Behold Your God
Fred T. Wright
suspended from their necklaces, as the nuns do now.
“The Egyptians did the same, and many of the barbarous nations with whom they had intercourse, as the Egyptian monuments bear witness. In reference to the adorning of some of these tribes, Wilkinson thus writes:
‘The girdle was sometimes highly ornamented; men as well as women wore earrings; and they frequently had a small cross suspended to a necklace, or to the collar of their dress. The adoption of this last was not peculiar to them; it was also appended to, or figured upon, the robes of the Ro-n-no; and traces of it may been seen in the fancy ornaments of the Rebo, showing that it was already in use as early as the fifteenth century before the Christian era.’ (Fig. 44.) There is hardly a Pagan tribe where the cross has not been found.” The Two Babylons, 197-199.
Paul’s statement that the cross was foolishness to the Greek cannot be rightly understood except it be known that the cross was as much an integral and important part of Greek and Roman religion then, as it is of papal and Protestant religion today. Consequently, if Paul’s words had been reported to a Greek or Roman of that time, they would have ridiculed the
idea as being utterly false, exactly as a modern religionist would, if it was suggested that the cross was foolishness to him. They would point to the dominant role of the cross in their religious rites and ceremonies, to its multiplied appearances in every church function, and on every person and building, offering these things as evidence that the cross is anything but foolishness; and that it is an object receiving the deepest reverence and continual adoration in their worship.
They would have contended that Paul’s assertion, not the cross, was the foolish thing.
Thus there existed the testimony of God’s Word through the inspired apostle versus the counterclaim by the Greek and Roman. The former taught that the cross was foolishness to the Greek, while the latter disclaimed such a charge. It must be conceded that the Greek would e entirely sincere in what he said, believing that he, and not Paul, spoke the truth.
The real fact is that both the Spirit of God and the Greek spoke the truth because they were speaking about two different crosses. The cross, as Paul knew and taught it, was utterly foolish to the Greek, while the cross, as the Greek knew it, was anything but that. Nothing has changed since that day. The cross of Christ with all it stands for is still foolishness to the world, including the modern religionist, while the cross known and understood by the world is the epitome of human wisdom and ways.
The cross, be it that of Christ or of Babylon, is nothing in itself. It is merely two pieces of inanimate wood crossed and joined together. But it is highly symbolic. It is representative of the culture, learning, beliefs, and ways of the two great opposing powers. When that is comprehended, it will be seen just how the cross of Christ is foolishness to the Greek, the Roman, and to everyone, but he who is vitally connected in spirit and principle to Christ.
Consider, then, the symbolism of the cross as it was known to the Babylonian, be he Greek, Roman, Jew, Papist, or Protestant. These powers are all highly religious in nature, but it is not to be supposed that the principles of their religion differ from their daily practices. Of course, there are some high pretensions in these faiths which do not find matching behavior in the life. With that there is no concern here. Rather, the interest is in the principles of the religion, what it really is, not what it pretends to be.
In short, while the cross as Paul knew, lived, and taught it, was the revelation of God’s character, it was the manifestation of the character of the man of sin, the son of perdition, as the Babylonians knew, lived, and taught it. Therefore, while the cross, as a symbol, did not appear till the days of Tammuz, that which it represents dates back to Lucifer’s defection, when the counter-philosophy was established.
The cross, as the conveyor of God’s message to the universe, is the expression of that spirit which seeks the blessing and salvation of others, no matter how much the cost may be to one’s self. As the symbol of Satan’s
Way, it declares that character which seeks its own benefit, no matter what the cost to others.
Give careful consideration now to the development of the Babylonian’s character. The man of sin is not original. The first man was righteous. That is a self-evident truth, for in the beginning the Lord made all things good. Therefore, the man of sin must be a perverted development of that original righteous man. Step by step, for this can never be the work of a moment, the deviation has matured until it is utterly at enmity with the God Who gave it its original perfect existence.
Its first appearance was in Lucifer, the bright and morning star, but what happened in him has been repeated in every subsequent departure from the living God and the cross of Christ.
The way of the living God is self-sacrificing, self-renouncing love. It is God’s infinite wisdom that there should be a circle of love reaching out from Him to the uttermost limits of the universe and returning to Him to flow out again in a transcendent glory of joy and praise. No one is to receive merely for his own gratification and advantage. Each is to be a channel so that everything received is passed on to those around, for them to administer the same blessing to still others and they to others yet beyond.
While that beautiful stream flowed in unbroken rhythm, no note of sadness or jarring discord broke the sweet harmonies of the universal kingdom. Lucifer, the covering cherub, was as happy as the rest as he faithfully fulfilled his appointed mission of service.
