredible craftsmanship involved, we can sometimes think, "Is God really concerned about me?"

But God, as great as He is, is vitally concerned with us - personally, individually. He is a God who is near to each and every one of us and there is much in scripture that talks about this, and is incredibly encouraging for us.

In light of the subject of Part One, I'd like to examine this "God who is near," particularly in the following five areas:

The largeness and smallness

Let us look first at the "largeness" of this Being with whom we have to do. Turn to Isaiah 57.

Isaiah 57:15 For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity...

God inhabits eternity. He inhabits "for ever and ever" - "time" without end. Can we grasp this?

Scientists have done experiments where they have actually tried to slice up time into its smallest unit - so as to capture the ultra-fast chemical reactions that occur at the molecular level. What they have gotten down to is a unit called a femtosecond. It is so small, to try and put it into perspective, the comparison has been made that a femtosecond is to a second what a second is to 32 million years!

But even when dividing time up into this incredibly small unit they have found that it is completely smooth - there is no quantum. It does not pass in discrete quantities or steps. Time flows smoothly. And here is this "high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity."

Notice another aspect of this Being in Jeremiah, chapter 23.

Jeremiah 23:23-24 Am I a God at hand, saith the [Eternal], and not a God afar off? (24) Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the [Eternal]. Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the [Eternal].

Through His Spirit, He fills heaven - a heaven that is 150 billion light years across (and remember, light travels at 186 thousand miles a second!) - and earth. Yet, He can look down to the smallest intricacies, the "secret places." It is an enormous scope. Notice 1 Kings, chapter 8.

1 Kings 8:22-23 And Solomon stood before the altar of the [Eternal] in the presence of all the congregation of Israel, and spread forth his hands toward heaven: (23) And he said, [Eternal] God of Israel, there is no God like thee, in heaven above, or on earth beneath, who keepest covenant and mercy with thy servants that walk before thee with all their heart.

Verse 27:

1 Kings 8:27 But will God indeed dwell on the earth? behold, the heaven [the sky above the earth] and heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house that I have builded?

Contemplate the "largeness" of this Being: He fills the heavens and earth. They can't contain Him. He inhabits eternity - "for ever and ever." He has always been and always will be.

Psalm 147:

Psalms 147:1-4 Praise ye the [Eternal]: for it is good to sing praises unto our God; for it is pleasant; and praise is comely [fitting]. (2) The [Eternal] doth build up Jerusalem: he gathereth together the outcasts of Israel. (3) He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds. (4) He telleth the number of the stars; he calleth them all by their names.

How many stars are there in the universe? In our galaxy alone there are approximately one hundred thousand million, and there are roughly one hundred thousand million galaxies! To give a visual picture: Say every dot struck on a typewriter represents a star. If you typed 10 dots in an inch, then another 10 down in an inch and filled them up, so as to have a hundred in a square inch, then started laying these little squares till you covered the entire earth: to define the number of stars that they reckon are in the universe, you would need to cover 126 earths! Yet God knows each one by name. He is a Being who fills heaven and earth (who knows the large), yet also knows every single star (who knows the smallest details). As He says, "Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? "

Someone who found this out to a dramatic degree was Jonah. Notice:

Jonah 1:1-3 Now the word of the [Eternal] came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, (2) Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me. (3) But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the [Eternal], and went down to Joppa; and he found a ship going to Tarshish: so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with them unto Tarshish from the presence of the [Eternal].

He was eventually thrown overboard and swallowed up by a great fish, prepared by God. After being vomited out, Jonah was again told to "Go, warn Nineveh," which he finally did.

Chapter 3:

Jonah 3:5-7 So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them. (6) For word came unto the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. (7) And he caused it to be proclaimed and published through Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste any thing: let them not feed, nor drink water:

The entire nation fasted, including even the animals. This wasn't a full repentance, because as God goes on to say, these people "cannot discern between their right hand and their left." But they turned to the best of their ability. Part of the reason for their turning no doubt was that Jonah came out of the mouth of a fish on their seashore. They saw this being (bleached white most probably) walking out of this great fish, and assumed he was a prophet of the fish-god Dagon, whom they worshiped. But, nevertheless they did turn from their evil way.

