A criterion is that by which the truth and value of any matter is determined. By such-and-such a principle or fact the whole thing stands or falls – is true or false. That then is our objective in relation to Divine Purpose. Can we put our finger definitely upon that Divine Purpose and see that it is the climax, the culmination of all God’s ways? Well, what is that climax, that one Divine end, by which everything is to be judged, now and forever?
The book of Ezekiel is not only a book about prophecies and history, but a book of spiritual principles with a much greater context than earth and time. When we reach the end of that book, we find ourselves in the presence of that great ultimate, that universal climax, that realized purpose, and it is all summed up in the brief, though vast, phrase: “The Lord is there”.
What a wide field is opened by that climacteric phrase! The Bible is bounded by this supreme concept. It opens and closes with the presence of God with man. It is the governing issue throughout all its pages and phases. There are almost countless aspects of this one thing, but, be it so, the issue is just this alone: Is the Lord there or is He not? Is the Lord in that or is He not? Is the Lord with that, with him or her, in that place, in that decision or course, or is He not? That is the criterion. His presence with unfallen man and His departure from disobedient man is an eternal principle. His presence in the beginning indicates purpose. His presence by the Incarnation of His Son is unto the redemption of the purpose. His presence by the Holy Spirit is to make that purpose actual as an inward thing.
The major aspects force us back to basic considerations. Let us not hurry on with greatness of vision, but pause and quietly tell ourselves that what is more vital and important than anything else in all our life is that the Lord is with us. Futility, vanity, disappointment and remorse will most certainly overtake us, sooner or later, and overtake all our undertakings if, at length, it should be found that the Lord is not with us. It is a perilous thing to go on without the Lord. Moses, who did know something, cried: “If thy presence go not with us, carry us not up hence”. Mere assumption in this matter may well prove to have been fatal presumption. “Supposing him to be in the company” may lead to the necessity to retrieve the value of the whole journey (Luke 2:44).