On Translations of the Bible

 

 

Second Edition

 

July 2013

 

 

Published by World Wide Web Witness Inc.

 

 

ISBN 978-0-9875948-3-9

 

  

 

 

 

  

 

                             Rev. Dr. Robert  E. Donaldson

 

 

 

 

PREFACE

 

This is a partly compiled, often revised, significantly extended, sometimes shortened edition of the work, On Translations of the Bible. As a base, the overall coverage of Ch. 1 of the first edition is provided, and then selections and revisions.

While there are multiplied translations and paraphrases of the Bible or parts of it, much is trivialising the text handed down in the vast majority of texts (and there are hundreds), based on unconfirmed hypotheses and tilted twistings of truth as pre-conceptions, till in the ordinary pastorate, more is lost than gained in the proliferation.

For reasons shown in the first Chapter, based on the integrity of the power and authority of the God of creation, and the results of His promises matched by statistics, the Authorised and the New King James Versions have a certain inbuilt reliability because of the text or text type in view, and a basic tendency not to be venturesome, in creating brilliant renderings that do not show much respect for the text, a sort of spiritual voyeurism. Real though their faults are, for those without Hebrew and Greek, they allow more scope for the sober to seek inspiration WITHIN what is written, without having it pre-chewed by theologians masquerading as translaters. This is always the aim; it is easy enough to SUPPLEMENT translation by other things; but often fatal to confuse the two.

It is found that the AV has a very good record for accuracy, the NKJV rather less, but often it has far more clarity, and that as a rule of thumb, these features may be taken in order for a swift and nearly always reliable result. However, there are blemishes which because of the date of the AV or the comparatively less seeming perception in the NKJV, can occur. This present volume is intended to cover such cases, as well as those which come because of the invasion of hostile cultures into the very translations, or equally readily, into the understanding of them.

With these things in mind, some 61 cases of one variety or the other are listed, with translations given at the outset, for speed of reference. The 300 or so pages supplied with these provide reasons for these 61 translations/expositions. In the Web version, it is hoped the different kinds of hyperlinks made available make the task easier, and by these to relay not only to the translations provided in each case, but to relate to the often larger presentations in the First Edition, or allied expository, explanatory or alerting material.

 

 

 

CONTENTS

 

 

Chapter One           TRANSLATION TASK                 

 

Chapter Two          BRIEF LIST OF TRANSLATIONS

 

Chapter Three       GENESIS TO PSALMS                

 

Chapter Four        ISAIAH                                        

 

Chapter Five          JEREMIAH TO MALACHI          

 

 

          END OF OLD TESTAMENT TRANSLATION AREA

 

 

NEW TESTAMENT

 

Chapter Six             MATTHEW TO ROMANS           

 

Chapter Seven               I CORINTHIANS TO JAMES      

 

Chapter Eight      II PETER TO REVELATION 

 

There is a wonder both in the word and in the works of God, as is so well indicated in Psalm 145. 


You may also like to see

21 Chapter Divisions

for access to various books in an earlier edition.

 

 INTRODUCTION

 

THE LIST

of Verses for Special Attention
in the Translation or Perception

While this is primarily a matter of translation, and avoiding pitfalls in specially vulnerable sites, in view of our culture and historical antecedents, and the cast of thought which has been thrown out like a fishing line, in so many ways and for so long, it also moves into some verses where, despite no obvious difficulties in translation by itself, meaning may be mistaken as the words are read with a cultural curtain over the eyes. This work has special attention to the AV and the NKJV, which taken together, the former more often for accuracy, the latter for clarity, are a great help; yet not to these alone is consideration given; and some other renderings are produced, or brought in. So further on these texts in Chapter 1 below.

The main intent ? It is that those without Hebrew and Greek, or time, may have ready access to points often or readily mistreated in translation or understanding; and since the AV and NKJV are very often conservative with the text, not normally inclined to be adventurist, they are to some extent a base, though always the original languages provide the ultimate resource, and determinative focus. 



 

 

THE LIST

 

Numbers are for Extended Material

Names of Books where hyperlinked are for

2nd Edition Basic translation and exegesis work,

the chief for this Volume.

Where the name of the book and the Chapter numbers

are not one item, but two,

it is the  Bible book name alone

which counts for this revised Vol. 2 purpose.

For brief list of the 61 translations alone, use this link.
 

1) Genesis 1:1
         1a)          1b)     1c)

Gracious Goodness Ch. 6, Bright Light Ch. 9, Dayspring et al..

2) Genesis 1:14-18

3) Leviticus  19:20

4) II Kings 7:13

5) II Kings 8:10 and

6) Job 21:30

7) Psalm 12:6 is also covered in the preliminaries, at End-note *1.

8) Psalm 19 is translated in Christ Jesus: the Wisdom ...Ch. 3.

9) Psalm 22:30

10) Psalm 59:17 not 'My God of mercy, but literally the God of my Mercy'(AV)

11) Psalm 90:12

12) Psalm 139:16

13) Isaiah 2:22

14) Isaiah 7:14 SMR pp. 766, 770ff., 916 

15)  Isaiah 8:19

16) Isaiah 9:3

17) Isaiah 9:6-7

18) Isaiah 13:12  

19) Isaiah 23:13

20) Isaiah 26:19

21) Isaiah 33:6

22) Isaiah 53:10

23) Isaiah 64:4-5

24) Jeremiah 13:27

25) Ezekiel 34:29        The True God ... Ch. 1

26) Hosea 7:13

27) Hosea 13:1

28) Hosea 13:2

29)  Joel 2:23

30) Amos 4:13

31) Habakkuk 2:13

32) Zechariah 9:17

33) Zechariah 14:5 (with I Thess. 3:13) is to be found at End-note *2A, below.

34) Malachi 2:12,15,

35) Matthew 10:8

36)) Matthew 11:27

37) Matthew 28:9

38) John 1:1 For the actual wording of the translation,  see here.

39) Acts 9:35

40)  Acts13:19-20

41) Romans 3:25

42) Romans 5:12-15,

43) Romans 9:5

44) Romans 16:25-26 (with more attention here, as noted in 40)

45) I Corinthians 13:8-10

46) I Corinthians 15:33 l

47) Ephesians 1:3-5

48) Ephesians 3:21

49) II Thessalonians 2:2

50) II Timothy 3:16

51) Titus 1:2-3

52) Titus 2:12

53) Hebrews 11:1

54) James 2:18-23 includes sermon 2005.10.23.mp3

55) James 4:5-6

56) II Peter 1:19-21

57) I John 5:7-8  - see Ch. 1, *2   above, and in Ch. 1 as marked.

58) Rev. 13:12-15

59) Rev. 19:8 - see Ch. 1

60  Rev. 20:4

61) Rev. 22:14

 





 

 

CHAPTER ONE


1
The Promises

 

     The following material related firstly to a pamphlet which makes claims which may give concern to some; though its own concern is understandable. It wishes to eliminate all standards for English Bible except the Authorised Version of a certain King James.

A better solution than this is assuredly available, one in accord with the teaching of the Bible, which has indeed been entirely preserved. (See
perspective later.) Indeed, thus is raised the entire matter of translation. God did not forget His people for 1600 years after Christ, or so! No, His ways do not change, and His provisions are profound. It is not to be discovered by assumption, which is presumption. HOW He does it, we find by faith and by looking.

     There is nothing in the entire Bible which states that there will be no variation in texts transmitting the Bible, or that any one nation at any one time will have, far less that all nations at all times will have, a totally correct transmitted copy of the Bible. What is stated in texts such as Isaiah 59:21 and so on, is this: that the MESSAGE, SUBSTANCE, THOUGHT, meat, or doctrine of any type, will be correctly conveyed.

·       The Hebrew use of the words we use for 'words' is noted in *1 below (cf. *3 in a related topic). In fact, then, THIS is what is guaranteed: no translation deficiency will be such as to mislead from what God has to say. It will appear in its full competency and accuracy and impact, as far as any teaching or historically significant point is concerned, for doctrine. His thoughts, teaching, doctrine is guaranteed in transmission. You can say with entire security, This is the word of the living God, if you take a Bible in your hand, having some attention to the overwhelming majority of the texts in the Greek and the testimony of the Hebrew.

·       You can also know that God as to inspiration went further: He guaranteed the exact words to the last point, as conveying what He wanted to say. I Corinthians 2:9-13 with John 12:48-50, Matthew 4:4, 5:17-20 make that quite clear. Whatever may be slightly varied in transmission will do nothing to limit or reduce the impact and knowledge God has given for our instruction in godliness, in doctrine, in righteousness (II Timothy 3:16). It will all moreover be fulfilled to the last syllable. (Cf. SMR Appendix D, pp. 1176ff..)

·       However what CAN happen, within what the Bible states will happen, does include some variation through TRANSMISSION, on minor points, sometimes incredibly minute as to some form of words put one way or another, and not affecting doctrine or testimony in any way.

·       I personally have never found any matter of textual transmission which prevents my knowing any doctrine or any fact whatsoever which alters my understanding of the character of any event, or of any person, or of God, or of His teaching on any point.

This verifies what God stated. Praise His name!

 

On Transmigrations of Inspiration

Now we come to the rather self-contradictory material recently handed on to me, on the topic "King James ONLY" - an unfortunate confusion of a particularly fine translation of the Bible, with perfection. The first part of the pamphlet on this point is good, saying what the writer does not mean. It is the second part where he says what he does mean, and this unfortunately is wrong, simply, sadly wrong.

There was no "Authorised Version" (AV) in English for centuries; and even some of the translations of the Bible which went before it and which contributed to its translation later, are not identical.

Indeed, it would be quite a work for anyone to show ANY Bible in English, for the hundreds of years before the AV which is EXACTLY in each phase of every reading identical with the AV; for if it were, their task would have been merely an updating of English, a nonsensical proposition. It would moreover assume work done by many to have been done before it occurred - Erasmus' Greek New Testament compilation, Tyndale's enormous labours, the vast efforts in Geneva as in adding Hebrew translation for the prophets, in moving from the Great Bible to the popular Geneva Bible, with its editions. To TEST all things, (I Thess.5:21) is not to PRESUME all things. Indeed, presumption and testing are opposites.

Incidentally it is simply contrary to fact to say with this author, that "King James Only means ... that God has kept His Word and preserved His truth all down through the ages." It may seem true to some writer, but it is not a fact. What the King James (KJV, AV) situation actually implies, in view of the preceding popular and available translations in English, would be this: that for hundreds of years, IF the AV were in all points exact, therefore God had NOT kept His precise words in every respect exactly transmitted down the ages, since there is no exact equivalence of meaning at all times with the words of former translations; or else that some unknown repository of labours of translation unknown, some precise equivalent in all things, to the AV, lay hidden, unused... unfound, unavailable! It might resemble, perhaps, the equally illusory and ludicrous concepts of Mormonism which, in addition to making new gods in their god factory concept (contrary of course to Isaiah 43:10 at the outset), have UNTESTABLE assumptions about a document in gold and glasses with magic propensities!

We are DIRECTED to TEST, and what is here re the translation is ONE fact.

The Bible has NOT been present with AV information precisely, before it came to pass;  it WAS precisely because it was such a monumental effort of precision (in the main) and apt talent and knowledge, WITH the marvellous preliminaries of other translators into English, such as Wyclif, that it gives so excellent a rendering, so justly prized (but not as we show in this chapter, for all that, perfection).

It did not happen before it happened. 'Nature' did not possess it before the intelligence and drive to DO it and the organisation and the structuring of inter-related translation teams, and time.

It came, the AV,  from sweat of the brow, and of course divine help. It was not the only one to come thus; but its superb qualities (as in MANY things they undoubtedly are) are not pre-dating it. Its accuracy and beauty did not pre-date it. Other beauties and efforts did. They all in general have wit and talent. This one had a blending of many minds, and gave some wonderful aids in the work of translation. Yet it did not - in terms of things testable, to which the Bible DIRECTS us to look - come before it was here, nor did its exact  factual parallel.

Such a result may be imagined; it may not be found. If it WERE to be found, it would be the most remarkable of all finds of science in this or virtually any other generation!

Test however has not revealed this labourless feat, or any such feat. If it did, moreover, the very imperfections in the AV here attested (though so minor) would always have been present in every translation, to their detriment. THIS King James Version-ism is precisely the folly of ANY idolatry, or icon or ism-itis, any obsessive fixation, any inflammation of carnal desire. HOWEVER wonderful the thing desired, there is error in following this or that great theologian and anti-scripturally calling yourself after him (as forbidden in I Cor. 3, cf. Repent or Perish 1, *1, The Biblical Workman 8), or adhering to this or that token, sign or other object, written or not, outside the Bible, with an overpowering intensity. By exalting the flesh, or through some circumstance of history, ceasing  to be in test mode, that procedure  ceases to be critical or realistic, and such conduct displaces by  preference the requirements that the word of God itself has NO option for addition. It stands alone, as it is.

What it SAYS, and not what you or someone else says about what it says, THIS is the sublime and sufficient test and criterion. You can no more get mediators in the realm of translation, as if THESE are the way, rather than the word of God, than you can in salvation. The error is not necessarily by any means so profound; but its principle is as polluted. IT always remains apart from the works of man. It must be sought, can be found and should be followed. GOD supplies the evidence for testing; man is supplied with the means of performing the required test. Assumption is NOT test.

If then God had guaranteed NO variation even in word arrangements in the available Hebrew and Greek*1, far more if He had guaranteed translations to be THE EXACT word of God at all times, and so forth, then that would have failed; and, for British Israelites and the like, it might be necessary to add, it would have failed in England in particular. THAT however was NOT the promise of God. This needs, also, to be read, not assumed. As  to this: It has not failed. His meaning remains, His doctrine remains, His truth remains, and minor variations in the vast array of texts, the majority text, are so exquisitely minute that no direction, no incident, no law, no doctrine is left in the slightest doubt as to its nature and meaning. As to what the mouth of God says, it is best to listen!

One can imagine in the days of Rome's idolatrous seeming preference for the Vulgate and its renounced efforts to make this or that version of IT, THE ONE, the very same fetishistic seeming approach. THIS MUST be the one. The POPE (Clement) said so. What appalling error if some non-Romanist church  had similarly insisted, as this pope did, on this being the criterion, flush with the pomp of flesh.  What IS the criterion is ever what God has provided; not in the idleness of dreams about possibilities, but in the realities of texts to be found and valued. It is only when these have been artificially manipulated in importance, and poorly written copies  have been elevated above all, by some magical historical 'event', as with Westcott and Hort and others, which history never had the goodness to confirm, nor statistics to verify, that any problems arise.

Theirs too have been dreams! History shows none of these things. What it DOES show is one magnificently homogeneous array of myriads of Greek texts, and much evidence for refined consideration of any subtle case, in which some matter arises. What is left is just the dust of passage. NOTHING of the slightest doctrinal significance or historical import is in any doubt, when what is PROVIDED is taken as it comes, and romancing, whether of Rome or of this other authority, the King James Version only, is abandoned.

Similarly, as a mere aggravation of the error is this fact. When the AV was undergoing its 14 or so revisions, there would have been no correct copy until the last; for if there were, then some of the revisions did not revise. Further, God who HAS promised and HAS kept His word faithfully in the world in its substance and commands, has not allowed some imagined original language of the New Testament to vanish without the integrity of the text being preserved. THAT unevidenced proposition would be an indictment of God's word! FAITH prohibits it. Evidence alike, does NOT find it! Testable things are concurrent with the word of God; imagination has no such privilege.

In fact, the idea presented in the pamphlet supplied: that one cannot correct ANY TRANSLATED version of the Bible by means of the Hebrew or Greek texts from which it came, and which were the originals, is if not idolatry, at least close to blasphemy. The Authorised Version is to stand free of the sort of test which its translators rejoiced in ? IT becomes the standard. That is a mockery of their own integrity!

It means that what DID NOT come from the mouth of the Lord is not to be adjusted by what DID. This is so, even on the view of the writer of the pamphlet, who maintains there is no second inspiration, that is - inspiration given to various translators to ensure their work is perfect! Inspiration from God surely is one thing; godly and dedicated translation and efforts to capture the best attested text in the Greek and Hebrew, this is quite another. It is the first which is scripturally guaranteed; the second is merely a tradition of men. To require it for doctrine is the Romanist style of error: rebuked justly by Proverbs 30:6. Any such approach is further rebuked in Mark 7:7.

·       To assume contrary to the evidence of history,

·       which DOES NOT have to show an exact equivalence of every element of meaning and minute circumstance in the translations of every nation at all times, when once the church grew in that nation -

·       a concept which is beyond the promises of God's word -

·       that there is nonetheless a real cross-national equivalence of translations:

·       what it this then ?


At best, it is obscurantism. It is ideas of the mind without the licence of the word of God, or for that matter, the legs of history. It is not faith but presumption. It is not the attested case; nor is it the Biblically required one. Test does not reveal it; the Bible does not require it. That is all.

What is in some ways far worse is this: such an approach leads to the failure to use all the evidence which God has faithfully and abundantly given us, to preserve what we must follow.

It not merely denies due test of available evidence in finding what the Lord has done, but  it also absconds from what the Lord sees fit to provide in any new nuance or feature which discovery enables. Not evidence but predilection rules; and as to the predilection, it is FAR from FAITH! Faith does not abide in the desires of man, but in the word of God. It does not invent a translation not given in the word of God as the standard; for that is quite simply ADDING to the word of God what it has NOT said, and subtracting what it HAS said, to test all things. In texts, you test texts. Further, since test does NOT show the precise data equivalent of the AV before it happened, it is to ABANDON the results of tests REQUIRED. That is three points of direct disobedience to the word of God. That puts flesh in the way of the word of God, without ground or reason, and how could one approve this unfancied and fanciful myth or fail to denounce it!

If the AV be not specifically inspired by God as a translation, then it is close to idolatrous, contrary both to history and to the word of God, to make it the standard. If HOWEVER it is inspired in this way, then it is a case of this unscriptural "second inspiration".

 

On going to the opposite extreme

Nor, on the other hand, may one accept the general manner of most modern New Testament translations

This is so in the sense that they do not use the historically attested majority text. Indeed, even the King James does not use all we now have of that majority text, though the differences are exceedingly slight. The New King James, is not infallible (and in this respect, it is like the AV, which however indeed has amazing accuracy, though less clarity at times). As to this NEW King James version, however, it

1) does not use the minority text, thus avoiding an underlying fault of most New Testament translations and

2) does present a broader supply of the majority text for meditation. The differences are minute, but at times useful. The New King James however does often contribute far greater clarity in its use of our English language as it is today in its translation from the Greek; and to fail to use it becomes in danger of idolatry for that reason.

Incidentally, though this might form another paper, the textual family to which the AV Greek manuscripts belong (though NOT in the case of I John 5:7, which was an import mainly from Latin translations) has been the subject of highly scholarly work by two notable contributors, Wilfred Pickering and Jakob Van Bruggen, New Testament Professor of the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands. Both from an historical and a statistical view they present (Pickering in The Identity of the New Testament Text, and Van Bruggen in The Ancient Text of the New Testament, supplemented by The Future of the Bible), grounds for NOT disregarding the 85-90% of all Greek texts which are in this family, used in the AV, though with relatively few examples as a base.

Pickering on review points out that NO sustainable explanation of this state of the text is scientifically available (pp. 158-159) except on the understanding that what is shown in this large majority of manuscripts was in fact the basic type; and of course in it, there is a high degree of uniformity. It is precisely this which in turn attests the good hand of the Lord on the transmission. The Bible's future will closely resemble therefore its past; though the opportunities to distort will not lack.

Already then we are munificently provided, and a good rule of thumb for Bible reading is this: the AV if your English is sufficient, and rely on it (subject to checking the evidence on the Greek and Hebrew) for matters of spiritual discernment and teaching; but use the NKJV for clarity.

It is challenging that a better version than the AV and the NKJV*2 is not available, to my knowledge; but perhaps soon it may be. However these two, taken together, really leave little for the person equipped to handle them to regret, except he/she takes to Greek or Hebrew, and even there one has books which can help further those who do not have these languages.

The net effect of this dangerous slope towards idolatry of the AV is alas that LESS knowledge of the word of God may well result; just as the opposite danger of uncritically accepting some of the appalling failures to follow the correct text in much New Testament translation, can lead to sloppiness not fitting for the word of God. When however, in the area of the majority text, and outside the historically fantasising and hair-brained schemes coming much from Westcott and Hort which led to the whole business of following a small number of preferred and often very poorly transmitted texts: one has little to choose from. Following this as the rule, one finds that except for one notable case, all the major errors so long pushed by small and scraggy examples, go. (Cf. the detailed comments of Dean J.W. Burgon in The Revision Revised.)

That case ? it relates to the fact that the AV puts words in the verse 7 area into I John 5 which are not in the great majority of the Greek texts. Indeed two points stand out here, showing the need to prevent idolising the things of men, even the good things. For in fact, these words, in the AV, are in a tiny number of texts altogether in the Greek: they were not put into Erasmus' famous Greek text at first, and were added to the 3rd edition, after someone challenged him on the point. He stated that if ANY Greek manuscript could be found with this IN, then he would insert it.

One … was found which seemed to give testimony to it, and so, on his word, he put it into his 3rd edition. The reason for its insertion was of course not scholarly. It was a case of one manuscript against all that he had, at that time; and it was put in because of something he had said! Now we learn there are perhaps 5 out of hundreds, with it in; and these very far from the early ones.

What is interesting is this: where it is found is in some of the Latin texts, and even these are not regarded as the most reliable ones of their translated type, nor were they early; and the evangelists were not known as Latinists! That is scarcely the same as the majority of the Greek, which the Lord has preserved; and which form the essential basis for the AV! This is quite astonishing. It appears the AV may have followed (indirectly) a tradition in this case: certain it is that it has not followed ANYTHING REMOTELY LIKE the great majority of the Greek in this case. It is the fact that it normally does this, not least, which gives it its place! In the divine mercy, even this AV error does not seem able to actually mislead anyone. It is just that the normal evidence it uses, is simply not there!

With, then, the AV AND the NKJ, one is well equipped; and as already noted, thus following the evidence one has no real problems with the text as such. Mere reaction against playing about with the Greek text evidence as happened on the basis of foolish and radical theories of the last century, and which has tended to continue in NT translation, is not wise. Getting to the actual evidence is, as the word of God directs us:

TEST ALL THINGS.
HOLD FAST TO THAT WHICH IS GOOD

( I Thessalonians 5:20) . The word "all" is of great importance in this context especially! It is God's direction for conscientious care.

Never trust in the manners and mannerisms of men. Trusting in tradition is NOT to be recommended (Mark 7:7); indeed in the case of doctrine, it is divinely condemned in the roundest of terms. OBEY the above injunction, and be safe in the divine directives. In fact, it was precisely this trusting in the tradition of men which led to the whole error following Westcott and Hort; for their conceptions, negated by history, were undoubtedly fashionable. They were not however attested by the evidence OR by the word of God.

In this, they are precisely similar to the reaction towards the AV; except that in this case, it is a fine translation, just not one to be made into a standard. In the end, the word of God does not give sanction to reducing our testing to one example of the evidence - it is directed to ALL THINGS. Let us then follow it. THAT evidence abundantly confirms all that God has SAID; though it is as so often, hard on tradition masquerading as the word of God. And why not! It is a sad presumption both against scholarship and godliness so to do.

Fortunately, both the AV and the NKJ provide the mass of the evidence for the non-technical reader. Remember, always go to the evidence, never to foolish theories, and never to foolish reactions ...

As it is God who supplies the evidence, our trust in Him is such that we are not concerned.
 

In Conclusion

 

A final word then on this misleading KING JAMES ONLY approach. Here alas as so often, Paul's injunction to moderation is ignored: things NOT stated in the Bible have to be 'put' there, and things stated are to be ignored or removed. So it goes. But for me and for my house:

what the Bible states is what goes, and what goes without it, is not accepted. The word of God and not the word of man will be our criterion, by His grace; and His grace is sufficient.

 
 

Endnotes

*1 On Words

Actually, The Hebrew word transliterated DABAR in fact, in the AV, IS translated in many ways, such as : ACT, ADVICE, AFFAIR, ANSWER, COMMUNICATION, LANGUAGE, MATTER, REPORT, TIDINGS, SPEECH, THING (very often - 215 cases listed), WORD, THOUGHT, SAYING. It is the word used in the Hebrew in Isaiah 59:21, 40:8 and in Psalm 119:89,119:160 concerning what the God who spoke to man, certainly will preserve!  Psalm 111:8 adds to this, using a different word, rendered 'precepts'. It is a term often used in the Psalms and refers to the responsibilities which God places on His people: the word's root being appoint, number, visit and so on (so Harris, Archer, Waitke, Theological Word Book of the Old Testament).

The guarantee here, then, is for what God comes forth to require, as a visitation or appointment with man. As to this, "They stand fast for ever and ever, and are done in truth and uprightness" - 111:8. This testimony too is guaranteed, for man shall indeed live by EVERY WORD which PROCEEDS out of the MOUTH of God. Directive requirements are therefore guaranteed - precepts. These will not be obscured from man, through departure from the scene. Nor is there any question except about wholly unsubstantial issues, the work rather of grammarians or statisticians than of those concerned to do what it says.

That has assuredly been fulfilled. Indeed, in the full-flavoured Isaiah 34:16 we see that the Spirit of the Lord has gathered the components - here creatures in the afflicted wilderness, subject of God's judgment, and set them their perpetual mark of His esteem, within it. His mouth has made the command, His Spirit has effected the result. Thus the thoughts of His heart, the objects of His disposition are inseparable, assured, guaranteed. THIS IS THE CASE WITH THE WHOLE "BOOK OF THE LORD", we read, for we are invited to search this entire book, with the assurance that so will we find, this combination, correlation. Things, episodes, objects, events will be placed aright, in accurate execution of His commands, and as He gathers His words, so He gathers their matching performances, nothing lacking; for His disposing of things to mirror just what He has said; for as to the Lord, and what He sees fit to provide in His book, this is the position:

"Search from the book of the Lord, and read,
Not one shall lack her mate,
For My mouth, it has commanded, and His Spirit, it has gathered them "
(emphasis added, but it is not untrue to the original).

E. J Young shows this rendering of the last line, which is brilliant - The Book of Isaiah, Vol. 2,
p. 437). The Hebrew posts after "My  mouth" an emphatic addition of "it" and so too after "His Spirit", in keeping with the majestic stress on His action and the assured performance. The entire data of the Lord will be preserved, His thoughts established: as He has spoken, so it will be. Will then the words be lost which direct the deeds, or will the search be prevented to which we are invited ? will the words assembled be lost while events, then uninterpreted, in frustration of His challenge to man,  fall out without their verbal basis ? But who or what will hinder, restrain, prevent the Lord (Isaiah 43:13)!

Assuredly, what He has so presented, He will preserve. The LOGOS, the DABAR is  to be preserved in the book, and the eventuation is sure. Certainly the sins of men may obscure the realities of the Lord, but THEY will not be lacking, nor will His word be quenched which has gone forth out of His mouth as a testimony: for as Psalm 119 indites:

"Your testimonies You have commanded" (v.138), and

"Concerning Your testimonies, I have known of old that You have founded them forever".

 Indeed,  as Psalm 119:160 declares,

"The entirety of Your word is truth, and every one of Your righteous judgments endures forever", while Psalm 111 confirms: as to His judgments ?

"they shall stand fast for ever and ever".

A similar word to that in Isaiah 59:21, 40:8 (DABAR) is used in Luke 21:33 (namely, logos, which similarly can mean thought, cause, word and so forth). John 10:35 refers not to transmission but to power of the word of God. These are the verses mentioned in the pamphlet. Verses requiring more are not found. However as to the INSPIRATION of the word of God, Matthew 4:4 is much more stringent, speaking of what GOD UTTERS: for here the exact words (remata) are in view, as also is the idea in II Peter 3:2 when the remata (Greek) of the prophets is considered in its inspiration.

We may however go much further than this. The actual variations in remata of God, in the available manuscripts, duly compared, is of the order I have already noted; and has no bearing on the logos, substance, matter. It affects in my experience precisely NOTHING in preaching, relevant history or doctrine. It nevertheless is not a mirror image of NO variation in any sense!

It is a matter of being precise, moderate and careful in what one says - moderate is Paul's word (Philippians 4:5), as is likewise the phrase, rightly dividing the word of God (II Timothy 2:15): not by philosophy (Colossians 2:8) - but by what it actually says. The material in the pamphlet sent is in its central thrust, inaccurate, self-contradictory and misleading.

These things are so unfortunate. Sound teaching is needed, not flag waving about mythical translation oscars, idols or whatever. We must adhere to the word of God, not to the word of man, or to our ideas of what the word of God should have said. It is enough, what it does say.

And what it does say is so stringent in terms of what IS guaranteed that NO doctrine, NO historical word or example, NO principle, NOTHING of any teaching significance or substantial force is ever in doubt. It is not a question of this topic or that; it is a matter of THAT degree of assurance. Those who, beyond the teaching of God's preservation procedures, want more, want both more than is offered and more than is needed. Inconsequential variations that produce pique and nothing of falsity in the thrust, substance or purity of the speech of God are an arena for admiration at the divine control; and when the variations produced by incredibly perverse philosophical theories are removed, so that the basic text and not some romanticising perversion of it is in view, the case is yet more obvious.

The word of God is sustained for all edification, instruction in righteousness, teaching NOTHING amiss but maintaining its precise message on everything without a misstep. While it has been well to bring redress to the invasion of this field by adventurers in both testaments, and those duped by them, more is not needed. What God has to say in all its purity is abundantly available; and variations of minute kind are mere winds among the trees which do not move, the leaves tossing, the stump erect. Man may indeed live by every word which proceeds out of the mouth of God (Matthew 4:4), the minute mischiefs of time doing nothing to allay or to betray but rather to emphasise that His word does not return to Him void, but accomplishes all that He has intended.

It was not for a lesson in pedantics that He put it out, and the maintenance of what is to be lived by, whether in mind or matrix, doctrine or righteousness, the thrust of history or the principles of life is so assuredly kept, that the discussion can soon degenerate into mere trifling with words, which is not scripturally recommended . ONE MAY ASSUREDLY LIVE BY EVERY WORD WHICH PROCEEDS OUT OF THE MOUTH OF GOD WITH COMPLETE CERTAINTY.

Indeed, let us quote from The Biblical Workman, Appendix 3, pp. 190-191:

 

While the issue there was name-dropping and personalising the word of God in terms of slants and upsets of heart and 'clubs' of believerships under this or that name, not that of Christ as the utter criterion in practice, it applies not less here. All points at issue in any reality of the portent and intent of the word of God as transmitted being secure, what remains becomes so trifling that it serves merely as excuse for sedition, occupation with trivia, flirtations with fancy, like worrying about a speck of dust on Sergeant's shoes just before battle. All that shoes are meant to do, these do; and this is not a fancy dress parade.

 

A Point of Interest 

PSALM 12:6

In Psalm 12:6, the term for 'words' is feminine. However in verse 7, the word translated 'them' is masculine (plural) in the first occurrence, and masculine (singular) - 'him' in the second. The righteous, in view in v.1, and contrasted with the wicked man, has been considered in his afflictions (12:5). He is however guarded by the word of God and its promises (12:6), a word indeed most pure.

We are assured that the Lord will preserve 'him' (v.7) as also in Psalms 16:1, 37:28,30. Nothing beyond that oft-noted preservation of the godly is demonstrable for v.7 regarding this point. Both the Pulpit Commentary and the redoubtable Keil and Delitzsch indicate this, the latter insisting that since there are two successive references, "You shall rescue them, O LORD, You shall preserve him from this generation forever", and the first is "them" the (em ending) and the second is not: that not only does the vowel pointing categorically signify 'it or him' and NOT 'them'; but the variation from the first ending to the second confirms in such a case,  a change from the 'them' to what is in fact written, 'him' or 'it'.

We are assured that the Lord will preserve 'him' (v.7) as also in Psalms 16:1, 37:28,30. Nothing beyond that oft-noted preservation of the godly is demonstrable for v.7 regarding this point. Both the Pulpit Commentary and the redoubtable Keil and Delitzsch indicate this, the latter insisting that since there are two successive references, "You shall rescue them, O LORD, You shall preserve him from this generation forever", and the first is "them" the (em ending) and the second is not: that not only does the vowel pointing categorically signify 'it or him' and NOT 'them'; but the variation from the first ending to the second confirms in such a case,  a change from the 'them' to what is in fact written, 'him' or 'it'. Thus the "them" and the  "him" in  verse 7, cannot refer to words; and in context have left for them the oppressed on whom the Lord looks. In this, both the AV and the NKJ versions, keeping both as "them" following the word reference,  are not accurate. Gender and number are both violated.

What is written, then,  is that in blue above (the 'him' could  also be 'it'). However, is the him, really an it, so that it would read: "You shall rescue them, you will preserve it from this generation for ever" - ? Hardly. The topic throughout the Psalm has been the oppressed, the wicked' s butt. In support of their deliverance is the fact that the word of God which covers the case is pure, refined and reliable (v.6). In verse 5 we have seen the 'poor' and the 'needy', grammatically  both in the bulk, the plural form, and in the singular, "I will set (him) in the safety for which he yearns".

The resumption in verse 7 (quoted in blue above) covers both the plural and singular form, just as did the thematic note in verse 5. To ignore this parallel is as in appropriate when you are seeking meaning from words given, as is any endeavour simply to turn 'it' to 'them'. The barriers are up.

Further, as Keil and Delitzsch's commentary also points out, the detail of the wicked persecutors is pursued in verse 8. What then ? This is the theme, and the word of God is the reference for support. Any other rendering adds a singular concept concerning the Bible, which had been in view as plural, the words of the Lord, requiring us to add what is not stated, and ignores the fact that not merely is what IS stated in the singular, but exactly as in verse 7, it is present  BOTH in the singular and the plural, so that the phenomenon of the two endings merely and simply mirrors the kindred forms in verse 5.

Where evidence is paramount, and not subjectivity, there is no choice. The Keil and Delitzsch rendering is objectively indicated: the godly man who ceases (verse 1) , buttressed in expectation of a better deliverance (verse 5) by the word of God (verse 6) is to be kept and preserved, despite all appearance to the contrary, from this generation even for ever, DESPITE the fact (v.8) that the wicked prowl as is their habit and wont.

Indeed, and further, it is BECAUSE the words of God are pure and tried, purged of any error seven times (v.6),  operationally magnificent because truly from His mouth, that the deliverance of the poor and needy, the godly man in his troubles (v.1), the one who is so vulnerable to being CUT OFF and CEASING, is given its due assurance. It is in this way that the theme CAN continue with confidence: YOU WILL KEEP HIM, O LORD! What overthrows perpetual vulnerability but the power of God, and what depicts its operation in security, but the word of God: here is the guarantee! This is WHY the poor and godly man has hope in his latter end, confidence in his pilgrimage and assurance in his way.

This then is not a relevant verse, Psalm 12:6, concerning direct statement of the preservation of the scriptures. It DOES however imply it, and the PURITY of scripture, its total reliability is vastly emphasised. It is BECAUSE of the purity of the word so perfected from  the mouth of the Lord to the scripture, that its principles as there expressed, are SO  applicable, that the poor in His concern, are not to become a vassal, subjectible for ever, but as in v. 5, there is to be a deliverance divine and dynamic, which will prevail. Its guarantee is the pure  word of God,  which being His who is infinitely powerful, will apply and be effectual for one in that category, in the plain of eternity. God's word is the basis for this blessing, and it WILL  apply, being His.

Scriptures which however do contain direct preservation guarantees relative to themselves, were noted earlier, in terms of the word transliterated "dabar". This guarantees His teaching, doctrine, the character of history and of persons, His precepts and the substance and thrust of His utterances.

In reality, in the main stream of Greek manuscripts, variation is next to inconsequential. If the matter has been exaggerated a little by the trifling with history relative to the manuscript evidence - itself under God's control, in which many have indulged, or by which they have been culturally hoodwinked: yet where it in fact belongs, it is a matter of small substance indeed.

God has stated with precision what He has done with the INSPIRATION of scripture, which accordingly becomes authoritative revelation from God to man; and what He will do in its PRESERVATION on earth, this too He has stated. The words GOD chooses in EACH of these cases, AND the things He has done, are both fulfilled with munificent exactitude.

When man, on the one hand, works out a philosophy about what God must do, and God makes a declaration about what He will do, on the other, I really have no time or interest in the former. There is no competition. Talmuds and the like are not for my religion, old style ones or new. The word of God is for us. Let us not add to it - at all!

It is just as much a mistake to 'adorn' scripture, as it is to attack it. None were ever subjected to more vitriolic denunciation by any prophet, than the word-adorners of Matthew 23, exposed in their errors by the surgical words of Jesus Christ. As to this area of adornment, philosophic intrusion into and beyond what may certainly be shown from the word of God: it is an area to be avoided therefore, with prodigious care and godly zeal.

As will be shown further below, therefore, the translation from verse 6 has these  elements.

The Lord will arise because of the desolation and sighing of the poor (cf. Psalm 102, Isaiah 61). He has the path to glory which will ensure that those who are poor in spirit, not lordly or loud, those belonging to the Lord and hence concerned with His name, unlike the perverse and oppressive, will  despite their liability to oppression, be object of His care to the point that He will  arise and act. This He did categorically in the incarnation and the resurrection, especially in the crucifixion and In His promises to all the elect, which while not removing suffering, remove its meaninglessness, as when the wind  blows away the chaff (as in Psalm 1). He will further arise in the roll-back of the  antichrist's flame (Psalm 2,110), and the incoming of the millenium as in Psalm 72,  Isaiah 59,66, Micah 7, Isaiah 11.

Having said this, He reminds us of the sensational purity of His words, and thus reinforces what He has just articulated with His words about the poor, and the oppressors, those who are His and those who oppress them.

At first, it may seem possible that "Thou wilt keep them," refers either to the poor in the plural,  as in 12:5, or the words of God in the plural. But it is masculine. "words' are feminine. The theme of the Psalm makes the latter seem more likely, though the affinity with what has just gone before, the words of the Lord, certainly give this place for thought. In such cases, one is inclined to leave to the word of God that amplitude which it has: there is no need to exclude a supervening overtone: Just as His words are utterly refined (an d so utterly reliable), so HE will be utterly reliable in keeping the poor, yes each one of the in view. Though the reference is not primarily not to words, it iS an application!

As to the primary reference, however,  further concern arrives about coherence and flow of concepts, as to be noted shortly.

If you take it that the Lord will keep these words, THUS guaranteeing His statement concerning the poor, then that is one element. If you take it that the Lord will keep them (that is, the poor in the plural as in verse 7, and the singular expression, one by one, "Thou shalt keep him from this generation,"), that is another. The Berkeley version has this:

"The words of the Lord are pure words,

as silver purified in an earthen furnace, refined seven times.

Thou, O LORD wilt keep them,

Thou wilt guard each one from this generation for ever,

where godless men strut around,

as baseness is given a high rating among the descendants of man."

He does not contradict the text in this, making singular  plural,  or disregarding masculine and feminine.

 

Yet to what does the last part refer ? The end,  which has the godless in  view, gives  force  to the contrast of what would otherwise appear a sudden irruption of thought, moving from "keep them", His words,  to "guard each one," in parallel, though with the object in view, this time, the poor! who are then as the text flows, contrasted with godless men, prominent as the Psalm  ends. To prevent such a double meaning for them  and each one, grammatically prevented from having the same reference object, and the disruption of thought involved, then, the consistent meaning, and not the divorced coupling of different ideas, is taken.

 

That hybrid if conceivable, appears so disjointed compared with the other option as just shown above, that it does not warrant acceptance. Thus the translation given would be better taken to mean that the Lord would keep the poor to which He had already referred both in the singular and the plural,  guarding each one (paralleling the end of  verse 5), and that this would occur  even  while the godless strut, by contrast. Further, the keeping  and guarding form  a parallel, common in the Psalm. Thus the smooth flowing thought is that  the words of the Lord are so pure that they will not be subject to decay or declension, amendment or rejection. Hence the poor generically, and in individuality, are to be His concern, the godly poor, those contrasted with the godless and  arrogant, While the main point is not economic, it is spiritual, yet where poverty is part of spirituality which has a cost, doubtless it applies. Crushing is contemptible; and God engages for  His people, missing none by oversight, concerned for each. 

In this way,  a paragraph could be placed at "Thou, O LORD wilt keep them."  Delitzsch does that.

 If however the poor because of the purity of the word of God,  are in perpetuity,  the poor in spirit or deprived for the Lord, to be a focus of such concern,  then the word of God is by implication as the basis of such results, itself to be kept, and that more so, since on this foundation, those results have their assurance! Indirectly, therefore, the endurance of the word of God is assured, its standing over its results,  assuring its own. If these results must continue, how much more what assures them.

 

Note on Psalm 12:5-7

This does not vary from the above, but gives more detail.

There are then prima facie a number of considerations, however, which without giving just ground for making this part of Psalm 12, namely verse 7, refer to the words of God, rather than to the poor, nevertheless open the way for this as a possible addendum. In such cases, one cannot found a doctrine on this, as a possibility, but can regard it as consonant with doctrine taught elsewhere, and hence integral with it.

 In this case, the Psalm opens with the harassed godly man, and proceeds with the plural, “the faithful”. This is the key note. It then moves to the opposing ones, who with ‘flattering lips” and double heart do the evil. This singular, plural oscillation is important in this Psalm, and is of course not found here alone. Thus in Isaiah 34:16, where God is speaking of the PRECISE results of His judgment on Edom. We have been introduced to the “hawks” and other elements of the desolation to come, and these are gathered “each one with its mate.” The class is followed by the illustration or representative of it.


We are then directed to “the book of the Lord”, to read it, and told this: “Not one of these shall fail. Not one shall lack her mate."  The reason is then provided for this result: “For My mouth has commanded it, and His Spirit has gathered them.” This is a double oscillation, with rich overtones, relative to the bird and then the word. With the bird, it is the one and the mate. With the word, “it” is the fiat, the command, the fact that the authority of God Almighty has addressed itself to THIS HAPPENING. The “them” refers to the distributive fact, that there are various elements within the edict, which have each an integrity of its own, and God has GATHERED these, each one. 

 Each one of these things, the bird and its mate, will come to pass, the integral and the detail; the word in each of its gathered components, this too is an alliance, authorised and sure. The assured gathering is based on the fact that the book of the Lord is exceedingly reliable, to the smallest unit (just as Christ relayed in Matthew 5:17-20), so that the items noted, will be the items found. THEIR continuance is based on its continuing incapacity to be  ineffectual or cancelled or overpowered or overcome IN PRACTICE!

The FOCUS being what is to happen, it would seem  that the objects emphasised are not the entire point of  word of God and the particularities within it, but rather illustrate the topic of the main theme, namely the fact of the judgment and the components within that. The parallel however is evocative and instructive. The next verse continues this detailed emphasis. The THING is ordered without cease. Each part will eventuate. They will come; judgment will stay. In its day, each will show the horror of its totality; from  day to day, judgment will rest. 

What then ? Implicit in this is that the WORDS which give voice to the information which refers to items each one of which will surely come to expose the desolation, they too MUST have an underlying and inordinate authority AT THAT SAME LEVEL, so that the subjects given through them, should have any standing at all. The detail is guaranteed; the detailed authority of the words is THEREFORE guaranteed, as the SOURCE of that practical assurance, since it is these words which convey it at that level. The book of the Lord contains no failure; and thus its words here, detailed though they be, are to be discerned in actualities, practicalities, and in doom unremitting. 

Taking this considerable parallel in form of speech, to Psalm 12, we see the similar line that the class of the persecuted poor is in view, within the compass of the Lord’s people, on the one hand; and on the other, there are His pure words, purified seven times, strikingly suggestive of an individual attention to each 'fleck' of each word, or as Christ put it, each jot and each tittle. From the poor He turns to His refined words,  making an announcement about these.  

That comes in v. 6. In v. 7, parallel to Isaiah 34:16, the subject continues, about each one of them, the distribution being total. It is as in Isaiah, each one of the creatures noted is to be in the association promised. It is not general; it is a particular to come. It has a generic feature, and this is applied to the particular.  

The same of course applies here about the word of God. IF it can specify for EACH one of a category mentioned, then clearly it is comprehensively accurate and this is a fundamental assumption for its operation at such a level. 

Note that both in the last verse of Isaiah 34 and that of Psalm 12, we continue on the objects in view, not on the mode of their presentation, that is, by the word of the Lord, which has in each case been invoked as the sufficient authority, its detailed reliability implicit in the certainty of the results of what it purveys and declares.

 Since for example Psalm 111 makes a parallel point regarding the word of God, as is here implicit, this is integral with it. Indeed, something more remains. In Psalm 12, it is possible to conceive of verses 5 and 7 as being a PAIR of generic-detail associations. That is, there is first the poor (plural) is in view, and then “I will set him in the safety for which he yearns” (‘he’ of course singular). Then, the words (plural) of God are pure, seven times refined. Next we find that all will be kept, each one (singular)  for ever. It could be urged that this is an intentional parallel: the poor in general, with one in this category  in view as an example; the words of God in view, in general, then any one of them, as an example, each one so pure. This would be the case if verse 7 COULD be a reference to the WORD continued on from verse 6.


This enhances the propriety of the association with the doctrine in Psalm 111, and as noted above, there is a conformity to this. It is not, prima facie,  impossible that the double reference is intentional, that while the dominance of the oppressed being harassed is undoubtedly the theme, with this from the first, continued to the very last verse, yet with the parallel in Isaiah, and with other singular-plural reference on a topic in this very Psalm ALREADY in view for comparison, it could not well be maintained that this, the word of God as such, is the primary intent for verse 7.

 It could, prima facie, however, be urged that it is not dispensable as a supplementary thrust. It is not supported by direct evidence as is the other option, ‘the poor’, but it is not so far insupportable as a reference, even if it is strange to have a sudden “them-it” sequence without basis on the preceding text, conceived as the basis for interpretation. It is indeed all the more so, when it is not even the thematic thrust of the entire Psalm: which in fact both begins and end with its focus on the afflicted. Yet the parallel can at least occur to the mind: the POOR and one poor man; the WORDS and each single word.  

 Before we proceed to the conclusion, it is good to face an issue. In general, it seems wise to allow any thrust in a literary passage which is not ruled out absolutely, especially if it has any features which in wider context commend it in the writings in view, in the feature of an enrichment for contemplation; without presenting such as THE meaning, or even the certain meaning. Thus to exclude it as an overtone would seem to go too far, even though process of translating with two “them” references in v. 7, as some do, is insupportable, bringing in ideas not in the text, to deform the text.

 

However, there is a complicating facet.  

That is the prima facie situation,  but the case is not left there, though the points in general are instructive.

 We must now face additional evidence. The word for ‘words’ in Psalm 12:6 is in a form which reveals its gender: it is feminine. However the alternation of ‘them’ and ‘it’ or ‘each one’ in Psalm 12:7 is masculine. Why would there be a change of gender to masculine in verse 7,  from the feminine for ‘words’ in the preceding verse, if THAT was the gender of the referent ‘them’ in verse 7 ? Would you change gender in order to show that there is an essential continuity of thought ? It would appear that this would be an ideal way of showing PRECISELY THE CONTRARY. If then we choose between two possibilities, then the one which has an exclusion notice expressly given is not going to be the one adopted! 

Instead of being conformed, they are disparate. One road is marked, 'Closed'. Verse 7 refers to the persecuted.  

This means that the concept of parallel with a possible intimation of a second level of meaning is diminished. Is it to zero ? As far as translation of the term of different gender is concerned, yes it is: the other point, the poor,  had the major basis in any case. Does it however remove the interesting feature that the mind is jolted by proximity at first to the possibility that verse 7 MIGHT be referring to the word of God ? The fact that implication produces an equivalent result, in all practicality, the words with their predicted deeds bound together in joint warrant and integrity,  then weighs into thought. 

 

The word of  God is wonderful indeed!

 

It is the implication which, as in Isaiah 34, which remains to the point on the topic of the Bible as revelation. What is GUARANTEED absolutely BY words must therefore imply the absolute reliability of the words themselves, right down to the level of specific points; and this applies for the term in view for the site and time in view, one  aspect being eternal. In the case of Isaiah, it means the word, for the specified period in view, is assured in its application to every creature in its association, each will come and desolation will continue; in the case of Psalm 12, it means that the word of God will bring to pass that day when it applies to each redeemed oppressed person, to the level of singularity.

Even before the consummation, precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.  His concern for the poor will not be overthrown, and as in Psalm 72, it will proceed and prosper, to become a ruling feature. Isaiah 34 alerts us to the importance of detail in verbal fulfilment; but Psalm 12 implies no less. The poor ? this in turn is in the context of  "the godly man", the poor in spirit, also oppressed who yearns and who sighs, and so each one is before the Lord.

 What then is to be realised to the full ? It is this. The word which makes such guarantees is automatically ITSELF inherently gifted with the power and authority, the purity and the strength innately, needed for such a result, even  forever! Thus there is no direct revelation in Psalm 12 in the words, ‘each one’, in this case, about the word of God in its continuity, though the idea naturally occurs, for reason shows that the words, if to be faithfully fulfilled to such a level as  is implied in the text, must themselves have not only authority, but one in detail to ensure the result stated, to the degree stated.

 That ? whatever it says, it WILL HAPPEN (cf. Matthew 5:17ff.), JUST as it is stated.  

Thus the poor being the theme, and the word of God the means of instituting His overall purpose and stated intent, both poor and word are involved in the sovereign majesty of the divine purpose and utterance, the two bound together. In this case, it is the ministry of the words (in the plural, verse 6 with an overflow of atmosphere into the start of verse 7) which ensures the ministration of the help to the poor, precisely as stated, yes to each one of the afflicted. Amid His people, committed to His care, precious in His sight is the death of His saints, and steadfast His underlying concern, at the last to become entirely manifest in a restored world (as in Psalm 72).  


 

REVELATION 19:8

*2  Lest there be idolatry, God may give us cause for circumspection

Several examples of this translator's non-infallibility could be given, just as we have had to cite a case in I John for the AV. However for now we shall restrict the exercise to one. It is chosen because it is a grave departure from scriptural conformity, not at all because the Greek text is in any question at all.

This example, by far the most serious, is found in Revelation 19:8. Let us hasten to note that several other translators give precisely the same translation. It is not specific to the NKJV and has nothing to do with its underlying Greek text. It reads, re the bride of the Lamb, that is, the church of believers in Jesus Christ: "and to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints." That is what the NKJV says here...

In fact, two rather obvious possible translations actually present themselves here, simply in terms of the language. It will take other criteria to choose between them. The AV rightly translates in this case, "the righteousnesses of the saints". That is sound. It does not intrude, and leaves the understanding of it to the reader. The term translated from the Greek as "righteous acts" or "righteousnesses" can assuredly be translated in either of these ways.

Before we proceed, let us notice this. In Romans 5:16 and 5:18 there are TWO words translated "justification". In Romans 5:16 it is the same Greek word, though here in the singular (dikaiwma), which is used in Rev.19:8 . "The judgment which resulted from one offence resulted in condemnation, but the free gift which came from many offences, resulted in justification." This term refers to righteous ordinance, just law (A), and can also mean righteous acts. It can mean judgment, either negative or positive; but can have a sense of acquittal. The emphasis is on RIGHTEOUSNESS, and the underlying thrust, is law. There is a third word which means the state of righteousness, of things as they ought to be, integrity, virtue, purity of life and so forth. This however is not used in Rev. 19:8 or in Romans 5:16,18. There law is in view.

In Romans 5:18, we read, in part: "even so, through one's Man's righteousness, the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life". Now the "righteousness" of the "one Man" is the same word as the "righteousness" in 5:16, where it is attributed to the saved or justified sinner. It is a case of meeting all that could be required by the moral, spiritual, divine law; and this He did. It is here in the singular.

Now however, later in Romans 5:18, we find what happens to us who are redeemed sinners: the free gift which reaches to, and is indeed received in this case of the believer, is "justification of life"... A different word occurs (dikaiwsis). It means "justification", acquittal (B). Just judgment is involved, and the grounds for acquittal are stated to have devolved upon one thing and one thing only: the righteousness of the One of whom it is written (5:8) that we are "justified" through His blood. Hence there is this righteous attribution, which includes the decree nisi on the guilt on sin. If now you are saved by His death, how much more will you be kept by His life (Romans 5:9), says Paul, grace reigning by righteousness to eternal life, the gift (Romans 6:23), by grace (Romans 5:15).

The point is this: BOTH words, A and B, are used in a similar sense but with a different emphasis, where noted in verses 16 and 18. In one verse, Romans - 5:18 both are used. There, HIS is the righteous virtue, ours is the vicarious acquittal. In Romans 5:16, however, the contrast is "many offences" with "righteousness", the errors which we performed, and the righteousness which we are given, with which we are garlanded; but of that more anon.

In verse 16, it is a case of emphasis on the wonder of what is gained, on the righteous purity of what is attributed to us on Christ's behalf. It is however, for all that, though this is implicit, used in the sense that we are forensically forgiven, in that context. Assuredly, the contrast is intense between OUR negative contribution and HIS positive contribution, and the efficacy of His work, DESPITE the negativity of our own.

 

 

Hence in Revelation 19:8, where the term used is that marked above as "A", found in Romans 5:16, we therefore have the option to take it to mean imputed righteousness, with emphasis on the wonder and glory, the exactitude and thoroughness of the thing imputed, that is, Christ's own righteousness, exactly as in Romans 5:16. Since the emphasis is on the entire cleanness, not at all attributable to sinners, this word choice is very understandable, mirroring that of Paul for precisely the same impact entirely.

The "linen is the righteousnesses of the saints", says Rev. 19:8. Yours and mine, distributively, these are the multitudinous tokens of righteousness, entire righteousness without which no one so much as enters heaven (James 2:10, Romans 1-3, esp. 3:19-20, John 3:17-19). They are in the scene in Revelation 19, seen to be GIVEN, not brought with them. It is "GRANTED" to the bride to be "ARRAYED" in these fine clothes. They are befitting to such people in such a place. They are celestial vestments, given to the choir of the elect, as it were, in their choir stalls, to the bride in her marriage. The array is bought, not wrought.

The wonder of these "righteousnesses" is then either distributive, or it is a multi-faceted thing - the righteousness of sanctification, performance, atmosphere, attitude, spirit, heart, all in Christ, from Christ, and as perfected in Him (cf. The Biblical  Workman Appendix 4, Love of Righteousness), for even LOVE TO GOD is required by God's law! All are attributed, all "granted", conferred, all conveyed, all making the party NOT to be THROWN OUT as occurred in the parable of the unclad wedding guest, as told by Christ Himself (Matthew 22:12-13)... The clothing then expressly is what makes the difference between ENTIRE acceptability and ENTIRE unacceptability; wrath and punishment, and grace and acceptance (cf. Ephesians 1:6). In this last verse, the Greek sense is this, that we are engraced in the beloved, surrounded with gracious acceptance in Him.

That is the kind of surround which is Biblically exclusive in such settings of acceptation, Biblically required, required in the book of Revelation, in the Gospel, in the parable of Christ. There is no other name by which we must be saved; and salvation as distinct from damnation is the issue. Let us then revert to the Parable of Matthew 22.

