AUSTRALIAN BIBLE CHURCH May 12, 2012
Presbyterian Church following the Bible without Qualification
and the Lord Jesus Christ without Compromise by Faith
PROSPERITY TO GLORY
AN EDGE TO THANKSGIVING
Prayer, Thanksgiving and a Prospered Faith
I SAMUEL 1:8 - 2:11
This is in the field of the kingdom of heaven, not those of this world. They will pass; this will stay. They have been much too horrible to stay; this is far too wonderful to go; for God is back of it, the whole, sole reason for it. This is not about dollars, but delight; about getting, but abounding in grace, service and triumph. It started small, like a seed, and ended in a stabilising of a whole kingdom, the selection of a king called by God, and a period in Israel's history, never surpassed, when all grace was poured out, and the testimony of the Messiah to come was extended in a vast data bank of assured knowledge.
It is, in short, about the call of Samuel, one which came through dedication from childhood, and through him to David - anointed king to be, when quite young, through whose line by prophecy, came the Christ. What greater prosperity is this, though nakedness and a cross are the signature! What more effusive kindness than this to the world, though it crucified the hand that gave it! For if there is no gift, how is there deliverance ? However, even if the gift be rejected by this world, starting with that by the State of Israel in Christ's day, and ending with milling Arabs amid milling Islamic millions, and many other variants of rejection of the Lord's Christ (Luke 2:26), yet it is NOW GIVEN.
If man does not bother to apply for the check from the relevant fund from the Lord, it is still wonderful when ANYONE does so. If ten souls were saved from a ship's sinking, is this not far better than a mere void in the gaping ocean as it swills through the devastation, to contain its emptiness in its own fulness ?
Here then we find one thing prospered, the glorious designs and deliverances, the salvation of God which is for all men, whatever their affront, for those doomed, for any in fact who calls in faith and is prepared for the divine salvation by grace abounding, without works, except those of God Himself personally (Galatians 6:14, Romans 3, Ephesians 2).
Yet it started, this phase of His revelation, with lamentation, prayer, blessing and conception of a child. It is not that nothing came before Samuel, for the word of God came to Adam at the first, to Abraham, to Jacob, even to Baalam, who over-balanced through greed. Even there the revelation came (Numbers 24:17). But when Samuel came, and David was anointed, leading to many of the Psalms and prophecies concerning Christ then to come, there was an epoch of wonder.
SAMUEL COMING INTO HISTORY
God was at work. He is not ashamed to break down sublimity to small things, and to start with what is not even there; since HE IS! That is the difference between Him and those who have NOTHING with which to start, as they seek to account for things. It is ALL the difference, since from the first, He is all that is. He is not like us; we are temporal, but He is eternal, without whom nothing, with which, nothing again and again. The grand thing is this, that He cares enough to bring us to immortality, purging on the way, preparing and redeeming that children might be the status of His children, even when still on this earth, born not only from the womb, but from above, by the power of the Holy Spirit through the Gospel of divine grace, centred in Christ, all other pretenders outside the God of glory from whom He came, merely deceived, deceivers or both (Acts 4:11-12, II Corinthians 10-11).
This prodigious segment of revelation and history, started with a lamenting woman, crying because she had no child, a godly woman, in the precincts of the Temple, whose lament was mistaken by the priest, for drunkenness, for which she was intemperately rebuked. Explaining her actual problem, she was given blessing, that the Lord might grant her desire. He did. The child she sought, was given. In the fervour of godly faith, she then dedicated this God-given son, this prayer's delight, to the service of God, presenting him at a suitable age, for temple service. He became, though at first still a child, at last the famous Samuel who amid his other outstanding and faithful works of stability, initiative and grace, was used in the selection of David as King, through whom Christ came.
It is the Mother's prayer of exultation which we seek today, and find in I Samuel 2.
What a prospect stretched out before her, and how much greater than she realised were the results! It is here that faith works, not in the depression or apparent dilemmas of things past, but in the expectation that being based wholly on God, and in trust in Him for what He makes clear is His purpose, does not doubt, as if to slap the face of the crucified One, but proceeds in faithfulness, thankful and abounding.
This is the magnificat, not of Mary, but of Hannah, the child's mother. It is found in I Samuel 2:1-10. Its whole message is this: God rules, even amid the unruly, and in the end, His power achieves what stays, and what seeks by mere human power, abuse and self-seeking has no more grip on life, than a pebble on the ground, in the midst of a tempest.
"Talk no more so very proudly, let no arrogance come from your mouth,
for the LORD is th God of knowledge, and by Him actions are weighed,"
she declares. He has set this world in stability, and makes it sure "on the pillars of the earth," and it is He who will "guard the feet of His saints." The latter is imagery, a part for the whole, synecdoche, the feet for the entire person, and the reference to pillars is the same. Its force is what pillars represent, just as the "feet" were in place solely for what they represent. What is the pillar's force ? It is strength to sustain, to maintain, to secure a continuing basis for what is above.
CHRIST COMING INTO HISTORY
The Prelude in Hannah's Own Magnificat
You see just the same usage in Psalm 75. That is a wonderful Messianic Psalm, easily overlooked, and the NKJV has done a magnificent work there, identifying the speech (using inverted commas, not available in the Hebrew), for the direct speech of the Messiah, who as often, is here shown, pre-figured before He comes (as in Psalm 22, 40, 2, 72, 40). God here declares,
"When I choose the proper time, I will judge uprightly.
The earth and all its inhabitants are dissolved: I set up its pillars firmly."