But the time came when his fidelity to this principle began to waver and then to break down. He was the brightest and therefore, most privileged, of all the angels. He held the highest position available to a creature. He had developed the most brilliant talents, and his arrival at this pinnacle of power and glory was the result of the gifts showered upon him by his Creator, combined with his own diligent effort. At first, he felt only gratitude to God for His wonderful love; his heart daily responding to the life flowing from God to him. But the passing of time eventually brought him imperceptibly to the point where he came to be increasingly aware of himself and his brilliance and less aware of the God Who had given it all to him.
With marvellous perception, the Scriptures discern the cause of Lucifer’s fall from his lofty elevation.
“By the multitude of thy merchandise they have filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned.” Ezekiel 28:16.
The nature of the merchandise which dethroned the beautiful one is not known to us. Earthly merchandise is salable goods from the most common to the most valuable form. They are eagerly sought by the world, for possession of them assures freedom from want, and the assurance of security, comfort, and power.
Whatever form they took in heaven is not important. Merchandise meant for Lucifer the increase of personal possessions, power, and wealth.
It had the same effect upon him as it has had upon earth-dwellers through all time, except for those rare exceptions, the individuals who have so taken hold of the spirit of self-sacrificing love that they escape that snare.
That effect was to cause Lucifer to gradually transfer his faith from the Giver of all good things to the gifts provided by the Giver. He began to realize that if he retained that which came into his possession, then he would accumulate so much more of these delightful things. Thus the already wealthy angel would become just that much wealthier.
All this is not so easily seen in Lucifer’s life as it is in the lives of men and women. The procedure has been repeated countless times since Satan came to Eve at the forbidden tree. It is most noticeable in the history of movements which have been raised up by God to effectively demonstrate His character and thus bring about the termination of sin and its attendant horrors.
Such movements are born out of times of great spiritual apostasy. The exodus movement from Egypt lifted the people out of the deep darkness of the long Egyptian night. So it was with the retrun to the promised land after the Babylonian captivity. Later the apostolic church emerged from the darkness of the long Jewish rejection of divine principles as did the reformation churches from the papal midnight.
Such returning to God are championed initially by a lone voice pitted against overwhelming opposition from the ruling elite, aided by the superstition, fear, and ignorance of the general populace. The Lord’s chosen messenger sees with vivid clarity the human’s hopeless inadequacy to cope with these combined powers of darkness, but he cannot draw back. He is committed to his mission. Therefore, he is forced to flee to the Mighty One for strength.
As he pours out his confession of frailty and need and by faith makes a living connection with the Almighty, the windows of heaven are opened and light, power, and material aid are directed to him. He hurries these gifts into the battle, and, as quickly as they are exhausted, he returns to receive more and still more. As others join him, they, with like consecration, throw all they have into the battle, looking to God and God alone for their guidance and support. The sense of need during this period is very great, resulting in a total absence of self-sufficiency.
As time goes by, great victories are achieved, numbers are added to the ranks, and the initial struggles are followed by a relatively quieter period. God continues to deliver His wonderful blessings to them for the purpose of their using them to reach out still further with the message of power.
But, like the Israelites of Joshua’s day, who did not push the battle to the utmost ends of the land but allowed pockets of rebellion to remain, so the believers do not follow the directive to go beyond Jerusalem and Samaria to the uttermost parts of the earth. Privation, self-denial, and sacrifice are not attractive to the human nature which prefers rest from bat-
tle, ease, pleasure, comfort, and above all, security. The temptation to turn aside, at least in part, from the heat of the battle is so attractive as to win little by little. More and more of God’s gifts are appropriated for personal security and comfort.
As a firm base of material security is formed, the intense sense of need which previously drew them to God as the Supplier of all good things diminishes, while the accent is placed more and more on the acquisition of the material and the visible. Soon, house is being added to house, and land to land, until the whole mission of the church is lost, the accumulation of personal wealth, becoming the one great objective in life.
Inevitably this will produce changed conditions in the spirit and experience of those who had once been devoted only to the service of God and humanity. Their thoughts and interest will be less and less upon God, and more and more on merchandise. The increase in possessions will breed a growing feeling of security. The basis of their faith has become money, houses, land, and other visible life-support systems. Such have lost faith in God. But it is important to understand that they have not lost faith. Instead they have transferred it from the great Giver of all things to the gifts given by the Giver.