Now in that parable, if one thing is clear, it is this: the guests were not those notable by moral expectation; they were lying about, or in odd places, undistinguished, and they included positively bad people, explicitly. Their robes are not secured by righteous deeds. Neither are they made white except in the blood of the Lamb (I John 1:17-2:2, Revelation 1:5, Isaiah 61:10). Indeed in the classic base to these images in Isaiah 61:10, the robe of righteousness with which the redeemed are covered is paralleled by the garments of salvation.

Hence we choose not to deny the teaching of the Bible by using a translation which ignores all the imagery to which Revelation is so constantly sensitive in other scriptures; which ignores the teaching of the book of Revelation in other parts, and that of the Bible in other parts; departs from the parable, the theology and the situation. We instead are required to choose as in Romans 5:16, the sense of righteous emphasis without pre-empting the source of it in such a contrary way.

Righteousnesses these certainly represent; pure performance of law: certainly that. But whose ? Whose are those gifts of righteousness which we are explicitly told are attributed to us, though here the righteousnesses themselves, as in Romans 5:16 in precisely this sense, are in focus ? Why they are His in whose blood the saints have washed their garments, He who confers the garments of salvation.

It is, as Revelation 7:14 states, "these are they who have come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb. THEREFORE they are before the throne of God..." (Capitals added.) John tells us HOW they got that whiteness, better than any fuller can make; and how they can stand: it is a case of washing and "THEREFORE". Let us not therefore choose this translation option, but accept that of Paul in Romans 5:16. These are the righteousnesses of the saints indeed, but their righteousnesses, precisely because they are saints, by which and in which stand and are arrayed, so that it is this which meets the eye and declares the status and acceptability: they are His. The Greek allows attribution to whomever; the translation resolves the point contrary to text, context and multitudes of scriptures. It is unnecessary, intrusive and excluded.

There is more that might be said on this, but this will for now suffice.

This one major error however does not mean that the NKJV is not a good translation. If other things of the type or of any type were to be found of this appalling kind, such could not be said. Other things are found, but not of this significance; and MANY things are found which are excellent, many common mistakes are avoided, and as far as a sound and useful modern English text is concerned, it is very valuable.

Actually, it is almost amusing that each of the two, the AV and the NKJV make ONE almost incredible mistake. Their general standard however is cause for some rejoicing.

Let us then avoid idolatry and TEST all things carefully, holding fast to what is good in the faith of the Lord who has not left us in any doubt about His word, but who requires diligence*3. The general advice given about the practical use of these two versions for those not scholars, is simple and leaves no danger. Practising what the Bible calls "moderation", not the subtle evasion of His teaching and truth, but the awareness of seemly circumspection and apt assiduity, rather than carnal strife, it is well to grow in grace and in knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, apprehending that for which we are apprehended, and having it finished. (Cf. QAA 11, pp. 136ff.,TBW 1, p. 20, BB 3, Endnote 1, A Just Balance .)

For a consideration of NKJV and AV renderings of interest in various points, we now turn to our set of useful detailed cases.

 

*3  EXCURSION on ELEMENT of TRANSLATION APPROACH

WORDS IN THE MILL

(Re *3 above: Perhaps not only diligence but intelligence helps, in that the mind is supposed to be used in spiritual things, not set in abeyance.)

A

WHAT IS EQUAL AND DYNAMIC EQUIVALENCE,
AND THEN AGAIN WHAT IS THERE

It may be useful to note a simple point, first, re idiom and translation, re people who know or do not know the animal or thing or aspect in view, in a given scripture: and how best to accommodate their needs in any translation. There is the concept of dynamic equivalence, and of wooden literalness; and then again, there is that of intelligent integrity, a third and better way. This is eminently to be desired.

After all, in translation, we do not NEED to put in some animal known to a given race, in exchange for the one in the Bible. That is the affair of TEACHING or PREACHING, not at all that of translation. If we did this sort of thing in translating "the classics", the result would be laughable. They are what they are, and we learn from them, rather than teach. What we do with what we learn, this is another matter, but first we need to KNOW what we are talking about, and not something else, for the purpose.

Thus there certainly has to be INTELLIGIBILITY in FORM, in the translation, so that the new language is not merely made subservient to that which is being translated, in its grammar or other essentials of its individuality, which is its own, and not for export at such a time, or in such a function. On the other hand, there must not be a usage of idioms in the language into which the translation is made, which goes beyond the emotion, the overtone of ethos, the grammatical genre and the ideational refinement in the original (not that it is necessarily refined in itself, but refinement must enter in the rendering of it with precision of KIND).

Accordingly, to use the word "fellow" where there may be in English in the context, a flavour of disregard (as in some contexts there is), would be wrong on the claims of idiom, if this were not present in the original; and on the other side, NOT to use it, when there was some sense of importance and grouping, when that particular sense of the English would appear in the translation context, might be an omission. We have to determine, mostly with some ease, but on occasion with some difficulty, WHAT is the FIT.

It is not a question of what is the best fit, in general, but what DOES FIT. There should be no usage of such idioms as present into the translation, an emotion, feeling, flavour, be it formal or casual, not in the original. This requires some knowledge at least of both the current and the former (if it is as here an ancient document) ways, not so as to make one force itself into the other, but precisely TO PREVENT THIS! Further, cultural casualness in one society may because of morals, cultural past or religion, for example, be very different in impact from that in another. The choice must be to convey what was being conveyed; and in English, there is much scope for this, which of course, occasions finesse to grasp from the magnificent assemblage of available words, what FITS all with a reasonable, reliable and sensitive care, and preferably, flair; but if the latter, then not with an input that commands, but enables.

We are not, as dealing with the word of God, trying to make it palatable or unpalatable, to hit the spot or fail to do so (since our own estimates of the 'spot' enter in, in any case, and we are trying to be objective in terms of the whole constraints of the whole context, and the particular context, and the spirit shown in the whole in its clarity).

We are rather  trying to make a wholly unintrusive, but utterly sensitive, and in terms of what is actually conveyed in the new language, sensible rendering. It must catch the sense of a flight of imagination, as far as words can be chosen from what, in the case of English, may be a much broader palette of available terms, or a dulness of heavy anger, or the quietness of simple narrative, or whatever else may be in view.

In the end, the translator, if wishing fidelity to the original, most important when this is GOD in speech, must be unintrusive in what is entered, but exceedingly laborious in working on what is there, what is available, the spirit, texture of thought, of culture, of their emphasis or relative emphasis and so on, so that for the one not having the origInal language, it is as near as may be TO IT. Thus the reader, using the translation, ideally can do the individual approach to the word of God, not THROUGH the eyes of the translator, but according as the latter has been successful, through the WORK put in!

 

 

B

WHAT MATTERS OF SPEECH AS IT IS SPOKEN,

AND THEORIES AS THEY ARE NOT

 

While we are speaking about translations, let us use this opportunity to deal with a related matter: translations of THOUGHT into WORDS, in the first instance, before any thought of other languages occurs. Specifically, we are now in the domain of expression as such, of reportage, of giving accounts of things to one another.

In the New Testament a lot of disquiet has been felt by the agitations of many, concerning slightly different phrasings of utterances made by one or another person, or summarising those made, as found in one Gospel relative to another. Extraordinary statements have been made on the one side and the other, as if this were some major matter. As so often in dealing with life, the key comes from life.

We have made it in our family a matter of mirth and hobby, to watch HOW we describe, narrate, report, condense, select in our record of events in narration to one another. Possibly  hundreds of times, we have drawn to our attention this or that case when WHAT HAPPENED or WHAT WAS IN FACT SAID (in detail) was such-and-such, and the WAY WE REPORTED it, or REFERRED to it, or CONDENSED it was this or that. We observe with delicious interest how each case was handled in our normal, unrestricted speech to one another.

The variety is amazing, the liberties were impressive but the principles are quite clear. We then considered how we responded to these various methods of recounting what had been said, in synopsis or simple account.

In our reportage (casual, for ordinary inter-relation and reference as we go about our lives) of this or that to one another, there appear a number of principles, then. We are able to deal with this empirically, since almost countless examples have been dwelt on in our own midst, in which we examine the way it was done in our reporting this time, or that time. What was in common in our methods, our procedure of reportage ?

First, there is frequently found not the slightest effort to get verba ipsissima, that is, the very words spoken. If there is, it is because THAT makes all the difference or is a major INTRINSIC affair; but the cases we studied were not normally of this kind. The precision of using the SAME WORDS was far from central in our familiar reporting. It was the VARIATION and liberty which was central.

What then were the features which constrained, the elements of form and order which we found empirically, like lanes of traffic, which DID APPLY in reporting in this ordinary life setting, what someone said ?

In this, of cardinal importance is the PURPOSE of the report. If it is to recall an event, summarise a reaction, distil the essence or secure the pith of a point of view or statement, then the wording reflects THAT. This is what someone 'said', or 'stated' or 'indicated'. What is then paramount is the accuracy of thought, the aptness of spirit  and  the adequacy of coverage for the purpose in hand. If the question, for example, is whether X was a communist, then the relevant element of his speech might be taken, summarised and applied. There would be MANY ways in which this could be done, of course, such is the diversity of the vocabulary of some million words in English (as we are told), the flexibility of our grammar and the modes available for summary. The best effort would be sure to keep to the exact essence, but do it with an art of recall which brings it out without any distortion or deformity; yet this, in such a way as to expose the nerve, reveal the point at issue.

Thus there are different senses of 'said' in reportage, and it is for the intelligence to seek to determine from the purpose in view and the manner and style of the account, what is the intention. 'These were his words', or with our punctuation provisions, inverted commas of course puts it beyond doubt for us. In Greek, there are what may be transliterated as remata and logoi, and the first moves in the nature of the actual words, the second in the direction of the thought, content. In both languages, the sense of what is being SAID, and the words that convey it is distinct.

It could, secondly, be put in a SETTING which draws attention to relevant surrounding circumstances, and of these, selection to the point at issue might be drawn.


Thirdly, it was found in our family researches into our own usage and that observed, that the substitution of this or that word or phrase for another was the height of flexibility, the substance being what was precious, with length varying according to purpose and precision of essence.

The word 'say' could be used in the most impressive way, to mean in effect: divulge, reveal, utter, signify, indicate and so on. It by no means meant that the words recorded were the words given, nor we found was this by any means assumed. If it were a question of the WORDING, then this might be signified specifically; but 'say', like 'saying' often merely means the concept, the theme, the substance of what was said. THAT must be entirely exact and without the slightest deformation; but the liberty of re-expression is surrounded with art, purpose and re-construction at the grammatical level, provided only that the relevant issue is delivered without overtone which was absent in the original, thought that was not there; and as to the thought that was there, this could be selected to meet the specifications of the understood purpose of the recall in the first place.

When the concern WAS the exact words, then this became a study, a subject in itself; and of course, in our speech, the question of inverted commas did not arise, rather as in the written Greek of the New Testament. IF we were interested in the exact words, for ANY reason, then out they must come; they could be utilised in a setting which made it clear that because they mattered to the point, therefore they were being citing with the accuracy necessary for the point. If their thrust however was the point in view, then out that must come. Fidelity was to substance, manner, mode and thrust of expression; wording was an extra, and this was understood clearly. In all this, a certain minimum but perfectly natural intelligence is employed, and parameters specified if and when this is felt necessary for understanding.

Had we desired to perform some sort of reconstruction, word by word, for a courtroom, that would have been another purpose. If again, the courtroom needed the correct rendering of the situation, that would come.

An interesting example of both the liberty and the constraint in such matters, has been brought to my attention by Matthew Donaldson. It occurs in Luke 20:16 and Matthew 21:41 and the surrounding ‘verbal tissue’.

Now on the one hand in Matthew 21:41, we find, after the parable of the wicked vinedressers, who assaulted or killed those who came for their produce, on behalf of the owner, and then killed the Son so that they could seize the inheritance for their robbing selves, a particular set of words. It concerns the owner thus misused. It is this: "He will miserably destroy them!"

THAT is the response of the hearers of Christ, who have just audited the story, and been asked, "Therefore, when the owner comes, what will he do to those vinedressers?" Thus we have the RECORDED SECTOR of the interchange in this occasion between Jesus and the hostile hearers of his parable:

Question: WHAT WILL THE OWNER DO ?
Answer: He will miserably destroy them.

Now in Luke 20:16, We find this.

"He will come and destroy those vinedressers and give the vineyard to others."

Response: And when they heard it, they said, "May this not be!"

Then He looked at them and said,

"What then is this that is written ?:
‘The stone which the builders rejected
Has become the chief cornerstone.’ "

In Matthew 21:42: "Have you never read in the scriptures …"

Now the first part of this, brought to our attention, could have proceeded as follows. Jesus declares the fate of the vinedressers as is Matthew 21:40. He  precedes this in both cases by a specific question, and in Matthew the answer of some standing near is given; in Luke His own. As He formulates this question, the more progressive of His listeners are already muttering or exclaiming or inserting their answer, as students sometimes will.

He pauses, and in summary, detached and the more awesome manner, repeats or adapts their words in His own briefer sketch, transfixing the parable into this end in this deft interplay with His auditors.

Seeing the leading students’ view so categorically endorsed in the obvious thrust of the Speaker’s meaning, some are aghast. They can scarcely believe He would have the audacity, the fearless directness actually to say it; but He has proceeded on the favourable breeze of those who saw the point too starkly to do other than  answer His undoubted question. Hence these others now expostulate: "MAY IT NOT BE!" The double affirmation leaves them aghast. Christ then, taking them back where we must all go, to the sole written, authoritative declaration of God to man, at that stage, the Old Testament, now part of the whole Bible, addresses them on the prophecy which indicates such a result, yes, in their own scriptures even!

Now therefore we come to the second point. Did He in fact ask them at that point, "Have you never read…" or did He ask, "What then is this that is written?" What in fact happened ? Both formats appear.

First, quite clearly, He could have said, like one preparing his audience for an impressive impact and result: "What then is this that is written ? Have you never read in the Scripture …" There is no difficulty about that. He enquires in order to confront, then He confronts. That, after all, is precisely what He had just done in the first point we regarded.

Now in our empirical studies on reportage, you would NOT find the word "never" merely introduced as a form of reportage. This has specialised meaning and is not in the confines of conversational precision. Certainly there would have to be a ‘never’ concept, and just as certainly a thrust to the effect, "what is this?" It could have been as we have compiled it, and since this is in full accord with the context, and the wording given, there is no liberty to do otherwise in some flight of imagination. When however there is any question of say, ‘kingdom of God’ or ‘kingdom of heaven’, in some reference to what someone has said, UNLESS there is some peculiar specialty in the context, about the meaning of the one relevant to the (putatively diverse) meaning of the other, we found we ourselves in our own reportage, would in principle, not even be in the least concerned which we would use. (This ‘kingdom’ example is not a specific case in our own conduct, but a specialised result of what we found in SUCH cases in our own midst).

Variations in reportage of a situation at that level, in general were not found relevant, and the report not being verbatim in claim, there was simply no point in trying to do otherwise than convey correctly its substance. As to THAT, however, that was MOST important.

In my work, The Kingdom of Heaven, Ch.2 deals with that particular kingdom question (the two phrases as quoted above), and it is found that in general there is no specialisation, there is nothing generic and certain which can be deduced to which a given context must conform. Hence this is a sound illustration of the point: where there is no point in the specific word, then the only thing that matters is the substance, pith, thrust, point IN THE PERSPECTIVE OF THE SPEAKER at the time and in the PURPOSE of the speaker at the time. Where that is in doubt, then clearly no liberty can be taken, for the understanding allowing liberty would be absent. Understanding there must be, and without it all is lost.

It is all just a matter of sound common sense, seeing what humans do and how they relate things, and then seeing the very elastic principles of reportage, observing the purposes in mind, the expectations and the results, and seeing what industrious concern for truth in fact constrains to do in such a situation. Truth is such a constraining thing: it requires you to compare, consider, meditate and watch as you speak, comparing impression with impression, purpose with what occurred, impact of report with impact of original, as Paul says, "comparing spiritual things with spiritual" (I Corinthians 2:9ff.). THAT of course brings in the next point.

In the Bible, we are told that the Spirit of God brings about this comparing (I Corinthians 2:13), so that in this case, the result being the word of God to man. The Spirit of God, we are told by the apostle,

is ultimately, in scripture,
His prerogative to induce and lead into expression.

He knows and divulges firstly, and brings expression to mind which He teaches, secondly (I Cor. 2:11,13). He ensures both. There is  superintending, comparing, scrutinising, compiling going on, in terms of spiritual things, and the work of God by His Spirit is such that He ensures that, apart from all our errors in this or that direction, absolute truth is the result, no mistake being made in any report relative to its stated purpose of truth. NOTHING will mislead; NOTHING will bring the auditor a false impression, NOTHING will claim what is not the case; NOTHING will be an incorrect, inadequate or imprecise record of events, in the purpose, propriety and power of reality.

Thus, WHATEVER part the human writer played, it is such that the Spirit of God is in this case so superintending, as Paul expressly declares, the choice of expressive instruments, that not only the substance but the actual expression of the writing is in accord with GOD HIMSELF!

God ? He is the summit of expression, the name of truth and the essence of wonder. In Him, NOTHING is amiss.

We who interpret the scriptures in terms of their own indictment therefore, must then avoid either doubting the record in any detail, or trying at all times to force it to involve the exact words spoken in a given summary of some speech, only the exact force, substance and thrust being categorically certain. Equivalent expression may be used, summarising condensation may appear, selection of relevant elements may happen without distortion or misdirection.

Let us take another aspect such as we found in our own discourses. Thus, the formulation in reportage:

He said, that if I were to do this, there would be enormous consequences,

for example, we found could have come from something like:

"My man, listen to me. I am not about to tolerate the sort of liberty which comes from you, and you will find, surely find, results that will rock your whole life if you proceed in this way."

The précis which could contain this utterance, for the purpose, for example, of deftly exposing the nature and feeling, the spirit and result of the speech, could well be as shown.

We do précis writing as an exercise, ourselves in school; and paraphrase. The latter can lengthen, but could shorten. The disposition of words to convey a matter is a liberty we all take. It is only when the context indicates sound ground for ipsissima verba, the exact words, that we should expect it. In our own way, we often overcome any doubt by inverted commas, such as were not used in the Greek text. In this case, we simply believe that in accord with the purpose of the record, so the character of the précis, essentialising, or direct reportage. Since God is the supervisory and final author of the account, it is not of much significance: either the words themselves or the account of them is with divine authority. Context shows where the ipsissima verba are in view. WHAT they say is always what the case actually was.

Either way, the absolute truth is in view, an infinitely sound report, or the original words, according to the character of the case. Sometimes you see "began to say" which gives the indication of some sort of reportage of what they were indicating in a number of preliminary statements. With the Bible, summary or direct wording, then, God is the undertaker that THIS is the wholly truthful relation of the episode or speech. It is hard not to use the French, Que voulez-vous ? What would you expect ? What do you
want ?
Do you want to dictate to others what their purpose shall be, or order what you want provided, whether or not it is, in the Speaker's mind, best for you to get it this way rather than that.

Let it suffice that what you get is the absolute truth, that where the context demands the actual words, these are they; and when reportage does not, the effect is equivalent in the new context in the shaft of the disclosure that is both just and apt. On what is said, you may rely with an utter assurance that moves down to jot and tittle, and up to heaven itself.
 

End of end-notes


  See Bible Translations 2
for individual cases for focus.
 

 

AV, NKJV, AND OTHERS

 

There follow 61 translations given chiefly where there appears some need to consider the AV and NKJV where these differ, and sometimes where something else may be needed, to give accuracy, or to gain needed understanding in view of cultural assault or bondage, readily relating to a given text, and to be as faithful as possible to the text. Various references are made.

In general, for those without any Greek or Hebrews, the AV is very good in accuracy, the NKJV reasonable in clarity, with not many needless changes and few failures, so that the former is a good check on the sense, nearly always, though for this generation, often not on the clarity. Where either diverges and appears on good grounds, to be better, this is noted. Usually, for accuracy, this appears the AV, and for clarity, the NKJV, but there is no rule. Sometimes a translation direct from the original language appears better to preserve the sense, whether from this or that specialist in language, or from context and word study.

One has already made a long presentation in the area of translation,  but it seems good to have a short one, concentrating on the translations of the various passages now needing attention. Useful translations, related carefully to the text, are marked thus: §

Frequently, relatively minor comment is given, as the full treatment is more fully available in the volume, On Translations of the Bible.  However, some given is longer, where often cultural pre-occupations may mislead, and so make more needed even in this slim provision. Where excerpted from Bible the above volume, this is usually noted; but at times the presentation may be extended, or revised for this purpose. This present volume is essentially a compilation from one's former writings with revision, extension and very often omission of large sections.

 

 

CHAPTER TWO
 

Translations in Brief

 

1) Genesis 1:1 and following group

§"In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.
The earth was without form and void... "

 

2) Genesis1:14-18

§"Then God said, Let the luminaries in the firmament of heaven
be for the purpose of separating between day and night,
in order that they may be for signs, and seasons, and for days and years.
and let them be for lights in the expanse of the heavens
to give light on the earth; and it was so."

 

3) Leviticus 19:20

§"Whoever lies carnally with a woman who is betrothed to a man as a concubine, and  who has not at all been redeemed nor given her freedom, for this shall be a judicial enquiry, but they shall not be put to death, because she was not free"


 

4)  II Kings 7:13

This rendering appears simply inadequate in the NKJV, while  fine in the AV and excellent in the NASB. The last reads:

§ And one of his servants answered and said, Please, let some men take five of the horses which remain, which are left in the city. Behold, they will be in any case like all the multitude of Israel who are left in it; behold, they will be in any case like all the multitude of Israel who have already perished, so let us send and see.''  

 

5)

II Kings 8:9

§"You will certainly not live,
for the Lord has shown me that he will die."

6) Job 21:30

§"That the wicked is kept obscured to the day of calamity,
That they are led for the day of wrath."

 

7) Psalm 12:5-6

§ "For the oppression of the poor,
for the sighing of the needy,
Now will I arise, says the Lord.

"The words of the Lord are pure words,
as silver purified in an earthen furnace, refined seven times.

"You, O Lord, wilt defend them,
You wilt guard each poor one, from this generation for ever;
The wicked strut about on every side,
When  vileness among the children of men is exalted."

 

8) Psalm 19:1-4

§ The heavens declare the glory of God,
The expanse declares His handiwork,
There is no speech nor language,
Their voice is not heard.
Their line has gone forth through all the earth
And their words to the end of the world."

 

9) Psalm 22:30

§ "A seed shall serve him;
It shall be accounted to the Lord, for the generation.
They shall come and shall declare His righteousness
To a people that shall be born, that He has done this."

 

10) Psalm 59:17  

§ "For God is my defence,
the God of my mercy."

 

11) Psalm 90:12  

§ "SO TEACH US TO NUMBER OUR DAYS
THAT WE MAY APPLY OUR HEARTS UNTO WISDOM."

 

12) Psalm 139:15-16

§ "My structure was not hidden from You,
when I was made in secret,
and intricately given diversity of form
in the profound depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed,
and in Your book my formed parts were all written -
the days they should be fashioned -
when as yet there were none of them."

An interpretive rendering:

"My structure was not hidden from You,
when I was made in secret,
and intricately given diversity of form
in the developmental darkness.
Your eyes saw my embryonic substance
and in your book all
(the particular results of developmental processes,
to form the physical equipment of life, organic, structural)

were written,
the (very) days they should be fashioned,
when as yet none (organic, structural members) of them
(so much as) existed."

 

13) Isaiah 2:22

§"Cease from man, whose breath is in his nostrils,

for of what account is he ?"

Delitzsch has an interesting rendering, much the same:

"Oh, then, let man go, in whose nostrils is a breath; for what is he estimated at ?"

 

          

 14) Isaiah 7:14

§"Therefore the Lord Himself will give to you a sign.
 Behold! a virgin is with child and will bring forth a son
and she shall call His name Immanuel."

This is substantially the translation of E.Y. Young in Vol. 1 of his work, The Book of Isaiah.

 
 

15) Isaiah 8:19-20

         §"And when they shall say to you,

'Seek to them that have familiar spirits,
and to wizards that peep, and that mutter' :

should not a people seek their God?
should they seek on behalf of the living to the dead?

 "To the law and to the testimony:

if they do not speak according to this word,
it is because there is no light in them. "

 

16) Isaiah 9:3

§  "You have multiplied the nation, and not increased the joy.

"They rejoice before You
According to the joy of harvest,
As men rejoice when they divide the spoil..."

 
 

17) Isaiah 9:6-7

 

§"For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

 

"Of the increase of His government and peace
There will be no end,
Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom,

To order it and establish it with judgment and justice
From that time forward, even forever.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this."

 

18) Isaiah 13:12

 

§"I will make a human more precious than fine gold,
a man more than the golden wedge..."

 

 

19) Isaiah 23:13

 

 

§"This people which was not,

Assyria founded it for wild beasts of the desert.

They set up its towers,

They laid bare its palaces,

He brought it to ruin."

 

20) Isaiah 26:19

§"Your dead shall live.
My dead body shall they arise.
Awake and sing, you who dwell in the dust;
For your dew is like the dew of herbs,
And the earth shall cast out her dead."

 

21) Isaiah 33:6

§ I)  "Wisdom and knowledge will be the stability of your times,
And the strength of salvation.
The fear of the Lord is his treasure."

or

2)

§ "Wisdom and knowledge will be the stability of your times,
And the strength of salvation.
The fear of the Lord is His treasure."

Neither is excluded, both conform to other scripture, so each contributes to the total output on the topic. Statements can have nuances, and this appears one of them.



 

22) Isaiah 53:10

 

§"When you make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed,

He shall prolong His days,
And the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand."

 

 

23) Isaiah 64:4-5

 

§  "And from eternity, they have not heard, they have not given ear,
nor has eye seen a God beside You,
who works for the one who waits for Him.

"You have met with the one rejoicing and executing righteousness.
In Your ways they remember You.

"Look,  You have been wrathful,
and we have sinned: in those ways is eternity,
and we shall be saved."

 

24) Jeremiah 13:27

§"Woe to you, O Jerusalem!
Will you not be made clean ?
When once shall it be ?"

 

25) Ezekiel 34:29

§"I will raise up for them a planting of renown".
The True God
... Ch. 1

 

26) Hosea 7:1,13

§"When I would have healed Israel ...".

§ "Though I would redeem them..."

 

27) Hosea 13:1

§""When Ephraim spoke, there was trembling: he exalted himself in Israel.

"Now they sin more and more,
and have made for themselves moulded images, idols of their silver,
according to their skill: all of it the work of craftsmen."

 

28) Hosea 13:2

§"Now they sin more and more,
and have made for themselves moulded images, idols of their silver,
according to their skill: all of it the work of craftsmen.

"They say of them, 'Let the sacrificers of mankind kiss the calves!' "


29) Joel 2:21-23

§"Fear not, O land:
Be glad and rejoice,
For the Lord has done marvellous things!...

Be glad then, you children of Zion,
And rejoice in the Lord your God:
For He has given you the teacher of righteousness,
And He will cause the rain to come down for you,
The former rain and the latter rain ..."

 

30) Amos 4:13

§"For behold,
He who forms mountains,
And creates the wind,
Who declares to man what His thought is,
And makes the morning darkness,
Who treads the high places of the earth -
The LORD  God of hosts is His name."

 
 

31) Habakkuk 2:13-14

§"It is not of the LORD of hosts that peoples toil for the flames,
and nations grow weary for nothing,
for the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord
as the waters cover the sea."

 
 

32) Zechariah 9:17

§"For how great is His goodness, and how great is His beauty ..."
 

 

33) Zechariah 14:5 (with I Thess.3:13)

§"... And the LORD my God, shall come, and all the saints with Thee."
 

 

34) Malachi 2:12,15

The one who does this,
watcher and answerer,
who yet brings an offering to the LORD of hosts!"

§ "Did He not make one, and did He not have a residue of Spirit ?
And why one ?That He might seek a godly seed.
Therefore take heed to your spirit,
And let none deal treacherously with the wife of his youth."

 

NEW TESTAMENT

 

35) Matthew 10:8

§"Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons;
freely you have received, freely give."

 

36) §"... Neither  does any man know the Father, except the Son and he to whomsoever the Son wills to reveal Himself".

37) Matthew 28:9

 §"And as they were engaged in going to tell His disciples, behold, Jesus met them saying, All hail. And they came and held Him by the feet, and worshipped Him."

 

38) John 1:1

§ "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God,
and it was God the Word was
."

 

39) Acts 9:35

§"And all those inhabiting Lydda and Sharon saw him -
those who turned to the Lord."

 

40) Acts 13:9-20

§"And when He had destroyed seven nations
in the land of Canaan,
He distributed their land as an inheritance -
all of which  took
about four hundred and fifty years.
And after these things He gave them judges
until Samuel the prophet."

 

41) Romans 3:25

§"Whom God has set forth to be a propitiation
by faith through His blood,
to declare His righteousness for the remission of sins that are past,
through the forbearance of God..."

 

42) Romans 5:12-15

§ "It is therefore as follows: Through one man sin entered the world,
and death through sin, and so death passed on to all persons
in that all sinned.
To be sure, sin was in the world earlier than the Law;
but in absence of law, sin is not charged up.
Death, however, held rule from Adam to Moses
over those who sinned
but did not transgress a command in the way Adam had done - who foreshadowed the Coming One):.
yet not as the offence, so is the free gift.
For if through the offences of the one, many died,
much more the grace of God
and the gift in grace which is derived from one man, Jesus Christ,
abounded to the many. "

 

43) Romans 9:4-5

Paul speaks of his "countrymen, according to the flesh" like this.

                  §" WHO are Israelites,
                       WHOSE
is the adoption,

and the glory,
and the covenants,
and the lawgiving
and the service
and the promises

                        WHOSE are the fathers, and

                        OF WHOM is the Christ according to the flesh

                       THE-BEING-OVER ALL-GOD,
                        BLESSED FOR EVER.    AMEN.

 

It might be formed like this:

                 1) WHO are Israelites,

                   2) WHOSE is the adoption,

and the glory,
and the covenants,
and the lawgiving
and the service
and the promises

3) WHOSE are the fathers, and

4) OF WHOM is the Christ according to the flesh

5) WHO is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.

Actually, a better translation, as we shall see later, making point to the use of the participle (being over all - in Greek), for the last point (4), is :

THE-BEING-OVER ALL-GOD, BLESSED FOR EVER.    AMEN.

 

 

44)  Romans 16:25-26

The bullets are added for clarity. They do not form part of the translation; for which simply omit them.

§

bullet

"Now

 

bullet

to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel
 

bullet

and the preaching of Jesus Christ,
according to the revelation of the mystery
 

bullet

kept secret since the world began
 

bullet

but now made manifest,
 

bullet

moreover through prophetic Scriptures
 

bullet

according to the commandment of the everlasting God:
 

bullet

for obedience to the faith to all nations made known:

 

bullet

to God, alone wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen."

 


45)
I Corinthians 13:8-10

§" "Love never fails.
But whether there are prophecies, they will come to an end;
 whether there are tongues, they will cease;
 whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away.
 For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when
 that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away."

 

46) I Corinthians 15:33

§"Evil company corrupts good morals."

 

47) Ephesians 1:3-6

§"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing
in the heavenlies in Christ,
just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world
that we should be holy and blameless before Him,
in love having predestined us to adoption
as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself,
according to the good pleasure of His will,
to the praise of the glory of His grace,
in which He made us objects of grace in the Beloved.

"In Him we have redemption through His blood..."

 

 

48) Ephesians 3:21

§ "to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus  to all phases of history here and hereafter."

{Thrifty in words, this is vast in scope.}

 

49) II Thessalonians 2:2

§"Now brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ
and our gathering together in Him, we ask you,
Be not quickly shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter,
as if from us, as though the day of Christ were at hand."

 

50) II Timothy 3:16

§"Every scripture is God-breathed and profitable for doctrine, for reproof,
for correction, for instruction in righteousness."

 

51) Titus 1:2-3

§“Paul, a servant of  God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ,
according to the faith of God’s chosen people,
and the sure knowledge of the truth which is in accord with godliness:

in hope of eternal life.
God, who is alien to all lying,
promised this before time began;
and so, in its own appointed times,
He has openly shown what He has in mind,
expressing it through preaching,
entrusted with which am I -
(or , with which I stand entrusted),
according to the commandment of God our Saviour:

 "TO TITUS, my own son in terms of the common faith …"

 

 

52) Titus 2:13-14

§"looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing
of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ,
who gave Himself for us,
that He might redeem us from every lawless deed
and purify for Himself
His own special people, zealous of good works."

 

53) Hebrews 11:1

§Faith is the foundational assurance of things hoped for,
the concurrent evidencing and evidence-based conviction of things not seen."

A sound paraphrase: Faith is affirming testimony of things not seen -
the confirmatory cry in response
,
the conviction which draws on evidence,

 

54) James 2:18-20

§ "But someone may well say, 'You have faith, and I have works; show me our faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.:

"You believe that God is one. You do well;
the demons also believe, and shudder.

But are you willing to recognise, you foolish one,
that faith without works is useless."

Sermon

webwitness.org.au/2005.10.23.mp3

 

55) James 4:5-6


§
"Or do you think that it is to no purpose that the scripture speaks ?   

Does the Spirit which dwells within us yearn jealously ?

But it is more grace that He gives

As it is written, God resists the proud,

But gives grace to the lowly."

 

56) II Peter 1:19-21

§"Knowing this first: that no prophecy of scripture
is sourced simply in itself;
for prophecy was never introduced by the will of man,
but by the Holy Spirit, being borne along,
did holy men of God speak."
 

Again:

"Prophecy never came by the will of man,

but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit".

 

57) I John 5:7-8

Translation of all the AV provides here, is not here relevant, since this total  text is not evidenced to any significant extent in manuscripts- see 57.

For what remains, it reads:

"For there are three that bear witness:
the Spirit, the water and the blood:
and the three agree as one."

See also Ch. 1 as marked

 

58) Revelation 13:12

 §"And he exercises the power of he first best in his presence,
and ordains that the earth and those who dwell in it should worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed.

"He performs great signs and even makes fire to come down from heaven onto the earth in the sight of men.
Moreover he deceives those who dwell on the earth
by those signs which he was granted to do in the sigh to the beast, causing those who dwell on the earth to make an imagine of the beast who was wounded by the sword and lived."

 

59) Revelation 19:8

§ "And to her was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright,

for the fine linen is the righteousness of the saints."

 

60) Revelation 20:4

§"I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded
because of the testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God,
and those who had not worshipped the beast or his image,
and had not received the mark
upon their forehead and upon their hand;
and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years."

 

61) Revelation 22:14

§"Blessed are those who keep His commandments,
that they may have authority to the tree of life,
and enter through the gates into the city."

 

 


 

 

CHAPTER  THREE

 

THE LIST OF 61

in the Biblical Order

 

GENESIS TO PSALMS

 

1) Genesis 1:1 and following group

§"In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void...

The NKJV is quite sound in wording here, right through to 2:4, our area in view. However, some review is needed, even in this shortened list.

In Genesis 1:1 we find that in the beginning God created. The first two letters for 'beginning' and 'created' being the same, there is an indisputable pulse of dynamic. The two go together, are wedded: the One who acts, and the Creation which is the act.

We have examined before the exact nature of the text (cf. Gracious Goodness ... Ch. 6) and its context (cf. Dayspring with the preceding reference). We have seen that Genesis 1:1 is not a part of a sequence but a bold, cardinal declaration. In the beginning, God was there and He acted. We then move to the earth which commences the sentence, so divorcing it from any mere bound connotation of a serial character from verse 1. 1:1 is not then an intimation of a sequence but a declaration of illimitable majesty. The Spirit is then seen brooding, hovering, active over the creation.

The right kind of environment is created for what is to follow, organising, ordering and constituting a system of provision. Then the desired kinds are created. Actions from verse 2 on are in sequence not only grammatically, but in the enumeration of the days, designated in ordinal notation, in a way which in the Old Testament only refers to the rotation style days, in our day approximately 24 hours in length. Whatever however the exact rotational time, the concept is the same.

Indeed, the numbers, first, second, third ...  are even enfolded in days, real days with evenings and mornings, days that have acute correlation with their initial invention.

Thus, since  light for the universe was created after substance (v. 3 is after v. 2), the first day started with darkness, not with light, so that the phrase, 'the evening and the morning' is born, and becomes the descriptive usage for the rest of the days of creation - each day has light for one part of it, and starts wth the darkness as ordered from the first, before the light came on the scene commenced without it. Thus the ordinal connotation, the nature of the action, its integral relation to the context show us that here the term 'day' is not used to confuse or to confound, but to show us what the term 'day' which we use, has as to its origins, including the sequence of day and night - but no, night and day!

How loose is that exegesis that is nothing but eisegesis miscalled! For 'ages' instead of days, we must distort consistent Hebrew usage in the Old Testament, invent a new scope for the ordinals in such cases, ignore the birth of the phrase in conjunction with the sequence of matter and light, and ignore the fact that the account of the divine creation is showing us HOW we got what we HAVE*A.

Let us look further. God did it in the beginning (separate statement Genesis 1:1); the stages are noted (rest of  Genesis 1); then as part of the narrative, we are again categorically told a crucial point: SO IT WAS ALL ENDED. It was not in some other way. Indeed, God, having so acted, and the matter being ended, He rested .from His work. That is it, beginning and end. He began it, took steps, it was ended, He finished,  and rested. This is the totality in this position.

It does not simply say that He began, took various steps, including the sixth day of work, and then rested. There is an abstract statement in between. It is this: Thus all the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. HE made it all, separate statement (1). The steps then begin and reach the last one (2). Then it is announced that it was finished, the whole entity of creation (3). So God ended His work (4). These last two points are not presented as one, but as two!

Then He rested (5).

Points  4) and 5) are not duplicates, but indexes of a basic nature. Thus HE started it, IT was finished, and then we learn that HE finished it, and He then rested. If it was finished, WHY note that it was finished, separately from the fact that God finished it, and rested from His work ? Since God was doing it all from first to last, thus  this was not meaningless repetition in the midst of terse, ultra-brief report. Rather it means that this is the way it was done, here is the record! SO it was FINISHED. It is just as His work of redemption was finished on the cross (Hebrews 9:12-28). SO it was finished. This is the authoritative and correct account of the whole happening. T his being so, God rested.

That is the stated way it was completed, and this definitively. The work did not go on in some other way; nor was it done in some other way. Part of the narrative is its end, and this is a comprehensive part, in that it is affirmed that all this was so, and so completed. What is here put on record is the accurate, the sound, the essentially comprehensive, the account to answer the question: HOW did it come to be ? THIS way. To alter or to add, to bring in new and disparate ideas not in the ambit of the account of explication is not to boil it down, but blow it up.

What then ? Statement One: God did the whole heaven and earth creation in the beginning. Second logical point: God took the steps noted on the way to this result. Third logical point, this being so, the work of creation finished. That being so, God had finished His work.

Could that possibly be it all it means ? I think not; for that would be a sudden dip into repetition. Rather the point is this: that in the beginning God created it all; then He took itemised steps progressively in a decisive series of carved categories; and SO it was all finished. As stated, SO it is. The situation as described, was a completed one. The ambit of creation was not only by means of Deity, but by the chosen methods with the sequentially concluded result:

ALL DONE, DONE THUS! sums it up.

What then ? With the sequence thus concluded and the creation itself all ended,  NEXT it is noted that God ended what He was doing. The preceding statement is thus one of summary, that it was so, an affirmation of the totality and correctness of the account both of the start and the finish and the totality. It is not here a statement about what God was doing, but one about what was done, the nature of the case, the rails on which it ran, and the engine which pulled the train of events: there! there it is, just as it is given. If you will, here is protection of divine rights to the entire statement, and the whole creation to which it refers, and that, an ended one! Thus it makes the end like the beginning, to be of God, adding that it WAS finished SO. THEN it announces that  God finished His work.

As clear as are the kinds, the categories of action for life and in it, so is the ending of the work as a work made categorical, its soundness as an account, and its affirmation as to what happened from the beginning inscribed, as surely as the start itself, and the One who did the starting, and the categorical creation which it comprised. It was not there. HE put it there. Creation was the mode. The steps were the notches. Finish is the status of the affair. God thus finished it. He rested. There is where we are, as you sometimes see in shopping centres: YOU are HERE.

God rested from  specified days - summed up in Genesis 2:4 for all to read. They stood as the record stands. Introduce some idea of non-days, or non-categories, or non-finish, as if it went on, or other agents than God and the correctly noted overall steps He discloses: then that it would be an abandoned action, in danger of being a war on the work and the word of God. Wars can start in many ways. When it is with  God, it is infinitely sound to avoid them.

Filigree within would be one thing, human study seeing detail in accord with the record. Adding, subtracting or changing is mere contest with the Creator, and it is no surprise that it always loses. Kinds, categories and the modes of fixation of creation and its information, merely becomes more emphatic as time goes on.

For such a distortion of meaning, then, as ages or continuing creation, we must also ignore that the text  is using terminology consistently and persistently both here as the book of Genesis develops,  in the frank usage of normalcy. It is thus showing in the terminology of the comprehensible and the structure of the deposition of what we have,  both mode of derivation, source and dynamic, all associated with the divine actions and their inter-relationships.

It is this which has led to these situations to which our common words apply. Thus "Thus the heaven and the earth were finished, all the host of them." Those wanting to make a different one could use different methods, if they had the power, the nous and the intellect, and no contrary competition. Then THEY could use intelligence to create information, as God did. However, also in fact, there is nothing to match the One who has given us what we have got; and it is finished, has long been... nothing else matches, has the power, or the program or the performance: let alone a sub-moronic 'nature', and that before it was even there to do it!

 

 

ADDITIONAL NOTE not in Bright Light 9

from *A above

Let us look further. God did it in the beginning (separate statement Genesis 1:1); the stages are noted (rest of  Genesis 1); then as part of the narrative, we are again categorically told a crucial point: SO IT WAS ALL ENDED. It was not in some other way. Indeed, God, having so acted, and the matter being ended, He rested .from His work. That is it, beginning and end. He began it, took steps, it was ended, He finished,  and rested. This is the totality in this position.

It does not simply say that He began, took various steps, including the sixth day of work, and then rested. There is an abstract statement in between. It is this: Thus all the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. HE made it all, separate statement (1). The steps then begin and reach the last one (2). Then it is announced that it was finished, the whole entity of creation (3). So God ended His work (4). These last two points are not presented as one, but as two!

Then He rested (5).

Points  4) and 5) are not duplicates, but indexes of a basic nature. Thus HE started it, IT was finished, and then we learn that HE finished it, and He then rested. If it was finished, WHY note that it was finished, separately from the fact that God finished it, and rested from His work ? Since God was doing it all from first to last, thus  this was not meaningless repetition in the midst of terse, ultra-brief report. Rather it means that this is the way it was done, here is the record! SO it was FINISHED. It is just as His work of redemption was finished on the cross (Hebrews 9:12-28). SO it was finished. This is the authoritative and correct account of the whole happening. This being so, God rested.

That is the stated way it was completed, and this definitively. The work did not go on in some other way; nor was it done in some other way. Part of the narrative is its end, and this is a comprehensive part, in that it is affirmed that all this was so, and so completed. What is here put on record is the accurate, the sound, the essentially comprehensive, the account to answer the question: HOW did it come to be ? THIS way. To alter or to add, to bring in new and disparate ideas not in the ambit of the account of explication is not to boil it down, but blow it up.

What then ? Statement One: God did the whole heaven and earth creation in the beginning. Second logical point: God took the steps noted on the way to this result. Third logical point, this being so, the work of creation finished. That being so, God had finished His work.

Could that possibly be it all it means ? I think not; for that would be a sudden dip into repetition. Rather the point is this: that in the beginning God created it all; then He took itemised steps progressively in a decisive series of carved categories; and SO it was all finished. As stated, SO it is. The situation as described, was a completed one. The ambit of creation was not only by means of Deity, but by the chosen methods with the sequentially concluded result:

ALL DONE, DONE THUS! sums it up.

What then ? With the sequence thus concluded and the creation itself all ended,  NEXT it is noted that God ended what He was doing. The preceding statement is thus one of summary, that it was so, an affirmation of the totality and correctness of the account both of the start and the finish and the totality. It is not here a statement about what God was doing, but one about what was done, the nature of the case, the rails on which it ran, and the engine which pulled the train of events: there! there it is, just as it is given. If you will, here is protection of divine rights to the entire statement, and the whole creation to which it refers, and that, an ended one! Thus it makes the end like the beginning, to be of God, adding that it WAS finished SO. THEN it announces that  God finished His work.

As clear as are the kinds, the categories of action for life and in it, so is the ending of the work as a work made categorical, its soundness as an account, and its affirmation as to what happened from the beginning inscribed, as surely as the start itself, and the One who did the starting, and the categorical creation which it comprised. It was not there. HE put it there. Creation was the mode. The steps were the notches. Finish is the status of the affair. God thus finished it. He rested. There is where we are, as you sometimes see in shopping centres: YOU are HERE.

God rested from  specified days - summed up in Genesis 2:4 for all to read. They stood as the record stands. Introduce some idea of non-days, or non-categories, or non-finish, as if it went on, or other agents than God and the correctly noted overall steps He discloses: then that it would be an abandoned action, in danger of being a war on the work and the word of God. Wars can start in many ways. When it is with  God, it is infinitely sound to avoid them.

Filigree within would be one thing, human study seeing detail in accord with the record. Adding, subtracting or changing is mere contest with the Creator, and it is no surprise that it always loses. Kinds, categories and the modes of fixation of creation and its information, merely becomes more emphatic as time goes on.

For such a distortion of meaning, then, as ages or continuing creation, we must also ignore that the text  is using terminology consistently and persistently both here as the book of Genesis develops,  in the frank usage of normalcy. It is thus showing in the terminology of the comprehensible and the structure of the deposition of what we have,  both mode of derivation, source and dynamic, all associated with the divine actions and their inter-relationships.

It is this which has led to these situations to which our common words apply. Thus "Thus the heaven and the earth were finished, all the host of them." Those wanting to make a different one could use different methods, if they had the power, the nous and the intellect, and no contrary competition. Then THEY could use intelligence to create information, as God did. However, also in fact, there is nothing to match the One who has given us what we have got; and it is finished, has long been... nothing else matches, has the power, or the program or the performance: let alone a sub-moronic 'nature', and that before it was even there to do it!

 

 

2) Genesis1:14-18

§"Then God said, Let the luminaries in the firmament of heaven
be for the purpose of separating between day and night,
in order that they may be for signs, and seasons, and for days and years.
and let them be for lights in the expanse of the heavens
to give light on the earth; and it was so.


"So God fashioned the two great luminaries,
the greater light for ruling the day
and the lesser light
with the stars for ruling the night."


"Thus God appointed them in the firmament of the heaven
to give light on the earth,
and to rule over the day and over the night,
and to divide the light from the darkness,
and God saw that it was good.

 

Some excerpts from Let God Be God, Ch. 12 appear below,  and the entire disquisition is available in that Chapter.

Biblical days are correlated, then, quite explicitly with our world and its inhabitants, and in the divine action, there is a certainty of sequence that relates closely to the condensed coverage in Genesis 2:4. Present is no sense of arresting process. On the contrary: there is a sense of immediacy, there is a sublime monergistic or sole-worker emphasis, staccato commands coming like light into darkness, plenary power dictating and action happening to match with despatch. There is the utmost correlation between the divine power, mind and result in a manner which intimately associates with the use of the verb 'bara', indicating as its basic position, what we call creation, as distinct from mere forming. Thus Colossians 1 uses a most emphatic Greek term, in indicating that Jesus Christ created all things. Interspersed in Genesis are the formative actions, with the different verb we have in verse 14,16, which may mean making, forming.

When one refers to the Creator, in such a function, one is in the vein of what His power performs, as it is deployed in executing what He has in mind. We ourselves use such terms similarly, such that in our 'creations', process is not to the point: the idea and its outcome are closely related, and the more powerful the mind that has the idea, and the more profound, the more intense and intimate is its correlation, in general, with the outcome; and the more entirely irrelevant to the contribution in what is depicted, is anything else. Creation is a derivation of the one who creates; and where it is to God that we refer, it is to infinitude of creative power. Forming or moulding is then in another domain, less intense, not in the least presupposing anything such as what 'creating' constitutes.

We have earlier reasoned that the days of Genesis 1 are of a kind which correlates not with ages but with our rotational days. In the case of days 2-3, where there is not necessarily the same rotational mechanisms at work, this is nevertheless the basic situation. We are speaking of the prima facie requirements of the text at this point. Day one, we reasoned, while not divorced from such a conception, held somewhat more richness of meaning, because of the institutional element, as distinct from the constitutional processes coming later; yet it also, in its monergistic irruption (Genesis 1:3), is not to be divorced from the character of the declaration.

The days of Genesis 1 are in line with the days we now have, once instituted, in their character. This fact correlates intensely with the monergism of method, the infinity of power of the Creator, and the terminology, so that anything further from patient, inventive process would be extraordinarily difficult to express. The presentation was first the institution of the platform, and then of the different parts upon it, all in the area of creation; this to be followed in each case by performance of the thing created. There is crisp, sovereign, undeterrable fluency combined with the eloquent dynamism of speech.


Thus, the intense emphasis on `spoke', and `was', is without doubt
an explicit indication
of the utterly irresistible (I should prefer even `resistless') power
and unhindered  performance,
untouchable divine majesty... a streamlined and no-obstruction work pattern and procedure,
the production from infinite power.

To deny such things is merely to distort the words provided, which are as radical in terms of utter power performing, without restraint from anything or anyone, of utter resolve at work with exalted and majestic specifications fully fulfilled, as one could wish. It is nothing to do with vague nugatory thoughts, elements of distilled possibility, structural analyses abstracted, or even logical constructions outside the camp of actuality*1A. To imagine such sublimations would be like subliminal advertisements: ludicrous intrusions. Here there is neither money for it, nor good from it.

To continue: Archer, as noted,  states that the Hebrew in Genesis 1:14 may be rendered,


Then verse 15 signifies their basic function as giving light (apart from being seasonal and signalising), once again, a verse on fire with purpose relative to BEING, verse 16 following with the performance, also stipulating purpose with specifics
.

 

II


Further, it is profitable to note more on verse 16. The action here is a MOULDING one which would lead on to a PURPOSIVE specification: rather like making a car that moves in structure, but then later,  as a concentrated and applied act,  completing all the specifications so that the whole gamut of its operations is possible.

Indeed, the  stage is set for the heavens, not only verbally, but in parallel intimation with the earth.

Just as, following the creation of the heavens and the earth in Genesis 1:1, there was some kind of earth, an entity requiring action, so we are in simple parallel from the one set of directions, to expect some kind of heavens, also and likewise requiring action. Verses 14-16 supply this, when the rest is ready.

When therefore their turn comes for attention, at Genesis 1:14-18,  the inchoate state of the heavens is in its own turn, given moulding, and subjected to due forming to enable its full working order, just as was the earth, quite definitely present and  ready as recipient for fabrication, was wrought on in verses 6ff..

Just what purposes were in view for the earth were in part duly spelled out and executed in 1:1-13; and so now at 1:14, is it the parallel case for the heavens, they too operative but only in a rudimentary way.

As the earth has its rudiments and so was a base for action (1:2),  including light and its divine deployment (1:3-5); so is it with the heavens, already seen in operation in the specified light variation of 1:5, and now to be subjected to vigorous, sequential action as was the earth in 1:6ff..

The functional purposes are most clear, in both the domains stated in 1:1, namely the heavens and the earth. First there is the basic institution, with light, and its humanly normative fluctuation, set in the normal terminology for the same. Then each domain is focussed with detail and dynamic, in which the divine does not pause to dabble in needless detail, but in ample proportions, sets forth the immediate history of these foundlings, heaven and earth.

In the case of the earth, the movements of the divine on the creation are specified and collated. Then starting in verse 14, the divine attention is given to the astronomical aspect. Now we have the parallel in the processive, progressive work labelled, done and considered in review.

The simple fact is that Genesis 1:2 specifies that the earth WAS existence following verse 1, just as verse 14 takes up the celestial parallel. Forming in each case then proceeds. The text excludes any other option.

God created heaven  and earth, done: we proceed to the earth case, as a topic, and are shown the divine actions and reasons, and then to the heavens case, as a focus, and are shown the actions and reasons. In each case, what is said to have been created, was; in each case, what was done about what was there, follows.

Hence the heavens were there at verse 2's inception, like the earth;  and thus there is no excuse any plausible, even conceivable, for pretending they were not, and that the evening and morning were a divine exercise in rambling exegesis, a flit of thought or a fit of forgetfulness. Being there, their exercise in whatever initial state, as paralleled in that of the earth, morning and evening can flow readily enough, for God knows what He is doing, and those who wish to indicate He could not have put them in a state which could in His view indicate light and darkness are clearly more knowledgeable than God. Such is the way of entrance for those who, entranced with the sophisticated follies of unbelief, set their hats and direct their thoughts to the horror of combining man's ever evanescent thought with the clear depictions of the divine.

This is then the clear intimation of the text regarding the reality of day and night, and its ready formulation in those terms, without difficulty of any kind. Whatever He does is seen as operative at the level of His action on the one hand, and its activities post-action on the other, ready for the next. This is simply the consistent way of things. In vv. 14-16 the purposive element on the basis of the original action to form and formulate for the initial result, morning and evening, is so highlighted that without this impetus to understanding it would be stylistically obtuse and superfluous, repetitious in a coverage where brevity is not merely present, but a work of art.

There is no excuse or ground for departing from the text, whether one conceives of the light and darkness this way or that. It is the permission for departure as if some problem warranted it, which is wrong, awry, amiss and perilous. To actually sanction (splitting the infinitive reminds one of splitting from the doctrine of the Bible) things underivable from the text, is merely to add tradition to the text, and make a neo-Protestant Romanesque lunge. Let us be clear, the word of God is in authority and NOTHING else in doctrine. NO church has power to sanction may not be gained by good and necessary inference from the text; and in this, the stress of the Westminster Confession is just (Ch.  1, VI).

Setting out such things in the name of the church for church comfort, connivance or acceptance is a breach not merely of agreement, alien to the word and spirit of the Confession's teaching, but of condition of membership. Worse, it is to use a church as an pseudo-autonomous entity, and bring in offence, on the one hand, and decline on the other. Against such things, exhortation must be made, and if not accepted, it becomes necessary to leave.

We therefore must cleave to the days as they go, so when they come, in basic notion. In this way, the author is not induced, if it were possible, to retract or to add or to differentiate without saying so, in his use of terms. It is true some  thought does need to be given to the direct, miraculous, operations in days 1-3, including the institution at the first, as with regard to light; but it is also true that any real movement imported into that frame merely invents a novel feature, makes the account which is of ACTION AND RESULT to be divorced from its whole context, and passing by the specification of nature, becomes an incursive doctrine. "ADD NOT to His words lest He rebuke you and you become a liar," says Proverbs 30:6.

