AUSTRALIAN BIBLE CHURCH
June 10, 17, 24, 2012
A Presbyterian Church set to
following the Lord Jesus Christ, without Compromise
and the Bible without Qualification,
CURE FOR SPIRITUAL ASTIGMATISM
Luke 24:25-26,44-46, Hosea 12:10 and 13:14, with many more
THE GENERAL SWEEP
Consider Israel, one amongst many, but initially mightily used,
and neither gloat nor float,
but keep to facts, so seeing all in the one godly perspective.
God will preserve His undertakings with them as with all
(cf. Galloping Events Ch. 4, SMR Appendix A),
including the coming configurations on earth
as promised (Micah 7, Isaiah 2, Zechariah 12:6ff., Isaiah 59:20-21, 66),
and His possession of Jerusalem in abasement
of all who seek to direct Him otherwise.
The people back in their land, as yet unconverted,
will be saved as the Lord shows Himself to them (Zech. 12:10).
First eclipsing their opponents, through divine power and grace,
many of His historic people return by faith to Him,
in abundant repentance.
Thus, through faith, does He restore to glory
a long scattered, afflicted and disciplined people
(as in Micah 7 and Deuteronomy 32).
Jerusalem is back with them (Luke 21:24),
ending the Gentile dominion,
and soon there will He be,
the revealed centre of pardon for them also (Zech. 13:1),
Israel in large numbers, restored even in spirit!
one Gospel, many drawn.
Here He died, here His body rose,
and His Gospel having been preached for millenia,
here at length with His people He returns (Revelation 19:8,14, Jude 14),
Himself the centre of pardon, the Prince of Peace.
Here comes Jesus the Messiah (Isaiah 9;1-7):
for He is faithful who does what He says (Joel 2:11),
"who executes His word,"
and His people become a vast and unified spiritual array
(Revelation 7, Galatians 3:23ff., Romans 11:25ff.),
drawn from two sources, Jew and Gentile.
He refuses to any and to all to add anything to His word,
or to subtract at all from His revelation
(Revelation 22:18-19, Deuteronomy 4 and 12),
validated to the uttermost (Matthew 5:17ff., Isaiah 34:16-17),
till all is fulfilled:
metaphors in their meaning, imagery in its portent,
details in their referents,
and all in its substance! (Hebrews 2,8-10).
And so the ultimates follow,
the preludes swallowed up in the culmination,
even to a new heavens and a new earth
in which righteousness dwells - brand new (II Peter 3),
tests past, filled with His ineffable loveliness, even now still
blatantly obvious, fragrantly appealing,
despite the curse, and this will be
a culmination at the last (Revelation 20-22).
He remains (Zechariah 9:7,9), as does His word, His work and His salvation.
He does not change (James 1:17), nor do His ways (Habakkuk 3:6, Psalm 102:26-27).
Morals then ? Past all ceremony, do not change (Matthew 5:17ff., I Timothy 1:5-11).
Thank God for His many works, not least from the first,
laws of right and wrong. If you are a Christian,
you are saved by grace, without works, but faith works,
(Ephesians 2, Romans 3:23ff., Galatians 3:5-8),
and it abides in the word of God
(Proverbs 30:6, Matthew 5:17ff., John 14:21ff.,Galatians 1:6-9).
Thank God therefore for the changeless truth,
our gap from it, paid for when by faith Christ is taken.
Yet we do not seek wilfully to increase that gap,
but in delight, rejoice in the morality, spirituality, godliness
and word of God, in all its unchanging clarity and sanctity.
Israel, the nation, was used to provide the first covenant,
and indeed the Christ in His incarnation (Romans 9:4ff.),
and it is far from being the only one to fail to find
in Him and in His words, all that He has provided
(Romans 10:1ff., Romans 6:23, Matthew 24:22, Luke 21:24, Romans 11:25-36).
Past all presidents is the resident reality of the truth and ways of God,
spoken in the Bible, enacted in Christ,
bound by His word and applicable to one and to all.
Never forget that OUR only ultimate President came via Israel,
as did His law, and though many suffer, it is not in vain;
for Christ did not come to abrogate but to fulfil (Matthew 5:17ff.),
and in Him only and always, unchangeable,
filled with grace and truth, there is rest, in Him only, for one and for all.
Many have fallen, and which nation now has not done so! But Christ remains.
THE FOUNDATIONAL UNITY
Alas there have been lapses to the right and to the left hand sides of the prophetic road concerning things to come, some ditching detail, particularity with a grand sweep of the architectural hand, others on the contrary dismissing the unity of the design with an apparent absorption in detail to the darkening of light on the theme. There is no change however, whether in morals, Gospel or the outworking of the grand themes the Lord has provided. It is all to be seen in its unity and its particularity, nothing missing or added to it.