Increasing pride and personal satisfaction is taken in their enlarging prosperity. They view with gratification their industrious labor, their honest, faithful payment of accounts, and their scrupulous attention to their various obligations, as proof that they have gained their wealth blamelessly. They feel entitled to all that they have. They consider themselves blessed of heaven, possessors of no more than their just rights. This conviction develops in them the spirit of contention for those rights, so that, if anyone should threaten to relieve them of the least part of their gains, they will resist and even counterattack to the limit of their powers.
The human tragedy is that the real nature of what they have done is hidden from them. That which they regard as being a perfectly legitimate course is in fact one of fraud and embezzlement, for they have misappropriated the goods entrusted to them, to a purpose other than that designated by the Giver.
This earth is not heaven. It is a wilderness of suffering and despair created by the entry of sin. A crisis situation exists which the Father and the heavenly ministers are devoted to ending as soon as possible. But it is impossible to accomplish this without the entire cooperation of the human family. God does not leave those who accept their responsibility to do this work alone. He has made available every necessary facility. But, none of this is given to man to make this earth into a paradise for himself while the vast majority suffer want, disease, afflictions, and degradation. All these gifts are given for carrying forward the vast program of salvation. Some of it is needed to house, feed, and clothe the ones who are participant in the work just as a soldier in the field must be personally sustained. But, beyond
what is strictly needed for this purpose, the facilities provided by the grace of God and the diligent industry of the believer are to be returned to the Lord with interest.
Jesus Christ provided the finest example of this. There was much which He received from His Father, day by day, but none of it was used for His own personal gratification. Everything entrusted to Him, He used as a faithful steward in the pursuance, with single-minded consecration, of the commission to preach the gospel of the cross.
Tragically, this peerless example is seldom understood and even less emulated by those who claim to be followers of the meek and lowly One. Instead of being strictly faithful stewards, they have misappropriated into other uses that which the Lord gave for specifically designated purposes. The charge of unfaithfulness will be laid against such. The stream of blessing intended by God to flow through them has stopped with them to become a Dead Sea.
This is only the early stages of human defection. The Scriptures tell us that in Lucifer’s case, the multitude of his merchandise filled the midst of him with violence (see Ezekiel 28:16). Therefore the decay is not complete until it develops into violence. This it will always do.
As man becomes obsessed with the drive to accumulate more and more material merchandise, he shows less and less consideration and regard for his fellow men. Should they stand in the way, he will oppress them. If they can be used to assist him in building his empire, he will not hesitate to exploit them.
While he retains a superior advantage, he will successfully rise in power and wealth by this means. Yet continually, there will be a growing resentment on the part of those being used which will eventually break out into open violence. Throughout earth’s history it is possible to find examples of this as long oppressed races rise against their overlords. Rivers of blood are shed, great changes are made in the political structure of the world, and the sceptre of power passes from one group to another.
The ruling elite’s development of a power structure through the heavy oppression of the masses had been achieved by the Jewish hierarchy at the time of Christ’s first advent. God had appointed the Jewish nation to carry the truth of His righteousness to the farthermost parts of the habitable globe. To them had been given every possible advantage and blessings as equipment for the speedy and complete execution of their calling. But they had turned from living by the law of self-renouncing service to others, to gathering power and glory to themselves. They had fully transferred their faith from God to the earthly, and, by the time Christ came, exhibited all the outworking of such a course.
Every principle of operation among them was that of Babylon which declares that you either serve the powers that be, as they want you to serve them, or you perish. This is the very heart and substance of Babylonian
philosophy by which she seeks to justify her mass slaughter of those who dare refuse to subscribe to her philosophy. That is her religion; and her cross, dating back to Nimrod and Tammuz, is the symbol of it.
Into the darkness and sorrow Jesus came to shed forth the light of the opposite principles of self-serving and self-sacrificing love. The Pharisees and Sadducees found themselves confronted with a threat, the life of which they had never known before. The peril of losing their authority, power, wealth, and all else which they had so painstakingly and untiringly worked to achieve, suddenly became terribly imminent to them.
They had experienced throughout their quest for wealth and power, the continual danger of someone coming to wrest it from them, but this was by people devoted to the same principles as themselves. They could understand the workings of their minds for they were the same as their own. They knew how to cope with such supplanters and did so to the full extent of their powers.
But Jesus brought an entirely different method of working. He did not seek their power and wealth as a primary or any other objective. He came to implant in the hearts of all men a new principle which in reality is the oldest principle of all, for it had operated throughout the limitless eternity of the past. (The Pharisees’ principles had not existed till sin appeared.) That principle is the cross of Christ as distinct from the cross of Tammuz. It is the guideline for living in which “the love which ‘seeketh not her own’ has its source in the heart of God.” The Desire of Ages, 20.