Sensitivity of conscience in any such domain is not merely permissible, but to be desired! From lack of the same, many churches have fallen into the mud, the thud scarcely noted as the delusive cultural approval of compromise resounds in the socially sated ear.

Indeed, in that way, the record would become not really an account but a combination of what it purports to be, a creation account, and what it neither purports to be nor presents at any demonstrable point: a series of partly explicated and partly submerged operations not noted, but operative nonetheless in the most basic of levels.

Such a diffuse concept contradicts the entire formulation and formula used throughout. Yet unfortunate as that appears, it is as nothing compared with the next step, where imagination gains no rein. It is then that we find, with these or such unwarranted preliminaries, the next and fateful step:  the clear, well-known and normal usage of day and night which in verse 15 is EXPRESSLY designated in terms of the WORK of the formation and fashioning of the luminaries, is to be set against some entirely different sort of thing, not merely miraculously brought about by intrusive supervention in the laid out scenario, not only without announcement of that fact, but with total transformation of type from what follows*1B

Day becomes daze.

This begets a conception in which the same terminology in the same mini-context is to be attributed to NON-day and NON-night: the same vocabulary becoming stupefyingly mutant, and within a few words of each other. Day and night in the context of sun and moon AFTER day four, which is a virtual DEFINITION of the meaning, are now to be revised into an erratic concept, which junks these indications, given before. Terminology becomes like an evolutionary dream, and clarity becomes an oddity at the will or taunt of the 'scholarship' which ignores the testimony continually made, in the text.

Who could pass such a paper at the most elementary of levels! Its slides are a slither and a wandering. Worse, to imagine that because God is great, He is not great on clarity in giving HISTORY, is merely a contradiction in terms, an evacuation of meaning, a nullification of phraseology, and of Proverbs 8:8. Moreover it comes close to lending insult to our Maker, as gratuitous as unguarded. It has, then,  nothing whatever to do with interpretation of the biblical text either in its immediate or in its overall aspects.

Clearly therefore it is necessary to see genuine light and darkness gradings diurnal in portion, before day four; and while it is not a priori  necessary to have these performed by the luminaries in precisely the present way: yet it is sufficient that they should loom and contribute something after this kind, although doubtless lacking in decisiveness just as the purpose of verse 14 had not yet been propounded and met. It could be argued that God could have turned OFF the light to create darkness, but this is to add to the text. The darkness-light progression is INSTITUTED, and proceeds as a specifically created thing, entity, duality, process following divine procedure antecedent to it, without alteration in kind, but with alternation of progress, as a thing in place, and working.

Darkness was. Day was. Day and darkness are both definable in terms at least in kind, of what we know as we find in the overall context. Though naturally the importation of more divine action than stated is unfortunate, its main danger is that it leads on as a precedent in principle. Like tripping on the sidewalk, it can lead to death by impact from a car when you are where you do not belong. It is, then,  what follows that is fatal in this arena. It is the discordant divisiveness of double dealing with 'day'.

For full account,  see Ch. 12 as noted above.

 

3) Leviticus 19:20

§"Whoever lies carnally with a woman who is betrothered to a man as a concubine, and  who has not at all been redeemed nor given her freedom, for this shall be a judicial enquiry, but they shall not be put to death, because she was not free"

See Bible Translations 3, Note 2,from  which largely the following is excerpted.

 

In Leviticus 19:20, the AV has "she shall be scourged" in the text, for the case where a slave girl, betrothed, has intercourse with some man.

In the margin, it puts "there shall be a scourging". Actually, the use of 'she' in the text, when the Hebrew is so impersonally rendered in the AV margin, in such a case, is not good. The fault is mitigated by the margin which has for the AV a better rendering; but the error in the text is merely the more obvious from it.

Other renderings are "there shall be an inquisition" (Revised Version, margin, set as the 'Hebrew') , "a court enquiry shall be conducted" (Berkeley), a judicial assessment which does not of course preclude the finding being innocent, though the possibility of a negative finding is certainly there. The reward, result, is not to be presumed. Indeed, Harris, Archer and Waitke in their Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, speak of the possible rendering, 'compensation', query 'scourging', and show the root in terms of the concept of searching and care. We might safely render:

§"there shall be a judicial assessment".

What is clear is this: investigation, care, concern and results are to occur because of the incident; and what is required, short of death is to occur. In view of this, it was important not to put the 'she' in the text, along with the Hebrew margin 'there shall be'.

 

4)

II Kings 7:13 appears simply inadequate in the NKJV, while  fine in the AV and excellent in the NASB. The last reads:

§ And one of his servants answered and said, Please, let some men take five of the horses which remain, which are left in the city. Behold, they will be in any case like all the multitude of Israel who are left in it; behold, they will be in any case like all the multitude of Israel who have already perished, so let us send and see.''  


 

 

5)

II Kings 8:9

§"You will certainly not live,
for the Lord has shown me that he will die."

 

Time passed. Defeat of Ben-Hadad was now long past. Death crawled to his bedside. It was this bouncy King who now lay ill. His desire is for life. Can he live ? Where does he turn ?

Like so many, it is to the God whom he has opposed, ignored, mocked and disregarded that he looks, yet impenitently, merely trying to influence His decisions. To the prophet Elisha comes Hazael, his emissary. An enormous gift is a sweetener, carried on camels! Will God yield grace to such reward ? "Shall I recover from this disease ?" he asks via his sent servant (II Kings 8:9).

Now here both the Authorised version and the New King James version err. It is not so in that expert linguistic work of Keil and Delitzsch, however, which renders the reply thus: "Thou wilt not live, and (for) Jehovah has shown me that he will die." (Commentaries on the Old Testament, the Books of the Kings, pp. 334-335).

What is amazing is this, that many have ignored the kethibh, the written text preserved by the Jews, as distinct from the Keri, the oral suggestion. The formal text has just this! To be sure, some have suggested that an exceedingly rare use of al to mean 'to him',  as if the word were wl, and this should be assumed to be the intention of the writer. However, wherever the utterly abnormal is in view, one might expect some cue, in clear writing, to enable one to depart so drastically from the wholly established norm! Taking, then, as Keil does, the word al to mean what is its vast and wholly normal case, "not" -  for it is indeed a basic word in ANY language, we come to this result:


That is the message given to the king's servant, Hazael, a not disinterested recipient, as we shall see.

Meanwhile, let us observe that the same grammatical construction, and order, as Keil points out, is used in Genesis 3:4. Here there is a classic example. The devil is interested in subverting Eve - a massive undertaking. When she (inaccurately) relays what God had said to them, the prohibition (thus, apparently already slipping into the sin mode), the serpentine devil takes her up, and to use the colloquial, has her on. In other words, he uses her now manifest interest in his offer of interested involvement with her, to exploit the weakness and secure his target. That ? the 'alternative life style', his own.

He tried the same with Christ (Matthew 4:9), without success. It is not for nothing that one approach to the concept of worship in Hebrew is to 'serve'.

Let us however return to Eve. She has just intimated to the devil that should she take a certain action, she is informed that she will DIE.

The devil does not agree.

You will not surely die! quoth he; or as Berkeley brilliantly has it, "No, you would not die at all!" - just as Elisha gave the message to Ben Hadad: No, you will not live at all! There is a perfected parallel, between these two cases.
 

6) Job 21:30

§"That the wicked is kept obscured to the day of calamity,
That they are led for the day of wrath."

This is undoubtedly a fascinating case, but it would show also that the AV and indeed the NKJV are by no means all comprehensive in their perfections, excellent as they are in different ways. They do not absolve all men for all time from the need with chaste care to research and consider the translations. In this case, Keil and Delitzsch bring out a coherent and strong translation which is not disjointed or lacking in flow. "The wicked was spared in the day of calamity," they render. This gives something of the sense of the verb, in the context.

Both the AV and the NKJV put for verse 30, something similar. In the former case:

"That the wicked is reserved to the day of destruction ?
They shall be brought forth to the day of wrath."

The latter:

"For the wicked are reserved for the day of doom;
They shall be brought out on the day of wrath."

Unlike these, the Revised Version at least allows for the sense of it, namely that the simplistic concept of those who attack Job, in view of his calamities, assuming him wicked, is denied by a broader knowledge of what happens in the earth. Evil people escape, reserved to judgment, and are led on the way, none daring to challenge them (Job 21:31) :

§ "That the wicked man is reserved to the day of calamity,
That they are led forth to the day of wrath."

While this is not as clear as it might be, in the RV, it is not alien from the thrust. The text proceeds to illustrate his escapes, saying,

"Who condemns his way to his face ?
And who repays him for what he has done ?"

THEREFORFE, Job indicates, they cannot comfort him with their urbane, superficial words!  Hidden, obscured, the text indicates, the wicked person is kept till calamity comes (so don't pretend I am wicked, the line is, because I was NOT kept, for see now innocently vulnerable I am!). Indeed they are led to the brink at the end, as if on schedule, relatively secure to meet their end, exposed at last. So don't try that one on me! he snarls.

The thrust is his being kept in obscurity, darkness, tended, to the time when the day appointed for judgment comes. That is in the singular, for an envisaged wicked man, looking at a life which seems to Job not uncommon, as if he were peeping at such a one, to see his stout-looking performance, deceptive though he deems it, so unlike his own! Indeed, turning to the plural, he indicates that this type of person is LED to the day of wrath. The primary meaning is to LEAD, as when God led the children of Israel.

Thus the RV, different in tenor from the AV, and NKJV renderings, captures better the thought. This one, like the Berkeley Version, which is stronger yet here, allows for the point at issue, for the stated argument of Job, which the other translations merely interrupt, tending to disperse the thrust of thought, rather as if the new data to be gained by questioning travellers were merely that the wicked get what is coming to them,

How insistently is the irony pursued: from travellers Job reinforces his view of the deliverance of unjust men, their escapes from calamities, all solicitous, even the physical grave appealing in its presentation. It is not a direct and simple matter, in living, of do this and get that: God is far deeper than this. Often evil men are given their bait, and allowed for quite a time, the inducements of their folly. They provide, Job urges, a contrast rather than a confirmation with himself, innocent as he deems himself to be!

Time may swallow up the realities in superficialities; but in the end, truth will come out, and justice with it. God will  see to that (Job 9:1-13; 28). Superficial condemnation of the just in the meantime, is contemptible. Brute fish may be allowed quite a lot of line, while the righteous suffer. Such is his presentation, in his turmoil.


7) Psalm 12:5-6

A translation below is recommended,  in line with the thought of  Delitzsch:

However, a further possibility which feels best in the development of the Psalm is this:

§ 'Because of the desolation of the afflicted, the sighing of the poor,
Will I now arise - says the Lord -
'In safety will I set him who yearns for it.'


The words of the Lord are pure words,
Silver melted down in the furnace, to the earth,
Purified seven times.

 

Thou, O Lord, wilt defend them,
Thou wilt guard each one {of the poor}  from this generation for  ever;
The wicked strut about on every side,
When vileness among the children of men is exalted.

*Literally "him" not referrable to words (feminine), but in English leaving a feeling of singularity that "each one" tends to capture. It might be thought that poor is the rendering which needs a bracket, but in this case the Hebrew has a grammar which MAKES it clear, and if we follow i closely we need clarification. If you want it neater, it would be like this:

§ Thou, O Lord, wilt defend them,
Thou wilt guard each poor one, from this generation for ever;
The wicked strut about on every side,
When  vileness among the children of men is exalted.

Thus the actions of the Lord abut onto the plains of the ferocious so that, without
borting liberty, He does bring sanctions to pass which are ultimately protective of His saints, while leaving them to carry out His glorious  tasks in service, before judgment sits.

Thus "them" is seen as naturally following on from the reference to being purified seven times, the words, and then moving in thought and understanding from this SOURCE feature to the poor who are thus safeguarded in terms of this pure word of God, who keeping it, will so act. The "them" in this way is not so much a hybrid but a turning point in a poem, so that like a swordsman twisting from this to that posture, in pursuit of just one aim, it is a dynamic term, a ground of union of concepts.

Either way, the meaning is kept: both the words of God and the poor ones of God, who belong to Him, are to be given a divine ground surpassing mere  appearances, as in a match, where the  winner is not the best looking. Because the words are sure, pure, therefore the poor in those terms have assurance.

In terms of thought, it would then come to this: The words are pure, and He will keep them, AND SO will He guard each one of the category, the godly poor, of His concern. The three verses as set out above, foster this approach. The vignettes of poetry then give ground for the vigour of the defence. This seems the best comprehensive resolution.

 

8) Psalm 19:3: Note the translation: there is no word 'where' in the text. It is inappropriate to add to the text. Check the text as it is given to us.

As they speak, it is not in language. There is no Arabic, Hebrew or English (anachronisms are purposeful as we are seeking the intent, and it is sometimes stimulating to consider aspects in the light of our own day). There is no voice to be heard. No one is articulating phonetic sounds. Like the directed sound from a megaphone, or from cupping the hands, however, there is a line which reaches the soul of man; their mute but eloquent speech is directed  very clearly to us.

§ The heavens declare the glory of God,
The expanse declares His handiwork,
There is no speech nor language,
Their voice is not heard.
Their line has gone forth through all the earth
And their words to the end of the world.

This is an elegant oxymoron. Speech ? none. Language ? nil. In fact there is NO speech, no language. Yet their 'words' have penetrated to the uttermost even to space. What then is the "speech" ? It is a word to the mind, an indication to the heart, a broadcast not only of light to the eye, but to the heart, an exhibition of the intrinsic testimony of what is created.

Day to day, they utter. Who hears ? Night after night, as the luminosities work out their intricate splendour, they inform the mind, instruct the spirit, woo the soul to worship.

 

9) Psalm 22:30-31

 In Psalm 22:30-31, the KJV has

"A seed shall serve him;
It shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation.
They shall come and shall declare his righteousness
Unto a people that shall be born, that he has done this."

The NKJV has:

"A posterity shall serve Him.
It will be recounted of the Lord to the next generation.
They will come and declare His righteousness to a people who will be born,
That He has done this."

However, there is no word "next" in the text, which is simply invented in the translation, changes the meaning and is a major flaw. The next hsa "the generation", and in this the N KJV is correct. Simply taking the text, then, we have this:

§ "a seed shall serve him;
It shall be accounted to the Lord, for the generation.
They shall come and shall declare His righteousness
To a people that shall be born, that He has done this."

The LORD Himself, whom after all, Psalm 22 focusses and describes, HE, as Isaiah 53 tells us, had NO offspring, because He was cut off from the land of the living; and if any Psalm tells this with emphasis, it is Psalm 22! In Isaiah 53:10, we learn that when His soul is an offering for sin, it is then that He sees His seed (see  No. 8   above). In other words, biologically He had no children, but spiritually He has many. This Peter picks up in I Peter 2, where we are who are believers in Christ are  a CHOSEN GENERATION, a royal priesthood, a special people

WHO ?  Why there, those born of the Lord, begotten by His word  (I Peter 2:23). They are both the testimonial  and the replacement generation. Instead of normal children from marriage, the Lord has spiritual children through His sacrifice, and these are a special generation, a royal priesthood as I Peter 2 advises us. It is ALWAYS best to keep to the text, preserving its flow and thought in  translation, not innovating. It is then that you see the wonders of the Lord.

 

10) Psalm 59:17  NOT My God of mercy, as in NKJV, but literally, § "the God of my mercy," as in AV . God is the One in whom he finds his needed and necessary mercy, appropriated from the vastness of His eternal Godhead.

 

11) Psalm 90:12  (See Bible Translations Ch. 93, No. 9.)

In Psalm 90:12, the KJV has : "SO TEACH US TO NUMBER OUR DAYS THAT WE MAY APPLY OUR HEARTS UNTO WISDOM."

 This has a beautiful sound, is most instructive, but is not precisely a rendering in any discernible way, of the words written. The sense relates; the translation is not simply of what is there.

The NKJV is more accurate here; SO TEACH US TO NUMBER OUR DAYS THAT WE MAY GAIN A HEART OF WISDOM. Keil and Delitzsch, the noted and amazingly scholarly commentators of long fame, whose knowledge of the original languages is immense and who are very articulate, considered possible translations. They criticised with careful grammatical exegesis various possible translations and supposed renderings put forward in this case. Their translation is the one given by the NKJV. They of course wrote long before that was ever made. It is pointed out that the verb in view 'bring" (in the phrase rendered in the KJV "apply our hearts") may have an overtone from agricultural usage, bring is as a harvest, as a product, as a gain. How then will you render - that we may bring a heart of wisdom ... in view of this ? One rendering is just that: bring a heart of wisdom.

In our idiom, however, this is not exceptionally expressive. What then? It is possible to ponder and consider the nuances of this verb, and seek the meaning... that we "bring in a heart of wisdom" or gain a heat of wisdom, bring to pass a heart of wisdom. Thus these commentators and translators present the version that the NKJV adopts.

§ "So teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom,"

with a note, perhaps, as in bringing in a crop. Another word might be "secure": a heart of wisdom. As you number, count, consider your days, intent like a planet circling around the earth, on keeping in contact, with force continually exerted upon you, which you desire, so your trajectories come more and more aligned with truth, your habits more apt and your heart more settled, as the Lord blessing you, your whole atmosphere becomes increasingly taid upon God, drawn by Him, feeling the pull of His purpose, with no idle or small joy. Our liberties are so great that gaining in so many spheres a heart of wisdom, we draw, as water from a well, the things which sustain, righteousness confirming itself, truth teaching wisdom in the joyful fear of the Lord.



 

12)

In Psalm 139:16, an interpretive rendering follows:

"My structure was not hidden from You,
when I was made in secret,
and intricately given diversity of form
in the developmental darkness.
Your eyes saw my embryonic substance
and in your book all
(the particular results of developmental processes,
to form the physical equipment of life, organic, structural)

were written,
the (very) days they should be fashioned,
when as yet none (organic, structural members) of them
(so much as) existed."

 

This is the situation:

none of the noted bodily members is there,

but there the program is,

celestially contrived,

each day of development being nevertheless determinate,

yes, even when not a member was to be seen in the embryo

in its initial simplicity.

That simplicity in marked contrast with its prepared potential, means this:- Amazingly it is all marked out in His book as to days,

each organic whole is envisaged, prepared, pre-designed,

ready to burst forth, like flowers in Spring,

indeed to be moulded,

even when

not one of the members has as yet appeared.

Yes, it is timed!

§ "Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed, and in Your book my formed parts were all written - the days they should be fashioned - when as yet there were none of them."

 

Thus "Thy book" was divinely inscribed to cover the case, even when these members, to be made and co-ordinated, were visually absent. By vigorous application, what had to be done, was achieved and as we might say in our idiom, "it was all hammered out," an aspect of meaning here. Where it had to get form from active fashioning, it got it, in a sort of secret sanctuary for building. (This of course is precisely what is being said in science now, as the genetic code is considered and claims are made that its content for a single human nucleated cell is worth a thousand large, complex volumes of writing. The intense symbolic, code content is prescriptive, directive, executive, integrated, cohesive in kind and synthesising in practice, the most stupendous material design by far, ever visible on earth. It is also, no less, intensively verificatory of the Biblical vision imparted to the prophet who wrote Psalm 139, by the inspiration of God.)

 

 

 

CHAPTER FOUR
 

ISAIAH

 

13) In Isaiah 2:22,  in the AV, we have:

 

§"Cease from man, whose breath is in his nostrils,

for of what account is he ?"

Delitzsch has an interesting rendering, much the same:

"Oh, then, let man go, in whose nostrils is a breath; for what is he estimated at ?"

 

This is the sense, and this is the severance in view: from man who, estimated as empty in pride when divorced from God, is the inflated but spiritually fallen object one must cease to follow.

As Delitzsch points out justly, "it is preceded by the prediction of the utter demolition of everything which ministers to the pride and vain confidence of man…"  MAN the generic is the one exalted, to be debased. THAT is the message, and Isaiah 2:22, showing his end, prescribes the finale, CEASE from MAN (or mankind).

‘Man’ is in the Hebrew text precisely the same word with precisely the same definite article as in Isaiah 2:17, "the loftiness of man shall be bowed down," translated as such in the NKJV. But amazingly, leaving this consistent emphasis of the text, and this total parallel in construction, it wishes to translate "man" in this generic sense, as "such a man", which is not in the text at all, but simply reads,  "the man" or as a generic, "man".

 

I4)

Isaiah 7:14

See SMR pp. 770ff. for the full account, source of the following slightly revised excerpt.

§"Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign. Behold the virgin is with child and shall bring forth a Son, and a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.


One should first read Isaiah 7-10-14, and preferably 7:14, to better grasp discussion. We see in Isaiah 7:14 a Hebrew term which denotes "the lass", something as E. J. Young points out in his Studies in Isaiah (p. 183) rather more definite even than 'damsel', since there is no evidence it was ever used of a married woman. A simple girl, unmarried (a 'laddess' as Dr Duff Forbes rendered it), is to be with child. This Hebrew word is unlike bethulah, a technical term which, though it may mean 'virgin' may also be associated with marriage (Joel 1:8 - where a bethulah mourns for the husband of her youth). Young notes this other term may also be used with the addition, 'who had never known a man' (loc. cit.) which, in view of the betrothal arrangements, is not meaningless.

'Almah,' however, the term in Isaiah 7:14, conveys the sense of simple, normal, as yet unwed, uninvolved, untouched youth. It is divorced from marital maturity or participation like Spring from Summer.

Now rightly denounced, in no uncertain terms, has been any sense of a fornicator or slut.

There is simply no ground for assuming an immoral or fallen or guilty young lady. "Innocent till proved guilty" is merely one facet of the case. You don't engineer a focus for deliverance (as is the context in Isaiah 7), a 'sign' as this young lady in that place undoubtedly is, with a reference to the perversion of youth or the squandering of sanctity in sexual licence - as a mere guess! "

The context says no such thing; nor does it censure. It speaks rather, categorically of youth outside child-birth considerations, that would in any way relate to marriage. It is indeed set in idyllic atmosphere (Isaiah 7:21 ff.). Further, for God to designate a simple young lady in His holy plan as a focus, (Behold the virgin, He announces, "the unmarried maiden with child"), and for us to assume that He has a 'dirty', distorted or specifically fallen thing in mind: this comes near to imputing to God a breach of His own principle, "whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy- meditate on these things" (Philippians 4:8), and breaches this one: "Love hopes all things" (1 Corinthians 13:7).

We have no right to enter here such territory, no warrant, no ground or basis, without being instructed so to do. It would be eisegesis - that is the importation of thought from outside the passage, not exegesis - the expression and bringing out of the passage, what is written. To add to God's words is forbidden (Proverbs 30:6), and to follow such a procedure would be to become a joint author with God, without invitation so to be...

Yet the 'case' for avoiding the virgin prophecy is far worse than that. How can a straightforward and not very uncommon 'fallen woman' syndrome be a sign (Isaiah 7:ll) of such magnitude as is found here, and found rather rarely in Scripture. As Machen points out (op. cit. pp. 290-291), the divine offer of the sign in this passage would naturally lead us "to think of some event like the turning back of the sun on Hezekiah's dial, or the phenomena in connection with Gideon's fleece" - the first in Isaiah, the other in Judges - such focus was made on a sign...

Such focus ? some such focus, for in this case the focus is explicitly more than merely astronomical, it is CELESTIAL. "Ask a sign!", God challenges, reaching up upwards into the heights, down into the depths in His invitation to Ahaz to ask amazing things, past all measure.  There is not only a request to ask a sign, and this being God, the limits of magnitude are not there; these limits are explicitly off as well. Here is a sign to end all signs, making history a preliminary! Events in the coming will 'unwrap' what is more than remarkable, or even unique; they will paint, portray, institute a supreme marvel even in the action of the divine One, of God Himself, upon this earth.

As Machen puts it, "Equally suggestive is the elaborate way in which the 'sign' is introduced. The whole passage is couched in such terms as to induce in the reader or hearer a sense of profound mystery as he contemplates the young woman and her child." The offer to Ahaz was virtually infinite and the Lord's choice of sign, when Ahaz declined to activate the matter, is in the category that has no bounds. Such is this setting, situation and scope. Moreover, the sign is for the king to take courage, be transformed with delight in the face of the lethal seeming enemies facing him, breeding then in him, great concentration. The base ways of the world are not at all to the point. That is not even surprising!

To seek a simple, common, all too natural signal in the sight of such supernatural initiative is to ignore what is written, be blind to the context and to miss the point... which is that here is something prima facie all but incredible! It is to be something out of the mind and power, the purity and majestic impact of God Himself! Ask going UP, ask going DOWN, but ASK!

The Lord is asking him to believe, and the sign has this abundant office; but Ahaz declines. Thus the sign comes anyway, and in all majesty, not so much now a help to the failed heart of Ahaz, but to the race, to the people of whom he is then King, when the time COMES. Thus do people miss what God is providing, because of petty pre-occupations, lack of faith and asthenic heart. They do not even allow the Lord to strengthen their heart, not even with the most invigorating of 'medicines.

But that 'sort of offer is precisely what we have been led to expect, might expect in any case perhaps, but certainly must expect in such a context. God appoints it on His own, with scathing effect on the welfare of Ahaz, but no remission of His intended utterance. Weary God they may, but God is not wearied to perform what He will (Isaiah 7:13). "Therefore - [in the very face of this weary faithlessness of man], the Lord Himself will give you a sign!" activating on a personal basis what they failed to appropriate, in a way that might have brought blessing personally as well.

The divine irony is intense, for the onset of Assyria in desolating triumph over Jewry is announced at once (Isaiah 7:17-20), an even worse challenge for the present, though the initial one is still set in abeyance. Thus penal clauses proliferated in the face of this rejection of mercy by jesuitical jousting, on the part of Ahab (Isaiah 7:12),  with God (Isaiah 7:15-22).

Certainly this blessedness of Immanuel is far removed from the people whose faith (Isaiah 7:12) seemed almost as far distant from accepting the unconditional gift and glorious deliverance so lightly esteemed by Ahaz (Isaiah 7:2). This, their defaulting king, was all too fitting a representative of the people (Isaiah 1:4-17), for which only chastisement was fitting. Yet it was this very nation,  to whom IN THE LORD'S OWN TIME, THE virgin would nevertheless come. It WOULD come THEN, however wearisome (Isaiah 7:13) the contemporary hardness of heart and blindness of eyes, deafness of ear, might be! It would come when once the penalties were come, and the realities of trifling with God, were found.  as if to try His patience. They would be long years in which the people would need in patience to await their deliverer, so lightly esteemed by the nation in its authorities, even when He came (Isaiah 49:7, 53).

Does not this action of Ahaz, then, rise to the peak as the very exemplar for all the straight, liberal radicalism, frothy existentialism, games of the name changing neo-orthodox and neo-evangelical lethargy now provided by the parallel deviations of the Gentiles ? He, Ahaz would not tempt the Lord by believing what He said!

Such sanctified restraint by which to characterise rebellion! He would not accept the unlimited bounty of the divine gift - ASK! (Isaiah 7:11-12). Was God simply mocking him in giving such a gift as this ? a gift  which was later, despite the lack of hands at that time to receive it, to come in any case as the Lord Jesus Christ, not a god without power, but the power of God and the wisdom of God (I Cor. 1). It was, in any case, the gift Ahaz needed, to cleanse his soul, purify his mind, alter his heart, pardon his offences and bring peace; but not taking it, he could then see it predicted to come, God with us!

Yes, the Gentiles have come and, as in the time of judgment which began to settle on Judah, now themselves are near the end of the Age appointed (SMR Ch.8). This time it is not Judah but the world which comes to a vast domain of judgment.

Now it is their falsetto evasions and spectrum of deviations to match the error of the Jews at that critical point, that makes its evil flower. Now they too in droves will not 'tempt' the Lord by believing in obedience what He says, by acting on what He gives; but rather from the midst of the structures of many churches, they build with Ahaz of old a resort of verbal subterfuge, a substitute for the wholehearted acceptance that walks with God in the way He assigns, as well as talks about Him (cf. Ezekiel 33:32) with the infallible word He has given.

They even contradict the Bible and imagine that in this way they still can worship the One who declared that not one jot or tittle would depart form the law and the prophets (Matthew 5:17-20), till all was fulfilled: and that includes the judgment on breaking commandments and making idols to worship, which are in fact other gods!

But let us return to the tableau in Isaiah 7. How delightful that in reply to the barren stultification of unbelieving Ahaz, the unparalleled sign is to be given in any case: THEREFORE THE LORD WILL GIVE ... From Him, it has all the glory of His wonder, however it may affect the laggard Ahaz. What is it, then, in this context ? It is a virgin who is going to have a child. Here is no prophecy concerning a queen to marry, but concerning a solitary individual. It is indeed THE virgin, just as in Psalm 22:30 we have THE generation, since Christ had no children of His own, and when YOU make of His soul an offering for sin, THEN, we are told, He will see His children! born again people of His own. So THE virgin in Isaiah 7:14 is the vehicle for this substitution of spiritual children for earth-born ones, for the Christ. Thus He may indeed receive as one of His names, Everlasting Father, since there is no derivation as to entity, for there is One God, one Expressing, One the Expression, both deity.

What then of THE VIRGIN ? She is not incorporated in any marriage, actual or implied, and is merely as VIRGIN seen in the stated condition. She is not conceived as in any anticipatory social relationship, but as a stand-alone, suddenly brought on stage,. her condition the subject of scrutiny. It is a sign because this is not merely not usual, to say no more, but is signalised for a purpose, and it is to be a marked signal, symptom and sign when it happens in the context of the Messiah. Indeed, as E. J. Young points out in his Studies in Isaiah, the term is not in the form of a participle, as if she were engaged in having a child, but instead a verbal adjective, signifying her condition as presented, both virgin and with child in the womb, and so, in the LXX, Isaiah 7:14 has this, that  a virgin shall conceive in the womb. There is the virgin, there is her womb, and she as such has this condition in that womb. This is the bald statement.  These two elements, items, are juxtaposed with joy, without qualification, addition, circumstance for orientation. The statement has two facts put together AS SUCH. Not only is it this unusual combination, but it has an even more remarkable result, God with us, as the very name of the result, the child, one that veers into exposition in detail, in Isaiah 9. l

This simply stresses the point: SIGN ? Surely, consider this, a virgin with child, describable in this manner, not only as lacking any male relationship in the picture, but focussed IN this state! It is a wonderful thrust from any norm about virgins who WILL bear children to one who IS in this condition. It is so in terms both of context and grammar.

THE virgin then ? Not some woman of unknown character, unnamed, in the crowd whose time was coming fast for desolation, castigation and correction. Rather the one who would do the job, perform the function, encompass the man (Jeremiah 31:22). He is was to be One who, as sinless for a human offering (Isaiah 53, Leviticus 4:3, Hebrews 9:14) and of eternal divine character (Micah 5:1-3, Psalm 45), REQUIRED a parentage which was not encompassed by sin. THE virgin is the one predicted, THE virgin is the one written, who must bear the MIGHTY GOD (Isaiah 9:6), the one who can be called the Everlasting Father (cf. John 14, Zechariah 2:10); for this is the name of Isaiah 9:6. She provides the flesh, to be suffused by the presence of God, and He provides the eternal deity as Father. SHE is the mother and GOD is the Father, eternal, and so in this infinite intimacy in the Trinity, the Son may even have as a name, Everlasting Father, to show His essential position.



I5)

§Isaiah 8:19-20

The NKJV and AV once again present no problem; but other translations need attention, as does a wandering car, if one sleeps at the wheel, and it is better to be ahead of the action then!

There is no other God, or way or salvation (Isaiah 45:22, 41:29-42:1, 43:10-11, 66:2, Acts 4:11-12). When God the Creator speaks, it is man who must hear, not speak! If he speaks, it is to reject or receive. Playing with words is mere fatuity.

As to God, as He is, so He speaks, not regionally, not tribally, not with favouritism, not with changing ideas, not with short cuts, not with equivocation, not with sensuous appeal or for pride and pomp: not for the actions of man, but to His own mercy, He calls. There is no other, only vacuity and noise. All competitors for man's attention are gross violations of truth, evidence, verification, validity and idols (Psalm 96:1-5).

As Isaiah puts it in 8:19ff.:

           "And when they shall say to you,

'Seek to them that have familiar spirits,
and to wizards that peep, and that mutter' :

should not a people seek their God?
should they seek on behalf of the living to the dead?

 "To the law and to the testimony:

if they do not speak according to this word,
it is because there is no light in them. "

Why seek for dead things where the living is required ? Is it not as in the tomb when the disciples were told by the angel,

"Why do you seek for the living among the dead ?
He is not here, but is risen"
(Luke 24:5-6)!

There is a derisory, a derogatory splendour in both the invitation and exhortation to seek to their God, and the negative, NOT to seek to the dead on behalf of the living.

Then this same challenge was uttered in the face of the divine incursion into history to the Cross, encapsulated in the format of man as the Christ, offering Himself as the living, before Abraham was, and the living, after death came, rising in precisely three days from the dead in a world of space-time dimensions, where these we inhabit, to these He came, and these He overcame on our own behalf!

Here then Christ came,  in the most staggering wonderful act of all time, its motives singular, its performance perfect, its naturalness such as only the supernatural God could achieve in the world He made, its results its testimony. Here was the climacteric event, for which all else panted and longed, where judgment is covered, death's sting is removed and the victory of hell is quashed, by the living God for the living who seek Him and for all who find Him where He MAY be found! (Isaiah 55). .

Earlier, to Israel, it was in the same principle; here put by God into salient practice! Always the same, the Lord presents life, just as He made it in the first place, and life must seek life, even His! That is the point, not some opposite desecration of truth and witless substitute for thought.

What else ? Otherwise life would be stranded, in His image but without His presence. He however has made it easier, having come; but man is where he is, and needs to come, and seek the living in life, not in the dead prognostications of varied insulations from God, often masquerading as if they related to Him in ways other than those of rebellion!

In Christ, God was present and accessible direct. The word was divine, final, the way was as declared, immediate. It is no different now. What then does God say in the Bible, that book of verity, verification and unique validity ? He declares Himself, His salvation, His redemption, alone given from Himself, in the One sent to do it, in His Word equal with Himself, who is the Redeemer, issuing from Himself, in glorious trinitarian majesty,  to redeem! (cf. Isaiah 48:16).

That is the part found in Isaiah 8:18, as Hebrews points out, a Messianic reference (2:13). It is not Isaiah in some pseudo-messianic role who is referring to himself like this:

"Here I am and the children whom, the LORD has given me!
We are for signs and wonders in Israel from,
the LORD of hosts, who dwells in Mount Zion."

This segment between Isaiah 7 and 9 is dealing with one more impact from the coming salvation and Saviour; indeed just here is the approach to the gloom at the end of Ch. 8, the anguish leading directly and connectedly on to the light of the Lord in the babe, focussed in the next Chapter, to which this is the spring-board.

Endless pre-occupations with human resources again mars Israel, and it is the Lord and His children on the horizon now, which are to be signs and wonder; for the gloom is to go and the bright light of glory as in Isaiah 9:1-3, is to come, even to Galilee, and it is this group, the Lord who speaks, and His children, joint signs and wonders as in the surrounding chapters, who again appear here.

As the ONLY GOD is saviour and redeemer, and Christ is in Himself, Saviour and Redeemer, paying in the coin of His own life (Isaiah 53:6,8,11), He is God, who alone is and does this; so that just as the same applies to Him as Creator (cf. Isaiah 43:10-11, 53:1-12, 44:24, 45:18,21-22, 46:9-10, Colossians 1:15). He is by name, nature and standing, God. It is essential to understand this revelation, this deposition, this testimony of the incarnate Christ, of the prophecies preceding Him, of the state of man in sin. There is simply nothing else testable, verified, of the dimensions of deity in effect, available for comparison. What then ? It is this, as found at the end of our current text in Isaiah 8, in verse 20..

 "To the law and to the testimony:

if they do not speak according to this word,
it is because there is no light in them. "

There are in this, no gradations. You take God at His word, and by His works (as in John 14), or you do not. One is to take Him at His word; the other to make of Him a liar. Hence the divergency between those for and against, is not like that between those preferring cheese and those meat on their sandwiches. It is that between light and dark, joy and gloom reality and afraud (I John 4:1-3, 2:22-25).

It is not then difficult. He became a babe. His rule comes from One who became man. It is at hand, these signs and wonders are in focus. How then not call! Should not a people seek to the living ? should they then seek to the dead on behalf of the living! How ludicrous! Such is the impact.

Creation, accordingly, prior to His incarnation, it is what that eternal Word of God wrought (cf. Proverbs 8, John 1:1, Colossians 1:15, John 1:1-3); and the Creator is God, and there is no other! The word become flesh is declared definitively as deity, just as the Lord has declared Himself in written words (Hebrews 1) for so long. He, the living, the revealing, the expressive and the expressing is to be sought, not some dead invention of flesh, some demi-god or idolatrous construction of mind, spirit or society.

This is the emphatic, dramatic, direly direct and re-iterated biblical message: there is none in heaven like God! (Psalm 89:6, Jeremiah 10:6, Isaiah 46:9). Creation, salvation, HE ALONE performs. From Him comes the earth, from Him man, from Him his salvation! God is one, and Christ is His eternal expression, in the heavens, sent to earth, accomplishing the Gospel in Himself, sending forth the Spirit from the Father (John 15-16, 17:1-3, 8:58, 5:19-23, Isaiah 48:16). That, it is God!

He even gathers His children, His disciples, is even on earth for some years, signs and wonders, He as God and they as called and enabled by His presence (as in the missions of those sent out, in Luke 9 and 10).

There, in this living One, it is there that people should seek, not to the dead! It is this living water that is to be found, not the dead and desultory dead waters of brackish philosophy and confounded culture!

 

16)

 §Isaiah 9:3

"You have multiplied the nation but not increased the joy;
They rejoiced before You
According to the joy of harvest,
As men rejoice when they divide the spoil."

There are several excerpts to follow from Bible Translations Ch. 8.  In this case, they have addition or change as best meets the case for this version of Translations, perhaps more than usual.

I

We learn, as the prophet Isaiah in Ch. 9 builds his presentation from the Lord  from this dimness of anguish and this unhallowed gloom to the liberty of  light, that it is in Galilee that the specific brightness will shine. Upon them is highlighted the incandescence, and for them is a vast relief provided. As Matthew 4:9-13 shows, this was precisely where Christ settled, filling the seaside environment and scene with mighty works, and refreshing it with astonishing words that gripped and delighted many (cf. the impact in John 7:40, Luke 4:22, Matthew 7:29), leading to life and power in grace, healing and joy in fellowship with the Lord.

This is said as to locale, for the word of God is habitually specific, testable, instructive, dealing with the world which God made with the precision with which He made and the particularity. With this, He also has provided principles of interpretation and understanding with which to live in the beauty of holiness within it. However, what is to occur in this predicted locale to which the Messiah duly came, and in what sort of way will this light illuminate ?

In Isaiah 9:3 we learn, in the kethib, or written text as handed down, the Massoretic text, that

§  "You have multiplied the nation, and not increased the joy.

"They rejoice before You
According to the joy of harvest,
As men rejoice when they divide the spoil."

 

The point of textual interest here is the NOT, before the joy. While Symmachus, the Vulgate and the Massoretic text, that place of careful presentation and preservation, all have "not" increased, yet the Syriac and Targum have no 'not'. Many efforts have been made to comprehend how the 'not' could be there. What, some ask, could this mean ? It is always wise, in such a case,  to cling to the objective evidence and to the site of maximum application of scholarship, without regard for the alien concept that God did not bother, and to find where one can, the interpretation without invention, or following other lines just because the meaning is not at once apparent.

It is the case with much that is passed on, even in contemporary terms, that a little thought is needed.

Especially is this so when there is in the context a movement of light and shade as here, a maximum of contrast and an ebullience of joy, as the coming wonders render the more abysmal the deceasing sorrows.

What then is to be said about this text as above cited ? What does it mean ?

We have, in the Chapter 9, just found that the great light has shone, so that in the intense darkness with its threatening depth of death looming in prospect, dismal in retrospect, there comes a vast change.

Now in Isaiah 9:3, we are being given a partial recapitulation. It is not being said that the nation has been increased with joy, even though it was in gloom! It is not being said that they rejoice before God, who were in dull constraints! The whole nation is not about to rejoice, for the death of Christ at its hands rapidly approaches (Isaiah 49:7). That! it is the delight of those to whom the hand of the Lord is to be revealed in Christ (Isaiah 53:1).  "To whom is the hand of the Lord revealed ?" asks the prophet. In the succeeding verses of that chapter, as he outlines the failure to follow the Lord when He came, there is acute grief, alleviated and indeed transformed only in Christ's triumph through death to life.

As to those receiving Him, however, it is to them that the joy comes (Isaiah 55:1-5, 61:10). That is singular not universal. The gloom that preceded is not receding for the nation which betrayed Him, nor was the method of redemption delightsome but dire.  As far as the NATION is concerned, that political setting and authority-structure which governs, there is ANYTHING BUT JOY, for they are not only blinded by the said authorities AS A UNIT, as a going-concern in itself, but about to EXHIBIT that blindness for all to  see for millenia to come. Further and indeed, they are not about to relent AS A NATION (which is the point in the text at issue) from what they did till judgment so comes to the Gentiles as well, that it is all or nothing, Messiah or ruin for them all. Small wonder the targum of tradition leaves out the NOT.

The nation  ? joy! what a misnomer that would appear to  have been, and how understandable in a realm where lips honour the Lord, but the heart is far from Him (Isaiah 29:13), where in contrast to the coming Messiah, to be abominated by the people (Isaiah 49:7 at His time) is the suggested alteration of the Q're or suggested version. In heart, in the relevant part, nationally those who are  to be filled with something when they kill Christ - but it is not joy - are taking this fateful step because of their spiritual sleep.

"They are drunk," says Isaiah 29:9, "but not with wine.
They stagger, but not with intoxicating drink.
For the Lord has poured out on you the spirit of deep sleep,
and has closed your eyes, namely the prophets,
and He has covered your heads, namely, the seer.

"The whole vision has become to you like the words of a book that is sealed ..."

It is not at all the message of Isaiah that the nation is now to become great: both multiplied and increased with joy. On the contrary as in Isaiah 7, an amazing obtuseness is seen in Ahaz in Isaiah's own time, and a parallel deplorable failure is coming when

·       "He is despised and rejected by men" and


so that
 

 

Alas, as we see in Isaiah 30:8ff., a vast blindness faces the light, though not few are those who come to Him, and it has an age-long continuity. It is in this that the Messiah is seen as near as in Isaiah 8:16-18 (cf. Hebrews 2:13), where the 'children' with Him (Isaiah 53:8-10) in this one of many parallel focuses on Him, are indeed to be signs and wonders, from the only source of wonder. One reason for this 'wonder' is His power, but another is the unbelief of the many, to whom they signal but in vain! for whom the apostolic caress of truth with courage in the very FACE of the nation is singularly strange.

What then ? It is, contextually this that is being said: Grief awaits the nation, where joy beckoned, to one and to all!

"YOU have increased the nation," and it is true that as you down history from Isaiah towards the coming of Christ, with the Maccabees there was some pomp and a restoration of more of Solomon's Empire than at any other time; but alas with what a series of shames, shams and shambles all this had become associated. From the divine light the nation is as an authoritative unit, largely dissociated, though here and there is your Nicodemus and your Joseph of Arithmathea. Do we not read in Acts 13 of the reaction of the Jewish contingent when both Jew and Gentile are surging about in the melee of the second Sunday of the apostle's presentation, and with envy and blasphemy it appears the line of Jerusalem the betrayed, is followed there. Moreover,  even in Thessalonica to which Paul and his contingent speedily went, that surge came down from Pisidian Antioch, to turn them against Paul.

Indeed, in I Thessalonians 2:14-16, Paul itemises something of the assault  suffered from that source,  declaring alas of those so standing with the error of their nation that they were "forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they may be saved, so as always to filll up the measure of their sins; but wrath has come upon them to the uttermost." The nation ? oh no, there is no joy relative to the Messiah as His arrival is prophetically made a matter for intense rejoicing within the land, for those who have indeed seen the great light! While the expanded nation did not increase its joy (as one might indeed have hoped, after so long a time presented with so great an opportunity, a fact on which Christ mused as in Luke 19:42ff.),  yet as to those who "have seen a great light," their eyes not closed. As a result of their grievous hostility to their own Messiah, for them  and the Gentiles as well (Isaiah 49:6,  42:6), as in Psalm 69:19-23, their eyes are judicially closed.

Their hardened hearts and pitiless passion have led in the end, where the action is, to the Lord's closing their eyes which they had themselves so tightly shut for so long (as is a generic for all men, to be faced with fear because of irrational rejection of the Lord - II Thessalonians 2:4-10), so that although indeed the LIGHT SHINED, yet what good did that do to the spiritually drunk, those tipsy concerning the truth as in Isaiah 29 ?

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light, but not yet, in the day of advent here celebrated by Isaiah prophetically, not yet is the nation in view in this light from which, as a political entity, it has abstracted itself. But as to those who HAVE seen a great light, including such as the apostles and the multiplied thousands of Jews who joined the Church in Jerusalem after and during Pentecost, "THEY rejoice before You according to the joy of harvest ..."  for to them in their hearts, as ultimately after a long time (as in Hosea 1 and 3) to a great multitude in Israel far later, it has come. THEY HAVE SEEN A GREAT LIGHT, and whether it be Jew or Gentile, it is indifferent: in this, WHEN it happens and you DO see, it is then that you rejoice,  looking ahead to the millenium of Isaiah 11, 65,  Micah 4, Revelation 20, where indeed, not only in one's own heart, but in this globe, "the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of God as the waters cover the sea." There the Messiah rules outwardly as now inwardly, and whether in the one or the other, such is the joy.

                                                                                                                       

II)

Now it is one thing if the earth is plagued because of its iniquity, but quite another when it is plagued BY it! It is one thing to receive atrocity from without, another when it is sought from within, amid confusion and unbelief, and that cry is heard!

At the end of Ch. 8 leading into Ch. 9, where he characterised what would be the plight of the people in that time when Christ, God incarnate, would come on the scene (cf. Psalm 102:16-22). It was like this:

Thus the prophet, just before the above description of the plight of the gloom-encircled people, made a martial spiritual cry, not for blood but for truth:

 

The people, then, had in large measure forsaken the only God who can do things and speak as He will do, do as He has spoken, by verifiable testimony, as exhibited in the case of Israel exhibited in so many ways and functions, facilities and cases that the failure to trust was like that of a mathematician deciding to stop using 2+2=4 any more, in favour of an intellectual trip. The results of such disfaith (cf.  SMR pp. 172, 774, 999-1002C) were co-ordinate with such a vagrancy, for Israel. Dimness of anguish ensued; nor are they alone, for many civilisations have gone from the obvious facts of God, to the severe and astringent, to that repressive of reality and not the expressive, to the human inventions of wrath and horror, where little pundits of people push, moguls of repression force their evil mental lusts in the name of God, by blasphemy, onto the people. There they routinely  put their victims, sometimes tabbed as whole nations, as the case may seem to require, into a well of horror, like those feeling the clammy flesh of snakes in dark pits.

So do humans invent their decline, and decline with their inventions, whether Jew or Gentile, throughout most of history, just as Solomon so wisely expressed it in the book the Lord gave him (Eccles. 7:29):

·       Yet  in Isaiah 8, we are not left  with this derelict hulk of humanity, like a rotting boat, in the first place hired by criminal smugglers, people smugglers, wanting to profit in some way, in libido, in macho satisfaction, in money, in power, in importance, in management superiority, in dream fulfilment or whatever, by mismanaging the lives of others.  Subjugation by sin is the theme at the end of Isaiah 8, so the anguish is there, and the matter starts thus; but far better is to come. Meanwhile, the case is very much along the false prophet lines of Jeremiah 23, as they push people as if they were chips in the palaces of sin (Isaiah 8:19-20), the cabarets of unrighteousness, the dream worlds of money, the casinos of corruption.

·       Sad, however, as is the plight of the Jewish people there depicted, the joy impending is even greater. So does Isaiah 8 move to Isaiah 9.


THE PLIGHT BEFORE THE LIGHT

The people, we now read in Isaiah 9, who walked in darkness have seen a great light.

In that former gloom, a glimmer would be relished. However in fact, in the bounty and purpose of the living God, who does not willingly afflict the children of men (Lamentations 3:33), it is a great light. It is in fact from the domain of infinite knowledge, love and power, from the Creator Himself. As if this were not enough, it IS the Creator Himself, we find, in human form!

There is a GREAT LIGHT. That is wonderful. It is not finished yet. There could be one not seen, but here many see it, for "the people who walked in darkness have seen a great light." Some with eyes shut (Isaiah 6) might not see, but the light is exposed to all.

It is to be noted  that we are now moving in the vision  into the day of Jesus Christ, and the emotional, factual, historical changes and the situation at hand.

This marvel of might and gift of grace now comes into the life of the land. It is not pretended that the anguish and the desperate plight of spirit were not enormous. It is not that the grief did not cover the soul like barnacles on the laden prow of the ship, making it clumsy, hard to manoeuvre, dirty and laden with filth. It is just that the LIGHT to come makes the darkness to go look like a mere introduction to a book. It was there, to be sure, and the question of the point and meaning of the book seemed perhaps oppressive, but now, look, it is clear and arresting. No longer is one considering the preliminaries: suddenly the plot is pulsing with life, the development is gripping in its force, the imagination whetted, one proceeds to read like a ship in good wind under sail.

GLOOM OF ANGUISH is now replaced by the force and pregnant meaning of A GREAT LIGHT (Isaiah 8:22 to 9:2). As in Isaiah 4:6 and 32:2, a great, a mighty rock appeared, refreshing and restful, sure and majestic, dominating the dithers and littlenesses of life, providing shelter and strength, so here in the gloom of oppressed mind and spirit,  a great light provides the power to see, to know, to understand, to go with confidence, to see the truth and perform in it, and access accomplished by His divine grace, to perform in it, what is right.

Reviewing in Isaiah 9:1 the troubles of the northern area of Israel in Naphtali and Zebulun, and coming thereby to GALILEE, the prophet then presents AT THAT SEASIDE LOCATION as epicentre if you will, this simple contrast between what was, and what is coming (and now has come according to the dating of Daniel cf. SMR pp. 886ff., News 87, *1, Biblical Blessing Chs.  1,  2,   6). That of course is the Messiah whose domain of service indeed centred not a little precisely in Galilee as thus foretold!

·       Not satisfied with this declaration, the prophet is inspired to write the parallel:

Death has been like an exercise squad, the various ways of reaching it being like the individual exercises scheduled for the day. Life has seemed an oppression, an escapee. Now suddenly the dim objects of glum anguish are replaced in the great light provided by comprehension, and the dimness is dealt a death blow.

Not by killing is this accomplished, by vile violations of the human spirit in faith-manipulating violence, degrading and degraded, seeking to move a degenerated human heart by the idols of the nations, the false religions, for as the word of God declares, "all the gods of the nations are idols" (Psalm 96:5). That is, this light is for healing, and does not act for killing of the oppressed people, the doomed individuals, the pushed, prodded, deprived, often ultimately the self-deprived, whose delusions are the basis of their confusions.

Sin brings anguish in the end, and whatever the cause, the consequence is to be pitied. For many, the apparent 'crime' in the eyes of their human tormentors is to want to live in liberty, not die in the dungeons of this or that 'system of man' prescribing like a drunkard with dictates to the heart, derived from no source other than delusion.

Israel the nation did not accept the deliverance, the death of the Messiah being by that nation sought and acquired, not received in salvation as sacrifice for sin. Hence the joy in the nation was decidedly NOT increased; though in the lives of the believers, whom Isaiah focusses distinctively for example in Isaiah 53:1, there is all that the gift of this light intended. Not yet however is Israel, in terms of the prophecy, in that position; only the believers in this light are shown basking in its blessedness, as Isaiah 9:1ff. unfolds..

III)

We learn, as the prophet Isaiah in Ch. 9 builds his presentation from the Lord  from this dimness of anguish and this unhallowed gloom to the liberty of  light, that it is in Galilee that the specific brightness will shine. Upon them is highlighted the incandescence, and for them is a vast relief provided. As Matthew 4:9-13 shows, this was precisely where Christ settled, filling the seaside environment and scene with mighty works, and refreshing it with astonishing words that gripped and delighted many (cf. the impact in John 7:40, Luke 4:22, Matthew 7:29), leading to life and power in grace, healing and joy in fellowship with the Lord. At the same time, He was filling up here as  constantly, the precise verification of the written word of God in the Bible!

This is said as to locale, for the word of God is habitually specific, testable, instructive, dealing with the world which God made with the precision with which He made and the particularity. With this, He also has provided principles of interpretation and understanding with which to live in the beauty of holiness within it. However, what is to occur in this predicted locale to which the Messiah duly came, and in what sort of way will this light illuminate ?

In Isaiah 9:3 we learn, in the kethib, or written text as handed down, the Massoretic text, that

§  "You have multiplied the nation, and not increased the joy.

"They rejoice before You
According to the joy of harvest,
As men rejoice when they divide the spoil."

 

The point of textual interest here is the NOT, before the joy. While Symmachus, the Vulgate and the Massoretic text, that place of careful presentation and preservation, all have "not" increased, yet the Syriac and Targum have no 'not'. Many efforts have been made to comprehend how the 'not' could be there. What, some ask, could this mean ? It is always wise, in such a case,  to cling to the objective evidence and to the site of maximum application of scholarship, without regard for the alien concept that God did not bother, and to find where one can, the interpretation without invention, or following other lines just because the meaning is not at once apparent.

It is the case with much that is passed on, even in contemporary terms, that a little thought is needed.

Especially is this so when there is in the context a movement of light and shade as here, a maximum of contrast and an ebullience of joy, as the coming wonders render the more abysmal the deceasing sorrows.

What then is to be said about this text as above cited ? What does it mean ?

We have, in the Chapter 9, just found that the great light has shone, so that in the intense darkness with its threatening depth of death looming in prospect, dismal in retrospect, there comes a vast change.

Now in Isaiah 9:3, we are being given a partial recapitulation. It is not being said that the nation has been increased with joy, even though it was in gloom! It is not being said that they rejoice before God, who were in dull constraints! The whole nation is not about to rejoice, for the death of Christ at its hands rapidly approaches (Isaiah 49:7). That! it is the delight of those to whom the hand of the Lord is to be revealed in Christ (Isaiah 53:1).  "To whom is the hand of the Lord revealed ?" asks the prophet. In the succeeding verses of that chapter, as he outlines the failure to follow the Lord when He came, there is acute grief, alleviated and indeed transformed only in Christ's triumph through death to life.

As to those receiving Him, however, it is to them that the joy comes (Isaiah 55:1-5, 61:10). That is singular not universal. The gloom that preceded is not receding for the nation which betrayed Him, nor was the method of redemption delightsome but dire.  As far as the NATION is concerned, that political setting and authority-structure which governs, there is ANYTHING BUT JOY, for they are not only blinded by the said authorities AS A UNIT, as a going-concern in itself, but about to EXHIBIT that blindness for all to  see for millenia to come. Further and indeed, they are not about to relent AS A NATION (which is the point in the text at issue) from what they did till judgment so comes to the Gentiles as well, that it is all or nothing, Messiah or ruin for them all. Small wonder the targum of tradition leaves out the NOT.