Verse 10:

Jonah 3:10 - 4:11 And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not. (4:1) But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was very angry. (2) And he prayed unto the [Eternal], and said, I pray thee, O [Eternal], was not this my saying, when I was yet in my country? [He knew that this nation was going to punish Israel. That is why he fled.] Therefore I fled before unto Tarshish: for I knew that thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil. (3) Therefore now, O [Eternal], take, I beseech thee, my life from me; for it is better for me to die than to live. (4) Then said the [Eternal], Doest thou well to be angry? (5) So Jonah went out of the city, and sat on the east side of the city, and there made him a booth, and sat under it in the shadow, till he might see what would become of the city. [He thought that there might still be a chance of punishment.] (6) And the [Eternal] God prepared a gourd [probably a castor oil tree], and made it to come up over Jonah, that it might be a shadow over his head, to deliver him from his grief. So Jonah was exceeding glad of the gourd. [Here is this Being, whom the heavens cannot contain, who knows every star, preparing a castor oil tree to shelter his prophet from the sun.] (7) But God prepared a worm when the morning rose the next day, and it smote the gourd that it withered. (8) And it came to pass, when the sun did arise, that God prepared a vehement east wind; and the sun beat upon the head of Jonah, that he fainted, and wished in himself to die, and said, It is better for me to die than to live. (9) And God said to Jonah, Doest thou well to be angry for the gourd? And he said, I do well to be angry, even unto death. (10) Then said the [Eternal], Thou hast had pity on the gourd, for the which thou hast not laboured, neither madest it grow; which came up in a night, and perished in a night: (11) And should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle?

So again, we see this Being to whom not only is the large important, but also the small - down to the individual, down to even the cattle, down to the smallest of particles, as we will now see.

Quantum mechanics attempts to explain the behavior of the very small. Phenomenon at this level is truly amazing. The "double slit" experiment demonstrates this well. If you fire a stream of photons (light "quantums") at two slits in a wall, with a screen behind it, wave-like interference patterns will be produced on the screen - not two separate areas of light, as might be expected - showing that light when traveling behaves as a wave and not a particle. Even if you fire individual photons in succession, an interference pattern will build up on the screen. The same wave-like behavior pattern can be seen with electrons and atoms as well.

However, in the experiment, if you block one of the slits or start "observing" what is going on with a detector, the photons suddenly change and start behaving as particles, behaving as something solid - clustering on the screen behind the open slits. So, incredibly, the way that you look at the photons affects what happens, how they behave. One explanation for this is that photons are not traveling through both slits as material waves, but "probability waves" (without definite locations, but within varying probable areas). Once observed however their wave function collapses (they collapse their "probability wave") and they revert to being particles.

Back in the 1930's, several years after quantum mechanics had been developed, there was an interesting thought experiment devised by the physicists Einstein, Poldosky and Rosen, called the EPR Paradox. A "thought experiment" is a hypothetical scenario to help understand the way things actually are. Einstein was pretty scathing about quantum mechanics being a complete theory of the universe and the purpose of the experiment was to expose this.

The EPR experiment was based on two equal, associated particles - let's say twin protons within an atom. Each proton spins in equal and opposite direction to the other (which results in a total spin of zero). If you measure the spin of one (observe it) it will collapse its probability wave (as we saw with photons), and then "decide" which spin to adopt. Its twin proton, according to quantum theory, will somehow know this and adopt the opposite spin.

The thought experiment was that if you split the protons (sent them in opposite directions) and tested one for spin, the other one should react, because they are both tied together. The affect would be instantaneous - the other proton would instantaneously adjust to the opposite spin (the time interval would literally be zero) - even though the protons were separated. They theorized that this would happen even if the associated particles were separated by distances measured in light years. But they refused to believe that this effect could really happen, because it meant that particles were communicating with each other by something faster than the speed of light, which was an impossibility, as Einstein had determined that nothing could go faster than the speed of light. (Special Theory of Relativity). They thus concluded that this was evidence that quantum mechanics was incomplete. So disgusted was Einstein by the whole notion, that he made his, now famous, remark:

Quantum mechanics is very impressive. But an inner voice tells me that it is not yet the real thing. The theory produces a good deal but hardly brings us closer to the secrets of the Old One. I am at all events convinced that He does not play dice.
After his death, however, physicists managed to put this thought experiment into real experimental form. They split two protons and put them 10 kilometers apart. What was "thought" happened: When one was measured for spin, the other one reacted instantaneously, faster than the speed of light.

