The Lofty Place of Contrition

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By John Thiel

Isaiah 57:14 And shall say, Cast ye up, cast ye up, prepare the way, take up the stumbling block out of the way of my people. 15 For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name [is] Holy; I dwell in the high and holy [place], with him also [that is] of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.

The wanderings of the children of Israel from Egypt to their Canaan is a symbol or a lesson for Gods people from the time of Christ in their travel to the heavenly Canaan. A type, the history of the Jews was a type. When they came out of Egypt, they could not immediately directly go to the land of Canaan. Why was it that they could not go straight to the land of Canaan in the shortest distance as quickly as possible? There is much that can be read from the bible but it is summarised.

Instead of pursuing the direct route to Canaan, which lay through the country of the Philistines, the Lord directed their course southward, toward the shores of the Red Sea. “For God said, Lest peradventure the people repent when they see war, and they return to Egypt.” Had they attempted to pass through Philistia, their progress would have been opposed; for the Philistines, regarding them as slaves escaping from their masters, would not have hesitated to make war upon them. The Israelites were poorly prepared for an encounter with that powerful and warlike people. They had little knowledge of God and little faith in Him, and they would have become terrified and disheartened. They were unarmed and unaccustomed to war, their spirits were depressed by long bondage, and they were encumbered with women and children, flocks and herds. In leading them by the way of the Red Sea, the Lord revealed Himself as a God of compassion as well as of judgment. {PP 282.1}

The children of Israel knew little of their God. As he led them he had to reveal to them of himself. That is why he took them along the path to mount Sinai and there at the foot of mount Sinai he introduced to them his character and law. As they were travelling along he had to lead them along in such a way so they could learn and be part of him. The parallel of Israel to modern Israel is further discussed.

But the people were not yet ready to meet their Lord. There was still a work of preparation to be accomplished for them. Light was to be given, directing their minds to the temple of God in Heaven; and as they should by faith follow their High Priest in his ministration there, new duties would be revealed. Another message of warning and instruction was to be given to the church. {GC88 424.3}

Like the Hebrews they were not ready to enter the Promised Land. They had to be prepared to enter there.

It was not the will of God that Israel should wander forty years in the wilderness; he desired to lead them directly to the land of Canaan, and establish them there, a holy, happy people. But “they could not enter in because of unbelief.” [Hebrews 3:19.] Because of their backsliding and apostasy, they perished in the desert, and others were raised up to enter the promised land. In like manner, it was not the will of God that the coming of Christ should be so long delayed, and his people should remain so many years in this world of sin and sorrow. But unbelief separated them from God. As they refused to do the work which he had appointed them, others were raised up to proclaim the message. In mercy to the world, Jesus delays his coming, that sinners may have an opportunity to hear the warning, and find in him a shelter before the wrath of God shall be poured out. {GC88 458.1}

Are we under the shelter? God needs to teach us like he taught the Hebrews what it means to be under his shelter.

The history of the wilderness life of Israel was chronicled for the benefit of the Israel of God to the close of time. The record of God’s dealings with the wanderers of the desert in all their marching’s to and fro, in their exposure to hunger, thirst, and weariness, and in the striking manifestations of His power for their relief, is fraught with warning and instruction for His people in all ages. The varied experience of the Hebrews was a school of preparation for their promised home in Canaan. God would have His people in these days review with a humble heart and teachable spirit the trials through which ancient Israel passed, that they may be instructed in their preparation for the heavenly Canaan. {PP 293.1}

As they were travelling they were going through the school for Canaan. The school of training that the Hebrews went through was a type for us. So that we may be instructed in our preparation for the heavenly Canaan.

Had Adventists, after the great disappointment in 1844, held fast their faith and followed on unitedly in the opening providence of God, receiving the message of the third angel and in the power of the Holy Spirit proclaiming it to the world, they would have seen the salvation of God, the Lord would have wrought mightily with their efforts, the work would have been completed, and Christ would have come ere this to receive His people to their reward. {Ev 695.3}

That was written in 1883. Back there he could have come but what was the problem?