The nation  ? joy! what a misnomer that would appear to  have been, and how understandable in a realm where lips honour the Lord, but the heart is far from Him (Isaiah 29:13), where in contrast to the coming Messiah, to be abominated by the people (Isaiah 49:7 at His time) is the suggested alteration of the Q're or suggested version. In heart, in the relevant part, nationally those who are  to be filled with something when they kill Christ - but it is not joy - are taking this fateful step because of their spiritual sleep.

"They are drunk," says Isaiah 29:9, "but not with wine.
They stagger, but not with intoxicating drink.
For the Lord has poured out on you the spirit of deep sleep,
and has closed your eyes, namely the prophets,
and He has covered your heads, namely, the seer.

"The whole vision has become to you
like the words of a book that is sealed ..."

It is not at all the message of Isaiah that the nation is now to become great: both multiplied and increased with joy. On the contrary as in Isaiah 7, an amazing obtuseness is seen in Ahaz in Isaiah's own time, and a parallel deplorable failure is coming when

·       "He is despised and rejected by men" and

"We esteemed Him stricken,

THAT is the NATIONAL SITUATION, far from joy in acceptance, rather in the onset, a gripping spasm of grievous rejection, mounting to the convulsion of preferring a murderer! That set the tone for some 1900 years, alas.

Indeed, as we see in Isaiah 30:8ff., a vast blindness faces the light, though not few are those who come to Him, and it has an age-long continuity. It is in this that the Messiah is seen as near as in Isaiah 8:16-18 (cf. Hebrews 2:13), where the 'children' with Him (Isaiah 53:8-10) in this one of many parallel focuses on Him, are indeed to be signs and wonders, from the only source of wonder. One reason for this 'wonder' is His power, but another is the unbelief of the many, to whom they signal but in vain! for whom the apostolic caress of truth with courage in the very FACE of the nation is singularly strange.

·         What then ? It is, contextually this that is being said: Grief awaits the nation, where joy beckoned, to one and to all! WHO as in Isaiah 9:1 HAS believed our report. THAT is the question answered in the main as in Isaiah 49:7, that He was abhorred. Surely, it does not matter if you spill tea on a lady's frock,  as a waiter, not especially, but if you throw the scalding fluid at  someone's head, that is quite a different matter; and murder goes rather further in the same direction, a not very obscure proposition.

"YOU have increased the nation," and it is true that as you go down history from Isaiah towards the coming of Christ, with the Maccabees there was some pomp and a restoration of more of Solomon's Empire than at any other time; but alas with what a series of shames, shams and shambles all this had become associated. From the divine light the nation is as an authoritative unit, largely dissociated, though here and there is your Nicodemus and your Joseph of Arithmathea. Do we not read in Acts 13 of the reaction of the Jewish contingent when both Jew and Gentile are surging about in the melee of the second Sunday of the apostle's presentation, and with envy and blasphemy it appears the line of Jerusalem the betrayed, is followed there. Moreover,  even in Thessalonica to which Paul and his contingent speedily went, that surge came down from Pisidian Antioch, to turn them against Paul.

Indeed, in I Thessalonians 2:14-16, Paul itemises something of the assault  suffered from that source,  declaring alas of those so standing with the error of their nation that they were "forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they may be saved, so as always to fill up the measure of their sins; but wrath has come upon them to the uttermost."

The nation ? oh no, there is no joy relative to the Messiah as His arrival is prophetically made a matter for intense rejoicing within the land, for those who have indeed seen the great light! While the expanded nation did not increase its joy (as one might indeed have hoped, after so long a time presented with so great an opportunity, a fact on which Christ mused as in Luke 19:42ff.),  yet as to those who "have seen a great light," their eyes not closed. As a result of their grievous hostility to their own Messiah, for them  and the Gentiles as well (Isaiah 49:6,  42:6), as in Psalm 69:19-23, their eyes are judicially closed.

Their hardened hearts and pitiless passion have led in the end, where the action is, to the Lord's closing their eyes which they had themselves so tightly shut for so long (as is a generic for all men, to be faced with fear because of irrational rejection of the Lord - II Thessalonians 2:4-10), so that although indeed the LIGHT SHINED, yet what good did that do to the spiritually drunk, those tipsy concerning the truth as in Isaiah 29 ?

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light, but not yet, in the day of advent here celebrated by Isaiah prophetically, not yet is the nation in view in this light from which, as a political entity, it has abstracted itself. But as to those who HAVE seen a great light, including such as the apostles and the multiplied thousands of Jews who joined the Church in Jerusalem after and during Pentecost, "THEY rejoice before You according to the joy of harvest ..."  for to them in their hearts, as ultimately after a long time (as in Hosea 1 and 3) to a great multitude in Israel far later, it has come. THEY HAVE SEEN A GREAT LIGHT, and whether it be Jew or Gentile, it is indifferent: in this, WHEN it happens and you DO see, it is then that you rejoice,  looking ahead to the millenium of Isaiah 11, 65,  Micah 4, Revelation 20, where indeed, not only in one's own heart, but in this globe, "the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of God as the waters cover the sea." There the Messiah rules outwardly as now inwardly, and whether in the one or the other, such is the joy.  

Further, Isaiah 26:12-18 has already, in the sequence of Isaiah's prophecies, shown the type of contradiction between the increased nation and its decreased spirituality, its natural fads, faults and decline, and its supernatural opportunities. Focussed in the babe of Isaiah 9:6-7, these are offered to all, but not received by all, whether in Israel or elsewhere. 

There is as so often, on the one hand,  

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the lasting joy of the elect (Isaiah 51:11, 49:6, 52:1),
whose faith is resting in the "Rock of Israel," Isaiah 30:29,
and not of Israel alone (Isaiah 49:6, 30:29, 32:1-4, 28:16, 44:8),
in Him who is the truth;
 

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and on the other,  the superficial strength,
the actual shallowness of superficiality and unspirituality of disbelief,
which faces a very different outcome!

 

That ? It is for those who, whatever their base and basis, code and conduct, tradition and hope, will not place their trust in the Lord (cf. Isaiah 30:15-17, 53:1,3), according to His word, or their sins in His atoning work in His incarnate Word, the Messiah, Jesus Christ, for annulment of guilt. Rather are they refusing to look for His return and resurrection of the body (Hebrews 9:28 and  2:1-3),  their minds not ready for His shaping, that truth may become like a stream within, and peace like an atmosphere in love. Closely contrasted are these two groupings, again and again as in Isaiah 8-9, 26, John 3:15-19, Romans 5.  

Yet, in time for many, this restoration through redemption to reality will come even in Israel, and indeed come in a great measure (Isaiah 30:18-21, cf. Romans 11:12,25ff.). Meanwhile, the division continues, as in essence to the end, it will, when at last the light becomes too brilliant for bearing and the darkness the wound of desolation, for those who do not believe in Him where faith flames into place, in Him who is the Truth, incapable of replacement, alteration or equivocation.

 There is the light and the darkness; and what changes with the latter, and the body, as a nation, which emphatically and disparately DOES NOT! The topic being the light and the nation, the joy is NOT increased. So it is written.

This vast pit of division is seen in Isaiah 26:15:

 the beaming concept of the grown nation, immediately followed by the dire plight of the sinning nation.  

Here is exposed in fatal contrast,  the lost loneliness of those who yet have not found HIM and the weed-crop diversion apparent at the end, sown at the first! The appearance and the reality, these swiftly follow one another in 26:15-18 like night and day. The parade is precisely as in Isaiah 8:22 - 9:2. 

Then, once more without introduction, Isaiah 26:18 in its gloom,  most suddenly reaches total transformation, in 26:19-21. There we find a call to "My people," to those His own. In this phase and focus, we come first to this culmination in and for His elect,  triumphant in Christ only. Here in verse 19 is the physical finality of the bodily resurrection of the saints to come (Romans 8:30, I Corinthians 15:42ff.). This in turn is followed by the admonition to enter into the Rock to hide in 26:20-21, for safety; for now the Lord comes to exercise generic judgment on the earth. He then is the Rock for hiding indeed (Isaiah 32:1-4, 2:21), and the supervening source of spiritual life, as judgment flows out like consuming flames. 

Overall, then: The unspiritual, the ungodly, the merely cultural and natural, these may swell, runs the divine message, their traditions may accrue, they may exult; but their disaster is selectively redeemed to triumph only by the Lord who comes in person, as in Isaiah 7, 9, 12, 22, 26, 32, 35, 49-55. Indeed, it comes only only through specific faith in Him as the babe born to die in manhood, and to bring in His own resurrection, and that of those faithful to Him.

 It is a matter of continuing on, out of control, or else moving into His kingdom, through faith in Him whose actions are stated repeatedly, whose plan of salvation  is focussed the babe, through whom alone is blessing for blight to come. Without faith in THIS ONE (Isaiah 53:1,10), there is nothing for lasting joy, and indeed then disaster continues, to the uttermost, the two opposites, conjunction with Christ the Messiah and disjunction, in acrid contrast.  

This NATION! What is it at that time? (29:13-14, 30:8-13, 49:7), what sort of a spiritual relic had it become and would it, with chief spiritual symbols in abhorrent hands, with priestly matters in the chains of traditions, with politically expedient hereditary recipients of high priesthood, while noxious parties continued sparring,  both wrong, both inflamed and inflated!

No! The case is as it is written.  "You have increased the nation and NOT increased the joy!" Neither before nor in the time of Christ on earth is the whole nation changed. Its chastenings were to come!

Thus there is an intense NON-national stress. It is a nation increased in many things, in numbers, but not in joy. It is indeed in contrast to this only ostensibly pleasant and agreeable development of some new sort of significance that there is to come an acutely, a deeply and a definitively divine exhibition of the need of man, and its meeting, both. THIS, it is to be a delight above all! but not for all, for murder intervened, with the vast hinterland of political and ecclesiastical corruption so acutely envisaged and directly predicted from afar off (Psalms 2, 69, Isaiah 49:7, 50:4-8, Micah 5:1).

Hence we find as it is written in the Massoretic text:  

"You have increased the nation,
But not increased its joy:
They rejoice before You according to the joy of harvest,
As men rejoice when they divide the spoil."

 

IV)

Very well: it is in 9:3 the case that the nation is by no means to be glorified. E.J. Young, that so delightful defender of the faith, has nevertheless erred here (in his The Book of Isaiah Vol. 1), in speaking of the nation as here being made 'great' as in the Abrahamic covenant.

Alas this is not the day of its greatness, of which Isaiah speaks in Ch. 9, but of its shame. Nor is it to become a national centre in THIS way of the new covenant, simply adding Gentiles to the Jewish core. It is emphatically and demonstrably NOT this nation (as shown with such intense stress and drama in Isaiah 65:13-15) which is to be added to, but rather subtracted from, and this spiritually! A new name arises (Isaiah 62:3, 65:13-15). It is that of the Messiah (and of course 'messiah-ans, or Christians).

While Israel spiritually lies in abeyance as the showcase for God (as in Isaiah 43:21, Romans 11:7ff, 11:25ff.), others follow the light, just as many from AMONG those of Israel, were like a vast invasion of the realm of darkness, brandishing the gospel like a sword, so much better than the blood-thirsty scimitar which was to come, and is to go!

It is a remnant from among Israel then which is in view as in Isaiah 8:11-18, 53:10, 11:10-11. It is brought as often into focus here in Isaiah 9 also.

The greatness of the nation was clear with David and Solomon, and in handing on the covenantal writings filled with the prediction of Christ, an amazing marvel of provision which the LORD chose them to hand on (cf. Romans 9:4-30). As for the nation, its spiritual day following the Christ is yet to come (as in Romans 11, when much of it is regrafted back into its own old Olive Tree!). It is not however in Christ's day as the Lamb on earth that its greatness is seen, though with some of them, a new tabernacle is built, that is, the Christ is given (cf. SMR pp. 1109ff.) and by many followed (as in Isaiah 4:6, 32:1ff.). Here, in the day of the Lord's ministry directly on this earth, the nation is as one entity, divorced from glory. From this, some separating in spirit, indeed rejoice, and HOW GREAT is this, their rejoicing!

But as to the nation, it wanders off into categorical rejection. Indeed, WHO has believed our report, asks Isaiah at the outset, and to WHOM is the arm of the Lord REVEALED! Indeed, "we esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God and afflicted," in prophetic review.

Thus God had indeed, at this stage of the advent of the Messiah (around B.C. 4), increased the nation, but NOT increased the joy. This situation was set to continue and even intensify AS a nation, despite the great light, for a long time to come! and only then is the promise to come to pass for the nation, and that in two stages, geographically and then spiritually as specifically outlined in Ezekiel 37 (cf. SMR Appendix A, The Biblical Workman Ch. 1).

The restoration to joy for the nation has STILL to come as in Zechariah 12:10ff.. But it WILL come, in its day(Romans 11:25), at the right time,  and then indeed it will be applicable; but that is far off from the prophecy of Isaiah in Ch. 9.

V)

THEN, as Paul declares, there will be joy indeed; for, he writes as led of the Lord,


 THE FORCE OF 'FOR'

The term FOR is repeated in monumental grandeur in verses 4, 5 and 6, like one of the musicians filled with the desire for and delight in some phrase or melody, adorning it and repeating it, involving and intricately linking it here and there, leading to a climax of invention.

The music here is of great joy. Those whose eyes are enlightened by the light, being not shut as with so many (as Isaiah specifically prophesied, and was critically anointed to prophesy in 6:10ff, with such DISASTROUS consequences for the nation): and while this occurs individually, it is  indeed in considerable multitudes that they are awakened. These ? they have MANY reasons for this joy!

The parallels of harvest and spoil are invoked in Isaiah 9:4-5. It is indeed the ULTIMATE harvest, come after long awaiting: it is the MESSIAH! It is the ultimate treasure, GOD WITH US! It is what Ahaz (as shown so nearby in Isaiah 7) had missed through subtle spiritual obfuscations and diplomatic substitutes for spiritual truth, so failing to receive the blessing. In a sort of spiritual regicide, or suicide, Instead of finding his own place in the preliminaries to the Messiah, and securing blessing for his generation in some further preliminary ways,  in the power of Him who would come, indeed finding deliverances immeasurable (as in 7:11), he acted with such spiritual chicanery that it was as if he wearied God (v. 13). What a king!

"Hear now, O house of David!" the Lord responded.

"Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will you weary my God also ?"

The coming of the Messiah was therefore and thereupon given as a sign to a generation closed to the glory! It would come, when He was ready (Isaiah 7:14ff. cf. SMR pp. 770ff.).

NOW in Isaiah  9, we are seeing what happens when He does come. How long, some 700 years since Ahaz, has been the waiting! How good therefore at last (Galatians 4:4, Daniel 9), is the coming. Moreover, it is to be very glorious for those who receive Him. Why ? It is going to have short-term and long-term effects. In the short-term, He is to be a shadow of a mighty rock, as in the long term (Isaiah 32, and 4:6) this and more, a splendid Majesty ruling on this earth for a period of vindication and decisive divine operation, so that it will be filled with the glory of God as the waters cover the sea (Habakkuk 2:14 and cf. Millenium in Indexes).

Now, He is to be a Temple. Indeed as in Isaiah 53, He came to become a High Priest and to offer Himself as the victim, the sacrifice, and to pray for those who so made Him. In this phase and style,  there is to be such a rejection that it will be that He is as a nail cut off, or a stone inscribed with the sin which enables the just procurement of pardon  (Isaiah 22:23, Zechariah 3:9); and this is specified in detail in Isaiah 53. But as to the image in Isaiah 22, WHO cuts ? It is the nation of Israel who does this. While His fall is the arising of many, the fall is in the short term, tragic, indeed calamitous for Israel. To those who believe the report of Christ as God on earth, there is indeed joy; but to the nation, the nadir, the denial, for any joy was short-lived as the schemers moved and the people were sedated into sinfulness, and then aroused into storms of evil. Certainly NOT increased is the joy for THAT entity. The AV indeed does a good job in preserving the Massoretic text here. Praise the Lord for their stability in the matter.

As Christ put it (Luke 23:28ff.), if in the green tree they do this to HIM, what will be the state of the art, of the world, the character of the situation when the Age ends! That, it is coming and it is nearly here. It is not so delightful to anticipate as was His coming; but for His own people, it is a just joy and a delightful prospect. Blessed are those who eagerly expect His return, as Hebrews 9:28 expressly declares!

No, though this be so, it was far from a pleasant prospect for the nation of Israel as it set about His crucifixion with all the preliminary trimmings (as in Luke 11:53-4 for example). It was hardly a glorious time for them; though their time will come. In the meantime, it is a glorious time for those among Israel and elsewhere (Isaiah 49:6) who have eyes for the LORD, above all as leader of life and Saviour of the soul (Isaiah 54); though in His own timing and sequence, He is indeed to be bringing deliverance to Israel, most notably in spirit (Isaiah 66), but yes, in national entity relationship as well (Micah 4, Isaiah 2).

That however ? Only after a most painful interlude! A tragic time is to intervene (Isaiah 49:7). and a chaste one is to resume (Isaiah 19:24). ONLY GOD will get glory in that day (Isaiah 2:17 - cf. the end of Age indices in Isaiah 24).

But what! It is joy indeed to the remnant, to the residue*2, to the elect of Israel when the Messiah comes, born of a virgin, exhibiting the Father, the Mighty God, the Counsellor. What joy, what nectar, what wisdom, what wit, what imagination, what knowledge, what power to speak, to penetrate, to deliver, to heal, to pardon, to act. The YOKE is to be broken, and is it not the same yoke as in Isaiah 61, part of which was quoted by Christ Himself at Nazareth (Luke 4)!

"The Spirit of the LORD God is upon Me,
Because the LORD has anointed Me
To preach the good tidings to the poor:
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD,
And the day of vengeance of our God,
To comfort all who mourn,
To console those who mourn in Zion,
To give them beauty for ashes,
The oil of joy for mourning,
The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness:
That they may be called trees of righteousness,
The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified."

 

It is a spiritual joy as in Isaiah 61:10:

"I will greatly rejoice in the LORD,
My soul shall be joyful in my God,
For He has clothed me with he garments of salvation,
He has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
As a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments,
And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels."

It is "righteousness and praise" which are to appear before the nations!

It is however not a case of competition. All elements occur in their time. The spiritual is assuredly as always, primary; but the details of the word of God, in the world which He made, these also are spiritually relevant. This emphasis*2 includes such non-details as covenantal faithfulness, on the part of Him whose name is "faithful and true" (Rev. 19:11). To do and to to fulfil is to attest His own reliability (cf. Ezekiel 36-37). Thus the little points to the great, and the conscientious to the incomparability of His faithfulness.

The point remains: it is all to happen, but all in its time as Romans 11 makes so nobly clear (cf. The Biblical Workman Chs. 1, *3,  and 3, *1).

 

I7)

Isaiah 9:6-7 with 7:14

§For to us a child is born,
To us a Son is given;
And the government shall be upon His shoulder.
And His name shall be called
Wonderful, Counsellor,
Mighty God, Everlasting Father,
Prince of Peace.

 

"Of the increase of His government and peace,
There is no end.
Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom,
To order and establish it
with judgment and justice
From that time forward, ever for ever.
The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this

We turn then to ISAIAH 9:6-7.

We find that the sort of transformation to be effected through this now much focussed CHILD is to be characterisable by relief from oppression of heart, light for the soul, stimulus to the mind, the occasion of immense, intense rejoicing. In Isaiah 61, we find it is to involve "beauty for ashes" and deliverance from "prison", but in its rejection, destruction. It is to be like the Jewish JUBILEE period (cf. Leviticus 25), only spiritually, for then debtors could be loosed, but now spiritual indebtedness to God is covered, pardon is presented to faith through redemption (as in Isaiah 52-53), and it is FREE (Isaiah 55), without price or money.

The reason for this is noted in Isaiah 9:6. It is a concern of a CHILD BEING BORN. It is a matter of a spiritual scion, indeed God with us, as in Psalm 45, where the throne concerned is statedly the very throne of God (cf. Hebrews 1:8). THIS is the nature of this CHILD. Small wonder it is to be born in spectacular disregard of ordinary nature from a virgin, a simple girl, for the Father is none other than GOD.

Thus we find that there is immense focus on the NAME of this child. In the Old Testament, names indeed tend to do something modern science does: provide a CHARACTERISATION of that to which they refer. They can act almost as if definitive tags.

The name then, as for the case of the prophet's own child which we noticed,
is of signal importance. We have seen the name of judgment to come, so what of this one ?

First, it is apparent that it is a regal personage, for "the government shall be upon His shoulder". No cabinet is involved; the power and the right is HIS OWN.

What then will be the name by which He is to be called ?

With due reference and respect to the miraculously announced birth to come of Samson, it is the very word which was used by the angel of the Lord when he spoke of Samson's miraculous power and amazing conception, to Manoah (Judges 13). What is YOUR NAME ? asked Manoah of the angel. Why ask, since it is WONDERFUL ? replied the angel.

This then is a designation for the Lord, as implied likewise in Psalm 72:18, which is the very psalm (Messianic) in which the redemption BY the promised descendant of David, and His mercy, kindness and compassion, combined with regal rule, is displayed as on a screen!

"HIS name shall endure for ever,
His name shall continue as long as the sun,
and men shall be blessed in Him"
 
(as in the promise to Abraham, of Genesis 12).
His shall be "dominion also from sea to sea",
"yes, all kings shall fall down before Him;

All nations shall serve Him."

This then is the ONE.

His name shall be called WONDERFUL, but also COUNSELLOR.

 own earth and future and hope (cf. Romans 1:17ff.).

Thus in Isaiah 40:13--23), we see the Lord on earth as the Shepherd, the One of whom the messengers are to say: "Behold your God!" (cf. Ezekiel 34, where the Lord promised to come personally as the Good Shepherd, cf. John 10).

Though man spoils the world, by contrast, the counsel of the Lord is to be focussed, featured and dispensed categorically through this CHILD. Thus in Isaiah 11, in its Messianic profile, we find this:


"The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him,
The Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
The Spirit of counsel and might,
The Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord...
He shall not judge by the sight of His eyes,
Nor decide by the hearing of His ears,
But with righteousness he shall judge the poor,
And decide with equity for the meek of the earth."

Indeed, "He shall strike the earth with the rod of His mouth," just as the Lord invoked the world into existence by His mouth, His speech, His word in the first place (as in Genesis 1), a fact  so abundantly verified in the intense use of conceptual symbols and commands in creation, to an enormous extent (cf. SMR Ch. 2, That Magnificent Rock Ch.1.

In fact (as in Isaiah 10:21 where the Mighty God is shown to be the LORD GOD ALMIGHTY*1), He is to be named likewise "the Mighty God". This is not surprising in the least, in view of Zechariah 12:10, where His death is accounted by the Lord as a death of Himself in human form, and Psalm 45, where His throne is that of deity; as of the fact that the birth via a virgin is to be so extraordinary a thing, while the name "God with us" already implies the cause of this phenomenon. Thus was God the Creator, bypassing the human mode of reproduction, directly causing His Son to be made from and in the maid (as in Luke 1:35, Matthew 1:20-23). Yes, as the angel told Mary, it was a case of this, "He shall save His people from their sins."

A look at Isaiah 52-53, that great repository of the Gospel some 700 years before the coming of the King, the Counsellor, the Prince of Peace (another of His titles in Isaiah 9), shows that this is precisely what He is to do. NONE among those of Israel could BEGIN to supply this need (as in Isaiah 41:26-29). Yet by brilliant and total contrast,  the One to be effectual for the underlying and basic needs of His people would be not merely the adequate; not only would He DO, while none other would or could as Isaiah pronounces it so long ago: HIS life would be the one in whom the Father DELIGHTED; and HE would constitute HIS CHOSEN vessel, who would bring forth justice to victory, bearing with the slow, the infirm, the inadequate with masterly grace, patience and profound spiritual power (Isaiah 42:1ff.).

The "everlasting Father" is the next name accorded to Him in Isaiah 9. Since the throne of God is His, this is not new. However it IS singular to have the SON called the Father! It is less so when you realise that biologically speaking, there is no gender in heaven (Matthew 22:22-33). Hence precisely as announced in Luke 1:35, this son would be CALLED the Son of God BECAUSE of the overshadowing, generative work of the Holy Spirit. Always going forth with and from His Father (as the One whom He expresses with definitive perfection, spiritually - as in Hebrews 1, Micah 5:1-3), always that wisdom of God (as in Proverbs 8, I Corinthians 1:30 cf. Barbs, Arrows and Balms 28), the One sent AS God by GOD (Isaiah 48:16), it is He who can say (as He did), "He who has seen Me has seen the Father." THAT would have been virtually insane blasphemy if He had 1) had any sin 2) been less than deity 3) been other than the Word of God, His precise and definitive expression in the format of flesh, as a man to man (Hebrews 1, John 16:28, 8:42, 6:62, 3:13).

Thus, as of the status and stature of God (as in Philippians 2 where His form WAS that of God, which naturally no non-infinite being could comprehend, far less BE, so that equality with God was not something to be regarded as a gain), His lens to the Father qualifies HIM as able to bear such a title. Thus there is little so monumentally plain, in telling us humans NOT to imagine there is any barrier between us and God, when we belong to Christ the Lord and Saviour; for in Him, we are ALREADY THERE!

His name ? It has also this staccato exultation: "the Prince of peace". Not ANY prince of peace is He, but for peace, HE IS THE PRINCE. It is His and at His donation, it comes and stays (John 14:27).

By this stage we find that the "government shall be upon His shoulder" ( Isaiah 9:6), is paralleled by this, that "Of the increase of His government and peace, there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom" 9:7), and indeed, that this will be "to order it and to establish it with judgment and justice."

As befits an eternal Person, there is no terminus, for it is to be: "From that time forward, even forever", and God commits Himself to this display, doctrine and rule, in this way: "The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this."

No Ahazes could finally defer it, no Manassehs defile. God Himself (as in Ezekiel 34's explicit promise) would do it, even Himself, even to the death (Hosea 13:14). His determination is absolutely stressed in all this. For such a thing as to bear the sins which He abhors, in the Person He loved, for the sake of sinners, it is little wonder... The wonder is that He did it! That is ONE of the reasons why He is called, Wonderful. He IS.

 
 

III

ASSAULTS ON THE VERSES,
CO-ORDINATE WITH THAT ON CHRIST IN ISAIAH 53

COMEDY HAS ITS PLACE: IT IS NOT HERE

This Son is not only wonderful, as the Lord. He is intensely rejected by many, and no small abhorrence was it predicted to be, which gripped the nation (Isaiah 49:7). ABHOR is not too strong a word from the divine vocabulary. They killed Him (as in Psalm 22 also).

This rejection is a syndrome more prominent than any other disease on earth (cf. SMR Index, Rejection Syndrome).

Hence we find that this verse is attacked with a special relish. Efforts are made to demolish it, like an enemy division!

One such effort would have us take it to read,

The occasion, His birth, the results, utterly transformative for this whole earth, the name to accompany this occasion, focussed on this wonder as He on His vast functions through His calling and sending, leave this name rushing upwards and up, as if never to stop. Even the eminence of the Everlasting Father is not a thing to be contested, but as His are all that the Father has, so is His name of such an eminence as that, in its resurgences.

The deity of Christ is a natural for what hates God, since it presents Him in the cherishing love, crescendos of mercy and magnificence of self-humbling, even to self-sacrifice in the fleshly format, that is so irresistible to reason, and to what is not a contestant, without base or hope. One expositor of this passage of Isaiah 9:5-6, had this rendering to present.

"For to us a Child is born, a Son is given:
And the government shall be upon His shoulder,
And His name shall be called 'A wonderful thing is counselling the Mighty God, the everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government....' and so on. That of course is a ridiculously dysfunctional name, called by one commentator sesquipedalian, that is, like one and a half beats instead of just one.

This, like the crucifixion, cannot stick. Let us resurrect the fact. Let us look at the text, actually!

WHO is to have the government upon His shoulder ? The CHILD. WHOSE is to be the increase of government without end ? The CHILD.  As WHAT is He to have such an increase ? As the PRINCE OF PEACE, so using His shoulder. What then is the meaning of the last of the titles in its end context ? This: 'Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government'. In other words, the context forces us to use the last of the NAMES with the succeeding context. This is for a Davidic Messiah on the throne as promised from II Samuel on, and manifested in detail in Psalm 72, Isaiah 11.

Thus the last name is that of a Person who is to fulfil the Messianic role, and have an eternal rule over the hearts and lives of His people (Isaiah 9:7). It is however impossible, going backwards, towards verse 6 above, to remove from this train, the preceding names. If it is the Prince of Peace who has this property and propriety, then it is true no less of the Everlasting Father, the Mighty God. These things are His cognomens, His characterisation. They cannot be removed.

It is of HIS kingdom there is no end, with peace eternal (Isaiah 9:7); and it is accordingly HIS NAME which is "prince of peace" (9:6), and for that matter, "the mighty God", as we there read, in perfect harmony with Psalm 45, and Hebrews 1:8, Philippians 2. The PRINCE OF PEACE designation requires the preceding names to be its company. The couples, or the sententious series in this name refrain are undivorceable, and this not only because if this were not so,   it would be peremptory, arbitrary and intrusive, as if to presume some lapse in divine concentration, some carelessness in composition, some abstruse and unevidenced complexity of speech. 

They are undivorceable likewise because it is a person who is promoted, exposed and exhibited, who though a child in coming, is yet ‘Everlasting Father’, for that Father is to perfection exposed by Him, and moves by and through and with Him (cf. John 14, Isaiah 48:15ff.). It is not per se a statement about the Father, but about the Son, His dealings and His advent, His Kingdom and His power, His future and His qualities.

The Father  and the Son are not  speaking as one Being, as in the mistranslation, but God is  speaking  about Father and Son, in terms of the name of the Son,  followed by the works of the Son (Isaiah 9:7), and showing the total manifestation of the Father inherent in the Son, transmitted in human  form, as appropriate, and to be manifested in the Son's rule of the eternal kingdom,.

What then ? There  is no confusion  except in the mistranslation, abortive, intrusive, eisgetical, irrational. This would leave this this assault, this time not on the body of the Lord but on the body of the book, as follows: "And His name will be called a Wonderful Thing is Counselling the Mighty God, the everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government ... upon the throne of David."

As at a great natural wonder, we regard this supernatural  verbal-historical one. It is the Prince of Peace - with an everlasting Kingdom - which His name is to be called, and His power is to continue as in the thrust of Isaiah 9:6-7. The five great verbal columns of His name are both  inseparable from each other and the last one, which refers to a human being on a throne, which has just been named, that of David. As the Prince of Peace has eternal rule, so the names conjoined to that in parallel with its force, position and ascription, are of the dignity of deity, yet gifted to One in the form of a man incarnate: God Almighty Everlasting Father. As to the latter, as Christ pointed out, He who has seen Him has seen the Father also, for all that the Father has, is His (John  14-16).

It is there, in Isaiah 9:6-7, that the Messiah is in focus, His works in view, His name announced with accolade, deposited in profusion. THAT, it is no scope and position for the Father to take, post to fulfil, become as in this false translation, but for the gift, the sacrifice, the ruler to come. It is  for Him,  both Son and Lord as God incarnate,  of  David to bring the glory of God to the earth (Psalm 110, Matthew 22:44). Is the Father to be counselling AS the Son ? No, the word of God instructs us concerning their relationship and actions. Why indulge in comedy! That would mean that the everlasting Father would be on the throne of David, in terms of this parade of spiritual squalor in the false translation...

Ponder anew. THAT, it is no name for the Father, as distinctive speaker, but for the Son as centre here of attention, Him whose kingdom shall know no end (Isaiah 9:7): for how would it be a specific for the Father when it is specialised in the precise person of the Son in this way! The Son may be (and is) elevated to this level, but the Father is NOT made to act in the specific actuality of the Son, becoming a Son of David. It would be simply untrue as well as unwieldy and dispersive of what is joined together in spirit, results and context.

Consider it historically in the Isaiah 7 setting. Names may be stacked, but persons do not act as BEING one another. Is the Father to be the son of David, sitting on the throne of David ? How far must confusion go ? as far as with Ahaz, who simply WOULD NOT ACCEPT plain dealing and unambiguous blessing from God, and who dared to pretend reason backed him, while false humility helped him to ruin his people by trifling with God. It was as if he were some magical modern theologian, inventing gods that are not there, and fittingly enough, failing to worship the gods he makes to the extent worshi9p of one's own  creations can be more onerous than attractive, as well as most irrational.

In sum: It is not ONE Person exposed as taking upon Himself  the name of ANOTHER, as mistranslation would have it, and as if it were the Everlasting Father BEING the Prince of peace, and so coming to take office on earth Himself! It is rationally rather ONE NAME for ONE PERSON, concerning the Son only as recipient, one who has the infinite criteria of deity. It  is He who as Saviour and Son, possessing all the Father has (John 16:15), is thus having His deity displayed in exaltation. It is just ONE Person who on His birthday on earth, as a babe, is being given vastly important names, piled up even to the height of the Father, for discernment and realisation, just as Christ gently exposed the reality, so that faith m ight have its object at hand, believed in heart,  in John 14:7-11.

Thus the virgin does indeed beget GOD WITH US. It is not a confused medley of two persons, but a simple donation of One of incalculable eminence whom God so designates, just as in Psalm 45. It is the eternal Word translated through the virgin to the virtue of office, God as man to deliver man.

But let us question. What then could be both "everlasting Father" and "Prince of peace", as a man? nothing could have both except an incarnation, express and unique, categorical and complete, depictive and declarative of God without essential diminution... indeed, without being such as Paul describes in Colossians 2:9 as a matter of fact - "in Him was the fulness of the Godhead in bodily form." Despite irrational efforts, this remains what is taught, wriggle as any  may.

For this incarnation, then, the context of Isaiah more broadly asks, as indeed does that of the prophets; and Isaiah 7 gives the medium. This is met by the young damsel, the virgin it is, the one without whom genuine incarnation could not occur: the incarnation which is so often assumed, but now as in Jeremiah and in Micah 5:1-3, is spoken of in more terrestrial terms. This is how and through whom the Christ of the Psalms and the prophets (Psalm 40 tells us that a body is to be gained by the One who is to dispense with sacrifices), is to gain that body, which as man on earth He would need to have. Not through a splendid creation of a new frame without man; but through woman will this Messiah come. This Immanuel is the crux.

 

Let us then pursue this parallel to Isaiah 9, since Isaiah 7 and 9 are like twins here.

Hence THE virgin is announced with the clarity of mid-day sun overhead in the open fields; the virgin whose offspring had been so long predicted, the seed on its female side, of woman, whose heel would be bruised in crushing the serpent's head (Genesis 3:15). There is exactly no other specific for the "THE" which signalises, except the signal given, which is  'God with us', through the medium of the one chosen to bear His incarnate form.

Let us move further. There is then simply no other option but something like Jeremiah's "new thing" (31:22) and at that, a new thing in the world. What was that? "A woman shall encompass a man!" This is in the context of a change from catastrophe and calamity, in the midst of tender and solicitous divine love and appeal, leading to incalculable blessing. The term 'encompass' is, as Harris and Archer point out in their Theological Word Book of the Old Testament, related to concepts of damming, shutting up, encircling, being shut up to something so that it is all around you, as to God's will for our life. The totality of word and context indicates categorically a human prodigy of divine basis which is transformative of malignancy to benignancy, in the love of a tender and seeking Father.

This therefore  is precisely what we find in Isaiah 7, with the differences noted, and this we discover in particular: that this blessing is delivered to unbelief; for the day of its coming is by the sovereign will of God. It fits magnificently with Isaiah 9, the whole gamut of revelation here dealing with the staggering in kind and in implication.

Thus Jeremiah adds to the total context also, despite great and intimate similarities between these contexts. In this case, the new covenant is spelt out (Jeremiah 31:31), seen alike with Jeremiah 31:22 as a new thing, in all its transformative, and inward wonder; and as a procedure for a new inward thing for all who receive Him. We are in the same transformative, infinitely sacred and vastly significant arena. The vistas merge both in content and uniqueness, in preliminaries and in results. As in the Isaiah 7 case, we marvel at the human vehicle in its providing certain convenient bounds to so amazing a result as this prince; in Jeremiah we wonder at the exclusion of the human male partner.

One deals with the inclusion of deity via roll call and result; the other with the exclusion of the human male, by method. Both share the consequences, the need and the prodigious character of the stakes, significance and wonder involved, with the intense blessing to come to those over whom this incarnate Sovereign will rule in peace with hearts who know this peace (Jeremiah 31:33-34, Isaiah 9:7).

In all this is this transcendent wonder and absolute novelty, the key, the king, the incarnate One, the penetration of God in Person into this realm, with uncontainable results.

In Isaiah 7, in particular, it is to be something so categorically different, celestially filled with initiative that even among signs it will have an initiative and wonder that will stagger. So it does and that is both the demonstration and verification. In Isaiah 9 the names themselves in their undivorceable integrity create precisely that duet: it is God who arrives, it is wonder He provides. Yes, the prophecy means just what it says: not in a common way, but in a unique and celestial way, which God only could do, there will be a sign among signs, reaching as we see in the outcome - up, upwards, as Isaiah offered to Ahaz in the sign available, yes up to God Himself and coming down to earth from God Himself, in a way that will spell categorical, absolute, spiritual and effective deliverance. This is what was offered to and missed through deviousness by what is here the anti-opportunistic, unbelieving, devious-seeming Ahaz (Isaiah 7:11).

The splendour of this thing in 7, as in 9, is illimitable, boundless, incomparable: those are its criteria, this is the offer to Ahab.  And to this ? To this in the case of Isaiah 7, the king relates his negative to a divine offer in terms of a specious humility; a reckless, feckless word slips out, and he remains Ahab, the self-dumper, also peril to the nation!

Small wonder it is deemed a weariness (Isaiah 7:13) to the sparkling glory of the practical and performing divine love, to encounter this jesuitical (to allow the anachronism for the sake of the spirit of the thing, which matches to perfection) substitute for faith, on the part of Ahaz.

Thus there is simply no other meaning but that given by Matthew in rendering the prophecy. A young damsel is to be with child, without marriage and with morals. A donation of deity is to occur, as Isaiah 9:6 and Micah 5:1-3 make so clear, as does indeed Isaiah 48:16, in human format.

Similarly there is no other way to take Isaiah 9:6-7, not one member of the Trinity, becoming incarnate as Son, being called BY the Father, Everlasting Father; but one member of the Trinity in focus at His birthday, being given a name of such eminence as befits Him: for this is His name, and this is what He is to be called.

 

ANOTHER INEFFECTUAL ASSAULT ON THE TEXT

There is a second attack which deserves a brief reference. Jewish commentators, perhaps distressed by the result of rejecting the ONLY SAVIOUR (Isaiah 43:10-11), who is God and who is THIS CHILD (Isaiah 52-53), who by His knowledge shall justify many, and who shall bear their iniquities, have in effect acted as if to secure another invasion of the text. It is,  if possible, one even more ephemeral and manipulative and what is actually written. What is WRITTEN in Hebrew order, is this:

FOR A CHILD IS BORN TO US, A SON IS GIVEN TO US, AND  WILL BE THE GOVERNMENT UPON HIS SHOULDER, AND IS CALLED HIS NAME WONDERFUL, COUNSELLOR ETC..

How people under pressure can be ... pressurised into unwisdom! Thus the Targum suggestion is this:

"The God who is called and who is Wonder, Counsellor, the mighty God, the eternal Father, calls his name the Prince of Peace..." (Delitzsch, on Isaiah, p. 248).

As to the actual text (red print above), there is nothing unusual in principle about specifying the verb and then putting the all important word NAME right next to what the name in fact is, as you can see in the red print is what is in fact done in Isaiah. Nor is it unusual for emphasis to put the verb "will be" before the thing about to be revealed. We also can use inversion for emphasis.

Why the Targum should add "the God" and why they should transpose to the distance, "His name" way off to "PRINCE OF PEACE" when in fact it is next to "WONDERFUL", and so transpose what is statedly the 'name', put right next to the same, so that this irrelevant, intrusive, unwritten reference to the Father is forced in, like a carrot mark with text above, in defiance of the textual order and array, is a very interesting question! THAT it is wholly impossible, and not merely richly implausible follows from the simple fact that the word of God has to be taken as it comes, not where it is placed (Proverbs 30:6). That is precisely the work of tradition, as so perilous in Romanism, so that what is given is not what is gained! (cf. Mark 7:7). As the profoundly scholarly Delitzsch justly remarks of this particular effort by some Jews, "this rendering evidently tears asunder things that are closely connected".

Proverbs 30:6 condemns such gross additive fiddling with the word of God. Why not add a zero to a cheque figure, after all, for is it not a thing of nothing! EVERYTHING matters in an investigation, the more so of the word of the living God, and to intrude is to obtrude, to add is to be listed in the hall of infamy, of specified rebuke from God as in Proverbs 30.

IN THE END, when the text states clearly that this Messianic event is a prodigious coming, a transforming work of revelatory magnificence, is light in pitch darkness, joy in anguish, then the name being announced has portent.   We expect to find what IT IS, with some expectation and excitement just after it is stated that "IS CALLED HIS NAME". To suppress the name in view of this impelling and obvious feature is mere obscurantism. It also leads to dispersion, disruption, collision and mangle, absurdity.

But that, it is precisely what happens when the Lord Jesus Christ,  God Himself (as in Psalm 45, Zechariah 12:10, Psalm 2, Isaiah 43:10-11, 52-53, Micah 5:1-3, Isaiah 48:16, Zechariah 6:14, 3:9, 2:8, Isaiah 52-53 with 43:10-11, Psalm 72 with its redemption and with Hosea 13:14) comes into sight. He is nearly dropped over a cliff in Nazareth, His sweet place of youth, and dropped on a cross into the soil, perhaps jolted in the process, as a combined reaction and feed-back from the Jews of priestly dimensions and from the Romans, in the Governor. The Messiah (until His return shortly, Luke 21:24),  is always heavily ABUSED, REJECTED (cf. Isaiah 49:7, 53:3-4, John 16:2, Matthew 10:24-25, John 15:20), and many of those who seem to receive Him, deceive themselves, following Rome or New Age or other name changes which merely disperse and disrupt, precisely the treatment accorded the text  (cf. SMR pp. 864ff.).

In THIS case however, though the option is as brutal to the words as His assassins were to His body, it does not stand. It is error demonstrable, eisegetical and intrusive.

 

18) Isaiah 13:12

This text, in the NKJV has "mortal man" as that which is precious. However the Hebrew does not necessarily have this translation, and it does not satisfy all the components of the broader context. It is more "human" in the sense of mankind, on which the focus is made. The term "rare" again, has a strong connotation of "precious" as in the KJV translation of this passage. The word "man" on the next line is also one which has the sense of a son of man, of mankind, sons of Adam. It could be translated less intrusively by putting it:

§'I will make a human more precious than find gold,
a man more than the golden wedge..'

Now in Isaiah 28:6 we find this same word "precious" use of the great foundation stone, and that is of great contextual significance both as to language used and meaning in view (cf. Isaiah 11:2-4, 12:2, 40:10, 41:29-42:1, 49:6). Is it not the small valuing of HIM (Zechariah 11:12-13) at 30 pieces of silver, who is THE LORD \ the speaker there, which brings in the trouble to the uttermost? GOD is NOT mocked!

The sense here would appear NOT to be, that you will not find a man, except most rarely - for there appear numbers of them; but that a MAN a HUMAN, a member of this race as to form at least, will be precious, will be incarnation of God, will be rendered vulnerable, will be available. In view of what elsewhere in this book of Isaiah is shown of the infamous treatment accorded this precious cornerstone (as Isaiah 28:16 calls Him), there will indeed be a "shaking of the heaven", as the very next verse in Isaiah 13 tells us.

As Hebrews 12:25-28 puts it,

"For if they did not escape, who refused Him who spoke on earth,
much more shall we not escape if we turn away form Him who speaks from heaven "

It is only in the precious human, seeminglyl so weak, that the Lord is going to show mercy to Jacob (as in Isaiah 14:1, and persistently in Isaiah 22:24-25, 32, 40, 42, 49). It is one who comes as in Isaiah 9, prince of peace, who set amid all the turmoil of judgment, being precious, brings mercy.

 

 19) Isaiah 23:13

This is a wholly fascinating piece of lyrical drama, flaming with judgment, ripe with message, incandescent with glory.

As E. J. Young points out in his work, “The Book of Isaiah,” Vol.  2,  the ‘towers’ may be those of Tyre’s making or those of an enemy, assault towers. The context must show it. Again, the AV and NKJV ‘raised’ is better razed, or laid bare, as Young indicates, adducing the nearby Isaiah 32:11: this is contrary to both the AV and the NKJV but appears the common rendering, and for good reason. The translation appears, then, from this and in view of Delitzsch’s contribution (Commentary on the Old Testament – Isaiah Vol. 1), to be as follows: Behold the land of the Chaldeans:

§This people which was not,

Assyria founded it for wild beasts of the desert.

They set up its towers,

They laid bare its palaces,

He brought it to ruin.

The NJKV appears particularly misleading here, actually adding in italics an ‘and’ which assuredly is not in the text, but which, in the setting the translators here provide, appears to imply a plural subject: for those preceding the ‘and’ inserted, are plural. This however is not the case.  As a basic datum one needs to know, it is singular. Italics should reveal the underlying next, but this does not do so.

What then is the sense ? It seems that the Lord, in full parallel to the whole chapter 14, is denigrating the lofty and presumptuous oppressors and haughty imperial magnates who multiply their own praise and significance. Thus though Babylon indeed is to assault Tyre and flout its glory, yet it is the LORD who will bring about Tyre’s desolation! It is HE who will bring it to ruin. Indeed, in the day of Alexander the Great this unqualified ruin, this utter ravishing occurred, when that conqueror took the stones from the coastal city of Tyre, in order to construct WITH THEM as building materials, a causeway THROUGH THE SEA thus allowing the conquest of the Tyrian State, removed in flight to the island adjoining.

Thus as Young appears to have in mind, it is from a series moving from a desert people, the Assyrians, that Babylon itself came to be.

Indeed, it is from such a non-glamorous base that assault comes, on the splendour of Tyre in its presumption. The point indeed is that it is the LAND of the Chaldeans, Babylon, which is statedly in view as a battering platform for Tyre, one that Assyria held and now Babylon; but even so, it is God who in the end did the final job on Tyre (through Alexander, in fact, later).

20)

Isaiah 26:19

§ Your dead shall live;
My dead body shall they arise.
Awake and sing, you who dwell in the dust,
For your dew is the dew of herbs,
And the earth shall cast out her dead.

The assertion is clear. It is as the dead body of the speaker, who of course is the LORD, that the people are to arise in the end of the Age. This is quite physical. They are seen as those who 'dwell in the dust'. "The earth shall cast out her dead!" Daniel presents precisely the same message in Daniel 12 at the end of the long-drawn out Age, before the coming of the King in His glory. The DATE (SMR pp. 886ff.) of the DEATH of the Messiah is presented on the one hand by Daniel 9, and the FATE of the unfaithful who reject the Messiah in Daniel 12, but that dulness of doom has this blessed addition. That ? It is the RESURRECTION to glory of those who are His! (Daniel 12:2, Isaiah 26:19).

This, then, in Isaiah 26:19, it is an end of the Age phenomenon. In fact, since Ch. 24 Isaiah has been dealing not a little with this phase of things. There has been a huge dynamic which deserves our attention now. It is not merely the END as in Isaiah 2, Micah 4, but something of the dynamics which concern it which are here revealed. So does Isaiah 24-29 provide a vast canvass, in parallel to the later developments of detail in 40-66, installing the buttresses of understanding for that latter end, in the initial phases of his predictions. The interplay is intense and immense, and the themes and dynamics move like flitting swallows, now here, now there, throughout this closely structured book, taking us with it like flight in the emigratory pattern of birds, until we nest down at the end, ecstatically content with our new place of settling, of understanding. Isaiah 24:16 is one of the mordant exposures on the way to the fuller presentation in Isaiah 50-53, while 24:19-23 deals with the judgment on the globe and the Lord's rule to come.

 

21)

Isaiah 33:6

§"Wisdom and knowledge will be the stability of your times,
And strength of salvation.
The fear of the Lord is his treasure"

Confessedly, this is one of the more difficult verses to translate. Both possibilities have much to commend them, and both interpretations are completely truth in themselves.

Our task however in approaching the scriptures in which God the Lord has reposed His word and revealed His will is not to have an uncertainty, as an aim, but to find what He means. It is as wrong to be brash in superficial opinionativeness, as to be lax as if there were no answer.

Thus Proverbs 8:8-9 has this incitement and invitation alike:

"All the words of my mouth are with righteousness;
Nothing crooked or perverse is in them.
They are all plain to him who understands,
And right to those who find knowledge."
 

Let us then seek the meaning in this verse, whether it be: 

I)  "Wisdom and knowledge will be the stability of your times,
And the strength of salvation.
The fear of the Lord is his treasure"

or

2) "Wisdom and knowledge will be the stability of your times,
And the strength of salvation.
The fear of the Lord is His treasure"
 

The difference, as far as English translation is concerned, lies in the capitalisation of one letter, the "h" of "his"!

Matthew Poole in his remarkable commentary is of the view that translation 1) above  is correct: that is, that it is not "the fear of the Lord is His treasure" as in the NKJV, as if the One who is here said to treasure it, is the LORD; but shows that it is the one who fears the Lord to whom it is a treasure.

In immediate resonance with such a theme of course is Psalm 119:35-36:

"Make me walk in the path of Your commandments,
For I delight in it.
Incline my heart to Your testimonies,
  And not to covetousness."
 

in association with vv. 47-48

"And I will delight myself in Your commandments,
Which I love.
My hands also I will lift up to Your commandments,
Which I love,
 And I will meditate on Your statutes."

and with vv. 69-72

"The proud have forged a lie against me,
But I will keep Your precepts with my whole heart.
Their heart is as fat as grease,
But I delight in Your law.
 

"It is good for me that I have been afflicted,
That I may learn Your statutes.
The law of Your mouth is better to me
Than thousands of coins of gold and silver..."
 

It also tolls like a bell in carillon association with Psalm  

"The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul;
The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple;
The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart;
The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes;
The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever;
The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than gold,
Yea, than much fine gold;
Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.
 

"Moreover by them Your servant is warned,
  And in keeping them there is great reward."

In this last, you see the sense of treasure, no less than in the reference to its being  more desirable than gold, sweeter than honeycomb, as well as in the relationship of the human soul to what God says, in this, that it is a clean  'fear' or awesome reverence. And why ? it is not least because it is a PURE commandment which enlightens the eye. What more of treasure then is in view! It is the very written word of the Lord whose living word has all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Colossians 2:9), and this word is an avenue of access, a call, an invitation and a place of empowerment in understanding, for it leads to Him to whom, from whom and for whom are all things, whether judgment or mercy, boon or blight. To know Him is beyond all blight, and past all discipline is the end of the matter, to know God as one's knows a friend, but more intimately and with total consummation of what one is made for, in Him who made in the first place!

Again, in Psalm 119:69-72, so great is the delight in the way, will, word and precepts of the Lord that though a lie be forged against his righteous zeal and path, though enticement or repudiation set in like black or acid rain, yet the law of God is better than thousands of gold and silver; and what is more, even the refinement of spirit which came to the Psalmist, in his afflictions and persecutions, are deemed to be 'good'. Why is that ? It is because it all brings out the wonder of the will, witness and way of the Lord in which one is enclosed. It rubs like polish on tarnished brass: painful but necessary that the truth of the metal be exposed and the wonder of light upon it be seen.

Here, yes here is a treasure incomparable, except of course in the very Person whose word it is; but then, as His direct product, His express and intimate, bold and clear revelation, it is like light on the countenance of the beloved, inseparable from the thing it reveals.

Thus IF you love Me, you will keep My words! is the very strong stress that Christ makes in John 14:21-23. "If anyone love Me, he will keep My words!"

So far, then, we have seen in what delicious intimacy with the surrounding arena of thought,  lies this conception of the fear of the Lord being like a treasure to the man who loves Him, trusts Him, inhabits His presence and looks to Him, to His face for enlightenment and knowledge of His will and way. Just as in Isaiah 33:6, we find elsewhere in a strong salvation, in wisdom and knowledge, in stability,   the surrounding arena of thought.

Now, far is this from suggesting it is not a treasured thing in the Lord to find the fear of the Lord, a thing quite apparent in the book of Job!

It is true that it is a thing of much value to the Lord that one should reverence Him and show the awe and adoration which is apt to His wonder and meet for the redeemed. It is not for one moment less true than that one treasures His fear. Thus we find in Isaiah 66:2, that to this man will the Lord look, even to the one who is humble and contrite and trembles at His word. To which interpretation then of Isaiah 33:6 is one to move ?

First, we need to realise that our concern is not what might be appropriate for speech, but what is said in Isaiah 33:6.

Thus, it cannot well, in this context, be forgotten that in a very little more, the same chapter dwells on and expatiates about the "sinners in Zion" - namely in 33:14-18. There is a sense of the presence of the Lord who is to act, and make His majesty to be revealed. NOT fearing Him is being shown up as a playing with a furnace, at its very mouth.

The response is for the sinners in Zion to fear, and the question becomes acute: "Who among us shall dwell in the consuming fire ?"

While none is more emphatic in the Old Testament than is Isaiah or David on the necessity of imputed righteousness if one is to stand before God (Isaiah 53, Psalm 32, 17), yet there are certain good fruits which grow on trees planted by the Lord (Matthew 7, 15:13). Among these expressions of sincerity and the reality of a living faith, some are named a little later in this same Chapter, Isaiah 33. The man whose way (as in II Peter 2) is so adorned, he will

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"see the King in His beauty" and his eyes
 

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"will see the land that is very far off," so that
 

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"you will not see a fierce people ...
Your eyes will see Jerusalem,
a quiet home, a tabernacle that will not be taken down..."

Here the emphasis in this very setting of stability and strength has one thing in common with that expressed in Isaiah 33:6. It is that we are in the presence of GIFTS, of DIVINE PROVISIONS, and things donated, or of conditions induced. We are in a stream of gifts and graces. Thus similarly and in parallel in 33:6, we find that there is GIVEN the quality of stability, of wisdom, that knowledge is imbued, salvation has a strength in its enduement, and for the one who is in this situation is further regaled in this mercy, goes the flow and sequence, in this, that "the fear of the Lord is his treasure." Given strength of salvation, wisdom, knowledge, caressed with stability, this man on whom the focus lies, is seen now enshrouded in this superlative accompaniment, as if someone were accompanying a singer on the piano, that "the fear of the Lord is his treasure."

If you do not reverence the Lord, you do not have even the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 9:10), but this man, for him it is not merely present, it is "his treasure."
 

Relative to the word "his", rather than "your" as in the "stability of your times", Poole notes that this change of persons is common in these writings. Thus in Isaiah 33:22, "the Lord will save us" and in 33:24, "the people who dwell in it will be forgiven iniquity", for which the NKJ naturally enough, adds "their" as intended. In other words, in that case, it is incontestable that "the people" is third in person, and "us" is first person. Thus, it moves in perspective.