This Being, who fills heaven and earth, understands the smallest subatomic behavior. He crafted it. His scope is huge, yet goes down to the details of the small. If He gives this detailed attention on the smallest level, how much more with the likes of you or me. How much more will He give us the care, attention, and instruction that we need as a personal Father, as a personal God.

Remember what God did for Elisha? The Syrians were at war with Israel and Elisha was repeatedly warning Israel of the location of the Syrians' camp (which he undoubtedly knew by inspiration). The king of Syria was troubled and when told it was a Elisha who "telleth the king of Israel the words that thou speakest in thy bedchamber" (II Kings 6:12), he sent a huge army to confront Elisha. Noticed what happened.

II Kings 6:15-19 And when the servant of the man of God was risen early, and gone forth, behold, an host compassed the city both with horses and chariots. And his servant said unto him, Alas, my master! how shall we do? (16) And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them. (17) And Elisha prayed, and said, [Eternal], I pray thee, open his eyes that he may see. And the [Eternal] opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha. (18) And when they came down to him, Elisha prayed unto the [Eternal], and said, Smite this people, I pray thee, with blindness. And he smote them with blindness according to the word of Elisha. (19) And Elisha said unto them, This is not the way, neither is this the city: follow me, and I will bring you to the man whom ye seek. But he led them to Samaria.

God took care of the problem.

The small human groups that God has used

One thing this Being will not do however, is allow His glory to go to another - go to a mere human being. He is prepared to give us all things, but only if we will keep His spiritual law, walk in His ways, submit ourselves to His guidance, and become converted - having Christ living within us, walking the way He walked on this earth, by His Spirit.

Turn to Judges, chapter 6.

Judges 6:1-2 And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the [Eternal]: and the [Eternal] delivered them into the hand of Midian seven years. (2) And the hand of Midian prevailed against Israel: and because of the Midianites the children of Israel made them the dens which are in the mountains, and caves, and strong holds.

Verse 6:

Judges 6:6 And Israel was greatly impoverished because of the Midianites; and the children of Israel cried unto the [Eternal].

Verse 11:

Judges 6:11-16 And there came an angel of the [Eternal], and sat under an oak which was in Ophrah, that pertained unto Joash the Abiezrite: and his son Gideon threshed wheat by the winepress, to hide it from the Midianites. (12) And the angel [or the messenger] of the [Eternal] appeared unto him, and said unto him, The [Eternal] is with thee, thou mighty man of valour. (13) And Gideon said unto him, Oh my Lord, if the [Eternal] be with us, why then is all this befallen us? and where be all his miracles which our fathers told us of, saying, Did not the [Eternal] bring us up from Egypt? but now the [Eternal] hath forsaken us, and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites. (14) And the [Eternal] looked upon him, and said, Go in this thy might, and thou shalt save Israel from the hand of the Midianites: have not I sent thee? (15) And he said unto him, Oh my Lord, wherewith shall I save Israel? behold, my family is poor in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father's house. [There was nothing great about Gideon.] (16) And the [Eternal] said unto him, Surely I will be with thee, and thou shalt smite the Midianites as one man.

Chapter 7:

Judges 7:1-8 Then Jerubbaal, who is Gideon, and all the people that were with him, rose up early, and pitched beside the well of Harod: so that the host of the Midianites were on the north side of them, by the hill of Moreh, in the valley. (2) And the [Eternal] said unto Gideon, The people that are with thee are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel vaunt themselves against me, saying, Mine own hand hath saved me. [God could have created an army if He wanted to. He had in the past smitten an army without any help from Gideon. But He chose to work with Gideon and this group of people.] (3) Now therefore go to, proclaim in the ears of the people, saying, Whosoever is fearful and afraid, let him return and depart early from mount Gilead. And there returned of the people twenty and two thousand; and there remained ten thousand. [Two-thirds left.] (4) And the [Eternal] said unto Gideon, The people are yet too many; bring them down unto the water, and I will try them for thee there: and it shall be, that of whom I say unto thee, This shall go with thee, the same shall go with thee; and of whomsoever I say unto thee, This shall not go with thee, the same shall not go. (5) So he brought down the people unto the water: and the [Eternal] said unto Gideon, Every one that lappeth of the water with his tongue, as a dog lappeth, him shalt thou set by himself; likewise every one that boweth down upon his knees to drink. (6) And the number of them that lapped, putting their hand to their mouth, were three hundred men: but all the rest of the people bowed down upon their knees to drink water. [This was the sign God gave to Gideon.] (7) And the [Eternal] said unto Gideon, By the three hundred men that lapped will I save you, and deliver the Midianites into thine hand: and let all the other people go every man unto his place. (8) So the people took victuals in their hand, and their trumpets: and he sent all the rest of Israel every man unto his tent, and retained those three hundred men: and the host of Midian was beneath him in the valley.