Every word spoken by Christ taught these principles. Every act of His life was a living, practical demonstration of them, while the potency which flowed from God through Him as a stream of vibrant life, bequeathed upon those willing to receive its ministry, the same spirit of selfless service. Because of it, men and women were drawn to Him and longed to be recipients of His wonderful life. Its drawing power reached out to encircle even those who had devoted their entire lives to self-aggrandizement. For the most part, those proud and sensual minds, recognizing the call to an entire change in their attitudes and procedures, involving the surrender of that which they cherished as their rights, resisted with increasing vehemence the Saviour’s loving ministry.
The more earnestly Christ worked to save them the more decidedly they entrenched themselves in their way and devised every means possible to prevent Him from reaching the minds of the people. They hoped that mild measures would intimidate and turn Him from His mission, but as this did not effect the desired objective, they went on under the command and leadership of Satan, their master, until they had Him nailed to the cross.
Before Christ began His public ministry the devil met Him on the mount of temptation. There he propositioned Christ by showing Him the kingdoms of the world with their glory and power, promising all this to Christ if He would but worship him.
“Again, the devil taketh Him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth Him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them;
“And saith unto Him,
All these things will I give Thee, if Thou wilt fall down and worship me.” Matthew 4:8, 9.
Those kingdoms with their pomp and glory, had been put together by following the methods of serving self no matter what the cost might be to others. They could be maintained as such only by continuing those same procedures. Therefore, when Satan called upon Christ to bow down and worship him that He might receive the possession of all these earthly systems as His reward, he was, by implication, beseeching Christ to change from His principles of kingdom building to those of Satan and sinful man.
He was seeking to have Christ abandon the principle of self-sacrificing service for that of self-service no matter what the cost might be to others. Satan well knew that if Christ should abandon those principles in favor of his, he would forever be the victor in the contest.
When Christ utterly rejected Satan’s offering, then the king of demons was left with no alternative but to live out fully, the spirit which motivated him. He would have his own way, serve his interests, ambitions, desires, and aspirations no matter what it might cost others. As day by day Christ pursued with unwavering fidelity the way of the cross to the cross, the devil mounted an ever-intensifying campaign against Him in which he strove to force Him to deviate from His chartered course by making His mission as costly as possible through personal inconvenience, suffering, pain, humiliation, rejection, deprivation of comfort, security, protection, and merchandise. One of the greatest possible tests which can be imposed on human nature, is to call upon it to serve others at its own expense.
When that expense calls for the supreme sacrifice, exacted under conditions of extreme torture and fearful mental suffering, then the test has achieved maximum intensity. “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13.
This was the service which Christ came to give, thereby demonstrating the very heart of the nature of God’s character. As that marvellous revelation of God is portrayed before the wondering gaze, it is to be known that thereby God through Christ has declared that He will serve even the creatures He has made, no matter what the cost to Himself. God had declared before sin ever entered, that this was what He would do as the outworking of His nature. When rebellion arose, then that declaration was tested to the uttermost. God in Christ demonstrated that God is true, that He is motivated by the principle of service to others no matter what the cost to Himself. If Calvary does not prove this, then it proves nothing.
Inasmuch as Satan understood that his principles could become the established way only by the dethronement of God’s way, he worked relentlessly to make Christ’s service as costly as possible, hoping the time would come when His humanity would protest to the point where He would proceed no further in paying the price for others.
But no matter how Satan levied upon Him cost and added cost, the Saviour continued with the undeviating consistency toward the moment of total sacrifice. Not only on Calvary, but at every step towards that pivotal point in eternity, Jesus lived out the principle of serving with no regard of the cost to Himself. Therefore, the crucifixion was nothing new to Him. It was but the ultimate confirmation of what He had been and lived eternally and would continue to live forevermore.
The revelation of God’s character as the One Who serves others irrespective of the cost to Himself, was only one side of the picture. On the other side, Satan’s continual exaction of the highest possible cost to the Son of God was revealing in him that character whereby he would gain his ends, no matter how high the cost to be paid by others.
Likewise, Calvary was nothing new for Satan. It was the ultimate manifestation of his character of total selfishness. As we behold his behavior there, we are given a glimpse of the nature of his principles and their ultimate outworking. It is seen that there is no length to which he will not go, no suffering he will not cause, no price that he will not exact even to taking the life of the very Being who gave him life and everything he ever had—the One who had given him only kindness, love, justice, mercy, and every other goodly thing.