Even nearer in parallel is Isaiah 50:10-11, where for making the point, pronouns in view here will be emphasised below:

"Who among you fears the Lord?
Who obeys the voice of His Servant?
Who walks in darkness
And has no light?
 

"Let him trust in the name of the Lord
And rely upon his God.
Look, all you who kindle a fire,
Who encircle yourselves with sparks:
Walk in the light of your fire and in the sparks you have kindled—
This you shall have from My hand:
 You shall lie down in torment."


T
his passage has this advantage for us, that it lets see the main THEME unleashed, namely the vast emphasis on having the fear of the Lord, its intimate association with trust and reliance on the Lord, and its inseparable character from a life of abundance and relish in the presence of the Lord. It is in precisely such a context that it appears in Isaiah 33:6.

Isaiah 48:17-19, moreover, is even more closely intimate to this alternation of the personal, from second person in this case to third, with an intimacy and easy which as Poole says, is common. Again the emphasis will be added.

·  "Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer,

·  The Holy One of Israel:  

'I am the Lord your God,
 Who teaches you to profit,

 Who leads you by the way you should go. 
Oh, that you had heeded My commandments!
Then your peace would have been like a river,
And your righteousness like the waves of the sea.
 

'Your descendants also would have been like the sand,
And the offspring of your body like the grains of sand;
His name would not have been cut off
           Nor destroyed from before Me.' "

Further, as to the alternation coming here near the end, it has precisely this sense of suddenness, as if someone were appealing to you personally, and then suddenly looked at things in the round, and dealt impersonally or at least in the third person again. It is then as if a more overall perspective replaced the personal discourse, by way of reflection. This is not only common but of great impact, as one feels first the address to one's person and then sees the thing in its place!

Finally, we return to the intimate contextual consideration in Isaiah 33:6, namely that it is a passage in which like the other cited above, there is one vast thematic and obvious emphasis. There is RECEPTION, there is CONCENTRATION on the operation of the gift, environmentally, circumstantially, personally, in a cornucopia of donation and operation from the divine bounty to the surface of the earth and those fortunate so to function in such a situation.

Accordingly, we find wisdom, knowledge, stability of times, these things come like a rushing torrent from above, and we see them in situ; and just so, then, is the last, the fear of the Lord, in situ, that indispensable, that incomparable, that essential aspect which as seen later in Isaiah 33, is to be sought in the fire, and is wrought in the heart, the fear of the Lord. It is all in a generic: things donated, given, attributed to the one below, to the redeemed in view, in a very wonder of liberality and a fund for finding grace imbued.

Such is the vastness of the superiority of this time, its consummatory magnificence, that not merely is the fear of the Lord PRESENT, as it must be, scripturally,  for wisdom to have so much as a beginning, but here, it is present as the treasure of the one so placed. In other words, GRACE ABOUNDS! We are not suddenly taken from the consequences of the outpouring of such splendid wonders to enrich and enable the saints, to what contextually would be an isolated consideration in the Giver; but rather we continue in the welter of wonder with which they are adorned, as the robes of salvation are placed graciously upon the redeemed (cf. Isaiah 61:10, where just such an action is specialised and specific, on the part of the Lord

In conclusion, both renderings are possible; it is a matter of considering what fits context, message and thrust the better. In fact, of course, both are true, and the one given is preferred for these reasons. In seeking reasons, one gains understanding as an important result.

 


22)

Isaiah 53:10

Where marked, this is taken from Biblical Translations Ch. 3.

§"When you make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed,
He shall prolong His days,
And the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand."
-

Thus despite His having no earthly children of His own as in Isaiah 53:10, since He was cut off from the land of the living, yet when you make of His soul, His life, an offering for sin, instead of using a lamb for example, realising His meaning, method, sacrifice and plan of salvation, and coming in faith to Him, yet there is this transforming joy! WHEN YOU make of His life your sacrifice for sin, then in YOU He has a new child, and  from all nations do  these come, over  all climes. How marvellous is the Lord, and how wonderful His wisdom, and grand to become a child of His, who had none of His own because of the required regimen of sacrifice. Great is the appeal,  and great was the gift. It still is!

 

THE NOTED EXCERPT now proceeds.

The NKJV has a capital for "You" in Isaiah 53:10. This is one interpretation, the
riginal not determining this point. If you take this then that GOD is making the
SACRIFICE for sin in this verse, the translation "if" would be ludicrous, for the thing s seen as DONE.

If it is translated not "if" but "when", as it may be, then you have the paradox that WHEN He makes this of His Son, in the most poignant moment in history, THEN the Son sees His seed. Not so. Then the Son cried out, My God, My God, why have you forsaken ME! There could hardly be any less apposite concept.

Further, as Professor E.J.Young points out in his trilogy The Book of Isaiah (Vol. III, p. 354), "God is not addressed in this passage but rather is spoken of in the third person both before and after this verse. Furthermore, sacrifices were offered up not by God but to Him. Although the Lord does bring about the death of the servant, He is not the Offerer. In verse 12 the servant receives the reward for his work, which proves that it is he himself who offers the sacrifice." We may add to this. God in heaven, as distinct from the human-formatted servant, is not addressed in this verse, nor in the preceding chapter, nor in the two following! It is indeed the action of the offerer, the labourer, the sufferer which is rewarded, "He shall divide the spoil with the strong, because He poured out His soul unto death" (v.12).

Indeed, if you consider the mode of address, the milieu of terminology, the intimacy of the passage, not only is God being addressed constantly in the third person, so that any question must relate to this mode, if the context is to make things clear (Proverbs 8:8), as we must expect when any ambiguity might otherwise arise, but there is another fascinating feature. "You" or if you will, "thou" is a term in constant use in this chapter, the preceding and the two succeeding. It is used in this way directly or by implication (as in an imperative) - some 15 times in Ch.52, and some 39 times in the next chapter!

It is not too much to say that the address TO the sinner, or TO the people is constant, evocative, intimate, persistent, penetrating, occurring as if one were looking over one's shoulder to a fellow labourer and constantly stating or implying 'you' almost at every turn. Thus, there is the comforting closeness of 52:1-2, where God is telling Zion to re-dress (cf. 61:10, where justification is in view), as in 45:25 - "In the Lord shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and glory", as in 53:5,8,11, in our immediate context. Such themes are woven into the work like threads in tapestry, constant, thematic. "Your God reigns!" is the cry to Zion in 52:7. "Depart!" He exclaims in 52:11, as the tardy sinner is addressed in terms of holiness to the Lord. It is all focussed on "you" or "thou" and "He", the Lord who speaks in solace, comfort and the offers of salvation to the one addressed.

Similarly, at the very start of 53, "Who has believed our report?" is a personalised proposition, searching into the soul of the listener. In Ch.54, there are numerous encouragements to the same addressee: "Enlarge the place of your tent!", "Do not spare!", "You will forget the shame of your youth!", "For a mere moment, I have forsaken you, with a little wrath I hid my face from you for a moment, but with everlasting kindness I will have mercy on you," says the Lord, your Redeemer."
In this last case, not only is the subject spoken to as 'you', but the Lord speaks of Himself as 'your Redeemer'. The material before us is soaked in 'you', in individual, in joint, in continual circumnavigations of the soul of the listener. "Oh you afflicted one!" , "Great shall be the peace of your children!".

In the next chapter, 55, it becomes if possible more intensive. "Ho, every one who thirsts, come to the waters, and you who have no money, come, buy and eat!" The evangelical thrust, the penetrating appeal, the solacing spiritual challenge is vigorous but tender. "Why do you spend your money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? ... I will make an everlasting covenant with you - the sure mercies of David. Indeed I have given him as a witness to the people, a leader and commander for the people. .. Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way..." Such is the continual thrust and command, offer and appeal in this whole area of Isaiah.

Therefore, we must confirm mightily what E.J. Young has to say on this particular point: that God is not the One addressed. Not only is God NOT addressed in this context, but Zion and the individual sinner are both addressed in the second person, literally scores of times. This is the whole tenor of the passage - what HE, God is doing, what His servant is doing in His name, and those to whom He is doing it, repeatedly called to mind and called in heart, with 'you'. The sacrificial physician, spending his life for his patients, is being exposed in honour, while the patients are being appealed to, so that they take advantage of His labours on their behalf. HE does this, and YOU should do that, receive it, eat, drink, dress, come out, receive, be covered from sin.

That then simply confirms the need to AVOID the third personal rendering. Equally however, we must emphasise, it confirms the need to USE the second personal ending, which is the dominating feature with the interchange between "Him" and the appeal, in the overall passage; and this to such an extent that it is rather a matter of seeing why to think of it as at all varied from this pattern and format at all, than why to render in terms of 'you' as so often.

We therefore cannot rightly force into the context either verbally or in terms of the connotations, 'You' as the divine addressee in 53:10. It is NOT - "When You shall make His soul..."

What however if one should consider putting not 'You", but "his soul" as the subject, so that the force is this: WHEN HIS SOUL makes a sin offering... ? This would certainly be an extraordinary variant, since we have been considering the servant as "him" or as "he' all through, rather than a "soul". We might in context have expected, perhaps, When He shall offer His soul...", since then the contour of thought would be unvaried. That however is not what the text provides for us. In form, it is EITHER second person singular masculine, or third person singular feminine.

This contour, this mode of address and of interchange between the One in whose name these words are given, and the one/ones to whom they are addressed, of course does not HAVE to be unvaried. When however ambiguity can arise, it is important to consult the evidence which ANY writer has seen fit to provide, to guide one into the chosen thought. Otherwise the writer becomes unclear, something God forbids in Proverbs 8:8 for the wisdom of His speech.

If nevertheless, you put, "When His soul shall make a sacrifice for sin" (which in grammar here you may), then we appear to have contorted language. In the Old Testament, the priest made a sacrifice of the soul of the living creature... of its life. Now, at Calvary Christ was offering Himself, thereby being both priest and sacrifice. Does it then mean to say this: When His life shall offer His life? Actually, it is His spirit which offers, the spirit which was heavy at Gethsemane and which He commended at the end of the agony, into His Father's hands (Luke 23:46). It is also a variation from the norm of expression for sacrifice. The LIFE is OFFERED. It does not offer. The priest offers, the spirit, or the person, it is this which offers the life.

Indeed, in verse 10, already, the operation of sin-bearing by appointment has been covered; it has 'pleased the Lord to bruise Him'. Now arises the consequence FROM this PAST. When YOU later act, Zion, or individual sinner, to utilise this offering, THEN HE will see the efficacy with joy. When the individual, when Zion should so act, when the "you" who has been addressed, is being addressed and is about to be addressed continually in these chapters, as we have just shown: when THIS is to act, as constantly exhorted throughout to act, and to act in this sacred way, THEN, as constantly throughout also, THEN the purpose of the Lord will be fulfilled. THEN?

It is THEN that the evangelical marvel will be appreciated, its fruits gained, its justifying power will arise and be satisfied - indeed THAT is precisely what the very next verse goes on to relate. "By His knowledge, my righteous servant shall justify many!" and THIS, continually upon the listening ear-drum like rain, is what is beating, beating on the mind. YOU eat, YOU drink, YOU dress, YOU come out - and here, YOU take as a sin-offering HIS soul.

His "soul" or "life" here becomes apt as the receivable offering, in that at death it is as one slaughtered. It is as such that it is received. The whole ignominious insult, the degrading lump of flesh concept is here. It is WHAT He is made of, HOW He is disregarded in SLAUGHTER which comes through; as it is not His soul which offers, but His life, His soul which IS the object of slaughter, the one to be received, in whom the impending justification about to be mentioned, occurs.

It is God who puts Him to grief, we find in verse 10; and as to the servant, it is He whose life is to be received.

We do not, on the contrary, in verse 10 find a finished act of being "put to grief" suddenly unfinished, any more than we find a tragic phase allied WHILE IN FOCUS, with joy. Sequence - the sufferings and afterward the glory . Even if it were a parallel expression, it would be a movement from past to present, from a death already in view re suffering (v.9 "He made His grave", with v.10a), to a death merely in prospect; and it is looking at joy in the presence of the death as about to occur. The joy however is for the future, not at the prospect of dying, which was accompanied by loud cries, as Hebrews 5 tells us, beforehand in an agony of grief. To refocus the 'operation', in prospect, while speaking of joy in terms of this operation, is neither natural nor necessary. The joy was set before Him, not experienced then: that is the position as given to us.

The "putting to grief" and the "trespass offering" being set are different aspects of the one thing. It is the UTILISATION of the offering which is the moment of marvel, the transforming of the tragedy, when the whole enactment, completed in resurrection, is publicised (cf. 53:12). Then indeed He who faced an initial situation which appeared as if "I have laboured in vain, I have spent my strength for nothing and in vain" (49:4) finds His "just reward", for it is "too small a thing that You should be My servant, to raise up the tribes of Jacob... I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles, that You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth." THAT is the payload! There is the transformation!

Hence the rendering preferred, objectively supported, is this:

§"When you make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed" -

the same as the NKJV except for this, the 'y' in You is not capitalised. Without children of His own physically, He gains them, nonetheless spiritually, WHEN anyone makes of His sacrifice an offering for sin, faith being the avenue and salvation being the result, as grace is the efficient cause. Ch.54 goes on "For the Lord has called you", "Sing, O barren", "This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of Me!"

In sum: While the NKJV is better here than the putting of 'His soul' as subject, as some do, it is worse than leaving the 'y' small. A note would have helped here.

 

23) Isaiah 64:4-5

§  "And from eternity, they have not heard, they have not given ear,
nor has eye seen a God beside You, who works for the one who waits for Him.

"You have met with the one rejoicing and executing righteousness.
In Your ways they remember You.

"Look,  You have been wrathful, and we have sinned:
in those ways is eternity, and we shall be saved."

This text is of great interest, the more since 64:5 is stated to have occasioned immense difficulty in interpretation. Obviously, how 64:4 is rendered will greatly affect the flow and sense of sequence to 64:5. What meets this need, if solving any puzzle, hence would be commendable for rigorous care.

In this case, there has been a considerable addition in the material given, to that first appearing in The Kingdom of Heaven, Ch. 9.

a) THE THEMATIC ASPECT

The AV renders Isaiah 64:4 like this: "For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath eye seen, O God, beside thee, what he hath prepared for him that waiteth for him." Certainly, 16th century English does not help. Why should it! Using former usages does not aid modern problems.

However, let us pass on from this. The beauty, dignity, perception often involved in the AV are genuine arguments for its high place in the arena of translations; its facility in our speech at the contemporary level, quite naturally and indeed necessarily, is not. But there is more here, much more. In this instance, it appears to be giving a quite indefensible translation. Before we consider this, let us note some other renderings of this verse. Thus the NASB has (to take the main area of divergence only): "neither has eye seen a God besides Thee, who acts in behalf of the one who waits for Him." Delitzsch in his magnificent and famed commentary set, has this here: " a God beside Thee," and proceeds to the point of His action "on behalf of him that waiteth for Him."

The Berkeley version: "seen a God besides Thee who works for him who waits for Him."
E.J. Young in his immense Isaiah commentary: "a God beside thee, he doeth to the one waiting for him." This gives, he states, in v.4 a reason for what was stated earlier in verse 3: thus God is in v.3 stated to have DONE wonderful, astonishing things for Israel in past times, and the principle is now enunciated: He DOES (acts) for the one who waits for Him. He is not an illusory, philosophical, clairvoyant's muse type of God. He acts. He has power. He used it before. He still does. THESE, the 'waiting' for HIM, are conditions (cf. Hebrews 11:6).

While the sense in all these is much the same, it is fascinating in the context to consider the very  literal translation: "seen GOD, besides Thee. He acts for the one who waits for Him." The last clause is from a participle, "the one who waits for Him", and the thrust preceding, 'GOD', is dropped into the scene like a vast, awesome wonder. Here is the ONLY ONE WHO as GOD is there; the rest are NOT GOD (Deuteronomy 32:17,18,21). The last has this: "They moved Me to anger with that which is NOT GOD" (last caps. added). Besides HIM, nothing intelligible, real at all. It is this God who IS, the I AM, who ACTS (being able) for those who wait.

Attention has been drawn to Deuteronomy 29:2 and Joshua 23:3 where quite the same emphasis is being made. Moses recapitulating, says to the people,

"You have seen all that the Lord did before your eyes in the land of Egypt to Pharaoh, and to all his servants and to all his land; the great trials which your eyes have seen..." 

 Here, it could readily have been part of this very  address in Isaiah, so close is the wording, the concept, the emphasis! It is a case of what the Lord DID, and indeed did BEFORE YOUR EYES, and further, the things which YOUR EYES HAVE SEEN. This moreover fits with the recurring emphasis in Isaiah 41-48, that God is the One who DOES IT, fulfils it, makes it happen, whether in general, as in Ch.48, or in particular, as for Cyrus the coming deliverer for the Jews, who would send them home from Babylon. (We shall emphasise the point below.)

In the latter case, that of Joshua, we find:

"And you have seen all that the Lord your God has done to all these nations because of you: for the Lord your God is he who has fought for you."

Again there is the relevant action, the rescuing action, the notable action.

This is a frequent theme.

In Psalm 78 it is the same; and there too, you see the additional challenge. THEY despite all this have sinned and provoked the Lord, in the very face of such repeated  and marvellous ACTIONS, wonders, things DONE!


In Joshua 23:14, we read a further strand in this theme:

"... not one thing has failed of all the good things which the Lord your God spoke concerning you; all have come to pass to you, and not one thing has failed..."

GOD reveals Himself as He will! The NOT-GOD crew are wholly deficient in evidence; God abounds in it.

b) THE GRAMMATICAL ASPECT

The AV adds here. It provides what the text does not state. The word 'what' is added. Hence and hence only, they get the  ... rendering, 'WHAT HE HAS PREPARED'. It is however the translators who have prepared that word 'what'.

To add a word, however, when the sense is both clear and straightforward, the sequence cogent, is indefensible. That way, anything can be made ambiguous, and things can be manufactured, rather than translated.

Poetry may require understanding that perceives words which are omitted from a necessary intended sense, for stylistic reasons; or dropped out because of the constraints of metre, etc., so that the alert reader, seeing there is no way of AVOIDING addition, is willing to see the implicit point and put it in.

However this is a part of the words of God which are 'all clear to him who understands', as Proverbs 8 expressly states. It is not a matter of strange oracles for powerful prophets to make sense of some way or other, to their own personal and highly individual satisfaction. It is intrinsically clear, not crabbed, contrived.

That is the point: the word  at times be difficult, challenging, profound indeed, and what more natural when it is God who speaks: but clear? THAT is  another question. The word before us is eminently clear, and unless some reader fashions on the mistaken idea that you can treat a clear statement as having optional extras which would profoundly change an already clear meaning, clear it stays.


The additional mode here would be to interpret the word of God contrary to its own claims and constraints, and for anyone, would be playing somewhat fast and loose with the words actually given. In other words, when what is present is both exceedingly clear and impressively direct, and flowing like one stream with other scripture and context, to add to this is to put the words of God into the hands of men - never a wise procedure, and NOT a divinely PERMITTED PROCEDURE.

c) CONTEXT

Verse 5 in this passage of Isaiah 64, at once keeps to the exact sequence given. God acts (verse 4), and God meets (v.5 - one form of ACTING, not being mere dream or thought or ideal or inclination, but personal, powerful and active in our affairs - in certain specified WAYS, as is the case in all the other contexts noted!). Whom does He meet ? The text tells us of 64:5:

"He has met the one who rejoices and works righteousness" - indeed, "those who remember Him in His ways".


What could be more straightforward, cogent, elicitive, impactive!

"You have met the one who rejoices and works righteousness,
those who remember You in Your ways"

GOD HAS ACTED in spectacular fashion in the days of Moses and Pharaoh, for the people.  More generally, GOD ACTS for those who wait for Him. So far, that is the thrust or movement in verses 3 and 4, respectively. Indeed, GOD acts in a SPECIAL WAY for those who wait for Him, at the now individual level. After all (verses 5b-7), there is a massive movement AWAY from God before us in the context, so that God is acting differentially towards those who in fact WAIT for Him.

What is this special way noted so boldly in verse 5: "Thou meetest him who rejoices and works righteousness" - not merely some homogenised 'righteousness' but the sort which arises in those who remember Him in His ways, His words, His witness, His past dealings. Why however this: 'rejoices'? That is indeed a question for our own generation set so firmly in so many sad ways of degeneration (see "Generation of the Dispossessed" - Appendix 1, Barbs, Arrows and Balms). Literally, here, it is "hast met" or "You have met" and despite idiomatic considerations, it seems best to retain this; but to do so with some thought.

Thus, what precedes is this , "He acts for the one who waits for Him," and we then have "You have met him who rejoices ..." and then literally proceeds, "In Your ways they (will) remember You" or "remember You" (either tense is here possible). It appears always best to be as sensitive as the bounds of comprehensible language in the language into which one translates, to the original. It can, and here it seems, does make a difference to the depth of understanding. Thus here, we could render much as Young does, with a little less literalness but a little more flexibility to the style of our language, together with some effort to be even closer to the text. In the last statement, effort is however made to relate more intimately in rendering the context :

§  "And from eternity, they have not heard, they have not given ear,
nor has eye seen a God beside You, who works for the one who waits for Him.

"You have met with the one rejoicing and executing righteousness.
In Your ways they remember Yolu.

"Look,  You have been wrathful, and we have sinned: in those ways is eternity, and we shall be saved."

Thus then we have for Isaiah 64:4-5.


 

  

CHAPTER 5

 

JEREMIAH TO MALACHI

 

24)

Jeremiah 13:27

§"Woe to you, O Jerusalem! Will you not be made clean ?
When shall it once be ?"

This is taken as a short excerpt on the topic, from Christ's Ineffable Peace... Ch. 2.

You can refuse to talk of two divine wills (mercifully), as Calvin did, but whether it is phenomena in the will domain or facets or aspects, it is all one. GOD SAYS by the mouth of God, by the living and eternal WORD of God incarnate, what He means, and these words will NEVER pass away. They will be replaced operationally by sight, but never cease to be right.

Other attempts to exclude this word of the Lord, in Matthew 23:37 are rejected in SMR Appendix B, and it is simply impossible to make a scriptural case for such a liberty, any more than for that in Luke 19:42ff., where in pangs of grief and tears, the WORD of God which DEFINITIVELY expresses Him (Hebrews 1), is filled with a sorrow to the heart, that IN THE DAY of opportunity, Jerusalem did not heed Him.

Such language is not singular, but consistently throughout the Bible. Thus in Jeremiah 13:27 you have one of the many such profound sorrows at the ultimate refusal to receive the designed and desired mercy which God is offering.

It is vastly important not to allow the smoking candles of theological 'insight' to void the clarity of the divine day, shining in the Bible, and in particular not to reduce the scope of the divine desire that all might be saved. That is simply as He states it,  in I Timothy 2, that all be reconciled in heaven or in earth, as he emphatically asseverates in Colossians 1:19ff., and this represents the divine antithesis to any concept that He is in any sense desiring the death of the wicked (Ezekiel 33:11 so states). Nor is He too occupied to bother; nor is He moved by strange indifference. This is he EXACT opposite of what is written in John 3, and the texts above mentioned.

It is the WORLD to which He sends His Son (and the concept in the context is as in I Timothy 2, all that pertains to mankind as such, as ratified in Colossians 1, not only for this world, but the heavens themselves). It is that it be not CONDEMNED that He came. His initiative, enterprise, suffering, motivation are all stated categorically many times. To assume what is the contradictory of what is written, is to direct the thoughts of God, a useless ambition, to say no more.

To be sure, when the case is to the uttermost resolved and made manifest, even in history, God may indeed as in II Chronicles 36, show the end of the beginning, and the nature of the end WHEN all that has been for a long time, has been rejected, vitamised, vitiated by the rebellious spirit of man. Equally surely, since foreknowledge precedes predestination in the (at least) logical sequence in Romans 8:29ff., so that the predestination is founded on the divine knowledge, not vice versa, at any time God may reveal the predestinative outcome of this foreknowledge. It is, thirdly and of course, as in Romans 9, NOT a foreknowledge of the works, meritorious or other, of the sinner which is the decisive factor, or even relevant in the divine decision. Nor therefore is there any question of merit in achievement, where achievement as a factor is statedly null.

Nevertheless, there IS the divine longing expressed repeatedly, categorically, cumulatively, in New and Old Covenants, and it is habitual.

Neither Calvin nor any other has any place in seeking to move things around in the divine heart, whatever may be the intention. It is what it is, and stays as it is declared to be, as manifested in Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and forever, to whom every knee will bow (Philippians 2), in the end, as stated rather nearer the beginning of God who ALONE is to be worshipped, in Isaiah 45.  It is He, WHO IS THE TRUTH, who in predestination was operative as the word of God, as He was from the beginning; and it is as He wills, that anyone can know the Father, having Him revealed by the Son (Matthew 11:27). All that the Father has, is His (John 16:15), and their intimacy is infinite (John 5:19-23). As to Christ, moreover, He does not change,  ever the same (Hebrews 13:8), whether before time, or in it.

In predestination, in foreknowledge, in things of time or beyond time, Christ is the TRUTH, and His word written stands, for ONLY fulfilment can remove its tenure; and that, it is not to make of it error, but completion, so that the thing, like birth as noted, is now over. But over it is! It does not alter, nor is it to be made a chameleon for the imagination of men, whether at this or any other point.  

 

 

THE PASSION FOR SOULS OF THE LORD:
NO RESPECTER OF PERSONS
BUT KNOWING WELL WHO ARE HIS OWN

Let us then for much interest in seeing further what God DOES reveal, the case of Jeremiah 13:27. First, let us cite from Bible Translations (9), concerning this text.

Let us look then for a moment at Jeremiah 13:27. Confronting the innate sin that dominated in the array of rebellious hearts of that day, that thus DID have dominion over these to whom the prophet speaks, Jeremiah from the Lord makes this declaration, and asks this question:

"Woe to you, O Jerusalem! Will you not be made clean ?
When shall it once be ?"

To this writer, this is one of the most poignant of the verses of the Book of the Lord! There you see

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1) a divine yearning, as from a mother.
 

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2) a fatherly caution, crisp with realistic concern.
 

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3) an interrogation, as from a surgeon, foreseeing inoperable lung cancer,
and speaking to an uncontrolled tobacco addict.
 

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4) an implicit attestation of long continued abuse.

Being clean is NOT a matter of drawing near with the lips while the heart is afar off (Isaiah 29:13); it is a matter of WASH and BE CLEAN! (Isaiah 1:16, I John 1). When you respond, you obey, and when you confess in due faith, you are covered. Cleansed and covered you are accorded authority to become the children of God, and these, as His, have the paternal authority always at hand, for their welfare and as adopted, for their confirmation.

What then do we find in all of this ?

Operationally, when you are first so cleansed, you are also regenerated, and when you are regenerated, you are fundamentally changed, and when Christ lives in you, the carnal nature, at war with God, though still a trial and source for Satan, is NOT in control. The washing of regeneration (Titus 3:3-7) is followed by the washing of each working day. The one creates a new relationship with the Father of all, and His Redeemer. The other exhibits its dynamic warranty, and its working of its power. Not for nothing does Deity so yearn; and not in nothing is its culmination to be found!

As a child of God, we see from Matthew 7:21ff., you DO the will of God, though it be ever so poorly. You are His and as Lord He is not a mere verbal ascription, but the living God dominating and dynamising, directing and correcting you. You are HIS: and nothing can change either that or the testimony of the change (Romans 8:30ff.); for it is known from of old, and sustained for ever (John 10:27-28, Ephesians 1:11).  God knows YOU and He leads you in His presence (Galatians 5), so that you are indeed LED BY THE SPIRIT OF GOD, as Paul declares in Romans 8:16, in the very context of morality and divergence from the old life.

     Is God then blind to who you are ?
 and is He who brought you to the birth, not in order that you be not born,
but as borne by Him to this place, not to bring you to the light of day as a child of God ?


and if a child of God, do you act as if your old genes were still operational and it is not a regeneration at all (I John 3:9) ?

Can you leave them behind, your new spiritual genes,  evidence of birth and its necessary concomitant ? No more can you do this, than be perfect; but God, HE KNOWS the difference between imaginary perfection and ravaging impurity, between temporary setback, as in sickness, and the morbidity of necrosis (John 6:70). Implanted, these your new genes, the actualisation of the birth,  are inseparable as in ordinary life. Indeed, if you are and become a child of God, you may stumble, and need correction, training and help from your Father; but is to stumble to fail, or to learn to be lost (Hosea 11:1ff.) ? rather is it growth in the domain of vitality, the Lord the presence, the word the witness.

Let those, says Paul, who are the Lord's,  depart from iniquity. Why ? The reason given for such departure is this:  "for the Lord KNOWS who are His" (II Timothy 2:19, blocks added). Departure from iniquity is not unakin to keeping the commandments! Nor is it grievous, to wash, and to love and to relate to your Father when your whole nature is so changed that HE IS your Father, by adoption through Jesus Christ.

In this way, confronted with such a challenge to understanding, we are kept on our toes, forced to examine ourselves and all the evidence, the very fundamental principles profuse in the word of God, lest we should somnolently allow ourselves to stray.

In this way, above, we first see the ingredients of emotion and longing, their quality and nature, in Jeremiah 13:27, and then relate these to the case of actual conversion, noting the extreme divergence between the two. It is however the LONGING, the DIVINE eager and assiduous seeking with all the heart, as in Ezekiel 33:11, Luke 19:42ff., Colossians 1:19ff., Hosea 7:1, Jeremiah 51:9, 49:30-33). As to Jeremiah 13:27, this is a word  which is inescapably poignant, powerfully arresting and the thrust is dramatically apexed in this passage.

Before we proceed further, its full intent may become even clearer when we look at its translation.

Thus the Hebrew is saying this:

Will you not be made clean ? How long ... yet ?

The portent in English, considering the pathos in the ellipsis, is this:

Will you not be made clean ? How long is it that you have already been in this condition of denial, and how long will you proceed, thus polluted, and yet unwilling to have it changed!

Is it still the same with you ?

The time dimension may indeed be twofold, past and present, but what is clear is this, that it is a long time, and that its continued duration is being challenged with a poignancy second to none.

Again, the intent may be phrased slightly differently (as when seeing facets of a jewel):

Not clean, is that your will ?
Does it come to this ? Consider, how long has it been so ?
Is your case still the same ?

Further, and at more length, we might seek to interpret it:

there is a throb, and this seems to be it: NOT CLEAN, HOW LONG, STILL!

How long has it been ?
Is it still the same ?

Verbalising the thrust further, we find this impact:

Do you still decline to be made clean ?
After how long a time does this persist ?
Do you procrastinate still further ?

In the light of this, what of the AV translation at the end of this verse:

WHEN SHALL IT ONCE BE ?

To the mind of this writer, that rendering is almost a work of genius. It is a very bold idiomatic seeking for equivalence, but it seems to touch the strings of the heart at exactly the right place for the context. If it ever so slightly oversteps in the positive direction, nevertheless, the intense thrust of the feeling seems to hang precisely there.

You DECLINE cleaning, and for long how has this been so, and for what time to come is it to be - for HOW LONG ... and is it to be STILL the same ? Thus comes the haunting question, and here lies the divine entreaty, reproof, analysis, plea and arrest... This means that there is a divine pressure, placed upon man,  to look at the continuation, by rebellion, of what resists to its own devastation,  the most intense desire of the divine Lord, who exhibits a deploring with intense pathos of the same. It is as in Proverbs 1, where there is such an entreaty, so lovingly assembled, but with the rejection, there follows the indictment which is the measure in judgment of the love and mercy's pleading and presentation. That is WHY it was so urgent!

What then do we find in such instances ?  This is not at all a sovereignly inflicted blindness by the power of a mysterious God. NOTHING could be CLEARER! He desires what He does not find, but is unwilling to perform any operation which would frustrate the very nature of creation of man, that is, in the image of God, and simply overthrow the relevance of human will in a remake which would bypass the entire issue, and thus by violence over will, make God responsible for human evil, all being dependent on Himself! Instead, the blindness comes when the entreaties, multiplied for so long (as in Hosea 12:10, as in II Chronicles 36), proceed "till there was no remedy."

Such is not the word of God amplitude of His yearning, its outreach beyond limitation, however its payment is restricted in the end; nor does it anywhere suggest any such thing, rather presenting in all but innumerable cases, just this poignancy of patience, this research of heart, this intensification of desire (as in Jeremiah 17, where despite the settled fate of the city, the Lord still pleads and offers an escape: He who knows all, but has a heart of truth and which is settled forever).

It is a pleading and an exhorting which we find to a decadent  and disordered will, such that were it not, at least in the all-penetrating knowledge of God, vitally responsible despite His willingness and indeed passionate and most intense desire to save, His word would be a casuistry, His solemnity farce, His concern superficial and the ambit of His speech hideously awry.

It is of course NOT the Lord of whom this can be said, but rather might it apply in some degree, to those who manhandle, quite literally, the word of God and snuff out clear statements, categorical and repeated utterances and the entire impetus and dynamic of expressed and explicit divine love of no small or marginal intent, but rather seeking for SALVATION. When it is they or the Lord whose word must be challenged, one infinitely prefers to challenge  the sons of men to the Son of God! His IS the truth, and it has no shadow of turning or variability. He is what He is, and always tells the truth which endures forever.

Of course He knows who are his (II Timothy 2:19); but this does not alter His heart.

It is nothing less than salvation that He seeks, concerning which He delivers His charge, His challenge and His lament; and no hidden agenda disturbs or denies the purity of His utterance, who is light and in whom is no darkness t all (Deuteronomy 32:1-4, I John 1:5). 

When at such a time, the hardness before Him who sees all, in those who always resist (as Stephen put it in Acts 8), the Holy Spirit, comes historically to be in the realm of the unforgivable (for there is a limit to the striving, lest the spirit of man should fail before the Lord, Isaiah 57:15 - man is a limited being), then indeed His judicial assessment and assertion alike can flow into its blighting force (Matthew 13, Isaiah 6). Then what was foreknown, is duly implemented and shown.

 

 

 

25) Ezekiel 34:29

§"I will raise up for them a planting of renown".

What is to be planted, is to be greatly famous. It is to be an  action of setting what is to be  set, in the ground, on the earth and in it, to become a living being on this earth, and o to be able to grow. To this we are about to move. But before doing so, we note simply that the Ch. 34 of Ezekiel is one of the most magnificently direct, direly dealing in deity, concerning the coming of God HIMSELF in mercy and person, to this earth, to do the proper work of pastoring His people. It is the VERSE OF THE INCARNATION, in parallel with Hosea 13:14, in terms of the principle of the need, the willingness and the pending action of the Almighty to carry this out. The planting is the botanical image in this realm, in this site, fitting partner to Isaiah 53:2, in its site! It is the Messiah planted, the one who as a Son is elsewhere glorified in grandeur of spirit,  amidst His humiliation, as the atonement is worked out before our eyes.

EXCERPT

This text  is to be found in the context of the ultimate restoration of Israel to the Messiah, as evidenced and attested in detail in Ezekiel 36-39, and expounded for example in SMR Appendix A, Great Execrations, Great Enervations, Greater Faith Ch.   4 , It Bubbles ... Chs.    1. 10, Highway of Holiness Ch.    6, VICTORY  4.

WHO or WHAT is this planting of renown ? As to the translation, it varies in different versions from garden of renown, planting place of renown, to plant of renown; but as seen in Keil and Delitzsch’s Commentaries on the Old Testament,  it appears that the desirable rendering is plantation. However, this is not to the point at all in Isaiah 60:21, where the same term is used in the rendering "a branch of My planting" relative to Israel. Indeed, here it is even a ‘branch’ or part of a tree, which is “of My planting”, a highly specific thing. It is the planting which is common to all.

In the Theological Word Book of the Old Testament of Harris, Archer and Waltke, the word appears both as 'planting' and as 'plantation' as distinct from allied and near words designating plant simply, or the same coupling of thought with the two options.

The root of this word is often used, the Word Book work states, of agricultural matters; vines and vineyards are mentioned as being planted. A vine out of Egypt in the notable reference of Psalm 80, was planted in Israel. They had to be plucked up in their sin (Jeremiah 45:4), but this was a merely temporary thing, since in II Samuel 7:10 we learn that ultimately they will be so planted as never to be plucked up. That of course becomes applicable to the believing remnant (Isaiah 11:10), whose Messiah is at last recognised (Romans 11, Ezekiel 36-37), when the period of blindness is over, and the whole integrity of the divine operations is vindicated. That, it is much to the delight of the apostle Paul, and who indeed would not delight in such a sweep and scope withy such majesty and mercy, such faithfulness (Ezekiel 36:22), reliability and yet purity! It is this which Paul outlines in the allegory of Romans 11.

This permanence and consummation of covenant is reflected in Jeremiah 31:28-34, as in the permanent mode in Ezekiel 37:28ff., with 39:28-29, where in the sequence from 34-39, there is intense characterisation in high detail of the specifics of Israel the nation, here past, present and future. In an interesting word study, Harris, Archer and Waltke point out that God plants not only Israel, but the root word from which our term in Ezekiel 29 is derived is used of the planting of nations (Jeremiah 1:10), 18:9, the heavens (Isaiah 51:16), and even the ear (Psalm 94:9).  Moreover in Psalm 144:12, we find this: "May our sons in their youth be like plants full grown."

The term in view in Ezekiel 34:29, a planting or a plantation, a thing associated with plant, is therefore in its root and usage quite clear. To be sure, Keil in his commentary on Ezekiel uses 'plantation', in view not least of the fact that the RESULT  in the context is to be that they will not hunger, but the question is this: What SORT of hunger is in view!

Alike with not hungering, we read in context that  they are not to 'bear the shame of the Gentiles any more'. What is the shame of the Gentiles ? It is that a foolish nation should overlord them and control them or abase them or make them seem weak and miserable, afflict them and seem strong and stable while little foolish foibled Israel is allowed to be overcome, just as, by contrast,  in the days of its glorious closeness (relatively) to God, it overcame and triumphed famously (cf. Deuteronomy 32:21-28).

What however is the basis of this strength, this dignity, this resolution, this determination, this wit, this wisdom and this overcoming, this NON-subjugation and this triumph which Israel once knew, and of which it is now deprived ? Is it food ? Is it this which is the criterion of power, or is food rather, as in the siege of Samaria by Assyria in the time of Hoshea, king of Israel, merely an expression of all the host of losses, and above all the Lord of hosts Himself,  as not supporting them. He is bringing them “into the bond of the covenant” through their unbelief (Ezekiel 20:36).

Of course, it is this latter, the power of life which comes from its Provider: since the provision of food as in the case of Elisha, is a small matter by comparison; as indeed the days on the way to the Promised Land with manna, made overwhelmingly obvious.

Of course, famously, Ezekiel 17 has the massive parable of the eagle cropping off the highest twig of the cedar and carrying it to a city of merchants. This is later interpreted to show it means that the king who was taken to Babylon, the king of Israel, and his retinue, and why ? It was so that "that the kingdom might be brought low, and not lift itself up, but that by keeping of his covenant, it might stand." Rebellion however followed (Ezekiel 17:15), so that Babylon went further and ruin came on Jerusalem and Judah. Pharoah would be of no help (cf. Isaiah 31), for

"the Egyptians are men, and not God,
and their horses are flesh, and not spirit."

Indeed, "when the LORD stretches out His hand, both he who helps
will fall, and he who is helped will fall down: they all will perish together."

Now we come to the part of the parable in Ezekiel 17 which currently concerns us.

 "I will take also one of the highest branches of the high cedar
and set it out. I will crop off from the topmost of its young twigs
a tender one,
and will plant it on a high and prominent mountain.

“On the mountain height of Israel I will plant it,
and it will bring forth boughs, and bear fruit, and be a majestic cedar. Under it will dwell birds of every sort, in the shadow of its branches
they will dwell. And all trees of the field shall know that I the LORD,
have brought down the high tree and exalted the low tree,
dried up the green tree and med the dry tree flourish:

”I, the LORD, have spoken and have done it."

Thus we are being compressed by context, constrained by perspective and enabled by scriptural emphasis to find the way to render, and more importantly perhaps, to understand the reference in Ezekiel 34:29.

There is an enormous play in Ezekiel on the image of planting, pride and the contrast with humility, obedience and the divine salvation which HE ALONE and HE BY HIMSELF without the aid of any, will bring to the sinfully cloistered kingdom of Israel. While it is in so much shut in to itself, its idols of political hope, of religious travesty, much like the world today, in its own vanity and futility, its little graspings, hopes and vast chasms of uncharity and confusion: yet its hope is in none of these, not in the slightest degree. This is the message constantly.

Thus when we come to the planting or plantation of renown in terms of which they shall be fed and never allowed to be desolate any more, it is at once apparent that this can only be the Messiah; for no food is enough for goodness, and no material is enough for security. Neither Israel nor any of its works, hopes or powers is even relevant to their security.

It is the LORD HIMSELF ALONE (cf. Isaiah 2:10-11, Ezekiel 36:22, Isaiah 19:19-25) who is going to be exalted, and Israel is always going to find that nothing that comes from itself, work or wit, is going to suffice for freeing or feeding its soul, finding its security or guaranteeing any grace. The covenant's POINT is this, that you do it by FAITH (cf. Deuteronomy 29:18ff.), and if you imagine it is YOU or your works, then you are as good as a cinder in the oven of hot pride.

Was it not for this, even in a temporary outburst of frustration, that Moses, although an earnest and blessed servant of the Lord then and now (cf. Matthew 17:3, 22:32)! You see this sad episode in Numbers 20:1-13, just as the principle is enunciated with divine emphasis in Deuteronomy 32:18,28ff.).

Hence it is a PLANTING of renown which is in view; and the renown which is their stay and buttress, it will be this which is divine.

But what precisely is it that is being planted ? It is a DIVINE ACTION of PLANTING which is to the point, but what is its object ? It is not hard to find this, since in this very chapter God is at pains to make it abundantly, crystallinely clear, that HE is dissatisfied with the works of folly which emanate from Israel, yes with its pastors and will HIMSELF come and DO what has to be DONE, and that it will be HE who will do it in the thoroughness and merciful lovingkindness which has been so conspicuously and iniquitously missing in the false 'shepherds' of the flock.  It is HE who must do it, and it is HE who WILL do it.

This is extensively revealed in Ezekiel 34:11-22, and indeed in great detail till 34:31.

"Therefore I will save My flock, and they shall no longer be a prey, and I will judge between sheep and sheep. I will establish one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them ... and I the LORD will be their God ... I will make a covenant of peace among them ... and they shall no longer be a prey for the nations ... I will raise up a planting of renown..."

It is not that a crop will save them, that is themselves, for this was so often their condemned and inglorious, not to say spurious pre-occupation; nor is it some rotation or a continuation of crops; not at all. That has precisely nothing to do with it. It is in essence the coming Saviour who will make ALL the difference and the ONLY difference to the point. The whole chapter 34 of Ezekiel is all about this coming Shepherd, God as man,  who will have all that is required. As to His being man, metonymically he takes the name "David",  but of course it is the promised Messiah who, of his lineage (through Mary in fact), is to perform and fulfil the divine promise of II Samuel 7, Isaiah 4,7,9,11,12,22,32, 40, 42,49-55, 59, 61.

THIS is the entire context of Ezekiel 34:29.

Hence it is the planting, and not some ‘plantation’, just as it  is in Isaiah 53:2, in the context of Ezekiel 34.

In Isaiah we learn this, in answer to its question: 

"Who has believed our report?
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?


"For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant,
And as a root out of dry ground.
He has no form or comeliness;
And when we see Him,
There is no beauty that we should desire Him.

 

"He is despised and rejected by men,
A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him;
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.

 

"Surely He has borne our griefs
And carried our sorrows;
Yet we esteemed Him stricken,
 Smitten by God, and afflicted."

The most relevant part for our survey is of course that made bold, above. Just as in Ezekiel 17, there is to be planted a tender twig which shall grow into a stately and protective tree of comfort and safety, so here we see it in the ground, but not very wonderful ground at that, for it is a 'dry ground', since Israel was exceedingly parched in spirit at that time.

This was so, even to the point that the ruling junta (for they were not legitimate any more than those false shepherds of Ezekiel 34, whom the Lord dragooned and exposed so thoroughly, just as He did when He became flesh and dwelt among us, as shown by His words in Matthew 23).

He who “by His knowledge will justify many” (Isaiah 53:11) is a tender plant, as in Ezekiel 17, and the terms of that chapter are quite incontestably personal, to the point that the former twig was in fact the contextually defined symbol for the king! Here however, in this planting,  is another king, one who HIMSELF will DO ALL that it takes, with NO help from ANYONE, since HE AS GOD will act as only HE has the power to pardon, or the power to secure. Indeed, we see that in HIS VERY COMING, the action is in view of the utter default of help from man. Such are the words of Ezekiel 34:1-10, which thunder from lightning strikes showing up the CURSED condition of those who fail to help where help is required.

It is just the same in Isaiah, in two passages of like intensity. The first is to be found in Isaiah 41:28-29, the negation, flowing on to the Messiah who is to BE the covenant in Isaiah 42, the One in whom, by starkest possible and even conceivable contrast, God delights.  The second in complete parallel is seen in Isaiah 51:18-20, leading on to 52:13 - 53:12. It is the LORD ALONE who is singular in saving Person, who is to be found in this action to bear sin, to bear glory and to complete the covenant in Himself, for HE it is who finds it too small to be  the restorer of the elect of Israel, it is HE who will be a LIGHT TO THE GENTILES (Isaiah 49).

It is therefore beyond any question not a plantation of renown, that thing planted, but a PLANTING of renown*1. It is a setting forth in INCARNATION which is to be renowned; it is after that, as we see in Isaiah 49:7, 50 and 53, an execration of the incarnation by the people who act in the name of the Lord to be despised, that follows. This is all part of the assiduity and comprehensive coverage which the LORD assigns to Himself as HIS OWN WORK without help from ANY, in Ezekiel 34. It is precisely this same work which was attested in Hosea 13:14, where the Lord GOD Himself will constitute the plagues of death and destruction of the grave.

 

Note (abbreviated)

*1

 The denominative of the relevant Hebrew verb, formed with the m prefix, signifies

a place,

or instrument

or something in general connected with the idea of the verb, Davidson's Hebrew Grammar informs us.

As Baumgartner points out in his lexicon, this term, here translated 'planting',  is in fact a derivative of the verb 'to plant'. Obviously, there is little more closely connected with the verb, 'to plant', than 'planting', and this term constitutes one of the translations of Harris, Archer and Waltke in the work noted.

 

26) Hosea 7:1,13

§"When I would have healed Israel ...".

§ "Though I would redeem them..."

In Hosea 7, in fact, 7:1 and 7:13, you have in both cases a present tense optative.  A word of clarification is needed here. In Hebrew, the basic concepts in the two major tenses are perfect and imperfect, or completed or uncompleted. The latter can involve many aspects in terms of their concepts: for example, present, future and various conditional aspects, or as here the optative. The essence is the mode of conception.  

One prefers above to say 'present' tense, lest the 'imperfect' name which Hebrew uses for this tense, might suggest the English or Latin imperfect tense, which indicates continuity in the past. This is not so in the Hebrew division between these two tenses. It is DONE or NOT YET DONE, finished or unfinished in THOUGHT. Those are the basic options. If you call one tense in Hebrew 'imperfect' as is customary, then you need to realise that it is simply negating the ‘perfect’ concept, diverse from that.

 As to the latter, the perfect tense in Hebrew,  it is in a special sense, such as in Greek you have, where the concept of completion can be related to perfection, in that it is the end of the road to whatever it is. Im- perfect then, the ‘imperfect tense’ in Hebrew is one which means im-complete, that is not yet done, if done it will be at all.  So is it here in 7:13.

 What then is the context in this 'imperfect' verbal case, this indication of non-completion so that the redemption did not occur ? The context in this case is not at all simply what God is doing NOW, since it is not being done! On the contrary, this blessed opening to mercy is being withdrawn; it is INCOMPLETE, so that the action in view did not reach its fulfilment. It is NOT what He has done.

 Nor is it what He will do, for the reflection is on the failure of this thing at the present time, and the results of this. It is rather indicative of the willingness of God which has been shown, just as Jeremiah 18 makes it so exceedingly clear, even when judgment is on the threshold: a divine preparedness to engage in the healing of this people. It does not however transpire. Instead, as Jeremiah 19 makes clear so soon after the action of Jeremiah 18: the inveterate and chronic failure of the people to receive His mercy, this now transforms the situation. What had been not merely on offer, but was in fact a CONTINUING and UNCOMPLETED movement towards mercy, is now to be halted.  

 God will not ALWAYS STRIVE with man (Isaiah 57:15-16). Man’s spirit would fail before Him. He is limited. There is an end (cf. Proverbs 1!).

 What then now ? As we see, now judgment sets in, as if a man with cancer should be shown a way out by immediate cessation of smoking, but still refuse to stop, in which the case the disease migrates.

 

It is thus here as in Hosea 7:1, an indication to the willingness that God had, as in Jeremiah 18:7-8: at that INSTANT that there is the change from the evil, to remedy and remove the judgment; but alas, it is not so here. Israel is NOT healed, so that the rest of the chapter, as in 7:13 reflects this lugubrious and mournful fact in the face of the often protested divine exhortation to return to Him, and invitation to mercy.

 Thus in Hosea 7:13,  - §"Though I would redeem them" as the ASV and Keil and Delitzsch, respectively, have, and correctly point out - it is not perfect or completed tense at all! It is the 'imperfect'. The AV and NKJV rendering "redeemed them" is not what is there. A difficulty is not met by changing the base, but by exploring what it in fact provides: and here what is left and meets all the demands of the context fully,  is the optative, which does no violence to the text and gives sustained meaning to the point as in 7:1.

 In 7:1, the AV joins the rest, correctly, "I would have healed Israel!"  This is the theme of the chapter, and in 7:14 we see the explication of the negative result in the face of the divinely positive entreaty and willingness. "They did not cry out to Me with their heart."  THAT is where they went wrong so that the divine willingness does not reach its completion in their pardon.

 Hosea 7:15 further details the past, where though the Lord disciplined them (exactly as in Amos 4), yet evil was still actively being plotted in their hearts. The thought is extreme. It is almost as if in the very preparation of the medical team for surgery, the patient bites the forefinger of a major surgeon, requiring stitches. It breaks its own mercy.

 Hosea 7:16 then proceeds to generalise the case: they return (indeed, as might be protested by them), but it is not to the Most High. They are inveterately devious like a crooked bow.  Thus 8:1 announces, in a transition precisely as in that between Jeremiah 18 and 19, the blowing of the trumpet and the onset of judgment.

 As to this mode of divine willingness, aborted by rejection: You even see it said of Babylon, that eventual paragon of parasitic infestation with spiritual pollutions: Thus Jeremiah 51:9 also provides this word:

"We would have healed Babylon, but she is not healed. Forsake her and let us go,
everyone to his own country; for her judgment reaches to heaven."

END OF EXCERPT

It is of the utmost importance to realise what the Lord  would have done; for He would have gathered Jerusalem as a hen gathers her chickens under her wings; but that generation of Jerusalem WOULD NOT. To David He would have given great new blessings, but David was carried away in absurdities of desire, in a fitful suddenness quite contrary to his normal life! The love of God is willing, who would have all men  come to a knowledge of the truth. The sand needs removing from the machinery, and the folly from the heart, and the great thing is that the One who does it, opened the door of rightness to this, by becoming flesh, and dwelling among us, that through believing in Him, the heart is pardoned, the spirit is renewed and life is granted for ever. Never minimise willingness, nor ignore it!

27) Hosea 13:1

§"When Ephraim spoke, there was trembling: He exalted himself in Israel;
But when he offended in Baal, he died."

In the next item, 28, we have:

"Now they sin more and more,
and have made for themselves moulded images, idols of their silver,
according to their skill: all of it the work of craftsmen."

Two matters, one after the other, arise in this case.

A

Hosea 13:1

First, let us consider the translation to be given, and then see the reasons.

"When Ephraim spoke, there was trembling: he exalted himself in Israel.

"Now they sin more and more,
and have made for themselves moulded images, idols of their silver,
according to their skill: all of it the work of craftsmen."

 

Keil in his Old Testament Commentary, wrought with Delitzsch also, favours with reason the translation of the first line. However his understanding of its import is different. To him the trembling results from the force, power and prestige of an uplifted Israel. It is then that his exaltation is noted.

This however would be, while not dissimilar to some of the actions of Ephraim, far from biblical ground of being exalted in Israel by DIVINE measure!

To understand this, it is first necessary to realise that Ephraim had very fertile land, and it is even used as a synonym for Israel (as distinct from the kingdom of Judah, which resulted in the division of the 10 tribes from Judah and Benjamin, after Solomon's rule, in that of Rehoboam). This is seen in Isaiah 7:2, 5, 9, 17. Samaria of course, here mentioned, was the capital of the entire northern kingdom called more often, "Israel".

Ephraim as a tribe had been itself leader enough! Judges 8:1 shows the chaffing at lacking a prominent place in a conflict; and again, the early pitching of the tabernacle was at Shiloh, in the territory of Ephraim. You see a rather rancorous seeming reaction of eminence and assurance likewise, in Judges 12:1ff..

However it is as a nation designated under this name, as a handle, that we find the usage in Hosea, the topic of which is not specialised to tribes, but to the two nations (Hosea 1:1).

You see, in fact, even an alternation between referring to the nation as 'Israel' and 'Ephraim' in this very prophecy, at Hosea 11:1-3. "When ISRAEL was a child, I loved him ... " the Lord declares.

 He proceeds in a little,

"I taught Ephraim to walk, taking them by their arms;
but they did not know that I healed them.
I drew them with gentle cords, with bands of love,
and I was to them as those who take the yoke from their neck.
I stooped and fed them."

Here you see the real way in which Ephraim was exalted. He did it by receiving from the Exalted One, the tenderness of His service, the stoop of His grace and the lovingkindness of His compassion. At such a time, when Ephraim spoke, there was trembling. That was the nature of the relationship through which Ephraim was exalted, seen as from his genesis; and it was before the haughteur and self-willed aggrandisements and furies, flurries and worries took hold in the tender soil, like vast weeds. God exalted him when he humbled himself, for the Lord looks to this man, the one of a human and a contrite heart, and who (Isaiah 66:1-2).trembles at His word.

Again, in Jeremiah 31, you see the Lord referring again in tender terms to Ephraim, as if this sinning segment of mankind, so dear to Him in His historic placarding to all the world of His power and His ways, and His scope for salvation amidst them,  and again, Ephraim exalts himself by humbling himself, by baring his heart. For it remains true: "The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit." It is always true this, that "Blessed are the meek, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven"! (Matthew 5). God does not change, nor do His ways (Habakkuk 3:6).

Thus it is not that when Ephraim spoke, as in Hosea 13:1, OTHERS trembled, so that he exalted himself in Israel. Far from this is the case. In fact, God resists the proud (James 4:6 cf. Proverbs 3:34), but gives more grace to the lowly. Keil, whose works are usually so delightful in erudition, therefore, though presenting the Hebrew well, does not present its meaning well. The Authorised Version in this instance, however does! It is well that it is so.