Gideon then went down into the camp, and someone related a dream to him which gave him encouragement, and then: (Verse 15)

Judges 7:15-17 And it was so, when Gideon heard the telling of the dream, and the interpretation thereof, that he worshipped, and returned into the host of Israel, and said, Arise; for the [Eternal] hath delivered into your hand the host of Midian. (16) And he divided the three hundred men into three companies, and he put a trumpet in every man's hand, with empty pitchers, and lamps within the pitchers. (17) And he said unto them, Look on me, and do likewise...

So with just 300 men, divided into lots of 100 each, all with trumpets and lamps in clay pots in their hands, a great army was defeated. God used a very small group of men and showed without a doubt who gave the victory. The glory went to God and not man.

Mr. Armstrong said in his Autobiography, chapter 24 (under the heading "Greenhorn Tail-End Minister"):

I was no VIP entering the ministry. There was no red-carpet welcome - no pomp and ceremony - no spectacular acclaim. It would not have been God's doing, had it started out auspiciously. Everything God does through human instruments must start with a humble beginning, the very smallest. God brings down low and to naught the proud and the lofty. The Eternal is able to exalt in His own due time those He first humbles.

Every person has his IDOL. GOD cannot receive and convert a human life until his idol has been smashed or torn from him. My idol had been an egotistical sense of self-importance - a cocky self-assurance - a passion to become successful - to attain STATUS - in the eyes of the material world. God is creating in those He calls a righteous character which can be developed only through experience; and experience requires TIME. God has a lot of time - He is Eternal - He has always existed - He always will. [God is very patient. He can see the end from the beginning and can work with every single one of us in the way that is necessary.]

It took time to eradicate from my heart the love of the praise of men. God gave me, instead, the false accusations, the unwarranted oppositions, the scheming persecutions of jealous, competitive-minded ministers. It required time to bring me to a place where I no longer set my heart on material possessions and the finer things of this material world.

This process required not one or two years - not seven - but four sevens! For 28 financially lean and humiliating years out of the very prime of life, God continued to root out of my life and character this vain idolatry!

Look at the example of Moses. He had been a general in Egypt and then had to flee to the land of Midian where he dwelt 40 years, tending the flocks of his father-in-law, going through the problems that he had to go through there and then with the children of Israel. What about us? Had we back in the 70's gone into the "Promised Land" what would we have been able to do? Would we have been ready? No, because God wouldn't have allowed what we have gone through since. He has allowed it. He's dealing with us individually and He's allowing the Church to suffer what it has suffered. We need to understand this. God does use small human groups and individuals. And He will therefore whittle down anyone that is going to exalt himself (so that they can be used). He will not give His glory to another.

Who moves?

But what if we have problems getting through to this Being who is near? Who moves? Turn to Isaiah 59.

Isaiah 59:1-2 Behold, the [Eternal's] hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: (2) But your ["your" is plural here - meaning the nation Israel, not the individual] iniquities have separated between you and your [plural] God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.

As a nation, Israel separated themselves from God - their iniquities separated them from their God. And in Acts 17, we can see that this principle applies on an individual basis.

Acts 17:22-31 Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars' hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. (23) For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you. (24) God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; (25) Neither is worshipped with men's hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; (26) And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation [their boundaries of habitation being according to Israel - Deuteronomy 32:8); (27) That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: (28) For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring [Paul quoting their own philosophers to get the point across]. (29) Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man's device. (30) And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: (31) Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.