Look now at the 5 verses in Luke 24, noted already. In Luke 24:25-26, Jesus goes so far as to call them listening disciples foolish ones, slow of heart to believe, truncated in vision, not realising the profound simplicity and simple profundity of the facts: He, the Messiah, HAD by prophetic revelation from centuries before, first to suffer and then "to enter into His glory."
Was that so hard to discern ? Their eyes were skewed that they could not see. He then expounded concerning these things from Moses to "all the prophets" to show it was so. Was it not apparent, from the evidence, for example in Isaiah 11 that He would as ruler of this world both have glorious power and marvellous majesty, with knowledge and wisdom granting salvation even to Gentiles who would find the resting place in Him a glorious thing (11:10) ?
Could one not see in Psalm 2 the clamour for His ruin amid religious revolt and spiritual inflammation of many, of the nations, that there was
a contest of vast proportions,
blasphemy and hatred
which many would use to try to dispense with
the Messiah of God when He came, and
the God of the Messiah who sent Him,
in such places as Psalm 2, Isaiah 49:7 ?
Could it not be seen that in Isaiah 53 this would reach to the plan of God, in supreme outline of meaning and significance, where the Messiah as predicted, rejected and subjected to every form of human ruin, would brilliantly use this as an offering for the sin of the very people who rejected Him, should they make of His life an offering for their sin, and so be ransomed! (Isaiah 53:10).
Was it not clear that the Redeemer would come to Zion (Isaiah 59:20-21), and as in Zechariah 12:10ff., eventually bring salvation to the very people under whose official auspices the Messiah had been so long before been slain, hands and feet immobilised because pierced during the process, an index to crucifixion! (Psalm 22:16-17), without breaking any bones. Yet did not Micah 7 show the overthrow of all the tyrannies of man in the deliverance of Israel from the array to annihilate not only the Messiah and the memory of the God of creation and redemption (as also in Zechariah 12, Psalm 2) but the race which slew Him! A rod of iron, past the suffering phase of the cross, was prepared, said the latter, and breaking would at length meet the recalcitrants who having had long to repent, would rather war. War on God ... it is a way both pathetic and peculiar, path to doom.
Slow of heart were they, to whom Jesus spoke of this, but He explained it all to them in a magnificent exposure, which they received.
There were underlying principles of power and glory, love and mercy, in one theme, one approach, one Gospel, one grace,
two major Chapters,
Christ's suffering and entering into glory.
The glory would not only be personal (as in Psalm 45), but territorial (as in Zechariah 12-14, Micah 7, Psalm 2, 72) and the end result, to Jew and Gentile alike, would be epochal as in Revelation 19,a prelude to judgment on a half-baked humanity, appallingly beguiled this time, not just to question or connive concerning their Maker, but actively to make war on Him, the many years of fugitive theologies and blatant philosophies finally maddening the heart of man to this blatant point, no more merely latent.
God is not a symbol or mathematical abstraction, but a God of love, mercy, all power, regality, majesty and pity. He has proceeded to show the former things from the creation to the flood*1, when He did not blot us quite out, and continued, to the Exodus*2, when the same mercy was shown when Israel grew impatient with God and made an idol, refusing indeed to enter the Promised Land, just as many Gentiles now refuse to enter the door to the spiritual counterpart in Christ, who is the eventual and eternally place of rest. While many do, as predicted by Isaiah (11:10), who also foretold the Gospel and its ground*3, more do not. God says and then does.
These things have been demonstrated from Bethlehem (Micah 5:1-3) to Calvary (Psalm 22), from the Gospel and its conveyors like Paul and many others for a good time now. It requires patience, as Peter showed would be needed (II Peter 3:9 cf. Revelation 6:9-11), while God reaps many from the sin-heap to bring them home to rest in Himself, living and awaiting His return.
There is a grandeur about it all as in Romans 4, where we see the same faith and justification with Abraham as now applies, through Jesus Christ, the divinely sent seed promised Abraham from the first, through whom all that nations of the earth would be blessed (Genesis 12:1-3, 22:18). It was when Abraham showed his absolute preference for God over all, as in Genesis 22, even over his much beloved son, that the seed, the messiah incorporated in the form of a man, was shown as indeed it was foreshadowed from the fall in Genesis 3, where it was very much a human, born of woman, and very much a supernatural one, in authority and power over the spiritual demise of man and the source of evil testimony from his tempter. Utterly sovereign, He would indeed be hurt in the process (Genesis 3:15), but this though enormous in portent, would be overcome, and not linger. Such was it from the first.