Let us see moreover in Jeremiah 31:16-21, the extent to which it is the TREMBLING character of Ephraim's speech, known to God in its reality, is the strength of his placement!

"Thus says the Lord:
'Refrain your voice from weeping,
And your eyes from tears;
For your work shall be rewarded, says the Lord,
And they shall come back from the land of the enemy.

 'There is hope in your future, says the Lord,
That your children shall come back to their own border.
 

'I have surely heard Ephraim bemoaning himself:
"You have chastised me, and I was chastised,
Like an untrained bull;
Restore me, and I will return,
For You are the Lord my God.
Surely, after my turning, I repented;
And after I was instructed, I struck myself on the thigh;
I was ashamed, yes, even humiliated,
Because I bore the reproach of my youth." 

'Is Ephraim My dear son?

Is he a pleasant child?
For though I spoke against him,
I earnestly remember him still;
Therefore My heart yearns for him;
 I will surely have mercy on him, says the Lord.' "

It immediately proceeds to show Ephraim the ways of stability and godly strength, culminating in the revelation of the Messiah to come! (Jeremiah 31:21-22), that phenomenon in which the Lord is to change all things, something immediately confirmed in Jeremiah 31:31ff., with the very interstices of the New Covenant to come! (see further, Tender Times for Timely Truth Ch.  1).

Here is the strength, and it is necessary to humble oneself that one may be moved upwards in due time: it is the former, not the latter, which forms the pertinent contrast to Ephraim in former times, and the debased state in which, in the time of Hosea, he was to be found. The nation had NOT been exalted, but humbled, because the day when he spoke, and trembled, has long past.

Now he speaks amiss: indeed, in Hosea 8:3-14, we find these words concerning its debasement, its glorying where glory was not to be found!

"Israel has rejected the good;
The enemy will pursue him.

 "They set up kings, but not by Me;
They made princes, but I did not acknowledge them.
From their silver and gold
They made idols for themselves—
That they might be cut off.
 

"Your calf is rejected, O Samaria!
My anger is aroused against them—
How long until they attain to innocence?
For from Israel is even this:
A workman made it, and it is not God;
But the calf of Samaria shall be broken to pieces.

 "They sow the wind,
And reap the whirlwind.
The stalk has no bud;
It shall never produce meal.
If it should produce,
Aliens would swallow it up.

 

Thus when Ephraim spoke tremblingly, this figure of Israel, he exalted himself in his land; but now! Baal worship, most devoid of fear of the Lord, has brought him down, degraded his very nationhood to the ground, providing ground for condemnation. In other words, it was in the atmosphere of trembling before God, who in His goodness presented wonders of supervision and kindness, that Israel was brought to a high pitch, but in his bursting with pride, he decided to have some other god for his enjoyment, addition, and so depravity spoiled contentment with richness of blessing. The colon in the translation is intended to signify this. The capital in "He" is merely to increase the sense of flow from trembling to exaltation.

 

28) Hosea 13:2

Hosea 13:2

The Stupendous Outrage

§"Now they sin more and more,
and have made for themselves moulded images, idols of their silver,
according to their skill: all of it the work of craftsmen.

"They say of them, 'Let the sacrificers of mankind kiss the calves!' "

 The rendering of the first part of this verse occasions no challenge. The theme of accelerating, rampant and ramifying sin is not uncommon, and is the 'normal and natural' prelude to disaster, to which alas, Israel in its ways found with abundance but no felicity.

Indeed, so like the current Gentile world is the Israel of that ancient day, that we find they even receive this denunciation: "Because Ephraim has made many altars to sin, they have become for him altars for sinning."

Altars for sin ? In this case, 'high places' for worshipping God in their own non-appointed way would become one way of allowing intoxication with the naturalistic fallacies and religions which surrounded them, each one according to his art, or even a city according to its wish. This is the aggregative, the synthetic field for religious reality from God,  PLUS man's ways, cultures, morals, if such they may be called.

Thus in Jeremiah 2:27-30 we have these elemental charges from the Lord to His people. What have they been doing ? it has been things like these:

"Saying to a tree, ‘You are my father,’
And to a stone, ‘You gave birth to me.’
For they have turned their back to Me, and not their face.
But in the time of their trouble
They will say, ‘Arise and save us.’

"But where are your gods that you have made for yourselves?
Let them arise,
If they can save you in the time of your trouble;
For according to the number of your cities
Are your gods, O Judah."

Thus the Lord asks:
"Why will you plead with Me?
You all have transgressed against Me."
 

His remonstration tingles on the very air.

Cities have city-gods, like local Baals, that territorial sink for sin which produces like giant weeds, the altars for abominable things, perversions and deaths, as collective infamies breed. When one protests, when a prophet speaks to correct them, from the Lord, it is as when Jehoash slew Zechariah, son of Jehoiada, who had nurtured him. And why did the king act in such heinour hauteur ? It was because of his lust for change.

They use the sword, they 'devour' the prophets like a destroying lion. It becomes like some autocratic land, like Russia, which for so long has slain so many who dared to criticise, in so many sometimes original but always insatiable ways.

This sort of movement we see in II Chronicles 24:17-22:

"Now after the death of Jehoiada the leaders of Judah came and bowed down to the king. And the king listened to them.

"Therefore they left the house of the Lord God of their fathers, and served wooden images and idols; and wrath came upon Judah and Jerusalem because of their trespass.

"Yet He sent prophets to them, to bring them back to the Lord; and they testified against them, but they would not listen.

"Then the Spirit of God came upon Zechariah the son of Jehoiada the priest, who stood above the people, and said to them,

'Thus says God:
"Why do you transgress the commandments of the Lord,
so that you cannot prosper?
Because you have forsaken the Lord, He also has forsaken you."

"So they conspired against him, and at the command of the king they stoned him with stones in the court of the house of the Lord. Thus Joash the king did not remember the kindness which Jehoiada his father had done to him, but killed his son; and as he died, he said, 'The Lord look on it, and repay!' "

It is in such a development, over the centuries moving like a aeroplane laden with atomic bombs, set upon yielding doors in the bomb-bay, in the midst of it, that Hosea speaks. What new thing, then, have they devised ? what fresh synthesis, laden with the weight of hell has come to afflict their people ?

'New' ? It is not necessarily a genuine novelty, but may be merely a digression from truth, an impression from the rampaging passions of murder, religiously dressed, with pagan concepts of appeasing the gods by slaughter of children, as with Moloch, or in general of mankind, which could also occur with Baal. Indeed, they even import it into scorching substitutes in high places of synthesis, where with the very name of God, they might indulge in such unprincipled works. This they did while both metaphorically sacrificing men (as with Jehoash's llaughtering the son of his protector priest, when challenged to forsake `(II  Chronicles 24:15ff.).

The Lord countered their folly with such words as these (Jeremiah 19:5):

"They have built also the high places of Baal,
to burn their sons with fire
for burnt offerings unto Baal,
which I did not commanded, nor speak it,
neither came it into My mind ... "

High places, synthetic religiosity! Murder plus sacrilege plus blasphemy plus tragic distortion of the tenderness due to the child, what an array for judgment; and if a practice, what a thrust for the overthrow of a people!

Now we revert to the translation of Hosea 13:2. We come to the last segment,

"They say of them, 'Let the sacrificers of mankind kiss the calves!' "

Kissing the calves refers to the use of a calf as a symbol for the Lord, perhaps after the style of Aaron's colossal evil, when as a leader of Israel out of the literal slavery in Egypt, by the mighty power of God, he yielded and made a golden calf, so that they could say of it, that this was had led them out of Egypt.

Since such an animal could be sacred in significance in Egypt, this was a synthesis of the things of the Lord with Egyptian power and culture, which God had overthrown, withering their false gods with a literally devastating scorn!

Therefore, when later such things as religiously devised calves were used, there was a ridiculous recidivism, a yearning for the days of slavery if followed to its end, and a mockery of the power that had saved them! How many modern nations are now doing just the same, and are the USA and even Australia coming into this field even now ?

In ancient Israel, what had been exposed as fiction and vapidity, man-religion for the heart of man, in the defeat of Pharaoh's harsh rule over the people of Israel, mere slaves, had thus been brought into the realm of the God who provides, like an imported boil. It was an affront to history, to their escape, that escapade, that miracle chapter in history, but most of all to Him  who had rescued them in one of the most scintillating actions of all time, systematic, verbally explicit, wrought in food and water to provide for millions for years, involving not only escape but escapade, not merely deliverance but triumph.

To CONTINUE such practices was of course an action of systematic rebellion, concocted impudence, deliberate duress in the relationship of the people with God, like a divorcee insisting on using the signature of his wife on dud cheques, when the relationship was a mockery! Such was Samaria, with its golden calves. KISSING the calves became an expression of tenderness amidst perversity, worship amidst idolatry, spiritual promiscuity amid rebellion, adorned with sentiment, outrageous in infelicity, a holy hypocrisy.

Thus the charge is that those who deal thus with mankind, that they even SLAY them, in the field of religion, outrageous, inhuman, atrocity-makers, covenant breakers, murderers in the realm of the divine, 'SACRIFICERS OF MANKIND', then come and aggravate their spiritual crimes. How do they, how can they make things worse after religiously drafted murders ? It is in this way.

They then  make such a pseudo-sanctified folly of it, that they DARE, even dare to mix their faiths and beliefs and ways with the Lord, and at that, with Himself under the idolatrous guise of a calf, and at that, a calf which looks back to the hideous defilement of giving an Egyptian cult figure, cattle, to the work of the Lord, and at that, doing this when the Lord had just led them out of that culture, and at that, led them out of the slavery which had soiled their spirits, crushed their hearts and riddled their race with ruin.

Moreover, being so callous, they KISS the calf, as if there is to be  no end to the mismatches, to the mischiefs, to the perversions and diversions which could be found, as if folly were an art form and the architecture of religion were made an innovative affront to its object, even to the Author of the human race, of 'mankind'.

What more of provocation is POSSIBLE!

This then is the result of sinning more and more, earlier in Hosea 13:2, and here is the climax to it

THEREFORE, the LORD indicates, they will become like the morning cloud and early dew - it just passes with time; and like chaff blown off, like chimney smoke (Hosea 13:3). There comes a time when calamity can be kind, and an interruption of hideous practices by blight can be the only redress to reality. 

The Hebrew actually indicates, sacrificers of men in a tight phrase, a participle, those who slay, being bound in the construct state to the following word, man, generic man in emphasis. The plural participle indicates MANY performing an act of slaying relative to something closely bound, and what more so than the word to which follows the construct, namely not men, a plural,  but man, in the sense of mankind, most general. But it is NOT general,  as MAN, mankind is not so involved. What is involved as man, expressed in the singular but by collective, as mankind, MAN it is which is being sacrificed as the word closely following the connective construct indicates. This is a kind of entity, the sacrificing ones of man, let them kiss... Not among man, readily put clearly by preposition, but in close association with man, combined in alliance by construct form of the participle.

MAN in horror is the term used as to the CAATEGORY offended against, by this  slaughtering noted in the construct state, closing with the word following. That is the apt and exact word. The concept that some special feature is to be invented as if sacrificers were simply acting (well or badly), and these are then ironically asked to kiss the calves, is vain. The text refers to those sacrificing relative to, in  connection to MAN, what is IN TOTAL and always wrong, quite a sufficient ground for ironic and caustic condemnation.

This solves the situation; the other merely increases its perplexity.. It could have used the relative pronoun if this had been desired, and put it clearly as let men who make sacricies ... but this would be vast  over-statment. So it was not put. What was put is precise and excoriating elegance and entirely reasonable.

Indeed,  what is the point of dealing with the human race as such when the criminal actions are of a highly specialised segment of it, engaging in select impudence against their King in the Covenant ? It is the RACE which is brought into horrific subjection in this way, and this is an offence of utter abandon before the Lord, who so treats it, in its CATEGORY.

The sacrificers-of-man, let them kiss the  calves, the statement comes in dual irony and aghast horror, resounding in scorn.



 

29) Joel 2:23

§"And ye sons of Zion, exult and rejoice in the Lord your God; for He gives you the teacher for righteousness, and causes to come down to you a rain-fall, early rain and latter rain, first of all."

The excerpt below is taken from Bible Translation 11, n 24. In review of this section of Joel, we have moved from  devastation to the beginning of a shower of mercy.

Q) MESSIANIC MERCY

Meanwhile, there is a need. It is of faithfulness, loyalty, stability, earnestness, sincerity.

In Joel 2:23 we read of the former and the latter rain being sent, and the Teacher of Righteousness who beyond all the words of Joel, will Himself produce that final warning, ultimate rescue system, total salvation which is so needed. As Keil translates this verse:

"And ye sons of Zion, exult and rejoice in the Lord your God; for He gives you the teacher for righteousness, and causes to come down to you a rain-fall, early rain and latter rain, first of all."

The temporary judgment is removed, the final court of appeal is preceded by the arrival of the Judge Himself, strangely however robed in teaching toga, to deliver His people before the end so strongly indicated in the preceding vastness of THE DAY OF THE LORD, in its finality.

There is of course a play on words. The term for the rain and for teacher are such that the translation can look at these as options. However, the rain for righteousness would be a strange procedure when the people had forfeited all but the ground for judgment. A rain in mercy, surely, would seem apt and even appropriate; but a rain in righteousness to come when the DESERTS were deserts, this will not do.

Hence the TEACHER FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS, the call, the need, the base for reform and redemption, this is the way. As Keil says, most of the rabbis and early commentators have followed the Chaldee and Vulgate, and taken 'moreh' (the word in view) in the sense of "teacher". He notes that later people often did not, but proceeds "although moreh is unquestionably used in the last clause of this verse in the sense of early rain; in every other instance this is called yoreh (Deut.xi.14; Jer.v.24)." In fact, we may add, in this very verse, 'moreh', THE TEACHER OF RIGHTEOUSNESS APPEARS with the definite article, while the use for rain, later in this same verse, lacks it. As we shall see, this omission is what is found for the rain usage.

Thus, right here, both the early rain and the latter rain, one of them the SAME word, appear according to idiom, WITHOUT the article, as normal. The earlier use, appears by CONTRAST, with it. That is precisely the sort of warning for a pun, accompanied by the usage of no article for this rain...

Keil, then, notes that it thus seems most reasonable to take it that the word moreh in the last clause was selected there, precisely to echo the previous occurrence in this sentence of moreh meaning teacher. In other words, it would be a strange rarity to introduce this term without ground for the rain; but not at all strange if its use were conditioned on an intentional play on words, just as the article similarly would be strange. TEACHER first, and THEN RAIN. This is exactly what many teachers do both to alert their (sleepy?) students and to help them remember. To the student mind, this can act rather like a pneumatic drill, and quite often this may be what is needed!

In particular, Keil stresses that the definite article "the" is placed before the term translated as "teacher" whereas this is never found for the 'rain' meaning, and as he indicates, "no reason can be discovered why moreh should be defined by the article here if it signified early rain." It is however "decisively confirmed" by the phrase 'for righteousness' which follow the term rendered 'teacher '. This, he states, is "quite inapplicable to early rain," since it cannot mean either 'in just measure' or 'at the proper time', or 'in becoming manner' as 'righteousness', in the term here chosen, is never scripturally used in the physical sense. To 'the teacher' however it is eminently applicable.

But why would a pun be used at such a point ? Surely it would be to link the teacher and the rain, just as is done in Psalm 72, where of the Messiah, the son of David to come, it is said:

"He will bring justice to the poor of the people:
He will save the children of the needy,
And will break in pieces the oppressor.

They shall fear you,
As long as the sun and moon endure,
Throughout all generations.
He shall come down like rain upon the grass before mowing,
Like showers that water the earth.

In His days the righteous shall flourish,
And abundance of peace,
Until the moon is no more."

(Cf. Item 16, esp. pp. 92ff. above.)

The pun then would be perspicuous, granted it is indicated: it applies, is apt, follows an earlier usage concerning the Messiah in His righteousness in practical things.

Further, our verse in Joel is in a vein of exultancy (Joel 2:21-23):

§"Fear not, O land:

Be glad and rejoice,

For the Lord has done marvellous things!...

Be glad then, you children of Zion,
And rejoice in the Lord your God:

For He has given you the teacher of righteousness,

And He will cause the rain to come down for you,

The former rain and the latter rain ..."

It then proceeds, exactly as in Psalm 72 to specify the emblems of flourishing.

The so-called prophetic perfect is in use: the Lord "HAS DONE" marvellous things, while this is in fact to come, being seen in His mindful eye as present, and placed before the prophet thus graphically, vividly, as if here now.

The 'marvellous things' remind one of Isaiah 29:14 (cf. SMR p. 788), which Paul refers to the coming of the Gospel: it is a passage showing the work the Lord will do to open the blind eyes. It is quite parallel to the preceding passage in 28:14-16, which ends with the laying of

"a stone for a foundation, a tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation",

adding this:

"whoever believes will not act hastily."

Indeed, in that context, Isaiah proceeds (29:17ff.) from the foundation stone, to the detailing of the specific functions in healing body and spirit, to be performed by the Messiah:

"In that day the deaf shall hear the words of the book,
And the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity and out of darkness.
The humble also shall increase their joy in the Lord,
And the poor among men shall rejoice
In the Holy One of Israel."


This then is the phase of marvellous work, and it corresponds like Psalm 72, precisely with our present passage in its similar exultancy. Just as Isaiah 28 brings in the Messiah in 28:16, the sure foundation, and declares an "awesome work" in 28:21, expanded to "a marvellous work and a wonder" so that the wise lose their knowledgeable pretensions in the face of it, in Isaiah 29:14, and hypocrisy is exposed (as in Matthew 23!), for those who draw near with their lips, their hearts yet obdurate: so here. The Messiah is first seen, in this case the teacher of righteousness, and this is MARVELLOUS just as His name is "wonderful" in Isaiah 9:6, and great things are done (as in Isaiah 29:18 cf. Ch. 35), seen in Joel 2:25-26, and the Spirit is poured out of from on high: Joel Jole 2:28 cf. Isaiah 29:19, 32:15. Thus there is perfect and indeed intimate parallelism of presentation of Isaiah and Joel, in word, phrase and substance.

Further, the intense emphasis on the  wonder of things in the sequence is more than merely verbal (signal as this is): it shouts from both contexts (as in Joel 2:21,28ff.) and its vibrant echoes bore into the heart, as one reads the various throbbing and impactive attestations of the world-shattering, spirit exposing, evil rebuking freedom and power with which the Lord in astonishing fashion, is to act (as was the case in those predictive days, leading up, in due course, to the coming of the Messiah). Everything is a turning upside of established sin patterns, a subduing of specialised follies with a liberality of love and splendour of mercy, that moves from Isaiah's child who is to be called wonderful (Isaiah 9) to Joel's "wonders in the heavens and in the earth" and "marvellous things" that surround the events of such substantial ultimacy. Paul captures and expounds further, from the Lord, in I Corinthians 1.

This rendering in Joel, "teacher of righteousness",  moreover prevents a four-fold reference to rain, which otherwise occurs in Joel 2:23. It likewise means that "the teacher of righteousness" with the idiom appropriate is used, followed by the generic reference to rain, and then the division of rains into former and latter.

It balances and all is thus explained, but not otherwise.

The pun, let us stress, is moreover explained; for it is a large part of the script that the bounty is mercy, the Messiah is the ground and the result is in blessing. The link is didactic, educational, inspiring, and ... needful. It is not some flick of feeling, but a well-grounded mercy which proceeds at enormous cost, that of the Messiah, as elsewhere so often shown; and here, as to emphasis, with wonderful input of real righteousness, the enduring and close relation of exuberant joy in the mercies of God.

Let us however return to Keil's own point to the effect that there was no way that this rain would be a rain of righteousness, if that rendering were given. It would not fit; indeed its non-fit would be quite as conspicuous as the fit when it is rendered teacher of righteousness. "THE RAIN FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS" ... that is what it would be.

However, the people were seeking compassion not righteousness, and to render the rain as for righteousness when drought would be the proper assessment, would invade mercy and cloud the whole doctrine of scripture. It is not in STABILITY and FAITHFULNESS despite sin that the rain comes; it is in mercy to cover sin that it is sent. Righteousness is NOT the point. It is contrary to it, and evacuates it, for rain. For the TEACHER however it is His intrinsic nature, and their absolute need. Thus negatively and positively, idiomatically and contextually, grammatically and intensively in the sentence itself, we find one thing.

We conclude on these many grounds, then, that it is a ... TEACHER OF RIGHTEOUSNESS AS THE STRONG TRADITION OF RABBIS HELD, and not doubtless without reason; and as the Chaldee and Vulgate present. A... ? No, "THE" TEACHER OF RIGHTEOUSNESS. The results will be proportionate!

What then do we learn from this Messianic marvel: the arrival of this teacher?

That this is part of the apparatus of mercy, and a large part. We have moved from the preliminary judgment to the final one in Joel 2, and we move similarly to the first advent of the Messiah in 2:23 to the second one in Joel 3, making yet one more parallel (3:14ff.). And this Messiah, HOW spectacularly HE teaches, yet not sensationalistically at all: Isaiah 11:2-4, 32:1-3. Indeed, it will be the sort of speech with strength and savour, unique and splendid, which though filled with mercy, holds scent of judgment to come (Isaiah 11:4, cf. John 7:46ff., Matthew 23, Luke 19:41ff.) And it holds rest, a resting place indeed, on which souls may rest from the tempest (Isaiah 11:10, 4:1-6, 32:1-4), the rest which comes from imputed righteousness (Psalm 32:1-4), which comes from the purchase of all time (Isaiah 53:4-11).

We now proceed to what follows in the text. Now it comes with the force of relish. The Messiah having come, there is naturally a profoundly powerful consequence, and this theme, the vital force of the New Covenant proceeds just as it does so often in the Old Testament (cf. Jeremiah 31, Ezekiel 11, Isaiah 54-55). The Messiah first, and then the fruits that extend like showers that water the earth. What then do we find?  
 

PREVIEW OF PENTECOST AND
PREPARATION FOR JUDGMENT

"Afterward" (Joel 2:28-32), there is what came to be quoted at Pentecost, that description of dream and vision, power and wonder, calling upon the name of the Lord and the rapid approach of the final crisis and juncture with judgment itself. There is here what we realise to be the whole reign of the church age in the New Testament format following the incarnation.

The meaning is clear. After all this, first the removal of temporary judgment and then the coming and work of the Lord as Christ, the Messiah, the crucified, mourned for in due time as shown in Zechariah 12:10, there is to be an epochal wonder leading on to the end of the entire Age. In this is to be, then, the outpouring of the Spirit of which Joel speaks in  terms of such scale, in 2:29. They are epochal in three dimensions: 1) the power 2) the revelation and 3) the judgment looking down at the end, coming precipately as the Age comes to its closure, without further ado. It is post-Messianic, pre-judgment. Let us look further at this Age.

The Lord does indeed send His rain on the just and on the unjust, but on the unjust, it is IN MERCY. Thus the chapter 3 goes on to it tempestuous ending, reminiscent greatly of Habakkuk 3. War is dramatically indicated (3:10-11) in an irony not without pity, as the foolish fastheads amongst men do their utmost to be their own salvation, so slaughtering inordinately in their falsity, and flashly bungling.

Thus we find a cohesion and a mercy focussed and multiplied in many phases, even amidst judgment in this far from the inspired writings of  this merely minor prophet, Joel.

30) Amos 4:13

§ "For behold,
He who forms mountains,
And creates the wind,
Who declares to man what His thought is,
And makes the morning darkness,
Who treads the high places of the earth -
The LORD  God of hosts is His name."

The point for translation lies in line 4.

The excerpt below is taken from Bible Translations 7, No 13.

Here, the difference is small, but not so small is the issue. The NKJV has this, that God is the One who "declares his thought to man" in a context where capitalisation is used when the Lord is in view. Thus, if it be the Lord’s own thought, then this would be "declares His thought to man". The NKJV, therefore,  excludes God here, in favour of man. It thus becomes the message that God is the one who psycho-analyses or discovers in man his little thoughts, and as it were, shows them up on the screen for man to see. Is that however the thrust of the passage ? Hardly. It is all declamatory, declarative FROM GOD TO MAN! The chapter starts,

"Hear this word, you cows of Bashan, who are on the mountain of Samaria, who oppress the poor,
Who crush the needy… The LORD has sworn by His holiness,
‘Behold the days shall come upon you …’ "


The whole chapter is an exercise is exposure of sin, BY the word of the holy God, who SAYS what is to be done, and what He has done, so revealing both His majesty and His mind, relative to the foolish, unjust and rebellious ways of man. It is NOT the declaration of what man is thinking, but of what he is DOING, and what the LORD is saying about it, which is the emphatic and unmistakable context!

In advising them to be ready after they DID NOT LISTEN TO WHAT HE SAID AND DID FOR SO LONG, he comes to the climax in 4:12-13. Thus in Amos 3:7-8 where He even makes the generic point that it is He who declares His thought:

"Surely the Lord GOD does nothing,
Unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets.
A lion has roared!
Who will not fear ?
The Lord GOD has spoken!
Who can but prophesy ?"


 

The prophecy indeed near its commencement, after the declaration of who the prophet is, has this in Amos 1:2:

 

"The LORD roars from Zion,
And utters His voice from Jerusalem…
For three transgressions and for four…"


 

It continues almost unrelenting, with the precise depictions of what the LORD has chosen to do, conveyed through what He has chosen to say. In Ch. 3, it starts, "Hear this word that the LORD has spoken against you, O children of Israel," and then exhibits the text in 3:7 noted above, in which the LORD’s undertaking is made clear, about what He will REVEAL, SAY for Israel to HEAR. He proceeds to divulge these words, until 4:1, where the exposure becomes vehement. He then  in Amos 4, exposes what He has thought and done, relative to punishment of Israel in five stages, and then in 4:12 declares that now - having heard and received all this, His deeds replete complete with detailed explanation, following this rehearsing of their failures before Him - they must prepare to MEET their God. Discipline did not create the pangs of conscience, and punishments did not lead to repentance, so now only the direct and fateful meeting is left.

 

*      "Prepare to meet your God!, O Israel!"

 

Now is this sequence, series and stress, a revealing of the will and mind and word of GOD or of man! Is the dénouement one of crisis through man’s thoughts exposed, or man’s deed exposed by GOD’S THOUGHTS and the DIVINE WORDS of retribution and judgment! To ask is to answer. Thus it is properly, "Who declares to man what His thought is!" To import man here is not merely contrary to the ENTIRE strength of the context, and of the preceding chapters, and of the key note commencement, but contrary to it. This is simply not what it is about! It rather reflects what has been said in 3:7-8, and applies it in a more totally retributive situation, a climax to all that went before in 4:13, in one of the most beautifully majestic utterances essentialising and giving vast perspective in its consistent thrust… To fail here, is like talking about flowers, while visiting the moon.
 

NOTE: For more on this verse, see VICTORY Ch. 9, where linked on the Web version..

 

31) Habakkuk 2:13

§"It is not of the LORD of hosts that peoples toil for the flames,
and nations grow weary for nothing;
for the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord
as the waters cover the
sea."

The excerpt below is taken from The Bright Light and the Uncomprehending Darkness, Ch. 8.  

 

DARKNESS OF SPIRIT IS NOT OF THE LORD

AND WILL MEET HIS SWORD:

UNCOMPREHENDING AND COMPREHENSIVELY STRICKEN

Let us consider Habakkuk 2:13-14, and with this, allied scriptures to show the lively loveliness of the Lord, who neither as dictator, disenables the  liberties of man, nor supine, ignores them. Instead, showing all things over time, and dispossessing devilish dynamic of its pretence by allowing its actual ways to reveal themselves in our time, He acts in His own critical axis of action, and completes the lessons of the ages with the eventual rebukes to shame, and overthrow of shambles.

This theme of using history to educate powers and bodies of various celestial kinds is seen in Ephesians 3:7ff. (emphasis is added, to focus our point):

”Of which I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of His power. To me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; and to bring to light what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world has been hidden in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:

”To the intent that now to the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be made known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, according to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord: In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by faith in Him.”

This theme is more generally apparent in such places as Habakkuk, and relative to the nations of the earth, in Ezekiel 37:28. The same theme is exposed in the book of Job, where trial of faith is made in the very light – or better, darkness, of the Satanic challenge, so abundantly met, that Job served God for reward!  

(On the case and procedure for Job: See SMR pp. 95ff., The Power of Christ’s Resurrection and the Fellowship of His Sufferings Chs.    3,     4,     5,    6.)

Consider it again.

§  "It is not of the LORD of hosts that peoples toil for the flames,
and nations grow weary for nothing,
for the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord
as the waters cover the sea."
 

With the intial force of denial, it is as if to say: NOT OF THE LORD IS IT THAT ... these things happen. It resembles the force and thrust of Psalm 50:21-23! (italics added for the point in view).

"You sit and speak against your brother;
You slander your own mother’s son.
 
These things you have done, and I kept silent;
You thought that I was altogether like you;
But I will rebuke you,
And set them in order before your eyes.
 

"Now consider this, you who forget God,
Lest I tear you in pieces,
And there be none to deliver:
Whoever offers praise glorifies Me;
And to him who orders his conduct aright
 I will show the salvation of God."

No, God is not at all like this, His way is wholly contrary to the woeful and self-important contaminations of spirituality to be seen in the vapid ways of this cluttered world; and His zest and zeal is that people realise this, repent and seek Him, for both now within, and when He acts in power, for all to see most manifestly, there will come suddenly the vindication of His righteousness and the devastation of what opposes it. If now liberty allows folly, yet it divinity does not endorse it, merely letting it declare its heart.

If now in patience, He lets things show their inward realities, then in His time they will meet their full disclosure. In the interim, what massive delusion to imagine that it is OF HIM that these things happen. What preposterous impudence of vocal pollution, as if devastation had its voice, or a serpent could talk as well as crawl!

Did you imagine, in effect He is asking, that the liberty that allows abuse of truth and righteousness meant that the Lord neither knew nor cared, or rather that He endorsed it, because this is what HE IS LIKE! So far is this from being the case, that it is as urgent as seeking an operation on melanoma, to remedy such misconception. It is precisely thus that comes the message in Habakkuk. Let us then see! IT IS NOT OF THE LORD that all this festering horror of human invention, this imagination of the evil heart of man so proceeds, any more that at the time of the flood (Genesis 6:1-6). It is repugnant to Him, and He deals with it at times and places of His choosing; eventually in such a way that the whole earth will resound with the realities now so misused, and so blasphemously touted!

Meanwhile, let us see some translations of the passage in Habakkuk which concerns us.

                                                    NAV

 "
Is not this from the LORD of hosts:
peoples toil for the flames,
and nations grow weary for nought!
But the earth shall be filled
with the knowledge of the LORD’S glory
 as water covers the sea."

 

                        AV 

"Behold, is it not of the Lord of hosts
That the peoples labor to feed the fire,
And nations weary themselves in vain?
For the earth will be filled
With the knowledge of the glory of the Lord,
                      As the waters cover the sea."

 

BERKELEY VERSION

"Consider, it is not from the LORD of hosts that people exert themselves
for what goes up in smoke, and that the nations exhaust themselves for nothing.

For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD
as the waters cover the sea."

 

REVIEW OF THE REVELATION
AND PROTESTATION OF THE LORD IN HABAKKUK

TEXT AND CONTEXT

These are opposite preliminaries to the statement of faith, that "the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea."

One would think it would not be too exceedingly difficult to choose between these two translations, which actually are working from a text which simply says "not from the Lord of hosts that ..."

Does it mean, "It is not ..." or "Is it not ?" It comes in calamitously in reproach, NOT FROM THE LORD OF HOSTS THAT ... It is an almost belligerent announcement.

The context must determine it, both local and overall, but one thing is sure: the writer was led to write in this way, so that the reader is EXPECTED to see which it is, and not only so, but to see it emphatically, for as written, the statement IS emphatic!

There is a close parallel in Isaiah 11 which depicts the rule of the returned Messiah in power and majesty, and the emphasis just preceding it in 11:9 is the protective prevention of the Lord on earth, so that "they will not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain", the dual aspects of the destruction of unrighteousness and the nurture of what is good and righteous, being prominent.

In this case, where we have "for" following, it also precedes the words, "the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea." In other words, in view of the dual presence, as the Messiah, seed of David on the human side, and protection and power, the earth will be so blessed.

Here then we see the expression of just this theme in positive terms, so that BECAUSE the Lord is present in this unveiling of His intents, THEREFORE the earth will AT THAT PREDICTED TIME be so filled with this knowledge of His glory. Indeed, in that day there will be "a Root of Jesse," the context proceeds, "who will stand as a banner for the people: for the Gentiles will seek Him and His resting place will be glorious."

Thus in harmony and application of this knowledge of His glory is His call to the people, and His comfort for them when they come, in words of course close to those of Christ as seen in Matthew 11:27-28.

The suffering to start and the glory to come was a theme of Christ as shown in Luke 24, where He deems it obvious and conceives that they ought to have known of this sequence in His Messianic ministry.

This glory to follow then is expressive of the heart of God, and it is unfolded in the ultimate with safety, comfort and protection in the midst of majesty: such is the message of Isaiah in the parallel.

It is of some interest here that, in Habakkuk 2, there is the addition of the words "of the glory" before "of the Lord". However, in Isaiah the emphasis is on this closeness, which though glorious, is preserved from being lost to the reader in any sense of a glory which might deflect from the reality of the personal; whereas in Habakkuk, where the vision is more general, the glory of it all is added in emphasis.

His 'glory' moreover suggests a sense of unfolding from the very heart and source.

What however IS this heart and source in this case ? Is it not that God is, after all, zealous for this provision of kindness, love and charity, comfort and relief to man, if only he will return to Him and  receive Him, so that WHEN He comes it is precisely this which is presented, which always was in heart! (CF. Ezekiel 33:11).

Turning now back to Habakkuk 2:13, what does one encounter ? There is to be found in the preceding verses an emphasis on the oppression, injustice and evil bases in which the city is appallingly operative, and on the woe to those who engage in constructive enterprises where murder and oppression are but tools of the trade. We see by contrast the huge transformation that is to come in 2:14.

Thus, the message is that despite the blundering, cluntering, obstructive presence of traitors to truth who vainly and in pride build and operate, the actual ruler and sovereign of the earth is not at all like this; for it is not of His heart and mission that such things should be.

While, then, there is in the contemporary scene such pillage and pollution, such oppression and intrusive passion of wickedness that it seems almost as if this is the story of things: yet far from true is such an impression. Indeed, the Lord is affirming, it is NOT OF THE LORD that such negative gnashing, gashing works of evil occur, and as testimony of this supervening fact is this: that the unfolding of things will reveal that the earth will be filled, not just able to discern in measure, but filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord.

It will not have to content itself with some abstraction, some implication or impression; but on the contrary, it  will be covered with the reality which lack of faith hid from the eyes of the sad or sceptical (cf. SMR pp. 257ff.). KNOWLEDGE to the contrary of the sad effronteries of self-exalting flesh, oppressing flesh: this will be not merely available, but overpoweringly obvious. What had been hidden, will be shouted from the house-tops!

More: this filling will not be merely some royal tour, as if part of a program so that when it passes, the evil continues. Far from such superficiality will be this glorious reign, this expression and manifestation of the glorious Lord. In fact, this knowledge of His goodness and truth, to the contrary of the knowledge of impious transgression in high places now so conspicuous in the earth, it will be this one which suffuses the whole earth.

The awareness of the glory of the Lord, the knowledge of it, the realisation of its sanctity and sovereignty will be so great that the earth will not be able to lack it in any groove, under any rock, in any pasture or in any valley! The FILLING of the earth with the knowledge of this glory of the Lord will thus be impregnable in power and pervasive in coverage, so that it will resemble a natural event of which we are so very aware. What event then is this ? It is the waters of the sea.

In what way do the waters cover the sea ? Do we find that there is an inadequacy ? or do the proud waves surge and pound, so that they need the restraint of the Lord lest they should proceed too far and move onto the earth and inundate it (Jeremiah 5:22). A perpetual decree, we there read, stops the ocean from proceeding too far in its raging torrential powers. The ocean is indeed both deep and strong, a vast concourse of waters and currents, a huge display of aqueous wonder, now calm, now storming, now surging; and it is in just such a way AS the waters COVER the sea, that the knowledge of the glory of the Lord will COVER or FILL the earth.

There will be no barrier here, but on the contrary, this is like water in the domain of the sea, where its coverage is its VERY ESSENCE!

It is, then, in this way, despite the contemporary wickedness which is to receive its come-uppance in various ways (cf. Ezekiel 29:17ff., Jeremiah 25), and terminally in the day of the Lord (cf. Habakkuk 3:4ff.), that the Lord will unfold, will disclose, will unveil and exhibit, manifest and exuberantly declare His glory over all the earth, so that it is KNOWN in the earth!

That then is the meaning of Habakkuk 2:13-14, and not the precise opposite. What would that show ? That this horrible musty, measly and pathological, this impure and conceitedly grasping of bloody hands on earth, this invasion the social scene with its fiscal improprieties and inequitable grabbing is OF THE LORD. It is OF HIM that this ravage is in place! He is basic to and ensurer of the situation of such dynamic drabness and corrupt folly. It is just like Him, accords with His nature. That is why He starts with NOT OF THE LORD ? Scarcely! On the contrary, He distances Himself vitally from, this ludicrous abuse of man by man, which freedom which H e has indeed granted enables, but not ultimately. For the earth, He has in store the utter opposite, when tests done, and evil exposed, His will is for earth as in heaven.

The idea of making 2:13 as a question, would turn the point on its head, and  have such a result as backer of all evil. Far is that from, Him,, whose mercies have so often and for so  long prolonged opportunity, before bringing judgment (as in Ezekiel 16, 20, Jeremiah 18). Nothing could well be further from the Lord than this, who reluctantly and eventually so acts as need be, or to expose folly which disdains Him,, to what it is really asking for.

Say what you will about sovereignty, this is not some junta running God, but the ground of expression of mercy, justice and ultimate control in a world given vast freedoms for a great love. Let us consider it further...

It is just what He is ordaining, and as witness of this, it is then - on such a model of interpretation, horrible as it is - to be assumed that the ground for such a belief, such an inundation with evil as occurs so often, is this, that the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.

That would be a perfect  contradiction, and thus enables us to see that the thing is emphatic, and the ellipsis, "not of the Lord" rather than "it is not of the Lord" is perfectly safe in its dramatic mode; for the alternative option in reading it is, if not ridiculous, at least perspicuously in collision with the context, both here and in the case of Isaiah where it applies, at the outcome phase when the Lord is actually present.

Even though, and of course, the Lord does indeed determine that in view of His creation of human liberty and its nestling place for the exhibition and reception of love (and thus of the opposite, which liberty enables), there is scope for such evils, these are not the ground for the ensuing statement that the world will be filled with what is the actual reality of the nature and heart of God, in His time of disclosure and judgment.

The context in Habakkuk 2 proceeds to indicate the force of judgment to come on those who, despite the actual lovingkindness and equity of the Lord, and the judgment to come when all is to be revealed, continue in their hoodlum ways. These, or people such as these, we learn "are filled with shame instead of glory" (2:16), and "the cup of the Lord's right hand" is to be "turned against" such people! (cf. Jeremiah 25).

How vain, Habakkuk 2 continues, to look to fabricated, to made gods; for it is the actual one who is considering and will act.

In this way, the message of the contradiction between man's ways and those of God is simply and clearly continued from before to after the 2:14 statement on the filling of the earth with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, which in the midst of these moral and ethical censures, is to come as Habakkuk 3 shows, in implacable and illimitable measure, when all the intervening rebukes done, and the allowances for liberty over, He acts manifestly to invest the earth in its ways, with His own.

Then will be rest and sufficiency, if now there is test and there is exposure of what man is; for as man shows his hand now, so God will show His hand then; and even in the interim, His heart is against these marauders of morals, these spiritual idolaters and people of grasping injustice with whom He deals as empires or persons, from time to time, yet not so much as to collapse the liberty of man, nor so little as to leave him complacent or merely co-operating for gain! It is indeed that latter case that the book of Job so painstakingly exposes! (cf. SMR pp. 95ff.).

Looking back before 2:14, we see the preliminaries to this exposure to come, when all will be wholly manifest in an inescapable fashion; for in 2:11 we find that in the midst of this plundering passion of iniquitous man, there is a future:

bullet

"for the stone will cry out from the wall
and the beam from the timbers will answer it."

What is the nature of this architectural discourse then ? It is summed up in the next verse with the word "Woe!" It cries before it is ravaged, and the indictment long endures before the calamity strikes. It is not of the Lord, but of the persistence of folly, that it inherits over the head of His sacrificial love, what comes to the obdurately lost (cf. Acts 7:51ff.).

The nations proceed thus, BUT It then proceeds to tell us that all of this is NOT of the LORD, and there is a ground for making this statement. WHY is it not of the Lord ? It is seen in the disposition of His heart:  FOR the earth will be FILLED with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea, and thus, as the theme is completed in Habakkuk, that what is now done in darkness, will perish in light.

And why ? Because it is NOT of Him, and when His hand is fully revealed this will be an inescapable component of His majesty! ALL the earth will see what now is a moral declamation, and KNOW what is now a statement to faith by the observation of manifest transformation of the very earth by the transcendent power of God (Isaiah 11, 65,Psalm 72, Psalm 2, 67:7, Micah 7:15ff., Revelation 20)..

 

§ 32)

  In Zechariah 9:17 the NKJV does not contextually rightly  render, except in the margin, where it correctly shows what is actually written, the text.

§This is :"HOW GREAT IS HIS GOODNESS!"

We are not referring to the great goodness of many, but to that of one, of whom it may truthfully be asserted.. It is not to an entire people, themselves rescued only by the blood of the covenant (Zechariah 9:11), that such an accolade is given, but to Him who by His own blood (cf. Zechariah 12:10),does the rescuing .There IS ONE in the context, God to whom, in His meticulous mercy as here illustrated, the praise applies. Someone rescued from drowning is not normally deemed heroic.

The singular has a natural place, that of only ONE which, or who is in view. There is no ground for introducing the word "its" in the context; and in putting "its" for "his". In so  doing,  you embark on an intrusion, if not invasion of the sentiment both here and as is normal in scripture. This is that it is GOD who is good and the greatness of goodness is HIS, definitively!

GOODNESS AND MERCY FOLLOW, but I do not LEAD with them. They find their place in me by derivation and it is the source I signalise, praise and acclaim. In the Bible man is not his own s aviour, nor is the one occasioning the vast work of salvation, deemed to have great goodness; indeed, anything but in the natural state (Isaiah ). Thus turning His to its is a work which, quite simply, the context does not warrant or permit. It is, in particular, the Lord who DEFENDS them; it is HE who will SAVE them(9:15-16), and it is He who in His gracious deliverance, deems them like jewels. Such was it His grace to favour, them, and it is in Him they glory (cf. Isaiah 2:17).

 

33Zechariah 14:5

§Thus the LORD my God will  come,
And all the saints with You.

Deuteronomy 33:2-3 gives a vitally interesting background to "all His saints", with whom Christ comes as shown  in I Thessalonians 3:13, in terms of what this phrase signifies in translation, in concept. The references in Revelation 19, where the saints are first shown arrayed as the bride in the costume which is precisely that of those who, after the marriage feast in heaven,  accompany Christ, as He returns in triumph to the earth, have the significance of symbolic consistency: His raptured and received people are those who are His company in heaven, and as demarcated there, are enumerated with Him at His coming.

In Zechariah 14:5 similarly we see Him come to earth with all His saints, while in Deuteronomy 33:2-3 we see a reference to His coming with ten thousands of saints, and immediately afterwards, a designation of "all His saints", which are so much the redeemed, as to be seen in this context:

"Yes, He loves the people;
All His saints are in Your hand:
They sit down at Your feet:
Everyone receives Your words.
Moses commanded a law for us,
A heritage of the congregation..."

This is in precise accord and indeed striking accord with John 17 where the unity of the brethren is so INTENSELY and IMMENSELY desired, that the world might believe, and see that Christ was indeed sent from heaven, and that God has loved them as He loved His own eternal Word, incarnate as Christ (John 17:21-23,1-3, 1:1-4, 5:19-23). This impactive parallel is the more obvious in this, that those concerned, in John 17, are a limited selection compared with the large number of nominal Christians, being in fact those of whom He has made an identifying statement. It is this.

 "I have given to them the words which You have given Me;
and they have received them, and have known surely
that I came forth from You;
|and they have believed that You sent Me"
-

John 17:8, and this:

"the glory which You gave Me I have given them",

with this great resultant desired,

"that they may be one just as we are" - John 17:22.

Comparing this with Deuteronomy 33 above, we see Christ as the greater than Moses, the One of "more glory than Moses" since "He who built the house has more glory than the house" and He who built the house is God, while Christ has the place of "a Son over His own house, whose house we are",  who are His. In this Christ is  fulfilling His decisive role as acme and ruler, as designated in Deuteronomy 18, being He for whom the Jewish people looked, wondering if Christ were "that prophet": though indeed many did not receive Him when He came. Those who did however, were so regarded.

Hence those who accompany Christ as He comes in judgment to the earth, "all His saints", are converted, regenerated people having a spirit of oneness on the basis of a written word which is wholly endorsed, received, a Lord who is truly acknowledged as deity and indwells them, whose word rules (Matthew 28:20, 5:17-19) so that they not only believe it, but in obedience to Him, teach ALL that He has commanded, or forward the work of those who do. It is not just believing the book 'cover to cover', but what is in it: accepting its teaching.

While we must therefore seek unity with "all His saints", we must never make THEIR words a criterion, but HIS; and when, through deficiency of understanding, one is less aware than another of the meaning of His word, provided it is not gross and clear rebellion against what is written, a unity of heart can and should still be manifest beyond the imperfections of comprehension. Sometimes in this way, both learn! Nevertheless, where there is rebellion against the teachings of the Lord, there can in this case be no organic unity (see The Kingdom of Heaven, Ch.7).

§'ALL HIS SAINTS' then both literally as to the people  in view, in their integrity, and the primary background in Deuteronomy, include those who are called in Christ, who sit as His feet, receive His words, to whom He has imparted His Spirit (cf. Romans 8:6-9). While this does not here affect the actual translation, it does affect the understanding of it

 

34Malachi 2:12,15

§But did He not make one ?
and did He not have a residue of the Spirit ?,
And why one ?
He seeks a godly offspring.
Therefore take heed to your spirit,
And leet none deal treacherously with the wife of his youth.

Malachi! the last book in the Old Testament, with lustrous references to the coming Messiah, both to save and to judge, and interrogatory dialogue exposing hypocrisy in a way suggestive, like foothills, of the X-ray words of Christ to the Pharisees, it is easily categorised  - amiss!

In fact it has depths of beauty.

One verse of these has had translation almost sufficient to transform the hair into erect, bristle like structures!

It is to be found in Ch. 2:15.

To translate, in general, you need the words, any idioms, the sense, the flow, the direction, the message, the logic, the felicity, the beauty or thrust of aim. With the Bible, you need ideally, a love of the Lord in order to understand the more intimately the character of His utterance. Love tends to understand!

Let us look at Ch. 2 as an approach to verse 15.  
 

THE FLOW OF CHAPTER TWO

After the excoriation of Ch. 1, we find in Ch. 2 various applications of a message. The PRIESTS first, these are found most lax, slack and disinclined even to give the GLORY to the name of the Lord which is its due. Spiritually nonchalant ? too fat ? too professional ? they "do not take it to heart". The results of this are to be bitter; but the beginning of it all is mused upon. In verse 5, we find that God said up a covenant, a solemn agreement at His divine initiative, and calling the priesthood, He looked upon its operation. "My covenant was with him, one of life and peace..."

In fact, "the law of truth was in his mouth, and injustice was not found on his lips. He walked with Me in peace and equity, and turned many away from iniquity" (2:6).

We turn to the requisite: "the lips of the priest SHOULD keep knowledge, and people SHOULD seek the law from his mouth" (v. 7).

There is a stabilising, clarifying, inculcating, distilling function from the priest. He does not invent, but represents what is to be given, for what it is.

Quite the contrary was the practice. It tended to be very much like that of the Sadducees, rebuked by the Lord in His own day on this earth (Luke 11:52), and small wonder (11:54). Vehement and unruly, they hated the Lord they seemed to represent! You have DEPARTED from the way; you have caused many to STUMBLE at the law, and "therefore I have made you contemptible". Such was the charge in Malachi. That is perhaps one reason why the prolonged TV show, Dad's Army made the Church of England clergyman a butt for unveiled satire.

Malachi then moves to the national level. Even Judah, the southern section of the divided nation, where the temple indeed was, itself "has dealt treacherously". This nation has PROFANED, secularised religion (rather, perhaps like that Anglican Primate who made it unnecessary, really, to have Christ as the only way to God, indeed, felt this not now permissible!). This too is quite like the case in New Zealand, where the author participated in the confrontation with rank unbelief, duly sanctified by the apostasising church. There, a Principal had felt that the physical and the supernatural were not quite amenable as too distinct, to the modern mind; hence, the bodily resurrection was deemed best ousted.

Bare-faced as all this seems, then in that place, where intolerance of truth bloomed like desert cactus, we heard in debate ludicrous irrelevancies, such as this, that it would be too bad to be still legless or lame in heaven! What in the world has a NON-bodily resurrection scenario, to do with a bodily resurrection transformation. However, when the tides of unbelief roar, it is hard to be heard, but not to be assailed for the merest fidelity to faith, logic and truth, and this above all, to Christ.

With such nearer to contemporary cases in view, it is not hard to imagine the divine displeasure with the extraneous, the imperious and the unfaithful, strutting in clothes of authority. Small wonder too that we hear the metaphor, that many were married to the daughter of a foreign god. It appeared as heartless disloyalty, pretence and pretension all in one blighted broth. That then was the situation in the Israel of Malachi's day, in no mean measure.

To them, it was too much to see the sacred place in the heart of God, of the sublime, divine covenant, and all its specifications and revelation. It was one, nevertheless,  whose unbounded cost was such that its requirement  was covered only when it was all consummated in Christ. Assuredly, this covenant, this sacred preliminary to the finale in Christ, was a "holy institution which He loves".

This reminds us of the fearful penalties, due and spiritual, which relate in the Bible to tampering, toying and trifling with the objective truth of the word of God, while still maintaining some sort of semblance of relationship to Him. Whether it is radical liberal neologians, in their intoxication, or inter-religious congratulations, as with PM Blair and President Bush of late, whether it is WCC amalgams of religions, or social, psychological or other 'interpretations' of religion, which subordinate it to culture and culture to man, so making God not there, and man divine: it all tends in but one direction, and to be one thing. (See Lord of Life Chs.  8,  9, and Chs. 8 , 13 of Red Alert ...)

That ? It is this: they are a mockery of the God whose revelation has been given as authoritative, actual and final.


·         §"May the LORD cut off from the tents of Jacob

·         The one who does this,
watcher and answerer,
who yet brings an offering to the LORD of hosts!"

(Malachi 2:12).

This is italicised, since there is some variation in this translation also. However, what is given is literal, and obviously you could INTERPRET it to mean teacher and student, or guard and challenged and so on. These would be sub-categories. However, as we shall see later, one rule in translation must surely be this: translate what is THERE! Interpret ? yes, afterwards.

Thus in this case, ALL are involved in this stricture, whether in authority, or under it, whether engaged in teaching, or learning from those who propound, whether those who query, or respond and so on. It is reminiscent of Isaiah's great word in Ch. 24:
 

·         "As with the people, so with the priest;
As with the servant, so with his master;
As with the maid, so with her mistress;
As with the buyer, so with the seller;
As with the lender, so with the borrower;
As with the creditor, so with the debtor.
The land shall be entirely emptied and utterly plundered,
For the LORD has spoken this word.

"The earth mourns and fades away..."


Such attitudes of slack spirit, then,  exemplify TREACHERY (Malachi 2:16-17). Small wonder there is the scene of judgment, of being cut off, for those who make a practice of such things.

Man against man, fails in HIS part in the covenant; and man versus GOD so universally fails to fulfil what is divinely in force. The folly is seen, then,  in the national pastime of "marrying the daughter of a foreign god" (2:11). This then leads us to the concept of execution, removal of this presumptuous humbug, which formally comes to the LORD, and yet oils with words, caresses with comfort, gives succour and comfort to the ENEMY, to the NOT-GOD (Deuteronomy 32:21), which we have seen before, is that searing insult to God from a failing people.

They turn from Him who is, to what is not, and worship the shade, the nothing, like misled physicist or vacant pantheist. It is an abomination, the LORD declares. What would one expect if a husband or wife began adoring and making love to a maiden or young man not in existence, while continuing to perform the farce of being married to a real wife or husband. Increase this infinitely, by the factor that that is HUMAN, and this is DIVINE, and you begin to realise the abomination in all the intensity which God gives it, repeatedly in His word, as here.

We are then pursuing the flow and thrust of this passage, on the way to 2:15.

Now it turns to strictly inter-personal human relationships. However these are here viewed from the divine perspective, which oversees, superintends and understands. HOW can God accept offerings from those who bring grief to the tender wife of their youth, the loved maiden, sweet and tender who gave herself in marriage, bore children and has worked hard, now thrown away in the pursuit of some sexual fancy or fantasy, as if she were a mere dream, and lust were lord!

The thing is appalling.


 

MALACHI 2:15

We are now in a position to feel the waters of the exact passage in mind.

Let us then see the fast and vigorous incandescent lightning thrust of verses 13-15, by paraphrase, itself lodged securely in the terrain preceding, and to follow.
 

This is the second thing you do, because the very temple, the environment of the altar is covered with a dew not so sweet. The tears of those once so loved, so tenderly, now with callous disregard, subordinated to a current flame of sexual lust, or romantic recrudescence, these mock the reality of your worship. How can you so treat your wife!

You would even interrogate the LORD further on such a topic ? Why ? you ask! It is because the LORD is not dead or deaf party, but is intensely aware of you, and He witnesses precisely what are your deeds. HE KNOWS! There is a case in existence, pressed at law or not, before the LORD. It is one between you and the damsel you married, now much older. You have deceived her, become playful with another, or others, and so are a treacherous being.

Political treachery is poisonous ? can lead to war ? What then of this! The wife is your friend, your personal companion, your fellow, and yet you do THIS to her ... But did not God make ONE when it came to marriage! Did He perchance make three or four for choice, for use at different age categories as the brutal male got older, and felt playful ? Was THIS what He did ? Or did He not make one!

There was a remnant of the spirit, and God did not stop at the male, but made the female, also a person, also endowed with spirit, and JUST ONE did He make.

Can you not see the ONE for ONE relationship from the first, and take account of history at all!

Why, then, do you imagine, He made just one ? It was of course so that in the holy intimacy of one father and one mother, one pair, one procreative partnership, one fellowship of souls of the one procreative part and of the other, there should be a delicious unity and simplicity, this providing an inter-personal linkage about the child. So might they have reared a godly offspring, not some social construct, some alliance product, some spawn in some nursery in some situation with some parties or other in some way or other having connivance with the thrust of lust, and no concern at all for the physical, psychological, moral, historical and spiritual realities. Gone are these in such token affinities, and gone for parent and child the nurture of the truth in the nature of His design.