The proper time, called the fulness of times in Galatians 4:4, that is, the time for the advents, first and second, of the Messiah, the first leading on to His method of salvation, as in Isaiah 53. What was this ? It was sacrificial coverage of the guilt of sin by the incarnate Christ, God as man, rupturing death and delivering where the scope is, eternal life (cf. II Timothy 1:10). In Galatians the "proper time", when God through His Messiah will act, has another name in Psalm102. It is the "set time", for as in Daniel 9, it had a highly specific date, which is doom to all false christs, for there is only one who met the time and the specifications predicted. It is like the landing on the moon, something highly precise and specific; and in this case, God specified it, and then did it, not only landing on the earth, but coming via a womb!
Man may neglect logic, but it will not neglect Him; and when God makes it clear, a fast and indifferent attempt to derail the information, lest it hurt, will never work. It might seem to; but God, as Hannah's Magnificat shows, "will judge the ends of the earth," a figure we still use; "for by strength no man shall prevail. The adversaries of the LORD will be broken in pieces," Hannah prophetically declares, a message also to be found in Psalms 2 and 110, in terms of the Messiah.
It is He whose first advent was to institute and provide salvation, that the world might not be judged, and that whoever believes in Him might not perish; and whose second advent is to rescue His own people, and prepare for His reign to come when "the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea," a time to relish (Isaiah 11, Habakkuk 2:14).
More than this, says Hannah, the mother of Samuel. "He will give strength to His king, and exalt the horn of His anointed." The SPECIAL anointed one as in Psalm 2 and 22, is the Christ, who would come, the son of David in the flesh, of God in His background (Romans 1:4, Philippians 2). As Psalm 2 showed and Acts 2 confirmed, it was against the Lord and His Messiah that the world would array its forces, seeking to break off the restraints and realism of God in its puny rebellions, bloody and battering though these were, and frequently are. The disciples are not above the Master.
There then is Hannah herself to be considered, looking far ahead, swift to pray, avoiding depression, weeping in hope, keeping her temper when falsely accused, receiving blessing instead, having her prayer for a child answered, responding with gratitude in devoting him to the Lord, and finding in that child, one of the greatest saints in the history of Israel, stable, godly, God-fearing, devoted, reliable, industrious, caring and finding out the king to come, young David, from whom comes the Messiah.
What a place in history has this woman, who might have undergone depression, and if living in our present world, had a psychiatrist treat her wounded spirit. Instead, flag to all who seem to fail in what is crucial today, there the willingness to wait, the continuation in godliness, the quietness of SPIRIT despite her acute sorrow and grief, and the ability to add patience to longsuffering, and to ignore frustration in hope, having faith that God is sufficient for all things, and even the most potent discipline or test, is that it be used or overcome, not a source of corruption or a permanently jaded spirit,but of the confirmed power of God (Ephesians 1:19).
She had her magnificat. She also has much to teach.
PSALM 75 AND CHRIST THE PILLAR
The Power behind Space
and the Entry to a Place
So has Psalm 75. The earth is indeed, on the one hand, as Job stated,
hanging on nothing (Job 26:7), if you want to be literal; but if you prefer imagery,
held up by
pillars, by sanctions and strength,
whether these be as currently in view, things like gravity and electromagnetic force,
by dimensions like time and space and gravity,
or accompanied by others as presented hypothetically by Professor Hartnett*1 for example,
in new developments of theory,
in the extraordinarily complex, profound and intellectually magnificent realities
of the structure of the universe and its powers, provinces and interactions.
The stability, the support, the PROVISION of the same by God, this is the point. His are its supports, pillars, sustaining structures and power, visible and invisible, for it is He whom Hebrews 1 and 11 tell us brought the visible from the invisible, and who by the word of His power, upholds all things.
WHEN and not till when HE pleases, that will whole spatial structure, now in place, will go (Isaiah 51:6, Matthew 24:35); but this is by His will and decision, and as in II Peter 3. It w ill depart with great heart and light, dissolution of elements. It has all been built, rather like a sky-scraper, with large rooms and windows for inspection, and when it goes, it is by decision of the Builder and Maker, who is God.
When you come into this world, how is it done ? The body prepared by programmatic scenario, so that it is created (in fact pro-created nowadays by a substantial marvel of reproduction), and for its equipment's use, it is given mind and spirit, by appointment, with ability to function with what is before it, and in much to direct it. These spiritual provisions flower into personality, in which liberty is found, despite sin, and responsibility inheres, whatever the attitude. This is judged.
None has enough to meet the pass-rate for heaven, which of course is perfection, without which nothing eternal will be. For t his, it is necessary to receive another child, not this time, as with Hannah, Samuel, but Christ, the Son of God. This now leads not to what is already done, the payment for the free entry to God's kingdom, the kingdom of heaven, but to the personal induction of the one being saved, passing through the door. As with Hannah, faith acts; and as for her, God works (John 3:8), in application of salvation, just as He did in its preparation. Indeed He invites all (as dramatically emphasised in Matthew 22).
It is, however, necessary to come.
After that, when you are reborn, it is necessary to go: wherever He sends. What could be more refreshingly delightful, than to have it a duty to serve Him, even God. Who else ? What an opportunity. Then in prayer, with importunity, days stretch with inestimable privilege, as you walk with the Lord. Be patient with this privilege, WAIT on the Lord, trust also in Him, work with and for Him, do good, "delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart," (Psalm 37:3-4).
"The Lord," says Hannah (I Samuel 2:8), "raises the poor from the dust, and lifts the beggar from the ash heap, to set them among princes and make them inherit the throne of glory," because the entirety of the power back of this earth is His. Obstacles are for overcoming, evil for judgment in its day, righteousness for relish, and the Lord for girding, guidance, government and ... grace.
See Dig Deeper, Higher Soar, Divine Glory Delights the More, Ch. 1