The Bible is like that. It shows, prepares, adumbrates, extends, fills in details, in this way resembling a novelist who knows the outcome, and breaks it in the dramas and revelations on the way, till it is complete. With God, however, and His written word, the drama is history, the detail is events, the gen is omniscience, the outcome its lasting and invariable testimony. In believing it, you do not exalt your perception, but surrender to fact, a good cause. Moreover, here the fact is no cancer or torture; it is free opportunity for restitution, restoration, even adoption by the Lord (Ephesians 1), the residual being simply the result of rejection! Howl lovely it all is.
It was not, then, without cost, as already seen from Genesis, and filled in from Psalm 22, Isaiah 49-55, Hosea 13:14, Ezekiel 20, for example. Yet when the payment was finally made in direct and effectual form, the sacrifice that is sacrifice indeed, that of Christ the Lord, that was enough. Now past and performed once and for all (Hebrews 9-10), it remains for ever effectual, glorious, a matter of praise for the human race, whether it dithers or withers, as His due (Revelation 5:9-13).
There is a unity of thought, action, perspective, concept throughout the entire Bible on this (cf. Luke 24:25), even the historical timing of the once for all atonement of the Messiah, being a method of acclaiming it (as in Daniel 9:24-27, Galatians 4:4 cf. The Christian Prescription Ch. 2). It would HAPPEN at a time, as stated, and in so doing, make an epoch, constitute the finality for atonement in the Lamb, once slain, once risen, always the Redeemer.
Thus it was highly significant that Christ completed the suffering part of His ministry at the time given, all in unified sovereign certainty to be sure, while, in addition, it came with attesting particularity, that thrust and definition alike, should come en bloc, together, in unison. There is in the end, one Saviour, one saved nation, a special people drawn from Jew and Gentiles, and while in particular God will first pre-empt on this earth the efforts to slaughter His word by force, in evacuating or killing Israel as in Micah 7, Isaiah 66, yet this is prelude to eternity.
There is no question of bits, or some one nation being a standard of reference, a cult for exaltation (Isaiah 2, 19:18ff.). On the other side, however, Israel's history, horror (Leviticus 26, Deuteronomy 28-32) and deliverance are all so clearly demarcated that the eventual deliverance is a testimony to the absolute power and everlasting wisdom of God to do in all things, what He has said, making known His name to the Gentiles as well as to Israel! (Ezekiel 37:28,39:21-23, 26-29), each in order. To each as to all, it is in one Messiah as the eternal outcome, foretold from the first, the finale of redemption at the last (Galatians 3:26-29).
THEY WILL KNOW
In Ezekiel 39:22-23, in the time of God's direct dealing with the maddened rush to overtake, overturn and gobble up Israel, multipartite and overwhelming in appearance, from the North, His wrath is aroused and the fiery hordes of invaders of the promised land, are doused. When He has finished dealing with them, we learn that THEY WILL KNOW.
Who will know ? First of all, Israel will know (39:22), be epochally SHOWN the ground of their former sorrow and the full meaning of their plight (39:28-29).They will assuredly be roused to discern, in the throes of these ultimates of the Gospel Age (Zech. 12:10-13:1,Romans 11:25ff.). Aghast in broken pride, many nations will now know the truth about Israel (Ezekiel 39:23).
WHAT WILL THEY KNOW ?
Then the general thrust is no more blindly gazed on. They were sent into a meant captivity because of their sins against the God of their national salvation who brought them triumphantly out of Egypt in the Exodus and into Canaan under Joshua. It was not mere human power but divine counsel which unleashed the unholy hounds which devastated Israel. God "gave them into the hand of their enemies." In the next verse, we find that God dealt with them according to their uncleanness, transgressions, and had thus "hidden My face from them."
This being done, He reviews His action in their restoration to their land (Ezekiel 39:25-26). In so doing and in this scenario of triumph over malicious, militant enemies in cohesion, God will so act that He will be, as in the Exodus (cf. Micah 7:15), "hallowed in them in the sight of many nations," Ezekiel 39:27. Instead of giving an expansion site for pride, Israel will become a tomb for delusive grandeur on the part of invading nations, and know the grace that has given them place.