But in the period of doubt and uncertainty that followed the disappointment, many of the advent believers yielded their faith. . . . Thus the work was hindered, and the world was left in darkness. Had the whole Adventist body united upon the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus, how widely different would have been our history! {Ev 695.3}

It was not the will of God that the coming of Christ should be thus delayed. God did not design that His people, Israel, should wander forty years in the wilderness. He promised to lead them directly to the land of Canaan, {Ev 696.1}

So it is that we are delayed in experiencing the coming of Jesus even today. Did you notice something in looking upon the history of the Hebrews? It says with a humble heart and teachable spirit. We are on the border of the heavenly Canaan and we are given are finally opportunity to sanctify ourselves as on the morrow we are going to enter. Jesus announces to us living in this time what is written in Revelation 3. This is what he is waiting for.

Revelation 3:21 To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.

Jesus wants his people to be sanctified so they can sit with him on his throne. To overcome as he overcame. God’s people who are living at this side of the typical Jordan, are privileged to cross over and sit upon the throne of God, to sit upon the throne that Jesus sits on. What is to be our state of mind and our condition if we are going to be sitting on his throne? The lofty place where God sits is offered to whom?

Isaiah 57:15 For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name [is] Holy; I dwell in the high and holy [place], with him also [that is] of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.

Jesus said those who overcome will sit with me on my throne. What is this throne? This is a high and holy and lofty place for those who are contrite. To dwell in a high and lofty place and be totally humble and contrite, isn’t that the opposite of what the kings and rulers of this world have inside of themselves? They are honourable people. They exercise authority over their subjects. Mans natural ambition, mans natural state of mind is foreign to the one upon his throne. He dwells in a high and lofty place with whom? He who is humble. God’s throne which is a lofty position is not gained by human ambition.

1 Peter 5:5 Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all [of you] be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. 6 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:

Most people read this and say well of course, God is up there and he wants me to be humble. He dwells with those who are of a humble and contrite spirit. What does that make him if he dwells with those?

James 4:5 Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy? 6 But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. 7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse [your] hands, [ye] sinners; and purify [your] hearts, [ye] double minded. 9 Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and [your] joy to heaviness. 10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.

Where shall he lift us to if this is our focus? He will lift us into the lofty place of contrition. He dwells in a high and lofty place with him who is of a contrite and humble spirit. The lofty place of contrition. We are to understand the lofty place of contrition. God is of a nature that can’t interact with pride and self glory. He resists that. It is contrary to his nature. He can’t sit with anyone on a throne with an attitude of mind that up there would make them feel greater than another. That is not the throne of heaven. If you want to get onto that throne and dwell up there in that lofty place, if I humble myself with the intention to be exalted, is that a contradiction of terms? Yet if you look at the ambition of every human being with egocentrism, this is what motivates so many people. If I am going to get there and if I want to be exalted, I’m going to do something. I’m going to humble myself so I can fulfil that exaltation. We have the whole thing on a wrong motive. Here is a characteristic of many Christians.

Colossians 2:18 Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind,

o you want to be on the throne of God? Isn’t that what Lucifer wanted? Anyone who wants to be on the throne of God is following Lucifers mentality. To get there is need to be humble so I exercise voluntary humility. As Christians we can exercise a humility that we think is going to get me there.

No man can of himself understand his errors. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” Jeremiah 17:9. The lips may express a poverty of soul that the heart does not acknowledge. While speaking to God of poverty of spirit, the heart may be swelling with the conceit of its own superior humility and exalted righteousness. {COL 159.1}

I am so humble that I’m so proud of my humility. I have engaged in the righteousness of Christ and therefore I have earned a position and I can feel free of this sense that I am nothing. In one way only can a true knowledge of self be obtained. We must behold Christ. It is ignorance of him that makes me uplifted in my own righteousness.

When we contemplate His purity and excellence, we shall see our own weakness and poverty and defects as they really are. We shall see ourselves lost and hopeless, clad in garments of self-righteousness, like every other sinner. We shall see that if we are ever saved, it will not be through our own goodness, but through God’s infinite grace. {COL 159.1}

What a reality that we must come to.

The prayer of the publican was heard because it showed dependence reaching forth to lay hold upon Omnipotence. Self to the publican appeared nothing but shame. Thus it must be seen by all who seek God. By faith–faith that renounces all self-trust–the needy suppliant is to lay hold upon infinite power. {COL 159.2}

What are we to do? We are to get a correct view of Jesus Christ. We must behold Christ. It is ignorance of him that makes men so uplifted in their own righteousness. As we seek to expound, meditate and explore this situation, to comprehend the condition of mind that rules from the throne of the universe, if we want to understand that high and lofty place, let us behold it by beholding him. We want to see what it means to sit on that throne. Something that needs to be understood by beholding. Let us look at the one who sits on that throne. We are here to worship God in spirit and in truth and we need to understand him. The apostle Paul is speaking to the Athenians.