Thus on Calvary’s hill, the cross on which the Saviour hung, was, in reality, two crosses. There was the Roman or Greek cross which antedated back to the initiation of satanic rebellion. It was the statement, in its most cogent expression, of Satan’s principles of operation. There Satan demonstrated to every creature in the universe what he would do to them if they did not pay the price whereby he could have the best for himself. Every person, system, and organization which has followed his leadership operates under the same principles to whatever extent they have the power to enforce their wills.
A graphic illustration of this is found in the behavior of the war lords of Europe during the second world war. More than one cartoonist illustrated this with pen and brush, depicting Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini piling the sacrifice of millions of human lives, hopes, and fortunes into a mountain high enough to permit them to view and seize the coveted prize of absolute world dominion. It was inconsequential to them how much others had to pay, provided they acquired what they desired.
There is nothing foolish to the Greek in this cross. He understands and accepts its message. That is the only way of life he understands, for to him it is the secret both of survival and access into the comforts and powers which the sinful human nature craves.
The greatest contradistinction to this cross and its message is the cross of which Paul spoke so reverently and enthusiastically. This is the cross as Christ resented it to the universe both in His daily life and on the cross itself. This is the supreme testimony that it is God’s way to make any
Sacrifice—even of His own life if that should prove necessary—to serve others to the measure of their helpless need.
From that cross the beautiful and touching submission of Christ to the demanding cost of our salvation calls every being within the farthermost outreaches of God’s kingdom, to take up his individual cross and follow where He has led the way. Hear His voice ringing down the ages from that day when He addressed His counsels to His beloved apostles.
“If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.” Matthew 16:24.
This is no plea to take two pieces of wood and secure them in the form of a cross, or to hammer into shape gold, silver or other precious metals. These directives are not fulfilled by wearing a cross on a cord about the neck, or by fixing it on doors, walls, or any other part of our homes. This is an invitation to abandon forever the Babylonian, Greek, Roman and heathen principle of making the service of self foremost, no matter what the cost may be to others. It is a challenge to so utterly deny self, that service to the needs of others will be life’s first and greatest mission, no matter how costly such a work may become.
Rightly understood and lived, it will mean that, when they smite you on one cheek, you will offer them the other also;
When they sue you at the law and take you coat, you will let them have your cloak as well;
When they compel you to go the first mile you will cheerfully go the second;
You will give to them that ask and will loan to those who would borrow;
You will love your enemies;
will bless them that curse you;
do good to them that hate you;
and pray for them which despitefully use and persecute you. See Matthew 5:38-45.
To the unsanctified
mind, the mind of the Greek, this is indeed foolishness. He can see no sense
in it. But he can see much sense in the sacrifice of another on his behalf.
Therefore, if the cross were no more than Christ giving His all for others,
then it would not be foolishness to the Greek or anyone else. But when it
calls on him to follow in the same pathway, to live as Jesus lived, to serve
others, no matter how great the cost to himself, then that to the
Greek is foolishness indeed. That is to lose all that would ever make life worth living. He can see himself becoming a slave, being exploited, used, humiliated, deprived, oppressed, despised, and finally discarded, and all this for nothing, while those to whom he gave himself in service, live fatly and comfortably, enjoying the best of living at his expense. Such a prospect makes this way only foolishness to the Greek.
There are indeed heights and depths in the cross of Christ as distinct from the cross of Tammuz, the Babylonians, the Romans, the Greeks, and the heathen, which eternity itself can never exhaust. When it is truly seen, it constitutes the finest revelation of God character available. The Lord of glory and His righteousness will appear at their wondrous best, while Satan and his unrighteousness stand forth at their very worst.
The cross does prove that God does not destroy as man does, for should He do so in order to preserve His kingdom then He would be serving Himself and His loyal subjects at terrible cost to others. That is not the way of the cross of Christ and it is not the way of God’s character. It is the principle of the kingdom of darkness.
But, while it proves this point, the cross is vastly more of a message to God’s people than that, vitally important as that truth is.
Calvary challenges every individual in the universe to find and follow the way which received its most magnificent, explicit, and comprehensive exhibition on Golgotha’s hill. Look again, deeper and still deeper into its splendours. When the lessons to be learned at the foot of the cross are truly comprehended and daily and more deeply refreshed, there will walk this earth a transformed people through whom at last the finishing of the sin problem can be accomplished.
To the Greek it was foolishness;
To the Jew it was a stumblingblock,
But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks,
It is Christ,
The power of God
And the wisdom of God. See 1 Corinthians 1:23, 24.
 See The Two Babylons, 61, 62, by Alexander Hislop, published by S.W. Partridge and Co. 4-6, Soho Square, London W.I. 1957 Edition.