Just as some scornfully imagined a strong Israel had simply become weak relative to their gloating selves, when God disciplined His nation, so now that He acts, they having borne their shame (v. 26), the nations will find out, discover as if a great scientific, natural law had suddenly been revealed to them, but this is supernatural, impinging heavily on the natural; for God is uninhibited in power when in His wisdom He decrees the time is ripe. Warriors against Israel will realise their spiritual nudity before God, hide in rocks, crawl like serpents. Their power is futile, as Micah 7 shows. As in the creation, when He determines it, it becomes ever so simple (comparatively): HE wills, says and it is done, whether to chasten or to relieve.
As it has happened in vast droves of facts and themes, building up to this end, so it will proceed on its course, as God uses His power in purity to accomplish His manifold purpose (Ezekiel 36-37 incl. vv.11ff.). Israel will return to the one Gospel, essentialised in Jesus Christ, they always part of the tree from which in disbelief they were removed; proud Gentiles will face the same exclusion if they do not repent; and both segments have unison, believers from each becoming so united in the presence of the one God who made these two phases, preparatory and consummatory, Old and New Covenants, in His invariant Gospel, foretold in the Old, manifest in the New, that it becomes as for Paul, a thing of incandescent wonder. It is a summit of delight to ponder it (Romans 11: 15, 28-36). Unity freely in love, never attainable in Europe, now flows freely amid the converted, each group having gone astray in its own way, but now rescued in the way divine!
Everything proceeds precisely on course as it has done from the Word of God written in His Book, the Bible, for millenia. It is God who will win and none other will be exalted in that day (Isaiah 2:10-11, Micah 7:18-10), fulfilling all, correcting all, enabling many to find in Him their resting place (Isaiah 11:10).
The word of God is competent in detail and data, in architectural sublimity likewise, in its viewing platforms showing the spiritual landscape from afar off, as in its microscopic attention to detail. It is from God that we humans have gained both these capacities, and from His word, the Bible, the unique display of both features in one book, the book of the Lord (Isaiah 34:16). SO precise is this His testimonial in words, that to the jot and tittle HE will fulfil it and Christ said so, and we constantly find it to be so (Matthew 5:17ff.).
It is a beautiful thing, resembling in one way, the delightful feeling of returning to a much loved, quiet holiday resort, year by year, its peace the same, its detail unchanged, its refreshment available to the heart that seeks it. In Christ is the rest for the very spirit, and we Gentiles, those who receive Him, do indeed find as predicted (Isaiah 11:10 cf. Isaiah 42:6, 49:6), that His resting place is glorious! The Lord is from the first as He is to the last, magnificent in purity, truth, understanding, unalterable in wisdom, seeing the last from the first and placing in the middle, such a gallant grandeur of pure grace in the payment for the liberty of the Gospel, available to mankind, that His splendour rejoices the soul.
Who knows how many amid the nations in that day of calamitous assault will find their perspective in spiritual things ? Many may come to know God through the Gospel of grace at this time, just as the appointed day for Israel comes (Romans 11:25), though with it there is a cohesion because of the word of God concerning the promised land to which they were directed (SMR Appendix A, Ezekiel 37:22, 38:8).
WHAT they ALL who turn will know is but one concord in Christ, one pardon place, one resting place, one shame of face at sin and grace of goodness in pardon. In Micah there is reference to such a result in Micah 7:17-18, where the nations find the folly of failure in faith, and amid their own judgment, see the fountains of mercy pouring out all about them, on Israel, as once for Egypt (Micah 7:15). Micah 7:20 specialises in Israel, but as in Genesis 12:3, 22:18, this Gospel mercy, in terms of Romans 4, is applicable to all the families of the earth!
"Who is a God like like Thee, who pardons iniquity, and passes by the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He does not retain His anger for ever, because He delights in mercy.
"He will turn again, He will have compassion upon us;
He will subdue our iniquities;
and Thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.
"Thou wilt perform the truth to Jacob, and the mercy to Abraham,
which Thou hast sworn to our fathers from the days of old. "There is that delightful word of grace of Micah 7:18-19,
The promise is to the fathers, Jacob and the entire Hebrew line in Abraham, the deliverance is for them, that race, and the action is for them who had been so waiting on God, in the remnant as in the first part of Micah 7, so poignant, so patient; and the deliverance is for them. However that very premiss in promise to Abraham contained the "seed" for the Gentiles as in Genesis 22:17-18, itself taking up the initial promise of Genesis 3:15.
There was to be a deliverance through the very seed of the woman, despite her fall from grace at the outset in Eden.
There God promised (Genesis 3:15), even in announcing the affliction which disjunction from honest trust in the Lord had produced, the protevangelium. In this was the first glimpse of the Gospel of grace and a divine work to undo the human work that wrought ruin, moving from Eve to Adam to their immediate destiny.
