Among those treasures, new and old, of history, Angelina Grimke has become–to me–one of the most brilliant. Her calm, reasoned exposition of Scripture, proving that American Slavery was an utter defiance of Mosaic Law, has, as all truth does, set me free.
I have been amazed, for some time, at the parallels between the Exodus, Exile, Crucifixion, and the 1st century desolation of Jerusalem and resulting diaspora. The same terrifying goodness is present in all four: dark clouds, thunderous skies, flashing lightning, trembling earth, crumbling mountains, trembling people, and enemies that are “thrust down, never to rise again.” This terrifying goodness of an only-just God is a unifying theme in Scripture, expressed incessantly, unflinchingly, and unapologetically in the Psalms, Prophets, Gospels, and Epistles. God will save, and He will do so just with all the poetically furious love of Psalm 18.
Through Angelina, I have now come to see a parallel between a God who whistled for the Assyrians to desolate, and a God who whistled for COL Montgomery and “General” Tubman to desolate the most prosperous plantations of the South, and also whistled for General Sherman to desolate Atlanta to Savannah, sparing Madison just as a remnant was spared in Ezekiel 9. The desolation of a Bablyon which buys and sells “the bodies and souls of men” (Rev 18:13) is, properly, a matter of great joy for the elect who look to God alone as the source of all good. For all the great and ‘noble’ achievements of mankind, apart from God, are destined for desolating fire (Hab 2:13), while “the Word of our God stands forever.”
The visible church has made a great strategic error in the past four centuries, distorting grace and forgiveness into ends rather than means to justification and sanctification. This misrepresentation of salvation has allowed many men and women of Deuteronomy 29 to infiltrate the visible church and distort Scripture to rationalize injustice and evil. There are clear parallels between these false teachers and those of II Peter. Both avert us from the God who “loves justice” (Ps 33, 48), is “a consuming fire” (Ps 18, Isa 30, 33, Heb 12), whose goal is to “purify the sons of Levi” (Mal 3, Rev 5:10) and present a “pure and spotless bride.” Rather than voicing the bracing call to repentance and a “sure knowledge whereby we accept, as true, everything revealed to us in God’s Word,” they substitute a “come just as you are” ‘gospel,’ an analgesic “form of godliness…lacking its power.” They do not mourn over hidden sin, pride, or injustice, nor do they “hunger and thirst for justice.” Their great assumption is that God wants to spare men and women from all suffering, and that He does not intervene in History, and especially does not intervene with desolation that provokes “fear and trembling.” This in explicit contradiction to Psalm 46. Hidden within their paradigm is the assumption “Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation” (II Pet 3:4), i.e. that history proceeds like a wound-up clock from a “God of all grace,” who judges no one.
Yet, as Peter told us, the God of History has continuously intervened with the same fiery, purifying love with which He has always redeemed His people and thrust down those enemies who cling to evil and hate good, such that even their kindness is cruelty. He is not a therapist, but rather like an oncologist, eradicating the cancerous evil of injustice from the heavens and the earth. Just as a good doctor should not want us to be happy with cancer, so He knows that we cannot enjoy love without justice and righteousness, because both are one in Him. He will conform His people to just-loving kindness, and that will be their purest joy–a true union with an only just God, who does no wrong, and who is the greatest beatific good, “apart from whom we have no good thing.”
The God of humble incarnation will not be deterred from His purpose to “purge the evil from among” us, to “purify the sons of Levi,” to present to Himself “a pure and spotless bride.” His upending call to humility is a call from those who are despised in the eyes of this world: rough-hewn wilderness preachers, obscure men and women, former slaves, former prostitutes and tax collectors, etc.” He is “a God who hides himself,” and only those who, like Angelina Grimke, watch daily at Lady Wisdom’s gates will have “eyes to see and ears to hear,” that they might turn from evil and embrace the just-loving good which is Christ, the beginning and end of all things, who is–above all–one whose “judgements are true and just.”