SO, He made one, and not exhausted in enterprise for this undertaking, He gave it duality of complementarity, not a two-headed monster but a diversity in unity along the male-female line. It is this which makes divorce so disruptive, and not merely disturbing. It is in effect to cancel what He did with the "residue of the Spirit." It is clear that this the sense, because the "one" made with the residue of the Spirit is directed towards a "godly offspring", this being the defining parameter for the one in view. The residue of the Spirit appears thus to have been towards not only complementarity but its use in multiplication of man, and specialisation of partnership towards that end*A.

BE ASHAMED! You have broken covenant with God ? You have broken it likewise with your wives, you men of Israel, in adultery. AS the explicit comparison is made of 'marriage' in taking on board another god (Malachi 2:11), so here there is the literal fact  - for you are also adulterous in lust, as well as in spiritual adventurism. What horror it all is!

(Now we proceed to the context after 2:15, in 2:16ff..)

Divorce, that tipsy topsy-turvy dizzy thing of lust and sorrow, of grief and rupture, the LORD hates it! It is not the way of peace and delight, the fitting outcome to two godly lives such as should be lived at all! It has a sense of brutality, like ripping out an organ.

Therefore be aware, and do not be treacherous, to God or to your spouse.

Indeed, you are becoming lawyers, wearisome in language (and here the parallel with Luke 11 and the strictures on the Sadducees is intense), and you will even ask more after all this, HOW are we becoming wearisome ? That is your unabashed question, is it ?

It is then well  to listen now: You are actually concocting blasphemies in your tired, virtue robbed spirits, attributing in your materialistic and pompous pretensions, happiness to the ungodly, even  daring to suggest that they are the real favourites of God, since you estimate their lives in their own terms. What an unspiritual assemblage you become, like mathematicians who find it too much to add 1 and 1; for spiritual things become as foreigners to you, while in spiritual and social ways, you act the thug, the deprived, the unaware (Malachi 2;17).


Of interest is just one point in this strongly connected, forcibly presented, divine exhortation and rebuke, each part of which is set with the next as jewels in a star of beauty, an engagement ring of distinction. When it says, "Did He not make one, having a remnant of the spirit ?", is the reference to a residue of the SPIRIT OF GOD, as it were, seen as dynamically proceeding to make one more soul and spirit assemblage, in the person of Eve; or does it mean, that He already had one more human spirit to dower, in readiness and prepared, so that it needed simply to be despatched to Eve, so that there be ONE, to match the ONE man, so that the ONE on ONE combination might produce the godly seed ? or does it simply mean as first noted above, that His imaginative construction was not sated in man as one, but diversified the production to make parents as one unit in engendering, children under their joint care and supervision to be led in, to and through the Lord to a blessed maturity in turn.

This last is taken because it assumes NOTHING, being a minimum interpretation in terms of results and upbraiding.

The One who makes the design is the One offended by its abuse; so that the capital H is warranted. Since He is speaking in terms of His creation, as in Genesis 1:27, Isaiah 45:12,18, where we learn not only that He created earth and man, but earth to be inhabited, this is highly relevant to the present point.

While choice of interpretation in these limits, may not vitally affect the argument being made about divorce, design and divine deliberation; yet in this very book we are seeing the importance, and it is essential, to GIVE GLORY to God, and hence never to intrude into what is not revealed in unwarranted assumptions... When it comes to actual translation, one would not DARE to present the first option. One does not wish to presume as if one knew whether the Lord was as it were, storing up this creative surge ready for exemplification and consummation in the making of a spirit for Eve. As to the second, nor does one wish to presume in the affair of assuming a ready spirit, for despatch. These are to intrude into the creative realities of divine procedure.

His desire for further creative enterprise, however,  to complete the specifications in their wholeness, is clear in results. Further*A, such a thought does fits well with the thrust of the passage.

Thus, the concept of the spirit of Eve ready for despatch, already as it were, batched and prepared with that of Adam, a human totality in the divine mind and power, already of ONE, and as ONE, with the first instalment for the man, given, the other to be given to the female, this stresses most greatly the unitary emphasis of the passage, and the sense of the utter depravity of the rupture of this created unity, which was one from the start.

The passage,  we might add, has NOTHING to do with what someone's supposed intelligence might see, since it is a MORAL issue; and such an insertion into the thrust of the passage would not merely be forced, with no background, but grotesque, with a departure from the contextual phase of consideration. Further, it would even interrupt the indictment, built from the first, and proceeding to the last. Again, to take another case, while Calvin is on the right track, it is not so much what God in His divine power COULD have done, which is the emphasis, as what God in His intimate wisdom DID do; not a question of the delimitation of His power, as the exhibition of His meaning in design, not a cessation of possible multiplication so much as a robustly simple, designer beauty which in its elegant sufficiency, moral integrity, balanced mutuality was WHAT HE DID!

In fact, the overview, the perspective is covenantal to the core. The covenant was BROKEN in Israel and in husband-wife relationship, metaphorically and literally, both. The covenant at the START (2:11) was something God loved. Right at the first in the covenant, the priest was of the nature described. From this, we moved to the nation, thence to husband-wife relationship, and in all this, COVENANT is the construction. So we go in covenant relevant to the institution not of Israel alone, as relevant for the priest, or for the nation, but also to that pertinent to marriage, and all this, it is a continuity and emphasis not hard to find.

 
 
  NOTE

*A

The NKJV adds ‘them’, inserted, without warrant, and with intrusion to limit  the sense and flow of thought: "Did He not make them one ?"  The ‘them’ is NOT in the text.

The KJV has not added in this needless and in fact misleading way (a principle well applicable is this: Do not ADD without necessity for the sense, and even then only as idiomatically required). Nevertheless, it sets it out like this: "And did not he make one?  Yet had he the residue of the spirit" (bold added). Again the ‘yet’ removes or blurs that causative element which is precisely the thrust of the argument. It reads: "and did He not make one ? and a vestige of spirit for him."

Again, the movement from additive to contrary with two cases of the same conjunction here would be, to say the least, a strain on the sequence (i.e. ‘and’ and ‘yet’ as in bold type above). In the Hebrew, while the conjunction used MAY have varied meanings in context, its primary use is ‘and’, and when you want to vary the translation, there are normally  limits if you want clarity. Here the limits are strong. The text is terse, dramatic, and not available for filigree work.

If then you take it simply,

§Did He not make one, and did He not have a residue of spirit ?

you are taking no liberties, and assuming clarity. Since this ALSO brings out a deep thrust of unified argument, it is doubly assured. He made one, and having a residue of spirit, He made it a singular duality adapted for joint production of children, in such a schema giving glorious opportunity for the rearing of godly offspring. Such was His creative thrust, desire and attainment; but to MAN there is requirement not to abuse the delicacy of the design, by being  boorish or self-indulgent. Rather should he respect the issuance of godly offspring by keeping to the appointed place, not joy-riding in wife-renegacy as if God had not made him for another type of project with a better result!

It is always dangerous to insist on this or that translation vehicle, like the KJV or NKJV. This is wholly unscriptural, there being no assurance whatever concerning any such particular effort. All things must be tested, and idolatry or at best emulousness can arise when one attributes to some one translation, the values which are brought in various inspirations of understanding and talents, through many. To be sure, many translations there are which do violate various clear principles, take liberties and so forth, as noted in detailed work  in The Kingdom of Heaven Ch. 7.

Nevertheless, to assume all things, cannot be and is not the same as "test all things". Testings do not generalise: they are particular and take every aspect as it comes. While our testings indicate excellent work in both the NKJV and the KJV, in various key studies and regards, they also indicate that neither is perfect. We cannot be arm chair nonchalants, but must study to show ourselves workmen who need not be ashamed (II Timothy 2:15). God has not authorised the use of some king’s authorising, nor has He proposed a principle to limit oneself to one. The true limit is what is written, not what is translated, and wise is he who makes no other.
 

 

THE NEW TESTAMENT SCRIPTURES

 

CHAPTER 6

 

MATTHEW TO ROMANS

35Matthew 10:8

Now we come to a case where both the AV and the NKJV, indeed nearly all more recent versions, are of one kind; whereas the vast majority of the Greek text is to the contrary. This seems to come about because those stuck with the Westcott and Hort love of the defective and careless manuscripts, Sinaiticus and Vaticanus, follow what they have; and those who follow the Textus Receptus have just the same. However in this relatively rare instance, the Textus Receptus does not follow the mass of its family of manuscripts of which it is a part. Remarkably well chosen for its time, it is yet in this instance not in accord with the very basics of its selection criteria.

Thus in Matthew 10:8, "raise the dead" does not appear in the large majority (M, as recorded in The Greek New Testament according to the Majority Text) and it likewise fails to appear in the parallel passages in Mark (3:15) and Luke, the latter in 9:6 even specifying the thrust in retrospect, without including it. Luke 10, where the 70 are sent on a similar mission, has no reference to it either, though the specifics of
coverage are long. In other texts, it is omitted by many of the "fathers" or early writers, and versions - translations from early times; and there are erasures and even a re-writing here, in Sinaiticus, which as shown by Dean J.W. Burgon*, is far from reliable.

The reference of Christ to raising the dead is found in His OWN account of His fulfilment of prophecy, in order to re-assure John the Baptist, who sent enquiring (Matthew 11:5, cf. Mark 5:41, Luke 7:11, John 11), in a list of far greater magnitude. At that, however, no doctrine is involved, since Peter raised Tabitha (Dorcas) , as shown in Acts 9:37-41 and Christ includes the point. It is simply a matter of the evidence for Matthew 10:8 in particular.

It is true that in an early place, the disciples are seen baulked indeed, when Christ triumphed, even in a case of demon possession, though it seems this one was very special ! (Matthew 17:14-21).

Christ's work was beyond measure (Mark 7:37, 6:56). After Christ went to heaven till His return in triumph (Acts 1:7ff., 3:19-21), it was delightful to see Peter used in raising Dorcas from the dead; but of course the omission of raising the dead from Matthew 10:8 does not entail that it was not done by any disciple before that.

It is therefore appears that there was scribal involvement of some kind in this text, but that the united testimony of many kinds weighs too heavily to be ignored, in the providential pluralities and objectivities of the textual situation as it stands revealed. It appears then that "raise the dead" should in this instance be omitted in terms of general criteria. Although as noted this does not affect any doctrine, it is nevertheless a reminder that 'rules of thumb' such as we may construct for pastoral convenience are no more than that. On the other hand, as to doctrine, no difficulty appears ever, and the thoughts of the Lord, His directions and divulgements, are maintained with splendid precision, fulfilling His undertaking of continuity for His word.

*On textual matters more generally see . On Translations of the Bible, Words about Words Ch. 1.

36Matthew 11:27

Next, Matthew 11:27 is of much interest. Here the AV has this of the Son, concerning those to whom He will reveal Himself: "he to whomsoever the Son will reveal Himself". This is inaccurate, quite simply. It is in fact:

§"All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son and the one to whomsoever Son wills to reveal Himself" - similar to that in the NKJV. One may note in passing that the term "whomsoever" if a little old-fashioned sounding in English, is fully warranted by the particular construction in the Greek. It does have a selective sound to it, as if in survey and sovereignty, each one taken specifically among all, and hence is here retained, though it is not in the NKJV. This point is relatively minor, though everything matters in translation.

It is the last eight words in the translation with which we are concerned. The Greek verb added (there are two in action here) signifies this action of Christ's will, His disposition to determine or decide or resolve, and it is much more than a simple expression of the future tense, which is all that appears expressly in the AV in this case!

This is another case showing the folly of idolatry, or even obsessive disregard or neglect of what the Lord has done outside the admittedly excellent KJV. It is quite wrong to neglect these workings of His body (cf. Ephesians 2:20ff., 4:16). This, His body, is MADE with a view to interaction, and scholarship is simply one way of assisting this over time, including the past in review of translations, and proceeding onwards. It is no part of purity to adopt a translation in a blindfolded fashion, though it is true there has been much and even gross provocation in the form of the use of indefensible theories concerning manuscripts, to limit the word of God, divorcing it from its own eloquent and elegant preservation testimony; as it is also true that the AV has in degree great translating tact and perception, wisdom and accuracy, if not always clarity..

Let us however return to dwell for a further moment on Matthew 11:27 and what the actual text, now exposed, has for us to learn when the "wills" is added, as found in the Greek.

It brings to light that the Son is not some sort of quasi-mechanical device with no personality, who simply implements like a CEO. His relationship to the Father is far more profound than that. It is quite true that as the word, He is the One sent, from the speaker, if you will, the One who speaks. It is equally accurate that He spoke as His Father commanded (John 12:48-50). It is however also true that He is in delighted (Psalm 40:1ff.) correlation with His Father, is heard by His Father (John 11:41-42), has upon Him "the Spirit of counsel and might" (Isaiah 11:2), and that in Him is "all the fulness of the Godhead in bodily form" (Col. 2:9).

The concerted collaboration of Son and Father, especially in the glory before this world was (John 17:1ff.) was such then that there was no smallest question of Christ's character and love being at all short-circuited, cramped, crimped or pinched. What HE was on earth, He was before it, in heart and mind, only the FORM (Philippians 2) having become lowly, and subject to explicit direction in a vulnerable setting.

Hence as shown in Predestination and Freewill, it is a gross misunderstanding of the nature of deity, to imagine that the Christ who as on earth, was absent in the predestinative activities of the deity, or that His principles and perceptions, His values or His character were mutative: for as to God, in Him there is no shadow of turning or variation (James 1:17), and He, Christ is God (John 20:28, 8:58, Philippians 2:6). It is no question of sovereignty dictating away, and the sovereign putting a stamp on it. HE IS THE SOVEREIGN: GOD is not under sovereignty, but sovereignty is under God: it is HIS, and expresses HIMSELF. The FATHER  is precisely mirrored in His Son, and the SON  precisely mirrors His Father and it is from both that the SPIRIT comes (John 15:26), who shows forth the Son, and through whom is given the word of God (II Peter 1:19-21, Acts 4:25, Isaiah 34:16), which we have preserved for us, as is preserved likewise the  soul of each, by His grace, when we know Him!

Fully inscribed in predestination is the reality of the Christ who showed the Father in His own Person (John 14): fear of it is as foolish as is fear of Christ not receiving one who in faith comes to Him. These things we know from the Bible as shown in Predestination and Freewill; but Matthew 11:27 helps us to recognise them perhaps even more clearly.

 

37Matthew 28:9

§Now as they were engaged in going to tell His disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, "Rejoice!". So they came and held Him by the feet and worshipped Him."

It is all but amusing in a grave sort of way, to see heretics and those 'concerned' who may also at times not 'see' how some part fits, and who change some manuscript in antiquity, so creating some minor tradition of their own; and then to see how the vast mass of the text remains, both clear and challenging, as from the first, and penetrating and enlightening at last.

Thus in Matthew 28:9, the Westcott- Hort tradition omits "when they were going", but not so the vast majority of texts.

In fact, the verb for 'going' is in the imperfect tense, signifying a continuing or repetitious act or series of actions. Quite possibly, the sequence is this:

a) the women concerned  all told the disciples in Luke 24:10-11, of the message that Christ was risen from the very dead (without any mention of the transcendentally important personal meeting with Christ being recorded there, because quite simply, they had not at that time seen Him in this way, but received report from the angels only).

b) Then, like Mary in fact (John 20), they went back, drifting perhaps and drawn irresistibly, pondering, wandering, attracted like moths to light, seeking more in the face of the disbelief of the disciples.

c) Christ then met Mary who perhaps because of her profound need, and sense of it, went back more quickly following the race of Peter and John (cf. John 20:11ff., Mark 16:9). She, truly concerned and deeply moved, addressed the One she thought to be the gardener, through her tears, the mist of eye compounded with the fog of heart, saying, "If you have carried Him from here, tell me where you have laid Him" - John 20:15.

d) Later, in the same vicinity, He meets the women, meandering back unsated with anything new to provide the disciples, and gives to them also, this direct confrontation and confirmation. They also held His feet,  in worship (John 20:17, Matthew 28:9). Rising from the dead without even a prophet as intermediary was no small divulgement, like the transfiguration (Matthew 17, where the divine voice punctuated the divine light), unique in all recorded history; but in this case, it was also unique in fulfilling the unique prediction.

However, let us revert to the text itself. To depart from the overwhelming and vast attestation of the text as INCLUDING the words "as they were going" or "engaged in going" , is neither necessary, safe nor wise. Except there be overwhelmingly clear objective evidence of a transmission error, nothing can be done. It is the word of another. In this instance, the opposite is the case.  This objective reality is always paramount, lest people become authors of what is then not the word of God, but the surmise of man. Subjective surmise has here no proper place, lest the word of man thrust itself into the mouth of God, who in His infinite wisdom, speaks what He will.

Incidentally, John 20:17  more literally has "cease clinging to me",  a more informative translation, since this particular (present) imperative holds the concept of continuity. Hence its negation is a CESSATION of that which was continuing: i.e. a ceasing of clinging.

 

38John 1:1

§In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God,
and it was God the Word was*
.

Similarly, the translation shown for Genesis 1:1 is:

§In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth,
and the earth was without form and void. 

For a substantial consideration of issues involved in John 1:1, see On Translations of the Bible, 17.

 

bullet

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and it was God the Word was.

In this case, the italics are being used as in normal in the KJV and the NKJV to mean that these words are supplied for clarity in terms of English idiomatic usage, but do not appear in the Greek text. To the mind of this writer, this is the most secure translation, since it is virtually impossible to misunderstand it.

A further feature in favour of rendering it in this idiomatic English way is that the following verse now   is far more perspicuous as to its repetitive element. The meaning would be, as in bold above, followed by this statement: He was in the beginning with God.

Thus the development would be in this style. In the beginning, as in Genesis, before anything was made, was the Maker, and the One to whom we look now is the Word. He was, in this pre-creation, and thus pre-temporal phase, with God. Indeed, God it is that He was. He was in the beginning with God.

The explicatory force now flows as smoothly as a stream in mid-Spring. We meet this Person before creation. It is not surprising that He was with God before creation, since everything is either God or creation. We are told further than His was the status of deity, Himself, and this being so, neatly and compactly for the understanding, we are to picture Him, before all creation, one God. As shown in the main text of this chapter, that is precisely what is to be expected as soon as we learn that the ONE GOD was in fellowship with the Word, so that that which is affirmed of the ONE GOD, is affirmed no less of the WORD, so that in verse three we learn with that sobering relish for the inter-relation of all things to be found in this Gospel, that all things were made by Him, and nothing that is made was made without Him.

Than this, nothing could be clearer: one Being consists in Sender and Sent, Speaker and Spoken, Father and Son, and being ONE GOD, He was there from the first, and has control of things to the last of creation. We learn as John's Gospel proceeds, that He also has control to the last of it (John 5:19-23 cf. Matthew 24:35, John 16:15).

 

Note.

*Greek allows inversions to be clear in such a case, with the verb to be connecting two terms, so that inversion of subject could mislead. Thus the subject equipped with the Greek term for "the", is distinguished from the complement, not  so equipped. In this case, it is literally, God was the Word (plus the information that 'the Word' is the subject, plus the emphasis inherent in putting the complement before the subject.). That is what we have to translate.

Now in English we could put this third part of the opening statement,  as is done here, "and God was the word." The emphasis implicit in inversion, so that what would normally come later, comes instead first, is preserved by italicising the word 'God' in English. It has just been used, so that its meaning is clear; and now it is to be emphasised. In general terms, this might suffice.

However, it is just possible that someone might read this is simply meaning that God and the Word were co-extensive, whereas of course, there is the Father and the Spirit, and the Word. This is not what the text is saying. Hence to match English idiom and mannerisms, perhaps the best translation would be this:

 

 

39Acts 9:35

§"And all those inhabiting Lydda and Sharon saw him -
those who turned to the Lord."

The case of Acts 9:35 is of much interest. Here both the AV and the NKJV have an excess beyond what is written. Thus the latter has - "So all who dwelt at Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord" , while in the former we find, "And all that dwelt at Lydda, and in Sharon saw him, and turned to the Lord."

Oddly enough the Pulpit Commentary prefers the Revised Version (English) here, saying that the addition of "they" to make it, "they turned to the Lord" is better; but it proceeds to exegete it as if the REASON they turned was this healing. This may have been a significant feature; but the text does not say this either. These then are two sorts of translations, one too broad in extent, concerning the populations, and the other too restricted, in requiring the cause of turning to the Lord to reside in the healing.

Berkeley does a fine job in precision, translating it,

"And all the inhabitants of Lydda and Sharon, those who turned to the Lord, saw him."

This is almost a literal translation. The Greek has this, forgetting for the moment the Englishness of the translation (or otherwise!): "and all those inhabiting Lydda and Sharon saw him, those who turned to the Lord." It is a way of speaking that they have, that Luke in particular has, and it is found in a very similar way, and case, in Acts 13:48: "And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed."

This is an accurate translation, but if we take, again, the way it appears in Greek, for parallel purposes with 9:35, it has, in terms of word order AT THE POINT of our interest: "And hearing it, the Gentiles rejoiced, and glorified the word of the Lord, and believed as many as were appointed to life eternal life."

Thus first you get the ACTION: "they REJOICED", and "GLORIFIED" and "BELIEVED" - and then with a similar relative pronoun, we get the qualification as to precisely which category did these things, "AS MANY AS WERE ORDAINED". Thus Luke not only uses this limit, grammatically, but he does it again nearby in a similar limiting, adding the limit or qualification, AFTER noting what it was that happened.

This is not trivial, though of course it is not doctrine as such. It means that there were people in the two cities mentioned in Acts 9 who SAW the healing, and there were people were TURNED TO THE LORD, and the two categories were the same. Whether SOME HAD ALREADY believed (presumably, as Peter went to the Christians already there) who saw the healing in the Christian midst, and what proportion of the population of the 2 towns believed, we are not told.

A good translation is found as noted in Berkeley, but if we tried to make it sound more natural in English idiom, we might render it:

§"And all those inhabiting Lydda and Sharon saw him -
those who turned to the Lord."

:We can compare this with Acts 13:48:  "And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed."

As to Acts 9:35, We often do this, appending a qualification; and it simply means this - that no Christian did not see him as healed, in that place, and there is an emphasis on action "turned", which suggests it had a strong bearing on the faith of many, possibly leading to it, to salvation in a number of cases. These are the inferences, the sentence in quotation marks, however, is what we are TOLD. It is wise to separate text from inference! Let it say what IT wills, while we think what we may, but separate our thoughts of appearances and possibilities from what is stated. Is this not what we like others to do to us; how much more do we do this when it is the Lord who provides the data!

 

40Acts 13:19-20

§"And when He had destroyed seven nations
in the land of Canaan,
He distributed their land as an inheritance -
all of which  took
about four hundred and fifty years.
And after these things He gave them judges
until Samuel the prophet."

 

This is a case of wide interest, because of its implications. In this illustration, both the AV and the NKJV rather astonishingly, and rarely indeed as a combination, fail to provide a satisfactory translation. It is found in Acts 13:19-20. "And when He had destroyed seven nations in the land of Canaan, He distributed their land to them by allotment. After that He gave them judges for about four hundred and fifty years, until Samuel the prophet."

The NASV, duly covering Egypt, 400 years, and the Exodus (13:17-18), proceeds:

§"And when He had destroyed seven nations
in the land of Canaan,
He distributed their land as an inheritance -
all of which  took
about four hundred and fifty years.
And after these things He gave them judges
until Samuel the prophet."

The Berkeley version translates similarly.

The time noted for Israel’s period in Egypt was 400 years (Genesis 15:13), the wilderness 40, and a little time was needed from Egypt to the failure to enter the land, as in Numbers 14, while Joshua, who began his military entry at a late age, proceeded for a small number of years to the allocation of the tribal lands, as seen late in the book of Joshua, and anticipated in Numbers 33:54. This fits both grammatically, as we shall see, covering all the data both aptly and well, and historically as an approximation, which it statedly is.

The Majority Greek text has, literally: "And having destroyed seven nations in the land of Canaan, He distributed their land to them as inheritance.  And after these things, within about four hundred and fifty years, He gave them judges until Samuel the prophet."

Two major points at once obtrude. FIRST, the phrase "after these things" is  FOLLOWED AT ONCE by the dative case reference to time, which would be construed as TIME WITHIN WHICH.


Unlike this, the time references in vv. 18,21 are in the accusative case, and would indicate duration of time. In those cases, one sees the time of action stretching out as it is lived; in the dative example, however, it is posing the time within which the action in view had happened. That is the difference.

That time within which the action described in some detail, occurred:  450 years. The action ? what preceded, here summarised. The sense: after these things, themselves occupying a period of around 450 years, He gave them judges ... There is a reason for the case change, which equates to a time concept change, and this presents perspective backwards, by disjunction from the earlier and later methods of timing, which are in the accusative or duration time approach. The change interrupts mere ongoing duration figures, with time within which figures, and it does this for a reason.

The reason for not putting the new time, about 450 years,  with what FOLLOWS is simply the dramatically disjunctive change of case. It is not wise to ignore grammatical change of case in a varied series of references to time. It is as if for a doctor there were a change in inflammation, and one simply ignored it, or for a mechanic, a change in engine noise, and one was listless about it. In other words, instead of flow-on, on an established time frame, there is disjunction, for an intervening remark which, stopping progress, brings summary.

What then do we find here ? The judges would be conceived as living it, as stretching forth like the case of the wilderness 40 years, and Saul, bearing rule over the same period of time! As to the 400, there is certainly, in simple grammatical terms, an option, to take it as summarising what had been said or anticipating what was about to be said. However this would be to miss the significant and indeed conspicuous case change for time reference, which significantly interrupts simple time duration figures, occurring both before and after it..

We are rather having a change of speech to cover a change in aspect. Otherwise why write at all, if data are ignored! No more is it as in v.18 a duration happening as it were before our eyes, 40 years; for now a time slot is carved out in review, a survey note on time elapsed, before the action proceeds to more things graphically before the eyes, another 40 years coming in v. 21, exactly as in the wilderness case in v. 18: both duration of time.

As to the grammatical evidence, in terms of case change, then, in v. 19 on the one hand and 18,11 on the other: this is survey; that is living. The former has it transpiring, the latter sees it elapsed. The NASV gives attention more aptly to ALL the evidence and thus is here preferable.

The other reason is this: it was NOT about 450 years from the distribution of land by allotment for inheritance purposes, to Samuel. If he were  born about 1050 B.C., having been young as a prophet, and we allow the normal 30 years before maturity for spiritual service, then we have about 1020 B.C.  If the Exodus was at 1445 ( Archer op.cit.), then the date in view would be a little after 1400, say 1380. But from 1380 to 1020 is not about 450 years.

Further, if it took Joshua more than 20 years to the distribution, then the disparity would be greater. It is much less near if the Exodus were, contrary to detailed evidence, at some imaginary later time! In this, the early date of the Exodus*1 is confirmed; one  underscored in Archer "Bible Difficulties" in such decisive manner (pp. 191ff.). That in turn is indicated clearly in I Kings 6:1, as in Judges 11:26, this making a third affirmation. In biblical terms, it is one more harmony, from different quarters in it. It is of course confirmed here in Acts 13.

What is the length of time, then, from the exaltation in Egypt through the 400 or so years there, and the 40 in the wilderness to Joshua's distribution ? It would be 440 plus perhaps 20, or about 450.

Even if we leave the field of approximation in which the text is in fact moving in Acts 13, then the figure still relates. Then, from the day of the exaltation of the Israelites in Egypt, till the end of their residence there would be 430 years, less such time as it took them to reach that exalted state, which might have come no later than the days of Jacob, as we read of the flourishing situation in Genesis 47:27-31 some 17 years).

Whether the round figure of 400 years, therefore as in Genesis 15:13, be used, with 40 years for the wandering in the desert, and a relatively short additive for Joshua to reach the point of land distribution, so making  about 450; or instead,  it be taken as 430 plus 40 or 470 with some extra for Joshua to reach the events of Joshua , with something omitted from the 430 for the exaltation of Israel, to be reached a the starting point: both come to much the same.

It is in round terms to be considered as about 450 years.  The use of the 400 as in Genesis 15, plus the 40 in the wilderness, in terms of KNOWN approximation, in a field statedly one of approximation, however, would seem the most likely meaning. Stephen appears to use precisely the same approximation in Acts 7:6, in confirmation, just as Genesis 15 is in anticipation.

450 is just what one would  expect on such a basis.

A further detail of interest is Joshua's precise invasion time for reaching the distribution of lands as in Joshua 13ff..

Thus, if he were 40 when made Commander in the assault on Ai, and made a close associate to  Moses as suggested in Exodus 32:17 at the time of the golden calf episode, then it follows he would be 80 at the time for the entry into the Promised Land, so that if the main distribution took till he was 100 before death at 110, we would have 430 plus 40 plus perhaps  20 making 490, minus time for flourishing and exaltation in Egypt as the point of departure.

It is all  approximate; but it seems for that very reason to take the 400 year base as in Genesis 15, because of its fame in terms of approximation for that period, with the 40 and the 20 or so for Joshua to reach the point described in the text. At 460 this gives a relevant approximation of 450.

That would appear an almost elementary fact, for one versed at all in what would be for Paul, national history, religiously significant. In lecturer style, he is expanding and compressing, giving action and then time slotting it. Again, there would not seem any ready way of explaining away the case change, unless there is precisely that difference.

Now let us reflect. The majority text, of which the textus receptus made use in important selections of this family in the AV, is beautifully conveying to us the fact. It is showing itself reliable. Certainly, one could as in the NASV expand with italicised words; but that is only to bring out the sense of what is in the Greek data.

God has not left Himself without a most clear witness; BUT that is not at all the same thing as saying this: that the AV is THE standard, the ONLY translation to be used, that it is so honoured of God that it must be the criterion.

Great as that translation is, and normatively reliable, it does not reach to that grand height all by itself! Here once more it slips. Alas, it even -  with the NKJV, puts the time of '450 years' after the words "He gave them judges" ,so displacing the word order in the Greek text. This makes the ordinary reader STILL MORE confused, for it then appears that that is a closed case. In fact, the time reference  comes before that topic is mentioned, and the rest of the point is as above.

Now this sort of thing in the AV  is a rarity, for it has a care and alertness hard to match, despite its imperfections, elsewhere: the main problem being clarity; but that is something which does occur in the AV, at times, partly because of the passage of time and change of language. .

Similarly, as with all translations, there are books or areas where the special expertise of someone is most helpful and a feeling for, a flair comes to light as in the NIV in Job. It is unwise to ignore this. It is unwise also to idolatrise anyone or any thing; to make a monument and authority, a PILLAR as Paul put it, of anyone, or any creation. ONLY GOD, ONLY THE LORD, ONLY HIS WORD is that. It is simply a failure, if one should do otherwise; be it to honour someone or something, most cordially, it is still an error, and how well I John 2:27 guards against it. Indeed, let us remember that the AV is the PRODUCT of people, and you must look NOT to them but to the Lord.

Now someone may say, It is not idolatry to prefer a version; and of course, this is so. What is idolatry is to have such reverential feelings toward anyone or anything not the Lord, with whatever good intention or even in one sense, admirable loyalty, that one dispenses with the full breadth of what the Lord is doing. That is why it is quite unscriptural as noted in Repent or Perish 1, End-note 1, to have this ism-itis, the inflammation of the 'ism', this tendency to set some one theologian as one's real parent, the name by which we are called. Paul condemns it explicitly, expressly in I Cor. 3.

It is FORBIDDEN. How long does it take for people to realise that just as the RC horror of cordially disobeying Christ (Matthew 23:8-10) in calling people 'father' is not the ONLY way to fall. In that sense, of spiritual supervisor and master or authority, it is for CHRIST ONLY. It is not only by EVERY word which proceeds out of the mouth of God which one is to live (Matthew 4:4), but by no other AT THAT LEVEL! NOTHING may add even a jot! Suggestions may abound, authority however is vested not elsewhere, and its administration is not another name for its supervision with complexes and cords, chains and additives, stringencies and requirements, provided courtesy of some kind party - again, however well-intentioned such may be!

What then ? The AV is fine, but not final in all things. Its eminent and justly famed serviceability is indeed a useful barrier to some of the subtle intrigues in the area of the Greek text, which so many for so long have seemingly so supinely accepted. That however is no excuse for idolatrising it, or treating it in such a way as to contravene Biblical restrictions for our liberty and our walk in love in the Lord; for the simple fact is this, that as soon as you set up these human instruments (i.e. work of a particular set of translators to the exclusion of all others, or the same in  a particular theologian) , you are limiting the liberty of the word of God, and that inhibits the love which abides in His word: it is polluting your inheritance, in the very desire to preserve it pure.

How one praises the Lord to have put the things before us in this external evidential way, letting the testimony of His due care and wonderful control of things appear in this also, the preservation of the thrust and meaning of His text to achieve the fulfilment of His promises.

 

41Romans 3:25

§Whom God set forth as a propitiation by faith through His blood, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed.

Here, in Romans 3:25, the NKJV has an advantage, in putting, "by His blood" instead of "in", for while both translations are permissible, the latter may suggest to idolatrising minds an idea not in the original. On the other hand, the NKJV also changes the order from "through faith in His blood" to "by His blood through faith".

It is best to preserve where possible the order given,  often indicative of intimate meaning or emphasis, however. Perhaps the best way of all might be this:

§by faith through His blood.

Such matters as these show chiefly, perhaps, the importance of actually understanding what is being said, in stead of relying on what some one translation or translator has to say, with however good an intention. The body has many gifts, and where there is no clear contrariety from the Lord, it is best to use them.

The point is that the blood is indeed the transmissive basis, but that it is NOT the objective fluid: it is its having been shed and the purpose of it which is to the point. Thus Colossians 2:21-22 shows it is HIS DEATH which the blood symbolises, and that it is HIMSELF in whom faith must rest. This passage tells us: "Now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and irreproachable in His sight...", and this is all dealt with at great length in Hebrews 8-10 (e.g. Hebrews 10:10,14 and so on). Similarly John 5:23-24, 3:16, Romans 10:9 make it clear, as so often, it is in HIM we trust; but of course, it is HE who has done these marvellous things, even to the point of blood, which testifies of the payment and its adequacy, the suffering and its completeness, its setting and its efficacious character.


42)
 Romans 5:12-15

§ It is therefore as follows:

As through one man sin entered the world,
and death through sin and that passed to all persons since all sinned

(for until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not charged up,
law not being in place,  but death reigned from Adam to Moses,
even on those who had not sinned after the manner of Adam's transgression,
who is a figure of the Coming One):

yet not as the offence, so is the free gift.
For if through the offences of the one, many died,
much more the grace of God and the gift in grace which is derived from one man, Jesus Christ, abounded to the many.

 

This is taken from On Translations of the Bible Ch. 10. Because of the centrality and notable character in terms of form as well as function, the fuller presentation is preserved for this Romans 5 case.

In Romans 5:12-21 we find that there was a first man who went astray, a thing which personality is and must be, perfectly able to do, in its initial stages at least: for otherwise it would lack the qualities integral to BEING a person. Programmees are not persons. Freedom is not a mathematical, economic or moral necessity. Without freedom, there is only rule, not reality for man. It is the reality of man that he weighs and considers, proposes and disposes, often messing things in the meantime; and that his standards are as far from being set, as on the contrary, they are set in the Artic to Antarctic bird programs by their Designer*2. Freedom was considered in Predestination and Freewill, Part I especially, as in SMR pp. 348ff., Licence for Liberty Preface,  I , 2  and elsewhere, in Things Old and New Ch.  1, Beauty  of Holiness Ch.   5  7   8; News 145  (see also indexes SMR and other).


He is still paying; he is still sinning. The direction is the same, the speed can increase as multiple assaults are institutionalised more and more, and good teaching is replaced with a moral invention of goodness, whereby evil is treated to glory (cf. Mystery of Iniquity and The Kingdom of Heaven Ch. 8).

Now in Romans 5:12 we find the generic, historic declaration. The first man sinned, gained death and his condition became universal to the race as it then was. In verses 13-14, we learn that this was an exceptional case, like your first smash after gaining your driver's licence. It is not a particularly memorable thing, but it is remembered!

SINCE then, we there learn, man sins in a different way from the original idea of sinning, which then was indeed quite original... He sins in a derivative way, lest monumental in kind, but still fatal in type. When Moses was given a heavily codified law, we are told, then sin was decisively, if you like arithmetically accountable. However, before then, it was still sin; God was still divine, man human, results still accrued, and in particular, death.

In making this distinction, chapter 5 of Romans provides us with a link. The sin of man in the first was of one kind, and in the unity of that first man it was dowered to mankind! The first man was a type, illustration, forerunner, of the COMING ONE, we read.

Paul then resumes the argumentation of explication.

It runs well in the Berkeley translation*1. The case is this (this is the sense of it): the first man sinned, getting death and this spread. The case was different in the first, from that of others, who came after the first episode. They sinned with sin already resident. However the first sin was from ONE agent, and the Coming One, to meet it, was another Agent. Each was one. Each was crucial. Not however like the first sin situation is the second man's or the second representative man's action. Sin multiplied by the first; grace abounded by the second.

The basic movement is this, then: Here is the position (v. 12). Just as sin came by man, and spread like a plague, so in complete contrariety, grace came by man, and spread like a bounty. Sin came like that; but otherwise did the coming of grace from the Coming One occur!

This then in verse 15 is the first of no less than 6 parallels, law court sounding presentations, each reinforcing the last, each proceeding to a new phase, and sometimes gathering strength from what went before as well. It is not possible really to interrupt this amazing flow of analysis with brackets and imagined recall of verse 12, as done in both the Authorised Version and the NKJV. It is a cohesive, coherent, deeply integrated series of propositions, like arms and elbows, and hands, each articulated so closely with the other, that interruption is dysfunctional.

The Greek does not carry brackets, so we have to use our own perception. Thus the bracketed part PRECEDES the 6 parallel presentations, starting at verse 15, in the translation as given. What is clear is found in two points. The verse 12 is explained in verses 13-14 in terms of the first and later sin, and the difference between them. Then in verse 15, we have the adversative parallel: That happened in one way, but THIS, it happened in the opposite.

·         The respect of contrariety is this: THAT was negative, this is positive. That was fatal, this is a balm of life. But BOTH were multiplying in results, like a cyclotron. So begins the education by contrast! in its extended series.
 

THE SIX PARALLELS

1) Thus in verse 15 we have the first of the six parallel statements, mutually developmental.  Here is the dismal multiplication contrasted with the delightful abundance, the salient stripping of sin, and the exotic abounding of grace.

2) In verse 16, we have a further and related contrast. There is, in the first man, Adam, the movement to judgment. There is via the second man (as Paul puts it in I Cor. 15 "the Lord from heaven" defining the term), the movement to justification. The one is to sentencing, the other to quashing. The one is to the bar of justice; the other is to the car of deliverance. One indites the guilt; the other waives it. This is the judgment-justification contrast in the parallels built about Adam and Christ.

3) In verse 17, we come to one offence of one man leading to the REIGN of death. Man could not escape, and the preludes and passions of death were the thing that ruled, de rigueur. However as to those who receive the GIFT of righteousness (cf. The Biblical Workman Appendix 4), donated with abundance of grace, these escape that reign. For them there is a substitute reign. It is the reign in life, THROUGH the One, Jesus Christ. This reign is very delightful. Life does not control you; but you in Christ find it is amenable to direction. HE as Lord is able to subdue it, control it, endue it, vitalise it, renew it, endue it, bring to the fore its proper qualities and project it into the space of grace like a missile. It is a reign IN LIFE, through Jesus Christ.

The contrast here is between reign of death and reign in life... THROUGH Jesus Christ the deliverer.

4) In verse 18, we move to the realm of offence and righteousness as performance criteria, rather than moral and legal directions. Here the one man achieved a result, offence. It produced condemnation, like decoration on a cake. It followed and exhibited what it was all the more clearly. The other Man however, also achieved something. It was transcendent in its superiority, opposite in its result.

He performed, and this was this was a life of righteousness unblighted, undimmed, exhibitive of that perfection which no sin touches, no judgment assesses and no fault maligns.

The gift if you will, of the first man was a performance contribution, like a father's will in the monetary sense. You get what you are given. He gave offence and judgment. The other, the One in parallel but in quality and wonder, beyond all comparison: He gave perfection and this, if received, presents justification, that is, the entire re-reading of your record in terms of your Saviour's attainment which you take. This is the OFFENCE achievement, RIGHTEOUSNESS achievement parallel and contrast. Here the direction of results is clarified for all, in the universal offering, one effective however only where received.

5) But the apostle is still further inspired. There is more to follow.

Thus there is the glory of verse 19. Here is the constitutive question answered. The first man's disobedience constituted MANY sinners; the second man's obedience made MANY righteous. Of course, as we have already been shown, the 'many' in the first case are all! Paul has emphasised this repeatedly. In this EFFECTUAL RESULT section, however, to preserve the parallel, Paul uses 'many' for both the fall and the finding. Thus, in the second, which uses the same parallel term in this garden of parallels, it is indeed 'many' as in Matthew 26:28, Romans 8:32. Many have fallen and many arise. The first is the entire multitude of mankind; the second is the entire multitude of those redeemed.

The parallel is thus in format beautiful, and it is for this reason that we have moved from the 'all' above to the 'many' in the case of this verse. It is manifest that Judas was not righteous, but indeed the devil entered into him and it would have been better for him, the Saviour said, if he had never been born.

Thus the word of God declares that "many are constituted righteous". The movement of justification was towards ALL; but the movement is, in terms of constituting people afresh, of regeneration, something quite different. The one has potential, the other actuality. The one is rich in hope; the other rich in fact. There is in some, those who receive the free gift of verse 17, a change that is more than one of the grace that looks differently upon them (and this is of course crucial, since only perfection is acceptable or indeed workable in heaven where sin is excluded, a colour bar that nothing will lift, a moral colour - Revelation 21:8,26).

In this case, it is one of the spiritual transformation of heart and value, priorities and power, of zest and passion, which fixes on God as a man on a rock, in the middle of the ocean. It is moreover not only a new stability and deliverance, but a change within. It is as if climbing onto the rock, the man finds his nature miraculously changed also. It is a transformative rock, not only situationally, but intrinsically.

That is because it is alive, and personal: it is the Creator, and it is in this mode one of transfer of power to create a clean heart, and to renew the mind (Ephesians 3:16, 4:23, Psalm 51).

While to God is known HOW many, the fact that the 'many' is put in parallel here is exhibitive of the grace which would have all men to be saved, however irreparable the reproach of many more, who will not have 'this man to rule over  us'. One can sympathise with this for a mere man; it is when the man is what God became in order to save that it is a privilege to obey, a delight to serve and a delicious joy (I Peter 1:8) to be acquainted; and with that, to be a friend of God, it is a bounty beyond all. So has been the way since Abraham was shown the way of grace, till Christ paid for it (Genesis 15:6, II Chronicles 19:7).

6) To Romans 5 verse 20, we now may proceed. The law, in this additional facet of the perspective, says Paul, came to expand in a vigorous realism, the offences. You cannot shrug. It is right or wrong, black or white, and no grays are tolerated, no argumentation. You do or you do not. It is simple, a snare for the self-justifying hordes of non-holiness living, who prefer the vacuity of talk to the virtue of walk. Here then you have OPPOSITE ABUNDANCES.

This said, the apostle continues, the abounding of the law, in defining sin, was outdistanced entirely by the superabundance of grace. But to what did the grace then move its recipients ? Just as sin brought on the reign of death, Paul continues in enrichment of verse 17, so grace now reigns through righteousness to eternal life. NOTHING has been left, in these enclosing parallels!

Hence the reign in life THROUGH Jesus Christ, now becomes the reign of GRACE through righteousness, that of Christ, to something endless: eternal life.
 

Thus there is a changing of the guard, the death squad out for the redeemed, and the reign of grace is the reign under the face of Christ, for God, as Paul observes in II Corinthians 4:6, who commanded light to shine out of darkness ... has shone in our hearts in which is revealed the light of the glory of God in the face of Christ Jesus. This is transformative continually (II Corinthians 3:18), just as the receipt of grace and the free gift of righteousness is a total change of status, initially.
 

THEIR AFTERMATH

What says Paul, in Romans 6, are you now going (perversely, as if some enemy were mocking) to say this: That it is so wonderful that there is so much of this wonderful grace, so that we will sin more and more freely, allowing it thus to swamp in in even greater amounts!

God forbid, he declares. Christ had to die to secure this: we who are His die with Him, in Him, through Him. Our sinful personalities, and not merely our sinful deeds, are SIN, and the SIN offering TAKES the sin, of this or that kind, so that we are crucified with Him, planted with Him, buried with Him. This is found in Romans 6:3-6.

Obviously the successive figures have NOTHING to do with the sacrament of baptism, and everything to do with phases of life. They authorise no sacrament; they illustrate the wholly essential elements, the actual ones indeed, which follow when there comes to a person, this dynamic transformation of the Saviour who died and rose, bearing sin, breaking its penalty and presenting life freely, for ever. It is the practice of living, not of symbolic rites which is thrust into view.

 

ONE AND ONE, ADVERSATIVE, NOT CUMULATIVE

We have then finished this survey of ONE AND ONE, the one dynamically contriving ruin, with initiative, invention, contention and disgrace; the other creating salvation FROM IT, with initiative, invention, meeting challenge and overthrowing opposition to the deliverance, even to the point of resurrection from a penalty-bearing death, comprehending the sins of all who should ever receive Him. The scale is profound, the scope entire.

The scenario  does however provide entire focus on Adam and on Christ. They are added to the scene, Adam from earth, his spirit from God, Christ God as man, who yielded His Spirit without spot to God, He the sacrifice for sin (Hebrews 9:12,19). One adds sin, the other subtracts. One adds sentence, the other subtracts. One adds disobedience, the other obedience; one adds the scope for law, the other the realm of grace. This one and one do NOT make two: they are adversative, not cumulative!

The one is adequate for wreckage; the other for reconstruction. The one suffices for sin; the other for salvation. The one breeds disaster, the other relief. The one catapults man into death, the other makes death relinquish its mirthless jaws, by bearing it. Grace did it, love thrust into it, power accomplished it, purity enabled it. It is the work of God Himself (Hosea 13:14, Ezekiel 34, I Timothy 3:16, Titus 2-3).

That then is the reality of Christianity, when you bypass sacramentalism, neo-evangelicism, neo-orthodoxy, Romanism, liberalism, and the rest (cf. The Biblical Workman Appendix III), and simply take the Lord according to His word, and follow Him.

Devils are numerous. God is one. Error is multiple; truth is one. (Cf. Errors.)

Christ is one. He is the only One who is needed, and He is altogether needed. He is revealed in the Bible, exposed by the Spirit, adopted by grace, and transformative by power. In the last case, it is radical in its initiation and continual in upkeep. In scope, it is ONE MAN doing ONE THING in ONE WAY which has ONE RESULT. The conferred and constant result is status (John 10:27-28); the phase result is function. Both follow because God is alive. Both come through faith in the OBJECT which is thus, and this is Christ, and that, not any Christ, but the LORD'S Christ (Luke 2:26).
 

REMEDY AND RUIN, never better accomplished than in quack remedies
(Matthew 24:24, Colossians 1:19ff., Ephesians 1:19-23, Galatians 1, 3, 5)

All this is clear ? But of course. Very well. Then WHEN this is done and NOT UNTIL, then the sin problem ceases to be like so many radioactive wastes dispersed on a daily basis, like so many atomic bombs with cobalt delivered to the ground daily, and the kingdom of heaven arises within, in the midst.

When it is not, you have this present world, where not only are there numerous false religions, but numerous false versions of Christ, which never lived, were never born, never acted and never rose, because they are but figments of the imagination. There is evidentially but One. If you take someone else in His name (Iprecisely as was done in II Cor. 11 where Paul rebuked it), it is relevant only in one thing: its presumption adds vastly to your sin, and to the folly in the world, hastening its end. It is done likewise with the Gospel of grace, to substitute things like physical violence (and the world is having its face dipped in this tar, since it is so fond of such false philosophies and religions) and imperfect works, as if some arithmetic could determine eternity, where sin has no place at all.

Sin is an interesting thing, is it not ? The more of it, the sooner the world is unlivable; the sooner it is unlivable, the sooner He comes; and  the sooner He comes, the sooner we who are His have the privilege of being taken to Him (I Thessalonians 4);  and the sooner these things happen, the sooner the judgment sits. God of course knows when, but these are internal dynamics on the scene. Yet for all that, heaven forbid that one should call sin, for all its acceleration of the end,  in the tiniest degree beneficial. Like cancer that left alone, kills you sooner, it is hardly a blessing on account of that! The point is to be cured fast, and be rid of the destructive dynamic.

The cancer is spiritually speaking, sin. It is a figure of it, illustrates it. Sin kills and goes on asserting its just desert. It kills all the more when the remedy is denied, for then it is in the arena of the ultimate dimension of sin, like someone formerly of 20 stone, but now of 45. The world is overweight, with sin.

THAT is the problem. It is so because it does not accept the Saviour. That is the secondary cause which rejects doctor, drug and deliverance. That is like pouring atomic waste into your drinking water. In one sense, it is merely one more senseless act. In another, it is nearing the point of being terminal. As you see in II Timothy 3 and Matthew 24, not to mention Jude and II Peter 3 with I Timothy 4, there is a progression. We are about there. Answers to Questions Ch. 5 shows how VERY nearly we are there.

Your own eyes in the light of the word of God should be able to give you an increasingly interesting read-out as the last few phases (cf. SMR pp. 502ff.) arrive. The Moslem answer as occurred in Afghanistan and in so many centres showing vast crowd support for such as bin Laden, throughout the world, is not apt. Force and guns to produce submission to some being is nothing to do with truth, as we have repeatedly seen in the earlier chapters and the last volume (cf. SMR pp. 50-71).

To "fight against such of those to whom the scriptures were given as believe neither in God nor the last Day ... and do not embrace the true faith, until they pay tribute out of hand and are utterly subdued" is entirely irrelevant, a parody of personality and a misplacement of force where it is an outrageous accessory to spiritual crime, not a vehicle of truth (Koran, Surah 9:27). If then the US is to look to root causes of its trouble, it is not to be found here or in such places as this, nor in circumstances where, as to unbelievers, you "make war on them until idolatry shall cease and God's religion shall reign supreme" (Koran, Surah 48). These things are a large PART OF THE PROBLEM, not its resolution. The Jews by jihad must go; the US by jihad must yield. Others by jihad must do this and that. Remove this from the Middle East and the impact from the US and much of the problem would be reduced at once.

However these are but part of the total complex of confusion and infusion of man's imagination into divine matters, to his fatal detriment.

It is useless to look for the solution in the realm of its generation. It is hardly a solution to a hurricane to fly into it. It is vain to expect help from the invading elements, that assault the region of faith with force.

Rather needed is love, understanding and opportunity. If the faith is not received, judgment will come soon enough. People need not bother to play god, though they will, for it is so predicted and the world is hastening with all this acceptance of false religion, now even at State level, into this field as if hungry for its own dissolution.  
 

THE SOLUTION

Not dissolution, however, but solution, this is the requirement. That we have been seeing in Romans 5, precisely, as to its nature. As Galatians 1 makes so clear, the capacity of man to add or subtract to this gospel of divine grace, the product not of flesh but of God, the realm of His own mercy, under His own initiative and control, His only: it is zero. Zero alteration leads to infinite blessing. If purity of chemicals is so important to medicine for the mere body, what of purity of truth for the heart and soul, for the relationship with God who both IS it and PROVIDES it from Himself (John 14:6).

THIS IS THE SOLUTION: the LORD's CHRIST as Lord and Saviour in fact, not in theory, in dynamic not in booking for the hospital. THIS, it is an operation which allows your coming to the operating theatre only in repentance, liike a black robe (Luke 13:13), and allows your deliverance only in a trust in the surgeon (Romans 3:25, Galatians 3 and 5) - a thing which would be madness with men. With God, however, it would be madness to withhold it! That trust allows you to receive His directions. They are His, attested and verified, validated solely among all (SMR Ch. 1, Repent or Perish Chs. 2,   7).

Nor is the Bible an option for this operation, for as Christ said, He who wills to do the will of God will know of the doctrine (John 7:17), whether or not it be true, of God; and again, it is the word He has spoken by which He will judge (John 12:48ff.). There is no alteration. God knows His own mind. He has spoken it in word and in work, in His definitive expression, His eternal word, incarnate as Jesus the Christ. It is not obscure; it is not unknown; it not for millenia unheard of, but flashing like lightning on all sides, ever since the only Saviour did the only things that even in one being totally and absolutely, in all respects and at all costs, in every phase and feature, were divine, incapable of imitation, obfuscation or deletion. His words continue as if spoken yesterday; the world obeys, NOT in DOING them, but in receiving the due and precisely stated outcome of its deeds. As in other disease, these are not anything, but highly specialised and the prognosis and the symptoms alike, are all traced out with prodigious detail and exactitude (cf. SMR Chs.  8   -  9).

The point for this world is this: the gospel of GRACE is given in so many ways, in so many bindings, in so many languages, in so many places that its ignoring is mere wilfulness. The WORK of grace has been wrought in such perfection and attested with such precision that its continued refusal MUST, will and does lead to disgrace, violence and vileness.

THAT was how sin began, in the rejection of the grace of the place provided. It is NOT how it ends. If you want sin never to end for you, so that you either have it in operation or its results in operation, you have merely to reject the Lord's Christ and not receive His words. It is fatally easy. It is as Christ indicated, if one may use modern terms, a four lane highway to hell which is available (cf. Barbs, Arrows and Balms 30).

The other way is exact, exacting but freely given (Matthew 7:13, John 10:9,27-28). It is unbreachable (Romans 5:9-11, I Thessalonians 5:9-10), but reachable (Isaiah 55:1-6). The gate is open (Psalm 118:19, I Timothy 1:10). The gift is free (Romans 6:23, 5:15, 3:23-28, Isaiah 55:1-6). It is without priests (Hebrews 2-10), available by faith through grace, with ONE only your Master, and He, Christ Himself. He ? Sinless, sovereign, the Creator. If you want ot invent God, so be it. You get nowhere, with NOT-God, If you want God, Christ is not a step, but the reality itself (John 8:58), saying, He who has seen Me has seen the Father (John 14:1-10).

 

 

 

NOTES

*1
§Romans 5:12-15 in this version runs as follows.

"It is therefore as follows: Through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and so death passed on to all persons in that all sinned. To be sure, sin was in the world earlier than the Law; but in absence of law, sin is not charged up. Death, however, held rule from Adam to Moses over those who sinned but did not transgress a command in the way Adam had done - who foreshadowed the Coming One.

"With the free gift, however, it is by no means as it is with the fall, for if through the lapsing of one person many die, far more richly did the grace of God and His gift, that comes through the favor of one man Jesus Christ, overflow to the many. "

We could with perhaps more consonance with the actual text write.

It is therefore as follows: As through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin and that passed to all persons since all sinned (for until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not charged up, law not being in place,  but death reigned from Adam to Moses, even on those who had not sinned after the manner of Adam's transgression, who is a figure of the Coming One): yet not as the offence, so is the free gift. For if through the offences of the one, many died, much more the grace of God and the gift in grace which is derived from one man, Jesus Christ, abounded to the many.
 