The one who personally would overcome the supernatural power of the evil unleashed by usurping subtlety of Satan, knowledgeable, diverting the flow of goodness by deceit, immediate cause of consignment out of the garden of life into the labour and intensity of trouble which this brought in the curse (Genesis 3:16-19), is none less or other than a power beyond all powers. This One was to be able to redesignate those who waited on the Lord, to rescue them (as in Hebrews 6:19), so that the basis of the blight, of the curse into which by sin man had trapped himself, could be hit in its very head, though the foot was human, and so would that head, that evil scheming mind of the adversary, be crushed.
From the early time, even then, it was apparent that it would be a human casing to supernatural power that would do it, and that in so doing, there would be, though the work was divine, a hurt, bruise to the deliverer, at the human level. For all that, this saviour would prevail, triumph, and man would be delivered in the time of the Lord's action, when He would choose. Then would divine grace and mercy categorically change the cursed situation, and bring a grand deliverance for the design of God, first to make man and then to expose the nature of sin in the nature of the punishment. Such was the initial revelation at the fall.
When that divine deliverance was to come, Daniel in due time, was to show with precision (The Christian Prescription Ch. 2, , and Jesus Christ was to execute with the same precision, when He was executed, the just for the unjust, to bring us to God (I Peter 3:18). What form it would take was shown clearly jn Psalm 22 (cf. Joyful Jottings 22-25), Isaiah 49-55, and the sacrificial substitute would be seen in the work of deity personally as in Hosea 13-4, Micah 5:1-4, Psalm 45, in just those two roles of suffering, firstly, and rule, secondly, which have been considered already.
Micah, then, who revealed in Micah 5 both the eternal celestial Being who would do it, and His birth-place as a man, namely Bethlehem, also showed the initial rebellion of Israel against Him, in this same Chapter. Indeed, he traces as God inspired him, the coming fulfilment of the specific promise to Abraham (as in Genesis 17:7-8). What was that promise ? Certainly it involved the promised land to which duly and almost dutifully Israel has returned (cf. SMR Ch. 9), but it had a specific application to the Gentiles, that in this coming seed, descendent as in Genesis 3:15, there would be blessing. This was one which Romans 4 declares to incorporate deliverance likewise in spiritual peace and salvation. To whom then would it come ? to Jew and to Gentile in this blessed focus for life. That consignment of fundamental grace was for one as for all: it was for WHOEVER would receive this divine gift, which brought the same only God to man in the same gracious donation of the Deliverer, God incarnate as Jesus Christ.
Thus Paul declares this concerning Abraham and the promise (4:25-5:1):
"He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief,
but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God,
and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform. And therefore : it was accounted to him for righteousness.
"Now it was not written for his sake alone that it was imputed to him,
but also for us. It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him
who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead,
who was delivered up because of our offences, and was raised on account
of our justification.
"Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God
through our Lord Jesus Christ..."
To be sure, then, the passage in Micah 7 specialises in Israel, covers its case in singular focus, refers to their restoration in all matters of promise; but for all that, the reference to the Abrahamic promise must also include what it itself had specified in the promised seed which would be a blessing to ALL nations. How great was that blessing is shown in such places as Isaiah 42:6 and 49:6 for Gentiles, as here for Jews. Whether for one or for all, then, what does it say ? It is this: God DELIGHTS in mercy, subduing iniquities, not retaining His anger forever, but casting forsaken sin into the midst of the sea: what a God is this! That is the burden, the heart lightening content of Micah 7:18-19, one of the most potent promises of pardon to be found in the Bible.
Thus just as there was by divine attention, invention and declaration, a promised land in the process of the Lord's intervention for man, man's failure and God's taking up of the slack in Himself as in Genesis 17:7-8, Ezekiel 36-39, so there was a promised seed, in whom lay eternal salvation (as in Isaiah 41:28 - 42:6, and 49:1-6, 49-55), none other than the Lord Himself, as man paying the price of redemption. Symbols, such as animal sacrifice, are swallowed up in substance, as in the once only death of the sacrificial Jesus Christ; but assignations are swallowed up only in one of two ways: the first is unbelief in the detail of God, and the other is God in rejection of human revisionism. God has already shown His hand as His word had formerly commanded what would be. As always, as it was to be, it has been, whenever the time is ripe. As in Zechariah 12, the restoration has come, they are back (Luke 21:24), the Gentile rule over Jerusalem is ending.
Though this His ancient people He describes as singularly deaf and blind (Isaiah 42:18-20), yet God will bring them thus characterisable, blind to His promised land, though Christ in His salvation acts to "open blind eyes." There time is not yet as in Zechariah 12, where they are found in their site with Jerusalem (12:6 is most emphatic about that), battling foes victoriously, amid much trouble, BEFORE they are converted in vast numbers, in visionary sight of the crucified Christ Jesus, the Messiah to whom they then return.