Paul is bringing out to these individuals that God is not way off somewhere. But we see very clearly from Isaiah 59:2, what separates these pagan philosophers is their way of life. God cut off mankind, originally - mankind could not gain access to Him. But that does not mean HE is way off somewhere. He is there. Mankind chose to go down a direction that separates. And, as it says, "he hath appointed a day [a thousand-year day], in the which he will judge the world in righteousness."

We understand as far as Israel of old is concerned, that they were blinded - that they could not gain access to God and that He allowed them to remain so. But notice what God actually said in Exodus 20:

Exodus 20:1-5 And God spake all these words, saying, (2) I am the [Eternal] thy [Not the plural "your" in Isaiah 59:2, but "thy" - singular.] God which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. (3) Thou shalt have no other gods before me. (4) Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: (5) Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them...

Verse 10:

Exodus 20:10 But the seventh day is the sabbath of the [Eternal] thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work...

God is addressing each individual Israelite. This is one reason why, when we are looking at the Ten Commandments, it is the spiritual law of God, not just some covenant law that was given specifically for ancient Israel - the collective group that was there. It was to them individually.

It is an individual spiritual law and therefore the question is, "Who moves?" If we feel we are having problems getting through when we get on our knees and pray (with the sacrifice we have been given on our behalf), this is the question. And the answer is that the problem comes back to us.

We need to look at ourselves. God does not move. He is "not far from every one of us." His Spirit fills heaven and earth and in that sense "in him we live, and move, and have our being." His Word defines everything that exists, even down to the two protons communicating, though separated by 10 kilometers, or the photons fired at two slits, behaving in a certain way until you start looking at them. All these things are under the control of this Being who fills heaven and earth, yet whose care goes down to a very personal level.

Physical Israel

We can see this very personal care with physical Israel.

Turn to Genesis, chapter 12. Here we find this Being who "inhabiteth eternity," dealing with this individual man, Abram.

Genesis 12:1-4 Now the [Eternal] [the one who became Jesus Christ] had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will show thee: (2) And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: (3) And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. (4) So Abram departed [He had been told back in Ur of the Chaldees. He got to Haran and his father died and he departed from there.], as the [Eternal] had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran.

Notice chapter 14, where Abram is in the Promise Land:

Genesis 14:18-20 And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God. (19) And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth: (20) And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all.

There was a personal relationship between this individual and Abram. And this relationship developed, in fact, into a friendship. Notice, in the following chapters:

Genesis 15:5-6 And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be. [That is what you will have. It is a phenomenal number.] (6) And he believed in the [Eternal]; and he counted it to him for righteousness.

Genesis 17:1-5 And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the [Eternal] appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God [the El Shaddai - the "great Blesser"]; walk before me, and be thou perfect. (2) And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly. (3) And Abram fell on his face: and God talked with him, saying, (4) As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations. (5) Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee.

Genesis 18:18-19 Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? (19) For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the [Eternal], to do justice and judgment; that the [Eternal] may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.

Isaiah 41:8 But thou, Israel, art my servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the seed of Abraham my friend.

It was a personal relationship, a friendship, between the Eternal, who later became Jesus Christ, and Abraham. Do we think this Being who inhabits eternity, cannot see the end from the beginning and then plan what He is going to be doing with Abraham in the future?

Notice verse 1:

Isaiah 41:1-2 Keep silence before me, O islands; and let the people renew their strength: let them come near; then let them speak: let us come near together to judgment. (2) Who raised up the righteous man from the east [talking about Christ who will come in from the east to the Mount of Olives], called him to his foot, gave the nations before him, and made him rule over kings? he gave them as the dust to his sword, and as driven stubble to his bow.

Verse 25:

Isaiah 41:25-26 I have raised up one from the north, and he shall come: from the rising of the sun shall he call upon my name [So He comes from the north and comes to the rising of the sun, which is the east.]: and he shall come upon princes as upon mortar, and as the potter treadeth clay. (26) Who hath declared from the beginning, that we may know? and beforetime, that we may say, He is righteous? yea, there is none that showeth, yea, there is none that declareth, yea, there is none that heareth your words.