This adversative parallel is most interesting. AS THIS happened, yet not so was it with THAT.

It is even more sophisticated. "The Coming one" in the interpolation or aside, is itself a link within what we put in brackets for simplicity of thought, to the next term. It gives the pivot for the next development in contrariety. If it is NOT as the first thing, the fall, this gracious gift, then in what mode is it to come. Anticipating this need, Paul refers to the Coming One BEFORE he mentions the contrast with the gift. Hence the grace is preceded by the Gracious One, and the Agent appears before the act, hence smoothing the transition, which nevertheless has a most delightful wrench to the heart, and impact on the mind. NOT like that is it when the Coming One comes, for it is OTHER!
 

*2
This sentence, incidentally provides another example of adversative comparison as in Romans 5, where we inspected it.

 

 

*3
The reader interested in pursuing examples may wish to consult the following.

Acme, Alpha and Omega: Jesus Christ Ch.  9  - glamour, stammer, hammer  ... flitter and glitter;
Spiritual Refreshings for the Digital Millenium Ch.   3 (the soporific self, and the unity glide, under the sedation of sin);
The Frantic Millenium and the Peace of Faith Ch.  11 - twigs and towers;

News Fact and Forecasts - Chs.

   8 - sham, shame and co.;
   13 - symphony and seditions - two heady heads,
   14 - deadly d's;

Repent or Perish Ch.  5 inventions in mind, gender, politics ...

 

43) Romans 9:5

§"Theirs are the fathers, and from them in human lineage has come the Christ, He being God over all, blessed forever Amen."

The following excerpts are taken from On Translations of the Bible   6.

A DELIGHTFUL EXCURSION

ROMANS 9:5 and DROPPING OVER A CLIFF

A subtler invasion of life, and sending it away

ROMANS 9:5 in the context of the word of God, and not of the imagination.

The translation in the case both of the KJV and the NKJV is essentially the same, in an area of typhoons and cross-currents, in a show of stability and perception to the glory of God.

Let us commence with it:

"Theirs are the fathers, and from them in human lineage has come the Christ, He being God over all, blessed forever Amen."

Romans 9:1-6 has a deep and sustained message, clothed in a grammatical form that approaches being a formula.

In face of the choice marvels of Chapter 8 preceding, the equipment and dowry of the Christian, Paul laments for the wilful self-exclusion of the Jews en masse, in a vast majority, moving to "establish their own righteousness" as he shows in 10:1-3, to follow.

Indeed, almost he could wish himself a curse, an accursed being, for his brethren, the Jews, we learn  - so is He driven by the love of Christ within him, of Christ who DID become a curse for those who receive Him - for their sake! (Galatians 3:1-13).

Now the form, the virtual formula in this passage of Romans 9, begins. It is a list - an embracive, consuming list. It swells, encompasses, expatiates. The relative pronoun  is used like an anvil as the apostle pounds his points. The "metal" flattens and spreads, explanatory or epexegetical comments increasing the coverage.

First, as noted above, he refers to the Israelites. Then he commences his eloquent and arresting series of expansions, based on relative pronoun links.  Here, the very praises or acknowledgments of Israel's advantages serving almost as an indictment in view of what they have done with them ... or more precisely, NOT done with them! Let us look at the list, and enlist its thoughts to our own, so that we shall be instructed by the apostle.

1) WHOSE is the adoption,

and the glory,
and the covenants,
and the lawgiving
and the service
and the promises

2) WHOSE are the fathers, and

3) OF WHOM is the Christ according to the flesh

4) WHO is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.

Actually, a better translation, as we shall see later, making point to the use of the participle (being over all - in Greek), for the last point (4), is :

THE-BEING-OVER ALL-GOD, BLESSED FOR EVER.    AMEN.

That is a Greek way of putting things, and would be rendered, as by the Berkeley translation: HE WHO is God over all, blessed for ever. In this way, first the Jewish place and race is characterised with the WHOSE, WHOSE, OF WHOM series, and then the summit over all, Christ, is characterised, both according to the flesh, and in His epitome, The all-ruling God, blessed for ever.  

Even if this were ignored, however, the point remains as here stated. Either way, it has the same result regarding the deity of Christ.
 

Notice

Ø        1: the rampant fling of words like ricocheting stones. They tend to skip on past the relative clause base, to provide a soaring addition.

Ø        2: the explanation in case 3) above.

Ø        3: the parallel to it in case 4) above.

Ø        OF WHOM is the Christ (explanation following) - according to the flesh,
WHO is over all (explanation) - God blessed for ever (expansion).

It is only by rupture of structure that any ambiguity can arise, and that, it is an invasion, a distortion, a wilful ignorance grammatically speaking; for if a direction is set, and one knows not what to do next unless one follows it, does one then bite one's thumbs and excite oneself in an agony of ambiguity, and ecstasy of concern; or does one not rather take it that the speaker being competent and aware, intends one NOT to invent, to intrude, to invade the context with one's imagination, through bringing in UNSTATED words when this is necessary ONLY if one wishes to make the statement obscure! Such words may indeed be freely added when mere economy is in view, and the meaning is pellucid, unquestionable.

To add them however when the addition - which could have been made explicitly and without any imagination - alone makes for lack of clarity, is an intrusive addition, a wresting of meaning on the basis of what is apt elsewhere, but certainly not when it changes what IS there entirely!

In fact, not only is there -

1) the thrust to explain or extend the reference as noted and shown for this particular soaring passage, but there is

2) the one-sided aspect (according to the flesh) in point 3) as made, which calls for its match in what is NOT of this limiting formal character. Indeed THAT particular emphasis is constant and strong in Paul, a thrust both pre-emptive and perpetual. (Cf. Colossians 1, Philippians 2).  In addition, there is

3)  the explosive enlargement throughout in this passage, so that a minimisation of the significance which the Jews (as a nation) had and wasted in Christ, would be foreign, even alien, an aggressive disruption to the tenor of Paul's speech, and

4)  the following fact...

Paul is reaching a crescendo to his considerations in reaching "Christ", and an "according to the flesh" as the sentence terminus, would damage and even render the thrust ludicrous. Being "over all" in terms of a "flesh" basis is far removed from Christ as Pilate from government (John 19). A king ? yes, but the kingdom is that of the truth.

Moreover, to LEAVE the sentence without even the "over all" phrase would, if it were possible, be yet more antagonistic to the structure and thrust of the passage, making it comic. The heightening winds of name and glory are then ditched and interred in "according to the flesh".

True, the 'flesh' for incarnation,  that is what they contributed; but it is to minimise the fact that they were chosen, exposed to His WONDER and DIVINE opportunity, and it would be to leave derelict the mounting enthusiasm of the passage. If one adds "who is over all", this certainly reduces the difficulty, for to be over all is a climax to the preliminary considerations, to the enlargements,  and it is a parallel to the continuing explanatory character of the context. Indeed, it is one more of the struck medium of relative pronouns giving enlightenment, by which the passage has both eloquence and clarity, cohesion and construction, provided as if by a magnetic force to keep the particles of speech in order and clear.

However, that expedient of disjunction in what is obstructively conjunctive in form and format, if it is used to exempt from the continuity, and separate from the heavily stylised sentence the "God blessed for ever" phrase which follows: this,  though it meets a little more, the magnification of context to a climax, avoiding indeed a stricken bathos - that result being bathetic as well as pathetic - yet it has the difficulty earlier noted.

A pure flesh base for the exaltation which dominates in "blessed" would remove the ground of glory. Having someone over all in flesh contributed by Israel would do nothing to provide supreme delight and superb exultation. The antichrist could conceivably lay claim to some such thing. Moreover, and the more so in this setting, the removal from the structural context of this last phrase,  would cut off a terminal passage from the fabric of the context, leaving it isolated like an island, without ground for what would then be its meaning. It would be unclear, uncohesive, bathetic and dispersive of glory, at the very moment in which glory is felt, and blessing pronounced to the wonder of the Lord.

A cut off rogue phrase in the midst of work which would thereby be left full of ambiguity, and truncated ? Yet this is NEVER found in terms of the Greek adjective in view, euloghtos in the entire New Testament. How is it used in this Testament ? Either it is used to start a sentence - II Cor. 1:3, Ephesians 1:3, I Peter 1:3, Luke 1:68; or is used  with clear statement - 'who is' in full - Romans 1:25, or as a genitive following a preceding reference - Son of the Blessed (Mark 14:61), or else a verb is supplied before the relative pronoun so making the back reference to the subject sure (as in  II Corinthians 11:31) - "The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ KNOWS, He who is the blessed..." (blocks added to show the point in view). In this way, the proximity to "Jesus Christ" is prevented from any question of reference, apart from anything else, because the subject "God and Father" has its own verb "knows" inserted before the "He who is the blessed".

In short, there is NO way any ambiguity ever enters in, relative to this word in the New Testament cases examined, and in this present case, it is ONLY when the exceedingly clear, highly visible and indeed almost obstructively and certainly eminently impressive structure of the wording is ignored as a guideline, that the question arises.

  That structure and flow of context, grammar and form, however is precisely one of the modes of clarity: to use a form and a structure which acts as a stricture, as a narrow gate, indicating the author's mind and bent and way. Here it is the way to have a mass of continuing relative pronouns - expanding and re-directing course as occasion requires, a sort of tissue of cells of content in this way moulded into oneness, integrity, cohesion and clarity. In this, continuation, explanation and new direction within the progress, is the mode. Paul often uses notable style in making impact, and to exclude this as a consideration is simply to SUPPRESS what is present. THAT however is not to express it, but to summon and seize it, no work of translation at all.

Hence to achieve some departure from this structure is an invasion of a guideline by pure unmixed imagination. Anyone who does this is not finding, however, an ambiguity, but inserting a desire. Proverbs 8:8-9 tells us that the words of God are all clear to him who understands, and what is to be understood is this, that language has its parameters and persuasions, and that to break up a structure is an arbitrary sharing of the creation of the passage concerned, and to act on this is a mistranslation. It is virtually to become a co-author, so that one 's creative imagination in such a case, would be ignoring  indication. It is as simple as that.
 

When, as here, it leads to early separation in the first place (making what is taken as "who is over all"  into a new sentence), it ALSO leads to comedy in the contextual train of mounting climax. When, the break in continuity is inserted AFTER that, and before "God blessed for ever", then the style of explanation and cohesion, PLUS the move to grander and greater fields is broken. A new thing is inserted into the New Testament - slovenly writing which admits of no resolution, a new usage for this Greek word 'blessed' within the entire structure of the New Testament, a floating one! Elsewhere the cohesion is tight, as it is here by virtue both of the flow, the characteristics and the direction of the context. Only invasion can make a Kosovo of this land. Otherwise it coheres in its place, both by the force of the meaning of the context, the impressive mounting climax, and its grammatical structure.  

Essentially, there is a matter of emphasis to be made. If clarity were in view (as it must be, according to Proverbs 8, with I Corinthians 2:9-13), then other choices were available, as we see in the listings above, which could have achieved this for the phrase (or clause and phrase), if it had been intended  suddenly to break it off into a sentence of its own. THESE available and sometimes used indications were NOT used. Hence it is not shown that this is the will of the writer, to impart what he could have imparted by available means. Rather and definitely, it is shown by the eloquence and cohesion and direction of flow, and the complementary compilation of meaning, that precise force, coherence, cogent force,  and beauty which otherwise would lack.

All things are possible, but by no means all are expedient. When to make a meaning from a passage in a letter, you have to ASSUME ambiguity, and then RUPTURE the form used, and INVADE the direction of flow, inserting from an assumed ellipsis (no verb for any final short sentence being given, so that to get that isolated phrase, you have to add one), then it is clear that the will of the reader is transcending the will of the writer.

Further, and quite categorically, it is also clear that it is being ASSUMED that the writer is inept or speaks without much concern about points which, from other letters, are known to be - when taken THIS way or THAT - of supreme importance. All that is a large depreciation of the writer, almost amounting to a denunciation. When the writer in the end, as I Cor. 2, Matthew 4:4 (see Appendix D, SMR), here is God in the sense of covering both the substance and the words chosen in superintendence, then it amounts to something so near to blasphemy as to be best left to the judge to determine! People of course do not always realise what they do, the implications of their actions and statements, so we leave that to Him.

No, some other choice of words was not made, as in the other passages when a direction to God direct is made, in the New Testament. That choice of words and of grammar was NOT MADE.  To render it thus is therefore a heavy intrusion into the context. It is unworthy, unwarranted and impermissible. It then reads, "God blessed for ever. Amen." Who or what is the referent ? Is it something in the context, or is it suddenly divorced, taken into what (would then be) is another realm, relative to the actual cohesive context! In fact, the preceding person, Christ,  is Himself the climax of much preliminary about the oracles of God and promises and covenants, and comes as a primary focus.

Is HE then to be divorced as irrelevant ? and now that He has come into focus and sight, is He to be interred all over again by the mind and imagination of the reader, so that HIS significance is to be ditched and a wholly separate item is to be introduced as if the brakes were to squeal and the car lurch to a halt, leaving it half way over a precipice of confusion and upset ? Is imagination to divorce one of the most emphatic antecedents ever available in all literature, and insert from above, NOT from the preliminaries, whereas the whole context has been dealing explicitly, continually and remorselessly, indeed in the genius and nature of its lament and complaint, with what is BELOW, however it got there!

Further, there is a cohesion not yet mentioned, but brought out in the Berkeley translation of the New Testament, which renders this last part of verse 5, "sprang the Christ, He who is God over all." Not 'who' but 'he who'.

In fact, the Greek does not literally say, 'who is over all', but 'the being over all God, blessed for ever.' Without additives, THAT is what it is saying, and to supply what is 'missing', which in turn aborts the rising crescendo, is mere eisegesis. What is there does not say more than this: the being over all God, blessed forever. If you are interested in what is there: THAT precisely is there. Hence it is to be faithfully translated, allowing for idiom, but not supplementing the sense. Hence the course of translation, if it is to be this and not paraphrase, is as given at the outset.

It thus literally reads, 'from whom sprang the Christ, the being-over-all-God, blessed for ever.' Greek loves to do this sort of thing (cf. Acts 9:35, Romans 8:1), making the most - at first sight - odd sorts of compacted phrases by this use of the relative pronoun with accompanying qualifications on the way to the noun. One gets used to it. So after from whom and out of whom, and of whom, relative pronouns mounting as the case against Israel and for the prevenience of the ever blessed God mounts, His blessedness and His generosity, His gifts and His wonders in stubborn contrast to the unblessed and mingy failure of Israel so much as to respond to Him in such a vast project, thus consummated, we have as climax literally supernatural to end it all in a word, this description of the Christ, who "out of" Israel according to the flesh did indeed come. 

His ontological state is noted, His eminence is make eloquently obvious, so that we find this being said: "from whom sprang the Christ, He being the God over all, blessed forever." That in fact  is the translation which is not only neatest seeming in English, giving full emphasis to every aspect of the grammar in Greek. HE WHO is God over all, blessed for ever is however to be preferred because it is in English neater, without losing the accuracy of the point in view in the text.

This 'being' in the first rendering above, is exegetical, telling us just WHOM we are now dealing with. Since there is a special word for it, which was not needed on a debased interpretation, we must emphasise the point. There is no occasion to say 'being' instead of 'is' or an omission, if it meant 'who is'. The REASON for the participle here is this, that it is an expressive designation depicting One WHO NOT according to the flesh, but according to His own being, flesh apart, in Himself, is - wait for it, GOD! God ? Over all is Christ, He BEING God, blessed for ever. The tie is more like handcuffs. The Christ has the being noted, to show the direction of emphasis, namely on the One just noted.

Thus what would be sloppy and almost unintelligible grammar, 'who being over all', end of sentence, or 'who being over all, God blessed for ever', becomes not only intelligible, but elegant, just as Paul tends so often to be, as the Lord uses him for His purpose.

In this way, we revert to comprehensibility as in all cases of 'blessed' in the New Testament; we leave a soupy mix created by fog of mind, and USING the grammar to ESTABLISH the sense, in combination with the oratorical prose and thrust of the passage, end with what is the precise parallel to Philippians 2.

 Let us be clear, then, is the force of the text, by "God" we mean NOTHING LESS that this, Him who is blessed for ever, God Almighty, the LORD of the Old Testament, Him designated by the famous tetragrammeton, the God of eternity, the first and the last as John is moved to put it in Revelation 2:9, and Isaiah in 44:6 of the Lord God. THIS is He, this is the One  who according to the flesh, is from Israel, the One nevertheless to be identified as the being-God-over-all, blessed for ever. Not to Him were the oracles given: that was to Israel, who according to the flesh were kin of Paul. To Christ, who according to the flesh was also of Israel, there is this overwhelming accentuation, acceleration, acme and parade: He, HE for His part being the Being over all, blessed for ever.

What then ? He being that, is yet evacuated from the earth, while Israel revolts. So Paul proceeds in the context to more of his theme.

How terrible then is this lapse in Israel, that far from being 'nothing' or a nonentity, a barren waif in the wilderness (cf. Ezekiel 16:1-7), she - through divine mercy alone - had been presented with privileges and favour not stopping short of the very presence and power of God Himself, personally, who would act in ransom in His own Being direct (as in Hosea 13:14 and Ezekiel 34).

"Again the word of the Lord came to me, saying,

Son of man, cause Jerusalem to know her abominations, and say,

‘Thus says the Lord God to Jerusalem:

"Your birth and your nativity are from the land of Canaan; your father was an Amorite and your mother a Hittite. As for your nativity, on the day you were born your navel cord was not cut, nor were you washed in water to cleanse you; you were not rubbed with salt nor wrapped in swaddling cloths.

"No eye pitied you, to do any of these things for you, to have compassion on you; but you were thrown out into the open field, when you yourself were loathed on the day you were born. And when I passed by you and saw you struggling in your own blood, I said to you in your blood, ‘Live!’ Yes, I said to you in your blood, ‘Live!’ I made you thrive like a plant in the field; and you grew, matured, and became very beautiful." ' "

In other words to the present point, Paul is both recounting the wonders given to Israel, climaxing not in some mere authority, but where it began, in GOD Himself, blessed for ever (very much as in Jeremiah 2:13 - broken water containers instead of living waters from the snow's purity, and 18:14), so that not to some mere human eminence is the landmark of gift to Israel compared, but to the eminence of GOD in contrast with the sickliness of polluted nature and polluting sin. This is the thrust of the Bible throughout, the DIVINE is in giving mode and the human is in disbelieving mode, and the divine not only gives things and mercies, but HIMSELF! in patience, in love, in cherishing, in Messianic forecast, in predicted bearing of sin in ransom achieved by the very deity as noted above!

This is the thrust both of the word of God in its highest plaint, and deepest appeal, and it is so here, where the 'the being God over all, blessed for ever' is the height of the arch constructed, illimitable, relevant, in contrast, in contradiction to Israel's self-blight and in horror at the depth of it, the loss of it (just as in Isaiah 7 in the notorious case of Ahab, who wearied even GOD! in his equivocation).

Christ quite simply is at the height and depth of the crusade for Israel, its summary and depiction, its force and its impact, Him 'who being God', as in Philippians 2, and thus most blessed for ever, has so made gifts of such magnitude to Paul that he could even wish himself accursed for their neglect, like Moses, who of course as with Paul, is not about to consider such a horror as being cursed for anything less than the case where GOD HIMSELF is affronted, in view, relevant, in focus and passed by (cf. Exodus 32:32-33). The case moves where it is placed (Romans 9:3). It is as in Hebrews treading under foot the blood of Christ which is so utterly shocking that it evinces the response in Hebrews 10, based as it is on WHO GOD IS, WHO CHRIST IS, as shown so explicitly in Hebrews 1.

Thus it is that the climax being in terms of Christ, from Israel according to the flesh but God blessed for ever in spiritual nature, leads on naturally in the context to the fact that by no means if the word of God broken in all this. How could it be when GOD Himself has come SUCCESSFULLY as Christ (cf. II Corinthians 5:17-21), and done His work effectually, in the ultimate work and gift of salvation, and Israel simply bypasses for the time (Romans 11 shows this emphatically, for the time only!) the gift so great that its refusal by them has Paul almost wishing himself accursed for them.

To what does this bring us ?

As we move on, we find this: Paul proceeds to show the word of God has not been vanquished! His word is NOT made of no effect (Romans 9:6), cries Paul, through this rejection of this ultimate eminence by the Jews. Not at all (Romans 9:6ff.). After all, what has been given goes to the heart of God Himself personally, and the height of the gift brought down so low, to us, this evacuates God from any possible or conceivable challenge of inaction or insufficiency at the divine level of concern and involvement (Romans 11:26-36, 8:31-39, and Colossians 1:19ff.). That is a basic part of Paul's theme and flow in this context. Moreover God has His elect, has found His own, and if rejected for the time by the nation, is found by those who are His within it. If gold is sparse for the mining company, is it therefore useless!

In fact, by Romans 11, we find that there is a vast empire of the empirical, there is as in an olive tree time and sequence, coming and going, nation in and nation out, Gentiles out and Gentiles in, then Jew back and re-grafted. In vain? ludicrous. Indeed in Romans 10:9 we find what Romans 11 with Zechariah 12-13 makes so clear, that it is all coming back to this Christ, God over all, the Redeemer coming PERSONALLY to man, the Lord Himself, the Lord of glory, to cover the cost, provide the service (cf. Matthew 20:28) and bring both individual and nation, yes and even a vast residue of Israel, in its time, by ONE method of ONE Christ, who is the God over all, blessed for ever, in whose blessed face is seen the glory of God (II Corinthians 4:6). Indeed, it is HE who is to return, for which we wait (Titus 2:13), even the great God and our Saviour (one introductory 'the' - the great God and Saviour of us).

NO ONE but GOD is Saviour (Isaiah 43:10-11), and Christ is NONE OTHER than the Saviour who paid in His own Person, gloriously sent, intimately willing (Psalm 40), coming from equality with God to the executive action of the Cross.

Thus GOD  has met all that was ever propounded or indeed could be conceived, in what He has provided, for the Jews. By the time he comes to Romans 10:6-9, Paul completes this phase of confrontation and indication of the name, integrity and grace of God. What then ? is there something in heaven to go for, to bring this end of the law for righteousness DOWN? NOT AT ALL! says the apostle. Or is there something somewhere else ? Emphatically NOT! He, Christ HAS come from heaven, there is nothing left of what could come, and the word conceiving Him gives link through Him to His abode (in heaven), as shown in Romans 10:9.

This of course is precisely what is shown in Philippians 2 and Colossians 1-2: in HIM is the fulness of the Godhead in bodily format, already brought down, already provided, already rejected by many, but eminently and astonishingly available, while the day of grace lasts. TO HIM, every knee will bow, just as Isaiah 45:22ff. made clear: this submission of all to one, is to God the Lord, alone. (Cf. SMR Ch. 7, pp. 532-560).

And Christ, He is Lord! NONE other, says Isaiah, but the LORD is God; and it is to HIMSELF that He swears every knee will bow, in accordance with this fact. Thus it is to CHRIST that every knee will bow, in entailment of His deity status; for to have it to any other would otherwise violate the integrity of the divine insistence; and to have it to another as the very focus would violate it infinitely. But to God blessed for ever, who is Christ, it is the one chosen for the purpose from the infinitude of the trinity. Infinite is the blessedness of the infinite God who provided His infinitely loved Son as this glorious focus, incarnate, predicted, performance endued, consummating the preliminaries, covenantally countermanding the rewards of sin for His people. To HIM shall it be done.

 Meditation:

There are then times when the NKJV tends to be  clearer and truer to the original; while the KJV gives stimulus to thought and can be a stimulus to thought and fidelity. Both together are useful. The above provides valuable illustration. Thus in 17) and  18) we see the NKJV advantage, concerning clarity allied with accuracy; in 1) especially, in 5), 7), 8) for example, we see perception in the AV which can show a sensitive relationship to all the scriptures in its renderings.

Let us consider the results overall now, together with some other considerations. It is found that neither of these translations is infallible, faultless. On the whole, one finds the KJV is inclined to exhibit more spiritual perception*1, rarely lacking in that, whereas the NKJV frequently has far more clarity, possibly even in terms of the English of the times concerned, certainly in terms of today's English. In that regard, the NKJV is clearer and truer to the original; the KJV however gives stimulus for thought, frequently  exhibiting much discernment. Both together are useful.

Avoiding rash options, let us then use what the Lord has provided, circumspectly, knowing His word is surely available. What is in view when this is done, is able indeed to convey the full import of His words to us, and nothing more, and we can live by them, in Him. Without the Greek text before us, or indeed the Hebrew, and relying on only one translation when another basically sound one is available, it can at times be that a well-known and slightly archaic word form will disguise the meaning, which never becomes clear to the reader. But it is not for mantras but for declaration from God that we come. Our task is to use the intelligence God has given us to ensure we

v  a) find all we can of what is there, and

 

v  b)  do not prejudicially pre-empt the decisions of the Almighty in His gifts to us, by discarding on party lines without Biblical warrant or evidential support. To whom much is given, from him much shall be required.

It is time to avoid the philosophically fostered disdain for the text God has abundantly preserved, and skilfully confirmed; it is time likewise to avoid  a slavish dependence on the KJV, though its preservation has been providential. It is of a certainty a magnificent translation of great spiritual tact and care; just as the NKJV often lends superior clarity, new impact from this cause and a certain distilled sense of acuteness which it sometimes achieves. Different nuances of the two can lead to study and understanding being enhanced. It is in some ways like preachers, where Paul was at pains to prevent partisanship (cf. I Corinthians 3).

This is no time for obsessive reactionary blighting of good work and useful clarity, following an admittedly shameless shambles in this area on the part of many manipulators of the Greek text, some basing their extravanganzas on mythical events which neither have the advantage of having any evidence, nor agree with the (statistical) evidence we do have, as if God had not competently preserved His thought and doctrine according to His promise. Nor is it any time to seize one of the translations which avoids this error (AV), in preference to another which shows the same and in some ways a greater sensitivity to the Greek text (NKJV) - though this is purely because we are  now in possession of more of that  same prolific and superabundant family of texts, justly used by the AV.

With such care on the part of both of these translations in this regard, such preference would be not merely wrong but ironic, making the same error as others, but for different reasons.

For the rest, some other versions can help and hinder, and very occasionally may be a needful blend or in some instances provide a fine clarity, and may be used, with understanding. Item 19) was a fine example of this. These two, AV and NKJV, however in conjunction have a safety net and a sanity to offer which, for those not planning to study the original languages, have a moreover rich texture.

This is not to say that some other translations in some places are not quite marvellous, but their use is often a matter of either being capable in Greek and Hebrew, or of leaving well alone, for they are not all by any means faithful.

Theories founded against the evidence and against the promises of God are readily discounted, and this, it is true, means great caution with most New Testament translations (the areas are not great, do not affect basic doctrine, but nevertheless we do want ABSOLUTE PRECISION with what we have). With the NKJV and the AV we are in good company in this regard, and should reinforce the one with the other, and use the discernment of one to aid the discovery of original meaning, making edifying excavations where there is any stimulus. Speaking of myths, we should equally avoid the concept that God is not allowing His command "test all things" to be apt here, and has in some secret way kept some secret copies of some secret texts which have always been a word for word, precisely identical translation. Let the evidence suffice, in conjunction with what God actually presents, and let us avoid the political sort of see-sawing which never rests while there is any unbalanced surge of airy thought.

The evidence is WONDERFUL, showing the clear and amazing precision of preservation of all doctrine and command, so that what is in textual variation, AFTER one has consulted the overwhelming textual evidence for one family, is so minute in scope as to be wholly divergent from the assurances God has given, and merely assures us the more of the zeal of His cognitive preservation of His word.

Indeed, NOTHING of ANY effectual impact fails to be placed, established on the earth. Follies of disregard and seizure*2 do nothing to alter this; nor will they (Isaiah 59:21, Psalm 111:7-8, Matthew 4:4, II Timothy 3:16, Matthew 16:18); and the gates of hell will indeed not prevail against the church of the Lord, founded on that rock (Psalm 62) which is and can only be Himself, not some petros of Rome, airily invented and inserted like a trifle, into the foundational rock: rock, not 'a stone', as the text demands for man (cf. SMR  pp. 1056-1072, 888, and Intro. xxxi-xxxii). Nor is it some experience without covenantal base, some babbling tongue of man, some conviction of thought: CHRIST is the rock, and His words on which one must build do not vary or vanish; and may not, for they are commanded. 

A WORD FOR TODAY

It is in the highest degree unfortunate that a false, liberal intrusion into Greek textual affairs, having led to some peculiarly reckless results, an uninformed or merely radical reaction, should have set in. Understandable it certainly is, and readily so; rationally defensible, it is equally is not.

The almost political seeming squalor of the results is divisive, uninformative, a market place for violent haggles, squabbles and unsophisticated nonsense, which no longer deems "test all things" relevant, but rather, imagine anything!

IF you do NOT believe the Authorised Version is final to the syllable the originally inspired word of God, you are scarcely, if at all, worthy of fellowship! THAT is the conclusion of some, and this is the reactionary ultimatum often enough delivered. Do not worry me with tests, figures, surveys of the actual textual material which God, in His wisdom, has made available, goes the spiel, the implausible patter. The AV has done so well that clearly (sic) it and it alone is the word of God.

S0 goes this new Delphic oracle.

IF you say, 'But there is no textual evidence that the exact Greek text which the AV uses is the original, but rather that it is a member of vast majority of all the texts, a family,' what then ? Then back comes the delusive drama of words: How do you know ?: for secretly hidden, is the evidence for what I affirm. And it is at times added: The AV is to be used as the ultimate text, with no appeal to Greek or Hebrew.

Alas, this is no distortion. This is the sort of thing which is actually said. It is a failure, Biblically, for the Bible is as clear as these remarks are vacuous and woolly. "TEST ALL THINGS," I Thess.5:21 does not and cannot mean, "Imagine anything!"

Test involves the a ascertainment of facts through evidence, not dictation to evidence of what it does not happen to be!

This reaction, therefore, is unbiblical, unreasonable, unscholarly and close to blasphemous, telling by some personal feelings, where the word of God is to be found.

Is that however not exactly what the liberals did in the first place, foisting a fictitious and imaginary meeting for textual revision onto the history of the early church, despite the factual evidence being overwhelmingly this - that it did not occur.

These weird imaginations on either side are an offence, divisive, both the one and the other, and pollutants; and the church of Christ should go on with moderation and self-control, not snared by these devices.

It takes only a little restraint to see that in fact the  AV cannot be idolatrised, or with virtual blasphemy, exalted to a standard that has never been accorded to it or indeed any other translation, in the Bible. We cannot add to the word of God, if we would (Proverbs 30:6), any more than we can make imaginary evidence on which to build a view of the text. We cannot, for example, take a point in history, where a culmination of many translations is brought to a new height, and say, Look, God has done this thing. It was always there.

WAS IT ? To such one might ask this: Do you seriously then affirm that before all that work, the thing to which it gave birth was there word for word ? Is this the imagination which needs no test and hence no Biblical obedience ? And what was its idiom ? and if it was there, in good idiom for each piece of English history, before this, why was it not there a year earlier in the case of the AV, when the idiom was virtually the same ? or ten years earlier ? or why was it not all there before Wyclif, in such felicity, or translated into English before it was translated at all, before this, the first Bible in the modern tongue "the first Bible at all in a modern tongue" (The New Schaff-Herzog Religious Encyclopedia, Vol.1, p. 137, re the Wyclif era) ?

Do facts mean nothing! THAT was there ? Where ? In your mind ? What does that serve ? And in the meantime, when we come to those who look at those little things called facts, what do we find: the ENGLISH did NOT for long  have this word to them in their speech, so what is all this talk about God doing this, and this then being what HE HAD to do in terms of His promises, which in fact, as we have in detail shown, do NOT so indicate at all! The Greek was always present, the translations were not; the thought of God was never evacuated, though many were they who suppressed it. Let us not join them by philosophical pretensions not found in the word, imaginations not found in the evidences of history, or slacknesses not found in our forefathers.

If the historical scenario invented implausibly and anti-historically in method, by the liberals was a work of incredible presumption, what of this ? Is it better ? And does it serve, if the  AV translators did their remarkable work in terms of the English resources of their day, if we in our day abuse it by not developing the translation in terms of the changing English language, idiom and vocabulary of our own ? Are to create magic in order not to do our own work ? Are we so to rely on their sanctity that we are loose and slack ourselves ? God forbid!

In fact, as we have amply clarified, the AV is a translation from within what, objectively, is a  vast majority family. That is fortunate, but not entirely surprising, the majority being what it is.

Its translators were many,  and multiplied meetings, which is good. That assisted the development of a fine precision in seeking to present within the vast English vocabulary and specific idiomatic structure of their generation, a finesse of representation of the constraints of the Greek text, to take our New Testament case. As to the AV, its predecessors also included much sacrificial scholarship, as by Tyndale, who gave his life in his toils, helping to develop what the AV translators could use as resource, developed over hundreds of years.

In the end, as to the AV, its discernment in terms of sensitivity to ALL of the scriptures, as it translates any, is excellent, and verges on wonderful. When its time came, it was there; before this, it was not, but the thoughts of the Lord were there.

However, for the AV,  clarity is not its chief gift. Sanctimoniously clinging to it with no clear comprehension of significant sections, is no action worthy of a Protestant.

Many NT translations of modern kind indeed follow text rather slavishly outside the majority family. These are to that extent blemished.

However, the NKJ does not do this, and gives us a step towards justice for the whole textual, majority family of which the King James base (i.e. in Greek MSS) is a part. This is an evidentially oriented exercise, in terms of "Test all things..."

 

PERSPECTIVE

Thus the facts are these: There has been a liberal-radical intrusion, invasion into the textual affairs box, and this has misoriented many, led to a false and indefensible textual approach manoeuvring a faulty careless base into prime position as if God were not in charge, and the testimony of preservation were not a song of triumph.  In turn from this, numerous New Testament translations of modern time (20th. century on) have been defective in some things, though not necessarily in overall doctrine nor in general; but they have failed to follow tested data, and instead have  preferred unsubstantiated philosophy and concocted history which failed to arrive to verify itself. Naturally this has not always worn a label, nor has it necessarily been intentional.

This radicalism, and thrust of mere imagination, threw much modern New Testament translation work into disrepute, in THIS respect justly, and both invited and incited reaction in some, who then, misusing the promises of God, turned in something close to idolatry to the AV version. This had merit in one point: it IS a very sensitive, apt and careful translation, though, lest one good custom should corrupt the world, as Tennyson has the thought, it is demonstrably not perfect. Notwithstanding this, its performance is nothing short of magnificent, and it is of the greatest sorrow that this excellence, as with so much in human affairs, has led to so fixed an attitude towards it on the part of some, that the undoubted help and fine features of some other translations is radically, and  by inept or inaccurate generalisation, simply discarded, thus impoverishing the church in these cases.

So does evil work its witless way.

In fact, avoiding reactionary excesses, and being THANKFUL for providential mercies, both with the actual manuscripts and the AV, one should use ALL God has provided, in good sense avoiding all the excesses of radicalism in the vast majority of modern New Testament translations, but not for that reason failing at all times to use their good features. For many it is indeed safer and better, if not gifted at all in these matters, to avoid all but the AV and the NKJV, since their text background is soundly based. For others however, with due caution, and awareness  of the textual defects of many of these modern translations, and realising that the differences are relatively rare, and provided it is a case of actual translation and not paraphrasing of some patronising type, it is both practical and possible to find stimulus from the brilliance of some areas of other translations, and in particular from the Old Testament. True that has also been affected by the prodigious impertinence against the divine authority, that some have exercised in loose 'critical emendations' of the text, as if imagination, once again, were lord and the God of His word were a bystander, but this has been less pervasive in many good translations.

Thus, for example there appear places in the New Standard American Version in Isaiah which are prodigiously felicitous, and in the NIV, Job is a work of paramount excellence in translation.

These points are pastoral as well as textual, but it is time an understanding returned to some quarters, and the spirit of the Age was avoided BOTH in its radical follies and in the reactionary excesses, BOTH of which features impoverish the saints and limit the impact of the word of God. It is in effect just ONE MORE place where philosophy wedded with a lack of precise faith in the promises of God has led to confusion, and through reaction, a profusion of confusion.

This having been said, let us give some more detailed overview of the doctrinal situation in this regard, and summary of aspects of necessary advice, with all good will to all, thus  arising.

One should notice:

1) Even outside the majority family, no doctrine is altered though numbers of texts are mutilated; but in principle, INSIDE this family, as in the NKJ version, the variation is minute.

2) Often, with examples here given, the AV does an almost inspired job, surpassing in perception, the NKJ version.

3) Often, with examples given, the NKJ gives far greater clarity, preventing confusion or misconception (take Ezekiel 40ff., for example!), or indeed, for many, little concept at all in some places.

4) In rare cases (examples given) the AV fails.

The NKJV appears to so do more often. Neither version could be called "bad" or heretical. Both  are good, but different sorts of translating skills are highlighted in each. For fidelity, nearly always, the AV is best. For clarity, quite often, the NKJ is best.

5) Almost never (contrary examples given) do both fail in the same place.

6) No false doctrine is obtained but merely a lack of clarity or adequacy, from either: although in one verse, one implication of the translation is quite unsound in the case of the NKJV (Rev. 19:8).

7) Some other versions have stimulating or excellent work available in the Old Testament (where for example the NIV translation of Job is marvellous, and some renderings in Isaiah in the NASV are notable), but you have to be careful to check the Hebrew in any divergencies, as the brilliance may sometimes appear unrestrained by due care. Flair can take off into the winds, though sometimes expose excellent perspective.

Reference even in the NT in such cases, though unlikely to be needed, can on occasion be fruitful.

8) The desire to honour God, not to be in the hand of pedantic princes, a mere substitute for papal power, is quite sound

However, to allow reactionary forces to dictate without evidence, specifically going beyond what the Bible authorises, is wholly indefensible, a definite work of schism. We must here therefore distinguish sharply between the motive and the means!

What then ? Let your moderation be shown, the known be honoured above the guessed, for God has not forgotten to be gracious. Cling to what is good: the testimony of the original, immediate inspiration of all Scripture, and the faithful transmission of God's thoughts.

Avoid ANY approach which assumes God has not done this. This leaves the AV and the NKJV as available options. It also allows judicious willingness to find testable examples of real value in some other translations, where the underlying Greek text is (as usually is the case) not affected.

In exceedingly rare cases, where there is some difficulty as to an original text's meaning, place, one must always be willing to examine every line of objective evidence from all historical sources.

This writer has never met case of residual doubt as to the content of the text, in its thought and thrust, induced by any textual variation. No doctrine depends, in any case, to the least degree, on such cases. What He has promised, He has punctiliously, as ever, performed. In terms of Christian Apologetics, this is one more illustration of the flair and care of His word, which is His!

God has indeed transmitted His thoughts, His commands and His mind with (what without miracle would be) an incredible clarity.

This must not be abused or confused by racial schismatics, of the right or of the left. As to the word of God, let it speak for itself. It is there. It does not need help from philosophical theories, or historical  ones; whether of the one kind or the other. It evidences itself without these.

God has spoken. Listen. That, not addition, is what is necessary. Test what ? ALL things, and that includes spurious theories of minds astray from the evidence as it exists - and continues to do so, by the grace of God, through His honour.
 
 

End-note 
 

*1

The close inter-relation of the text of the Bible, each part with each, is one of its most arresting phenomena. It is by no means exaggerating to assert that it is like the integration of arms and legs. They, while very different to be sure, are of such a close integral inter-relationship, that it is PART OF THEIR FUNCTION to act together in the midst of their specific specialisations, as one whole, or part of one whole, each other member contributing, all individual, all correlated in a triumph of motion.

Thus, a more sensitive document in this respect, than the Bible, it would be difficult to imagine. Its themes, predictions, chaste turn of exact language and enormous directness that never fears to shock or affront mere formalism, or to the godly, to comfort and caress the spirit and challenge the heart, are so deep and comprehensive yet they ring true to each other over the 15 centuries or so chosen for the release of all these compositions from the Almighty; and this is so, from whatever "culture" the inspired writers came (Moses from Egypt, imbued with its learning, Daniel in Babylon, living deep in the heart of its administrations).

Here the text is filling in, there widening detail like some computer pictures, as they growingly appear on the screen, faithful to the original, but gaining in its coverage as we wait, appear with intriguing wholeness before the eyes. In all this, the Bible reminds one precisely of that paragon and perfection of all expression on earth, from heaven, Jesus Christ the righteous in His diction, fearless, frank, tender, triumphant, sharp, insuppressible, indefeasible, direct and able both to do surgery through speech and provide solace to the uttermost depths.

Awareness of this composure and of all the details of the revelatory procedure is necessary in any translator, just as memory is necessary in reading love letters - or legal documents for that matter. Good translations have this as one of their criteria, that the translator with a whole different array of words and connotations to choose from, and in the case of English, an enormously expanded one (some million or so, it is reported), chooses with erudite skill and deft reach.
 

*2

Alteration, "critical emendation" may indeed be made in the underlying text before translation with a wanton freedom prompted by amazing blindness. This can distort the word of God like sand in a precision instrument; as can unblushing intrusion of rough idiom in translation, over-riding exact statement. In Number 22 above, there is shown an example of no final doctrinal impact, as is always the case; yet it is one showing the direction of flow which may readily enough be found in lax or liberal renderings outside the AV and the NKJV.

 

44Romans 16:25-26

 

 In passing we refer to On Translations of the Bible 13, but then to Possess Your Possessions Vol. 12, Ch. 7.

 

Just as Paul continually reasoned in the synagogues that this Jesus was the Christ of the prophets, so this statement of manifestation of His word is not set at variance with the declaration of the prophets, but  in consummation of their words*1, as in Romans 16:25-26. This has this word from the Lord:

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§ "Now

 

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 to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel
 

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 and the preaching of Jesus Christ,
according to the revelation of the mystery
 

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 kept secret since the world began
 

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 but now made manifest,
 

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 moreover through prophetic Scriptures
 

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 according to the commandment of the everlasting God:
 

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 for obedience to the faith to all nations made known:

 

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 to God, alone wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen."

(In the NKJV also, incidentally, there is displacement of some words and the result might seem  almost turgid and a little unclear, but this rendering above seeks to avoid that. It is rather beautifully done in the main,  in the Berkeley version).

A Divulgement

With all this, there is an absolute, objective standard, there are standing orders, and there is a revelation which is the SOLE written, operative direction required of all. It is called the Bible, the word of God written, inspired by the Holy Spirit (I Peter 1:10ff., II Peter 1:16-21), instituted with power as privilege from the divine mind, for the magnificent purposes of God.

It centres on  our fallen estate, our opportunities for restoration, and opens up like a bud becoming a flower, as the revelation moves from early indication to eventual consummation in the Gospel of the substitutionary salvation of Jesus Christ crucified, who died the just for the unjust to bring us to God (I Peter 3:18).

It was

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symbolised for Israel,
 

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essentialised in the coming Messiah,
 

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culminated in His incarnation from heavenly eternity,
 

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secured on the Cross,
 

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exhibited in power in the resurrection,
which also authenticated it
as the finale on the personal works of Jesus Christ when on this earth,

and is

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available to Jew and Gentile alike,
while God fulfils all the specifications of method
which He has had in mind, both to confront this earth,
commend the free grace of the path offered,
and to bring to some eternal life, who believe, and to the rest, judgment
because, despite all this, they do not.

God is a Spirit and the thing is spiritual; God made the earth and man upon it, and the thing is practical; God loves and He took action to show it, did work to implement it and loves mercy to fulfil it.

This brings us to the sheer magnitude and magnificence of His self-revelation and practical demonstration before and for us, and the need to realise our position and act. For this, there is an impelling overview provided, for example, in Romans 16:25-27. This shows the sheer wonder of it, the fact that it centres on a revelation of things without God, mere mystery, but with His act most clear, relevant and wonderful.

It is a work to do justice to this divine declaration,  and its overview requires careful alertness.

 

THE REVELATION

Romans 16:25-27 

Now

to Him who is able to establish you
 

   according to my Gospel

   and the preaching of Jesus Christ,
   according to the revelation of the mystery,

      kept secret since time began, 
      but now manifest,

   and by the prophetic scriptures:

       made known according to the commandment of the eternal God,
       for obedience to the faith to all nations -
 

to God alone wise, be glory through Jesus Christ be glory. Amen.

This gives in translation from Greek to English the sense of vastness which it has. However the Greek has linguistic abilities here which the English does not adequately transmit, clarificatory aspects which require us to use our own language in such a way as to mirror these. It is not that it is too complex, but it needs care in rendering to secure full transmission in this, another medium of discourse.

Thus, for immediate impact it could be segmentalised. so that we look further at ways of translating.

We have something to consider, since in particular,  in English we do not have case endings, which here in Greek reveal the track of thought with three participles all of the same grammatical case (genitive), the first following 'revelation' (of the mystery), in that it was long hidden, the second denoting its being made manifest and the third the thrust or purpose of its being made known. They act like sign-posts, very conspicuous in their similarity both of grammatical and visual form, and of impact.

Since in English we lack this way of joining like things together with such endings, it may be helpful to use what we have in our language, to indicate what the Greek puts in its own way. Thus it could be rendered like this.

Now

to Him who is able to establish you
according to my Gospel
and the preaching of Jesus Christ according to the revelation of the mystery,

kept secret from the times of the ages,  but now manifest,

and by the prophetic scriptures:
 

this made known to all nations
according to the commandment of the eternal God -
 

leading to obedience of faith,
 

to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ
 be glory for ever. Amen.

To make it easier to read, we could segmentalise it a little further*1:

Now

to Him who is able to establish you

according to my Gospel
and the preaching of Jesus Christ according to the revelation of the mystery,

kept secret from the times of the ages, 
but now manifest,

and by the prophetic scriptures: 

this mystery

by the commandment of the eternal God -

being made known to all nations
leading to obedience of faith:
 


to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ
 be glory for ever. Amen.

 

Thus you have the mystery 1) hidden    2) manifest     3) made known.

This guides by its force and its form, both together. 

The three participles move us forward in successive steps.

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First is the secretion,

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then the manifestation,

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then thirdly the making known.

The first two are an evocative contrast; the third is a functional application.

BEING manifest, it now has a job to do, and this by command of the eternal God. In fact, it is to all peoples, and leads into obedience of faith.

You could translate, at one point, "leading to faith's obedience." It has much to commend it. One translator has 'obedience inspired by faith', but this is to put a thrust into words which the Greek does not. On the other hand, there is a possessive which could be simply translated, ' faith's obedience' . About faith there is this realism that without works as James reminds us, it is dead. IF you believe, the RESULT will come. What motivates may be hope, what activates, it is faith. Drawing back and withdrawing are NOT faith, but mistiness, wistfulness, romancing or the like.

 

ITS SUBSTANCE

Let us return now to the substance of this divine declaration, the Divine Charter for Man. It is not enforced. It is revealed. It is not debatable, it is given. It is not a matter of 21st century changes, but of some 35 centuries of revelation. It is not merging with other things, not mutative, but successive, unitary and like a giant ocean wave, coming to issuance in one way only.

In this way, the Christian, now the recipient of the entire revelatory masterpiece of divine diction, will and provision for man, is to be established as Romans 16:25 declares. It is by two divine thrusts. First is the Gospel as given, for one, to the apostle Paul (who was in unity with the other apostles on it as in Galatians 1-2); and this involves the revelation of a mystery, that is, something known to God, explicable only by Him, but able to move readily into the mind of man, despite its distempers,  to clarify potential confusion, amplify moving thoughts and give form and precision to his entire spiritual and qualitative nature and life.

It is the Gospel and revelation of mystery, together with the prophetic scriptures (Romans 16:26), which are basis for establishment of any man before God. These are means cited and used by "Him who is able to establish you." So declares Romans 16:25-26. These two operate together as one: the long aggregating revelation through the prophets, together with Messianic focus, on the one hand, and the central and practical focus of the completion in Christ, through the Gospel given legs and arms in His actions, on the other (Hebrews 1:1 - 2:10). Both counter the hiddenness, the one in preparation, the other in completion.

As to this mystery, then, it came in phases, being at first hidden, since only God is able to have and show His OWN mercy as HE sees fit. It is however made manifest,  simply because He articulates it. Nor is this simply for notational completion, but practical action. Nor, again, is this merely for visual or intellectual focus, but it has results. Its scope is universal to all nations, not just Israel, which was the initial revelatory channel at the time of Moses, for its extensive formulation and symbolic utterances.  Indeed, the revelation goes back to the earliest days, when the hiddenness was far greater, the very time of the fall of man and the prediction of what God would do to deliver him (Romans 5:1-12, 8:17ff.). Genesis 3:15 shows the first beginnings of the lifting of the veil and so is called the protevangelion.

It is not only for ALL nations, but it is so by DIVINE COMMAND, declares Romans 16:25-27. It is not a suggestion from a suggestion box; it is a sovereign declaration for deliverance, from the eternal God. Paul shows, through the word of God, this aspect with magnificent force in Galatians 1, for example, crystallising this further in Galatians 3 and 5, and applying it in Galatians 4, concerning the Israel to Church movement, at the supreme spiritual level. Christ shows as recorded in Matthew 28, that Great Commission which does indeed give divine command that all the Gospel be proclaimed with the teaching of ALL the commandments.

The establishment of those who hear, as in Romans 16:25, is both through this teaching in its fulness, and through the prophetic scriptures, both being revelatory channels; for whatever is hidden, may be so for two reasons. Firstly, it may be there, but the investigatory power or constraint is lacking, so that it is not found; or secondly, it may not be there at all. 

The consolidation or establishment of the Christians at Rome, in terms of both the Gospel and the writings of the prophets is certainly co-ordinate as in II Peter 1:19, not only because of the theme, portent, even the unveiling in the prophetic procedure to the full light of common day, nor only because of the terminology, where distinctively,  the writings of the prophets is made co-ordinate with the manifestation of the Gospel from hidden phase to full revelation, but because this IS establishment, to see the progressive opening up of the Gospel in one setting, one thematic display. This is one of the means used for the consolidation of disciples in the full glory of the manifest truth!

It is like a day developing, hour by hour, till noon. It consolidates itself to the mind, impresses itself on the soul and it attests itself in its disregard of the constraints of time, no small contribution being there if not substantially realised at the first (Genesis 3:15), and true to the last. However foolish and slow of hearing the disciples might be, yes by Christ's own word, those with Him (Luke 24:25), the plant of prophecy was a large and abundant one, even before the sun shone so brightly upon it.

This is no small part of the method of Paul as he reasoned in the synagogue from the scriptures that Jesus is the Christ, of Philip to the Ethiopian, of Paul in Romans 11 and 15, and of Christ in his diversification of testimony to the disciples, emphasising what is there ALREADY together with the impact from Himself, sent direct from the Father, as from His ordained actions in fulfilment of the scriptures as in Matthew 26:52-54.

  

ITS  OUTCOME

Its outcome in thrust lies in the obedience of faith, we find in Romans 16:26. It is the obedience which faith understands, to which it seeks, which is normal and natural to it, which implies the discernment, motivation and love to which it is conjoined: the fruit of the Spirit is faithfulness, love and joy, for example (Galatians 5:22). In other words, what is to be received by faith in the Lord, in His revelation, in His mercy, impels one to faithfulness as a fruit. It is not the obedience of servitude, of cringing, though the fear of God is clean (Psalm 19);  but it is that of that faith which knows God, loves Him and seeks His desire with relish,  as a privilege of mercy and a testimony of friendship, the work of the Captain and King of mankind, working not by force, though with power, but rather with the impelling attraction of love.

In Ephesians 3:9ff., we see something emphatic. It is that the joining in harmonious unity through this very Gospel, of Jew and Gentile, one certainly, as in Romans 16, prefaced in the prophetic scriptures given to and through prophets in Israel, is now made more manifest in its profundity.

It is no small thing for God to take the format of man and the race of a Jew in order for Jew or Gentile, to bring a common salvation, fulfilling the promises in the prophets and providing the Gentiles with direct access with all boldness, to Himself (Hebrews 2-4). 

In Ephesians 1:7ff., we find that "in the dispensation of the fulness of times" -

that is, when the Danielic prediction of the Gospel's time
in terms of the dismissal of the Messiah when He came to earth
(the date for its occurrence as indicated, and shown in Christ the Citadel
Ch. 2, for example):

all things are gathered together in One. Who is that One: It is Jesus Christ.

That is the Saviour, God Himself as man (Philippians 2, Isaiah 43:10-11, Acts 4:11-12),

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having been foretold, forecast, and
 

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given the date displacement in detail, and
 

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 indeed murdered, and
 

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 resurrected, the torn body not left to rot,
but as practical declaration of God, for the precincts of immortality:
 

is now acting in triumphant testimony as the  One who is both Lord and Christ.

Indeed, to fulfil this purpose, He both lived and died (Romans 14:9), that He might be Lord both of the living and of those already past their earth's pilgrimage. He is both cynosure and centre. He is both explication and  application, testimony and triumph.

Moreover,  this Person and this establishment, it is declared,  is to be seen as such by all men. The precise way of this unification was not always so clear, but now it is. That is what we are being told. It is in the earlier prophetic scriptures (such as Isaiah 42,46,49-55, Micah 5, Jeremiah 31, Hosea 13:14ff., Psalms 2, 16, 22, 40, 69 and so on), but not always was it understood, for it could be understood that it was revealed for a coming time (I Peter 1:12). That time is now. It is upon us. Its tenure is moving to coming phases for this one Gospel of this one Saviour, with His inclination that all might be reconciled, but in love, and not in force or violence (John 18:36).

The 'mystery' like the sight of a ship near the horizon at the ocean shore, is now brought close, as it has berthed in the harbour. When it is so, it is realised that after all, the outline was indeed in the prophetic scriptures, which like field glasses trained on the ship on the horizon, had not erred! Moreover the symbolic prelude was not amiss (as in Hebrews 1-10), but moved by faith (as in Hebrews 11), men of old acted as seeing Him who is invisible, as those who move to a city which has foundations, whose builder and Maker is God (exemplified, typified and essentialised in Abraham (Hebrews 11:10, Romans 4). Nor is there is no other foundation but Christ Jesus the Lord (I Corinthians 3:11).

Many founder in seeking to change the foundation, or in efforts to make another; but being confounded, they merely address their windy words to no effect (II Peter 2:18, cf. Daniel 7:20), a squalid whine or whimper in effect (cf. Jeremiah 23:16-28), however pretentious for the moment it may appear in deception (as in II Corinthians 11), as the Age of Grace proceeds to its fulfilment, the opposition itself mounting.

The truth will not alter or wither or quiver, though typhoons of truculence or arrogance spend themselves.

We are not dealing with the creations of men, says Peter (II Peter 3:16), but

"with the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ,"

the apostles who were with Him

"being eyewitnesses of His majesty,

or He received from God the Father honour and glory ..." 

There is a whole matrix of things past concerning His coming, things present when He came and things to come, in finality and completion, when the time of testimony becomes the act of judgment. Therefore be steadfast (I Peter 4:1-12), serious, unmaimed by imaginative flirtations, not dithering but living in the obedience of faith.

Bereft indeed will be purveyors of such illus