It is there, in their own place though blind, that they will find the land too small for them (now 7 million in a small husk remaining from the Jordan land grab of most of Palestine, despite the Balfour Declaration of Great Britain), and there they will wonder at the sudden arrival of a new nation, which however is in essence quite old (Isaiah 49:21-22). In a moment, a populous nation will be re-born (Isaiah 66:7-10), in a unique and epochal happening, to which God points in advance, and which by its return as in Luke 21:24, is advance notice to Jew and to Gentile alike that the "times of the nations" is complete. Thus there is a promised seed, a promised land, a premised Gospel and a promised site, for crucifixion and for return, both of Israel and of Christ (Zechariah 14:5).
A Chapter may be long; but it has an end. The next Chapter may seem to come suddenly, but if the former be read carefully, the shock will not be too great! For all that, Israel, at the spiritual and national level, is not the only one currently blind amid the nations; and it faces a coming deliverance, while its adversaries in the coming new situation as in Micah 7, have what makes the atomic bomb seem all but trivial to come; for that has a temporal burden, but this an eternal one.
THE PROPHETIC PARTICULARITY
Israel was a chosen instrument for divine action, being the place where the incarnation would occur, Bethlehem in particular. The crucifixion was the divine choice for the use of the human in the form of a servant, which God would take. The Bible is the readable site where this is all contained, testable, a testament of divine intent, desire and morality, grace and pardon, judgment and procedure. Thus it comes to this functional focus, this worshipped Saviour (John 20:27-29), and there is only ONE saviour (Isaiah 43:10-11), God Himself. If all the preliminaries were epochal in their impact, taken together, what then of this quintessential and indeed divine and incarnate Saviour who paid in human form, and in person ?
What then do we also find ? It is this. Will the Lord have His word, so precise and so precious, available for hire or harassment ? The Lord will not have man take over either the Gospel or the grace or the place, or redirect His commandments, as if the fact that He has elected to suffer to save! means He is weak and available for manipulation!
Nothing could be further from the truth.
It is, as Paul declares in I Corinthians 1, the case that the apparent weakness of God, making His Son available for sacrifice for such a ghastly thing as sin (not as labourer for a glorious garden), is stronger than man. He has done the seemingly impossible, found what covers sin, corrects evil rule in man, brings pardon, exhibits an announced peace, enables spiritual power, brings abundant life, turns scarlet to snow-white and curse to blessing. Weakness ? Is it weakness that sent England's sons to prevent the slavery of Hitler's intent! It is nearer to glory. With God, it is the centrepiece of glory which He has done with a strong hand, missing no cue, giving no false promises but divine promises relentlessly performed, the sinless Saviour outflanking the follies of sin, and innocent offering, taking the guilt of those who transpose it by faith, upon Him (I Peter 2:21-25, Acts 2:38-39, in the latter, those born in the Old Covenant now finding initial entry into the New).
That, it is the wisdom of God (cf. Job 26).
What is the wisdom of man ? Ask Germany after two wars and one each of Nietzsche and Hegel, ask Japan after one Emperor of celestial claim, or Russia after the blood millionaire, the butcher Stalin, ask concerning the UN, guardian of dishonour of depriving Israel of the gift of the UN and still hollering for more of the diminutive residue now given it ? no, obtained by it, amidst such disasters of international honour as transpired. Who finds the UN's record inspiring amidst genocide, robbery, tyrannies all but innumerable, the slain mixed with the tortured, the grieving with the grievous. The wisdom of man is as rich as the broken European nations, bleating for bail-out.
The apparent 'foolishness' of God, Paul likewise declares, is wiser than man. He knew what He wanted and why, and in love sent not merely a note, but a book, not merely a sacrificial gift but one to end all sacrifice for atonement, and came in this personally as foretold (Ezekiel 34, Hosea 13:14) to do it Himself, leaving nothing to mankind or possibility, but keeping all in His own hands, duly pierced in this format, while His spirit bore the torment and anguish, that the lost might be found. In what way found ? Not by cost, as when one pays oneself for a privilege bought, but by a divine charity which even the most proud do well to receive. God has even prepared a demonstration lesson, and shown it at the appointed time. He alone rose, judicially triumphant in bearing the sin of many; He alone gifts the results where faith is the receptor unit in man. Nor is this all.