Psalm 75:

Psalms 75:1-7 To the chief Musician, Altaschith, A Psalm or Song of Asaph. Unto thee, O God, do we give thanks, unto thee do we give thanks: for that thy name is near thy wondrous works declare. [We can see that your name is near. It is right with us.] (2) When I shall receive the congregation I will judge uprightly. [Looking right into the future.] (3) The earth and all the inhabitants thereof are dissolved: I bear up the pillars of it. Selah. [In other words, I am going to do something to start the very pillars of the new society, of the new world.] (4) I said unto the fools, Deal not foolishly: and to the wicked, Lift not up the horn: (5) Lift not up your horn on high: speak not with a stiff neck. (6) For promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south. [So which direction does it come from? The sides of the north. That is where Christ is going to come from - the sides of the north, across to the Mount of Olives, which is the east of Jerusalem.] (7) But God is the judge: he putteth down one, and setteth up another.

He is totally involved. And when we look at the way he has been totally involved, in the case of Israel of old, we can see so many things. Take for example, the Exodus. Not only was it a case of God working with Moses through all the time of him keeping sheep for forty years, having been the commander of an army before that, and then coming to the greatest job of all from the age of eighty on, but then you have the firstborn. God must have had a record of every single one - from the Pharaoh in his palace, down to the lowest prisoner in the dungeon, down to the cattle in the field. Just think! God was even keeping a stock record of the very cows in Egypt! That is how much involvement there was in Israel's case. Why? Because Israel was "my firstborn," a type of the firstfruits.

Notice Amos, chapter 9:

Amos 9:9 For, lo, I will command, and I will sift the house of Israel among all nations, like as corn is sifted in a sieve, yet shall not the least grain fall upon the earth.

God can do this. He can orchestrate the incredible detail in allowing the entire nation of Israel to "sift" through the nations of the earth and come out the other end at the time when Abraham will be resurrected. God will then be able to say to Abraham, his friend, "Here are your children who I have kept all the way through the generations, through thousands of years, and not one has fallen to the ground."

Verse 13:

Amos 9:13 Behold, the days come, saith the [Eternal], that the plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him that soweth seed; and the mountains shall drop sweet wine, and all the hills shall melt.

It is the time of the Millennium. Abraham will be there with Christ, with this One who called him "my friend" - the One who will show him physical Israel preserved. Because not only is this Being the Master Craftsman, the One who inhabits eternity, the One who knows every star by name, but also the One who goes down to the great detail as well. He is able to deal with people on an individual basis - even down to each individual, physical Israelite - to make sure that Israel exists in the Millennium.

Spiritual Israel

As regards spiritual Israel, we see this same approach.

Luke 6:

Luke 6:12-13 And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. [Notice: This same individual that was the friend of Abraham, that now - as a human being - understands that He needs to make sure He has the contact with God that is necessary to make some important, earth-shattering decisions.] (13) And when it was day, he called unto him his disciples [120 of them]: and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles [the ones "sent"];

This was not a case of just haphazardly choosing the twelve. It was hands on and very specific. And He is very specific when it comes to us as well. As it states in John, chapter 6, in a verse Mr. Armstrong repeatedly thunders when we listen to him:

John 6:44 No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day [the last day of this age - the first resurrection].

Each individual is specifically selected.

Notice Luke 12:

Luke 12:4-12 And I say unto you my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. (5) But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into [Gehenna]; yea, I say unto you, Fear him. (6) Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God? (7) But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. [He knows down to the most individual of levels.] Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows. (8) Also I say unto you, Whosoever shall confess me before men, him shall the Son of man also confess before the angels of God: (9) But he that denieth me before men shall be denied before the angels of God. (10) And whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but unto him that blasphemeth against the Holy [Spirit] it shall not be forgiven. (11) And when they bring you unto the synagogues, and unto magistrates, and powers, take ye no thought how or what thing ye shall answer, or what ye shall say: (12) For the Holy [Spirit] shall teach you in the same hour what ye ought to say.

He is giving this prelude as a warning to the people who will listen to us speak under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. If they know it is coming from the Spirit of God, and go against it, they will have a real problem on their hands. But it says for us not to worry about it. Why? Because we are of more value than the sparrows. Every single hair on our heads is counted! God knows us, spiritual Israel, intimately.

Turn to Romans, chapter 8.

Romans 8:26-29 Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. (27) And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he [Christ] maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God. (28) And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose [specifically called individuals that have been specifically chosen by the Father, given to Christ - the Living Word of God - for training]. (29) For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.