Acts 17:27 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;

How close is God to you? The very fact you are breathing and your heart is beating is because he has us in his hand. In him we live and move.

Job 12:9 Who knoweth not in all these that the hand of the LORD hath wrought this? 10 In whose hand [is] the soul of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind.

Let this sink in. We are not self made men and women. In him we are made, he is the light as it says in John 1. He is the light that lights every man that comes into the world. When he was speaking in the writing on the wall at Belshazzar’s castle, and Daniel came in, what did he remind this proud monarch of?

Daniel 5:23 But hast lifted up thyself against the Lord of heaven; and they have brought the vessels of his house before thee, and thou, and thy lords, thy wives, and thy concubines, have drunk wine in them; and thou hast praised the Gods of silver, and gold, of brass, iron, wood, and stone, which see not, nor hear, nor know: and the God in whose hand thy breath [is], and whose [are] all thy ways, hast thou not glorified:

To glorify God is to be fully conscious of the fact that I have my whole dependence upon him to keep me alive and in that dependence I submit myself to him. While this is a reality, notice the wonderful mentality of this monarch of the universe. Look at the gift of Jesus. Every person in this world has been illuminated by Jesus Christ. This life giver was in the world.

John 1:9 [That] was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.

He came to Bethlehem and he found no place to be born in. He whose life is our life, he comes and he has nowhere to be.

John 1:11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not. 12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, [even] to them that believe on his name:

What do you recognise is happening here in this particular revelation of him? He came to his own and was dependent upon them receiving him. He didn’t come as a king and say I am your God, you have to bow down and worship me. He came as a little babe in Bethlehem. As he came to his ministry, was he a king? No he came to serve. He was dependent upon Israel to receive him but they received him not. Is there a similar statement for our time?

The Mentality of this Time

Revelation 3:20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

In him you live and move and have your being. You can’t live without him, he is part of you and he says may I come in? Your and my conscious self, he will not interfere with. He has every right to. In mans idea a monarch rules. What is his monarch attitude? A gentleman knocking, can I make my abode with you? He does not impose that. He recognises your space and your right to safeguard your space. The monarch of the universe will only come in if you give him the right. Take the lesson to heart. This is the only motive that is to place us on the throne. A motive of total contrite humility. Can you see how humble and contrite he was? This is the mind that we must have if we are going to sit on his throne. It is not a mind that we want to sit on his throne it is a mind that is a condition of Gods mind. As we behold Christ, we will no longer have any pride left in us.

Philippians 2:3 [Let] nothing [be done] through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. 

I want to stand in the pulpit and preach and do this and that, vain glory.

Philippians 2:4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. 5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:

As a man what did he do?

Philippians 2:7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

Even the death of the cross. Not only death. That the reality is the mind of God. He dwells in a high and lofty place with that mentality and Jesus came to show us and because he demonstrated that, what did God do?

Philippians 2:9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of [things] in heaven, and [things] in earth, and [things] under the earth;

Why does every knee bow and worship him? Because he was of a contrite and humble mind. That’s God. To sit with him on his throne is our privilege and God is looking to see who on the border of the heavenly Canaan has come to such a mind. We are to prepare to cross over and sit upon his throne. This is part of preparation. What is God looking for?

2 Chronicles 16:9 For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show himself strong in the behalf of [them] whose heart [is] perfect toward him. Herein thou hast done foolishly: therefore from henceforth thou shalt have wars.

He is spanning the earth with his eyes to find such a people.

Who God Looks For

Isaiah 66:1 Thus saith the LORD, The heaven [is] my throne, and the earth [is] my footstool: where [is] the house that ye build unto me? and where [is] the place of my rest?

66:2 For all those [things] hath mine hand made, and all those [things] have been, saith the LORD: but to this [man] will I look, [even] to [him that is] poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.

He is looking and when he can find his people like that, they are fit to sit on his throne. A people who have an attitude like that of contrition, humility and of selflessness, contrary to what you and I are made of – egocentric. It feels like death if you are going to exercise the mind of Christ and that is what Christ was obedient to and worse, the death of the cross. The Lord has a people on earth that he is looking at ready for his coming. Here are the people that he will come to take home, the human factor in the church will be removed.