Indeed, He does not hesitate, as in Revelation 20, Isaiah 65, Psalm 72, Micah 4 to exhibit His intention of a period of time, called the millenium, in which He will vindicate His mighty name, and the earth will itself be filled with the glory of God as the waters cover the sea! (as in Regal Rays of Revelation Ch. 8). He is neither resiling nor abstracting from one particle of what He has said, refusing alike either to sink basics into bits, or to elevate elements to a majesty of their own.
NONE but God will be glorified in that day (Isaiah 2:10-11, 11:4-10, Psalm 72:9-18); and His WORD in all things will be applied, neither seduced into symbols, any more than the cross was, nor strangled into a breaking up of its parts into ungranted glory of their own. They serve; He is sovereign majesty, and He alone. Nor will any other be exalted; but His word will be (Psalm 138:2). It is great that God is like that : not a revisionist, but by revelation He makes clear what in reality He then unveils.
It is when power has lapsed in Israel that God delivers (Deuteronomy 32:35-43), and as likewise in Isaiah 66, He will act, for His word from Genesis 17 on, attests what He will do, and none will be enabled to do other that what is divinely said. The world will gasp in ingloriousness as God grasps the reins and rules at length as Micah 7 and Isaiah 2 and 66 show so valiantly, with Psalm 2 booming and looming in the background, and Psalm 110 bringing it home poignantly and purposefully.
There is neither reversion nor is there exaltation of man or any of his own ways (Galatians 1:6-10, Hebrews 8:13), for it is the wisdom and the way of God which is to rule, with no diversion.
As Bethlehem in detail was the Messianic birthplace,
by no means a symbol but the very site of incarnation as in Isaiah 7,9,11, Micah 5,
so likewise crucifixion, not symbolic idea, was the mode of the atonement,
resurrection of the body (Psalm 16) was the enactment of deity in salvation
(cf. Romans 1:4, Luke 24).
It was not some flirtation of fancy, but the entirety of the organised
and long scheduled actions of God,
It is this, whether adorned with incidental metaphors or other imagery, is as real as creation with its precise command array in the DNA, nor does it slumber any more than did the rotting body of a symbolic messiah. Instead, it was the authentic and authenticated in fact that broke up all power to gainsay, to contradict, making of it mere failure with no support.
Thus it was not even at some time or other, but the announced time, that He arose, on the calendar, and not on any day, but the third, and He did not commune with them extensively only in Jerusalem, but met them in Galilee, as He said He would when arisen. God ALWAYS does what He says and the dismissive unbelief can never arise above fables and fictions, based on nothing, as indeed is their whole system, imported from nothing and nowhere, so that not anything anywhere could be, all being baseless, causeless and arrived by carrier of magic from no place (cf. Causes): so that bound delimited derivatives of organisational structure arrive with never a deriver permitted in sight, their information carried in the antinomian glasses!
God however, being eternal and hence always sufficient for any derivatives, not needing to be invented from nothing is stages, but everlastingly sufficient, creates as He will, as normal in this phase, bringing to be what is not there from sufficient premises in His everlasting self. Thus He said it, did it, and showed it, who He is and what He desires and left the script in two repositories: the DNA with its technical and logically brilliant language, and the Bible in its self-confirming and continually testable information FOR man, once made, to follow to his source, his wisdom and his way.
When therefore the time came for the vicarious death at the appointed date, He outwitted His enemies by dying only to rise, and rising only to confirm His return, when Gospel having finished in its presentation, the due time for this also, His majestic rule on this earth, should itself duly come. When He had to die in shame amid a judicial shambles, He did it uncomplaining as predicted in Isaiah 53; and then it was time after three days, to rise, unavailable for exhibition like a defeated foe, as dead, since He had resumed life among the living, this He did also.
Dead ? Not in body for centuries, but in tomb for days, three in fact. Hence, arising with spectacular particularity in just 3 days (Luke 24:21, 24:7), He was available for no official inspection, could be contained by no official guard, the opposition being fit only for obviously ludicrous talk. What sleeping men, admitting as much, KNOW what happened while they slept! The devil always meets disaster, and learns nothing, but that his time is short, which enrages him, no doubt, the more. But he tries.
Indeed, the Messiah of God will not suffer submergence to warring nations. Just as His "weakness" as in I Corinthians 1, was a thing of choice both predicted and predicated to enable saving sacrifice in the atonement, so His wisdom was a glory of strategy, and He continues triumphant, while His strength awaits the day when all nations having heard it (and not some symbolic substitute or cancerously changed alternative in any point), they will face judgment.