There is a predestination. There has to be a certain group of people at this time that are predestinated to have this relationship with God. And if we can open the Bible and understand these things, we have this relationship. God is not way off from us in any way at all. He is there. It is a case of whether we are making use of it - going on our knees daily, making sure we maintain that contact with Him. Are we getting through? If not, we need to fast, to pray effectively, and to ask Him for that contact that is so necessary.

Romans 8:30-32 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. [He will take it through every stage necessary in order to accomplish the purpose for which He has determined. This "God who is near" is near to each and every one of us that has been given this predestination of the position that we find ourselves in, of the knowledge that we are given.] (31) What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? [Who is going to stop this?] (32) He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things [complete the entire process]?

So when we see articles like the one on the discovery of the latest earth-like planet, some 20 light years away, and we start to wonder, "How can God be concerned about me?" we can see from these scriptures that He is very concerned with those He has predestined to have the positions necessary within His plan.

Ephesians, chapter one:

Ephesians 1:4-5 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation [the throwing down] of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: (5) Having predestinated us unto the [sonship] of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will.

We are predestined to be a certain way - to be converted, so as to be able to be sons of God.

Verse 10:

Ephesians 1:10-14 That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven [the "heavenlies"], and which are on earth; even in him: (11) In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: (12) That we [we, Jews] should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. (13) In whom ye [you, Gentiles] also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, (14) Which is the earnest [the down payment] of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.

So again, we see that those have been called were predestined by God.

Chapter 2:

Ephesians 2:11-13 Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; (12) That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: (13) But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off [They were separated by their sins. They were not part of the commonwealth of Israel even - not knowing the law, being Gentiles.] are made nigh by the blood of Christ.

We are made near by that blood. Any separation can be removed. When we get on our knees and claim that sacrifice, as long as we are repentant - as long as we determine to turn to go in God's way unconditionally - that blood covers, and we can therefore have a God who is near.

Spiritual Israel has a God who is near. The Law needs to be kept. Exodus 20 for us is very much using "thee" and "thou" (singular) not "you" and "your" (plural) - talking directly to each of us as individuals.

Turn to Isaiah, chapter 51:

Isaiah 51:1-2 Hearken to me, ye ["you" collectively.] that follow after righteousness, ye that seek the [Eternal]: look unto the rock whence ye are hewn, and to the hole of the pit whence ye are digged. (2) Look unto Abraham your father, and unto Sarah that bare you: for I called him alone, and blessed him, and increased him.

God was working with Abraham alone, on a very personal basis. But Zion collectively (all of us) needs to look at this and be aware of what God did.

Verse 4:

Isaiah 51:4-8 Hearken unto me, my people; and give ear unto me, O my nation: for a law shall proceed from me, and I will make my judgment to rest for a light of the people. (5) My righteousness is near; my salvation is gone forth, and mine arms shall judge the people; the isles shall wait upon me, and on mine arm shall they trust. (6) Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look upon the earth beneath [Look at these protons, 10 kilometers apart, that will respond to one another. Look at the way the stars are constructed. The evidence that is coming to us today is far, far greater than anything people have had in the past.]: for the heavens shall vanish away like smoke, and the earth shall wax old like a garment, and they that dwell therein shall die in like manner: but my salvation [the rescue , that is on an individual basis] shall be for ever, and my righteousness shall not be abolished. (7) Hearken unto me, ye that know righteousness, the people in whose heart is my law; fear ye not the reproach of men, neither be ye afraid of their revilings. (8) For the moth shall eat them up like a garment, and the worm shall eat them like wool: but my righteousness shall be for ever, and my salvation from generation to generation.

Verse 16:

Isaiah 51:16 And I have put my words in thy mouth [It is on an individual basis. It is a God who is near - a personal God who is dealing with each of us individually.], and I have covered thee in the shadow of mine hand, that I may plant the heavens, and lay the foundations of the earth, and say unto Zion, Thou art my people.

It is Zion collectively, but it is on an individual basis. Each and every one of us has a God that inhabits eternity, a God that knows all the stars (126 earths covered by dots!) by name, but also a God that deals with each and everyone of us on an individual basis - because He really is A God Who Is Near.

transcribed in article form by KA. Edited by JB.