Saints Who Recover -
The Temporary Experience of the Deception of God
Did you know that it is possible for a godly man to fall? Whether it be in the OT, NT, or now, godly men have fallen into a spiritual condition which merits God’s wrath. As the OT declares it, they fall into a place where God has hidden His face from them. Being cast off, they have fallen…and at such a time, if repentance is not obtained, then God acts in His righteous judgment to reflect their behavior – froward for froward, scorn for scorn, and lie for lie.
When God is unrepentant, He is, as it were, sleeping at the cry of His people, thus God is not awaking for their help and salvation. Therefore the people of God express a terrifying feeling of abandonment (Ps. 7:6-7, Isa. 51:9).
Arise, O LORD, in Thine anger, lift up Thyself because of the rage of mine enemies: and awake for me to the judgment that Thou hast commanded. So shall the congregation of the people compass Thee about: for their sakes therefore return Thou on high” (Psalm 7:6-7).
“Awake, awake, put on strength, O arm of the LORD; awake, as in the ancient days, in the generations of old. Art Thou not it that hath cut Rahab, and wounded the dragon?” (Isa. 51:9)
This feeling is as though God is sleeping. It is a feeling that God cannot or will not hear their cry for help. Sleep is when the consciousness of a living man is not awake, whether to be alarmed to do right or wrong, or to arise and intervene against some impending harm, thus men feel that God has forgotten what is right, good, true, or even commanded.
“Arise, O LORD; O God, lift up Thine hand: forget not the humble” (Ps. 10:12).
“How long wilt Thou forget me, O LORD? for ever? How long wilt Thou hide Thy face from me?” (Ps. 13:1).
“O deliver not the soul of Thy turtledove unto the multitude of the wicked: forget not the congregation of Thy poor for ever” (Ps. 74:19).
“I am forgotten as a dead man out of mind: I am like a broken vessel” (Ps. 31:12).
“I will say unto God my rock, Why hast Thou forgotten me? why go I mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?” (Ps. 42:9)
“Hath God forgotten to be gracious? Hath He in anger shut up his tender mercies?” (Ps. 77:9).
This reality is a strange paradigm that saints relate to God in! Men seek to awake and remind God, as if He can forget. They are giving “Him no rest” until He does His own will, and, through these means, God will be sure to do it. This is written: “And give Him no rest, till He establish, and till He make Jerusalem a praise in the earth” (Isa. 62:7). Now what you need to understand, my reader, is that, at such a time of God’s departure, like unto sleep or forgetfulness, this is a time when the promises are breached, favor and mercy for salvation is absent, and wrath is kindled (Ps. 77:7-9). This is the temporary experience of Christians while they are under the deception of God. Do you remember the terms of castaways, or when God does cast off, and how this is connected to reprobation, and do you remember how each of these terms were experienced by God hiding His face from His people? Even so God does with His saints; to some it is temporary, to others it is unto reprobation, but when it is upon the saint who then recovers from it, he recovers from it because he recognizes the signs of it, and thus he prays…
“When Thou saidst, Seek ye My face; my heart said unto Thee, Thy face, LORD, will I seek. Hide not Thy face far from me; put not Thy servant away in anger: Thou hast been my help; leave me not, neither forsake me, O God of my salvation” (Ps. 27:8-9).
“LORD, by Thy favour Thou hast made my mountain to stand strong: Thou didst hide Thy face, and I was troubled” (Ps. 30:7).
“Hide Thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities” (Ps. 51:9).
“And hide not Thy face from Thy servant; for I am in trouble: hear me speedily” (Ps. 69:17).
“Hide not Thy face from me in the day when I am in trouble; incline Thine ear unto me: in the day when I call answer me speedily” (Ps. 102:2)
“Hear me speedily, O LORD: my spirit faileth: hide not Thy face from me, lest I be like unto them that go down into the pit” (Ps. 143:7)
Read of the experiential anguish of saints under the wrath of God:
“For day and night Thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer” (Psalm 32:4).
“Have mercy upon me, O LORD, for I am in trouble: mine eye is consumed with grief, yea, my soul and my belly. For my life is spent with grief, and my years with sighing: my strength faileth because of mine iniquity, and my bones are consumed… Make Thy face to shine upon Thy servant: save me for Thy mercies' sake” (Ps. 31:9-10, 16).
When saints are under this type of delusive wrath, they are humiliated before the sovereignty of God. They recognize they are locked under a delusion unless God delivers them out of it, and while under it, they are under the leadership of His angry will.
"I was dumb, I opened not my mouth; because Thou didst it." (Psalm 39:9)
"O LORD, why hast Thou made us to err from Thy ways, and hardened our heart from Thy fear? Return for Thy servants’ sake, the tribes of Thine inheritance." (Isaiah 63:17)
"Who can understand his errors? cleanse Thou me from secret faults. Keep back Thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression." (Psalm 19:12-13)
If the saints recover again, it is because God is hearing their cry, choosing to no longer hide His face from them. They express this as the saving experience of recovery:
“God be merciful unto us, and bless us; and cause His face to shine upon us” (Ps. 67:1).
“Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, Thou that leadest Joseph like a flock; Thou that dwellest between the cherubims, shine forth. Before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh stir up Thy strength, and come and save us. Turn us again, O God, and cause Thy face to shine; and we shall be saved… Turn us again, O God of hosts, and cause Thy face to shine; and we shall be saved…Turn us again, O LORD God of hosts, cause Thy face to shine; and we shall be saved” (Ps. 80:1-3, 7, 19).
“Make Thy face to shine upon Thy servant; and teach me Thy statutes” (Ps. 119:135).
“The LORD make His face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee” (Num. 6:25).
“There be many that say, Who will shew us any good? LORD, lift Thou up the light of Thy countenance upon us” (Ps. 4:6).
“For the righteous LORD loveth righteousness; His countenance doth behold the upright” (Ps. 11:7).
“Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? Hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of His countenance” (Ps. 42:5).
“For they got not the land in possession by their own sword, neither did their own arm save them: but Thy right hand, and Thine arm, and the light of Thy countenance, because Thou hadst a favour unto them” (Ps. 44:3).
“Blessed is the people that know the joyful sound: they shall walk, O LORD, in the light of Thy countenance” (Ps. 89:15).
“Neither will I hide my face any more from them: for I have poured out my spirit upon the house of Israel, saith the Lord GOD” (Ezek. 39:29).
It is an absolute necessity to understand the personal experience of saints who underwent the deceptions of God, when, at sundry times, He did hide Himself from them, but did you know that God can give over entire generations, nations, and centuries into delusions? What we understand the Covenant to be will shape our view and judgment of how righteous or backslidden our generation is, but how few men seek for understanding like this “as for hid treasures” (Prov. 2:4)? How few are the men who do realize that it is a “secret” (Psa. 25:14)? We must be as those “men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do” (1 Chron. 12:32), as one that has “understanding in the visions of God” (2 Chron. 26:4-5) – Lest it be said of us, “O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times” (Matt. 16:3)?
“And when He was come near, He beheld the city, and wept over it, Saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes” (Luke 19:41-42).
Dear reader, how might we judge this in our day? How might we judge whether or not if, today, as in this old time, Christ is weeping over our destruction which is nigh and at hand? How shall we take heed to what is written in Ecclesiastes, when the preacher said: "Whoso keepeth the commandment shall feel no evil thing: and a wise man’s heart discerneth both time and judgment. Because to every purpose there is time and judgment, therefore the misery of man is great upon him" (Ecclesiastes 8:5-6)?