Zephaniah 3:11 In that day shalt thou not be ashamed for all thy doings, wherein thou hast transgressed against me: for then I will take away out of the midst of thee them that rejoice in thy pride, and thou shalt no more be haughty because of my holy mountain. 12 I will also leave in the midst of thee an afflicted and poor people, and they shall trust in the name of the LORD.

Proud that We Are God’s Church

God is preparing these people to get across the antitypical Jordan. We are God’s church and we are proud of that fact and we let everyone know about it, we will no longer be haughty. Study the reactions of the Hebrews in the wilderness. They murmured and complained, oh do we have to go through all this discomfort? The humbling experience they went through in Egypt and they said hooray we are going to Canaan but as they travelled along, yuck. Caught between the devil and the sea and then the Lord opened a way and the devil was damaged. They came along and there no water. They came to the spring and it was bitter. They murmured and complained all the way along. Why? Because to follow God and his training is hard work. To become a poor and humble and contrite people, that is what he is trying to teach them and that is what he is trying to teach us.

Korah reviewed the history of their travels through the wilderness, where they had been brought into strait places, and many had perished because of their murmuring and disobedience. His hearers thought they saw clearly that their troubles might have been prevented if Moses had pursued a different course. They decided that all their disasters were chargeable to him, and that their exclusion from Canaan was in consequence of the mismanagement of Moses and Aaron; that if Korah would be their leader, and would encourage them by dwelling upon their good deeds, instead of reproving their sins, they would have a very peaceful, prosperous journey; instead of wandering to and fro in the wilderness, they would proceed directly to the Promised Land. {PP 397.4}

Have you ever heard anyone say if it wouldn’t have been for this and that, it would have been a different story in the church? That is what Korah said. Korah claimed to be looking only at the positives not the negatives but what was he doing? He was looking at the negatives. Can you see the mentality? It is the opposite of rational, true aspects of God. We are to look at the position in each other but when it comes to the word of God, it must point out to me the things I must learn to correct and that is unpopular in modern Christianity. That is what Korah, Dathan and Abiram were doing back there. Is this also our danger here? To look for a quick less tedious way to perfection? Do I have to go through these purifying exercises? They are so uncomfortable, oh yes, righteousness by faith, if I just believe, that is what Korah said, we can get straight to Canaan. It is this kind of mentality that is rampant in today’s society. A danger of righteousness by faith without the need of a sense of condemnation. The humiliating part towards righteousness.

“Unless guilt of conscience was taken off the right way, that is, by the blood of Christ, a man grew rather worse for the loss of his trouble of mind, than better. Wherefore, if my guilt lay hard upon me, then I should cry that the blood of Christ might take it off; and if it was going off without it (for the sense of sin would be sometimes as if it would die, and go quite away), then I would also strive to fetch it upon my heart again, by bringing the punishment for sin in hell fire upon my spirits; and should cry, Lord, let it not go off my heart, but the right way, but by the blood of Christ, and by the application of Thy mercy, through Him, to my soul;” John Bunyan – Grace Abounding to Chief of Sinners. Page 86.

The exercise of the truth as it is in Jesus is the only way to remove condemnation but if it is going to go away any other way as Bunyan said don’t let it go away as I will only get more bold in my pride in myself.

“The Lord did lead me to begin where His Word begins with sinners; that is, to condemn all flesh, and to open and allege that the curse of God, by the law, doth belong to and lay hold on all men as they come into the world, because of sin. Now this part of my work I fulfilled with great sense; for the terrors of the law, and guilt for my transgressions, lay heavy on my conscience. I preached what I felt, what I smartingly did feel, even that under which my poor soul did groan and tremble to astonishment.” John Bunyan – Grace Abounding to Chief of Sinners Page 276.

That doesn’t seem right, is that what a Christian should go through? This is why this message is not popular. If we look at the words of j in his experience, when he was on the cross he was obedient to what? The death of the cross. What was the exp? The condemnation of the law against him and to save me he had to feel that. For us to be saved we need to feel that. And as I feel it I am brought to contrition. Why did Jesus die? Why was he suffering?

1 Peter 4:1 Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; 2 That he no longer should live the rest of [his] time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God.