THE DIVINE PROFUNDITY OF WISDOM
AND SIMPLICITY OF APPLICATION
It is necessary in submission to the Bible to cling both to the unity and the particularity of the work of God, prior to and after the crucifixion and resurrection, not moving into symbolic amillenialism nor escaping into dispensational excesses*4. Each of these movements presents a warning to the other. They are mutually restraints, each with errors. The Bible presents the amplitude of reality and the beauty of integrality. It is a sequence of splendour in a setting of wonder: one God, one message, one Gospel, one nation to become a base for the word, followed by the incarnation, God Himself gory as man before glory back as God, with His gift extended to all nations as recipients. Meek in magnificence, the Lord when roused at the end of the vast season of gift, finds the dismissive, now the recipients of the just wrath He had acted to enable them to flee. When repentance refused, remedy is dismissed, and the calamitous condition continues till its end, then such is the plight of many desolately defiant, so needlessly.
Likewise, there is one salvation, one Christ, ONE only to be exalted, the Gospel bringing the light of supernal glory to many a Jew and Gentile alike, and NONE other is to be raised or lifted up, but Christ who is in all and all for His people (Colossians 3:11).
As we see in Hosea 12:10, God used many images to make impact in contact with a fallen race, their need being enormous: as any teacher might do. Thus in word and in deed He acted in a fervour of concern for students; but the imageries never obscure their point, and their lively emphases do not substitute for their purpose, to explain fact and act. Images of Psalm 18 for example, in no way obscure the simple fact that God is speaking of the power of deliverance at His arm, and the degree of vehemence to be used if necessary in carrying out His program. He is doing this in view of the transcendent reality and determination of action which appears from His hand, the Almighty, unconcerned by potential divergence through resistance to His will in the execution of all His plans. His love is patient; His judgments do not fail.
He pled, became dead in body that He might become Lord with free salvation, said all, and provided all, and showed all in many forms and features, facets here and there, as the full lustre became known, as if a painting with many touches and much insight, at last presented from all in all, becomes apparent as the wonderful masterpiece.
But as to imagery! consider Psalm 18 once more. It does not, to be sure, suggest that God used a cherub as a kind of horse. That is imagery in terms of His nature, power and scope. However, it does most dramatically make it clear that His action bears comparison in practical consequence and inordinate determination to such a thing. Nothing is left unclear as Proverbs 8:8 declares. Fudge factors end with man; they do not attain to God.
Just as His is one will, one way, one salvation, one path, one wonder, so it is HIS name which is called wonderful and no other, for there is no other who is God (Isaiah 9,44-45), and it is He and not another Being, it is
His power and
His integral and unchanging theme and His methods
which will be deployed from first and to last.
The written word is the proposition, the Living Word, Christ incarnate, the performance. From the glory came the creation, to the creation came the Word Himself, ready to write upon the converted heart, to meet the convicted soul, the clamour of contrition and the acceptance of His salvation. He has acted to make, to redeem. It is all His.
Nothing was indeed made that was made, except by Him (John 1:1-3), for He invented the entirety of creation like a new department store that had no being before; and nothing is to be added to Him, for there is one salvation in one manner wrought, and no other name but that of Jesus Christ for this very salvation (Acts 4:11-12).
There is one world with its one essential revolt with one dismissal coming, and there is one universe, which will melt in the fervent heart, in particular, as it departs, there being no place found for it (II Peter 3, Revelation 20:11, 21:1). There is a new heaven and earth to come, in which righteousness dwells as Peter also tells us; but there is NO new Gospel (Galatians 1:6-9), New Order or other invention to be crowned, though man will try as in Psalm 2 and Revelation 12-13,17. Yet he will fail in fact, as in miscuing the word of God.
Just as there are no new morals, there is nothing figurative about our design or Designer; there is nothing so particular in our thoughts, that we can ignore that design (Romans 1:17ff.), and judgment as there shown, awaits if we do. It is God who remains, His word, morals, procedures; alpha and omega is He (Revelation 1:8), triune and triumphant, and the advent of augmentation or denudation of His Being or word by men brings neither relief nor joy, but a certain buffeting by the word of God, a certain bouncing off that readily attains a high velocity towards everlasting destruction.
God be praised that He neither changes nor fails to execute His word, even to the jot and the tittle, and that His Son the only Saviour, changes neither yesterday, or today, or forever, being One from predestining glory to ruling majesty, justly receiving praise for ever and ever. Reliable, He is faithful; compassionate He is gracious; eternal He is all-knowing and time a period before Him, like a stream seen from an aircraft above, which can view beyond it, through it and see it in its place for the race.
He has seen; man needs to see. Blinkers may help horses at times; they are never fit for the vision of man.