He suffered for us. When I have a sense o f condemnation it is essential to appreciate the goodness of the Lord so it will lead me to repentance. I need to be part of repentance all the time. If I want to sit on that throne that is offered us, what is written?

Riddled With Sin

Psalm 51:17 The sacrifices of God [are] a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.

In this whole scenario of giving God an offering, it is a broken and contrite spirit that Jesus took part of. God didn’t despise it even though he was riddled with sin, not his but ours. Our sin that we are riddled by will be relieved only as we come to Jesus with a broken and contrite heart as God can’t oppose that. He welcomes them on his throne. This is the mind of God. When you feel weak and overwhelmed with your weakness and state of sin, you should feel that way, there is nothing wrong with that feeling.

2 Corinthians 13:4 For though he was crucified through weakness, yet he liveth by the power of God. For we also are weak in him, but we shall live with him by the power of God toward you.

You want to live with him one day on the throne? Then be content with your present weakness, content in the sense that you won’t try to get rid of it under any other guise but simply by casting yourself upon your father in heaven like Jesus did. Father into your hand I commend my spirit. Everyday continue. This is to be our exercise.

Only he who sees his own sinfulness can discern the preciousness of the Saviour. {DA 494.4}

Every step along the way to heaven my repentance and my deep sense of my need will become deeper and deeper because the Lord will teach me the mentality of his own self through his leading in my life.

All our good works are dependent on a power outside of ourselves. Therefore there needs to be a continual reaching out of the heart after God, a continual, earnest, heartbreaking confession of sin and humbling of the soul before Him. Only by constant renunciation of self and dependence on Christ can we walk safely. {COL 159.4}

If I will do any good works what must there be? A humble depending on God. This is the message of preparation for heaven. Some people say oh dear that’s a negative attitude. Isn’t that what Korah said? Are we going to stay in a negative attitude?

Jesus knows the needs of His children, and He loves to listen to their prayers. Let the children shut out the world and everything that would attract the thoughts from God, and let them feel that they are alone with God, that His eye looks into the inmost heart, and reads the desire of the soul, and that they may talk with God. In humble faith you may claim His promises, and feel that although you have nothing in yourself whereby you may claim the favor of God, because of the merits and righteousness of Christ, you may come boldly to the throne of grace, and find help in time of need. {SD 121.2}

Where you are overwhelmed with a state of your depravity? He reads the desire of the soul. What may you do? You may come boldly to the throne of grace. Why? Not because you feel bold but because the merits of Jesus Christ our Lord and saviour. That merit of total dependence and reliance upon the mind and God of the universe will produce a position with him. We who desire the uplifting of the law, we who desire the exonerated sense that we have righteousness by faith in its correct setting, will not sense this exoneration on this side of Jordan. We want it to don’t we? If I am going to have a sense of being lifted up into the lofty throne of God, I must wait because Proverbs says what?

Proverbs 15:33 The fear of the LORD [is] the instruction of wisdom; and before honour [is] humility.

In preparation and in coming up to the condition where Jesus can say my people are ready I can go now and pick them up, our message to be Gods faithful messengers today is in Isaiah.

Isaiah 57:13 When thou criest, let thy companies deliver thee; but the wind shall carry them all away; vanity shall take [them]: but he that putteth his trust in me shall possess the land, and shall inherit my holy mountain; 14 And shall say, Cast ye up, cast ye up, prepare the way, take up the stumbling block out of the way of my people.

The people who are trusting in God, their message to the world and church is cast ye up, remove the stumbling block. What is the stumbling block? The idea that I am going to be exonerated. The desire of being rewarded, that motivates me to be humble. That is the stumblingblock. How much this is a stumbling block in the churches today. Remove it, cast ye up turn it over, let your laughter be turned to mounting and glory to heaviness. Cast ye up that is the stumbling block, remove it and the Lord will no longer repulse us as he repulses the proud. It is contrary to his nature. I want to sit with him on his throne don’t you? What should motivate me? The desire to sit on this throne? No. What should motivate me is that I am poor undone sinner and God loves me so much he is prepared to place me there if I will surrender to him. If I will let him come in and have this mind in me which was his mind. May God help us to be the people who are poor and afflicted and who tremble at his Word and who trust in him.

Amen.

Posted on September 5, 2010, in Divine Service Sermons, Sermons by John Thiel. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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