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The Unsurpassable Pinnacle that is Christ!
Focussing the Acclamations of Hebrews 8
The Prince who is Pinnacle Unsurpassable
Now the concept of a pinnacle, to be sure, suggests that something may well be above it, so that a yet higher point might be construed. In this case, however, it is no mere case: it is the Creator who has come to occupy a place which in principle and priority, in power and position is THE pinnacle. HE, Jesus Christ, is given a name which is ABOVE every other, so that at HIS name every knee should bow. Now no knee should bow at any name beneath that of God, for cursed is he who puts his trust in man, as Jeremiah reminds us, and the essence of idolatry is worship of that which is not God. "Shall I fall down before a block of wood?" asks Isaiah, depicting the mind of the spiritually insane (44:19). They "pray to a god who cannot save" (45:20), he declares derisively. "They provoked me to jealousy by what is not God", says Moses in his prophecies, in Deuteronomy 32:21.
What is not God, the Almighty, of whom there but ONE, is not acceptable, not to be the subject of worship, bowing, trust. God says, Besides Me there is no Saviour (Isaiah 43:10-11). "Before Me, there was no God formed, nor shall there be after Me." Hence, of course, Christ in whom they are encouraged and exhorted to TRUST (Psalm 2), God's Son, to whom they are to come and BOW the knee (Philippians ), would be a mere idol if He were not God. They would be worshipping and showing utter dependence on that which was, to use Moses' word, NOT GOD. But now, it is to the GLORY of GOD THE FATHER, says Paul, that they so act; for in their bowing to the Son, it is to acknowledge the Father's display unit, His face (John 14:1-10). It is to accept His name when the name of His word and Saviour, the One who saves, is presented. Like the name of an acknowledged son in a department store, this name is the same as that of the Father, and has full authority.
As for God, there is not
only ONE, both before Isaiah and afterwards, as HE says, but there is NO OTHER
EVEN LIKE HIM (Isaiah 40:25,26). "I," He says, "am the first and the
last: Besides Me there is no God," Isaiah 4:6. "You are My
witnesses. Is there a God besides Me? Indeed, there is no other Rock: I know
not one" - Isaiah 44:8. Jehovah's witnesses attest that they are a
better witness than is Jesus Christ; but they are arrantly astray, and no worse
witness to Him is possible than that which divorces Him from His Father; nor is
there any greater lie than this; for it is contest at once and for ever,
between God's presentation of God in Jesus Christ, and man's presentation of
God without Him! The lines are drawn, the competition is set. GOD knows of no
other God. Others may, as
Now as to the Creator, there is ONE and He is GOD, as we find in Isaiah 45:18-19:
Who created the heavens,
Who is God,
Who formed the earth and made it,
Who has established it,
Who did not create it in vain,
Who formed it to be inhabited.
I am the Lord, and there is no other.
I have not spoken in secret..."
NON-Creator gods shall perish; but Jesus the Christ IS the eternal life of God, expressed in human form (I John 1:1-4).
These things being so, we turn to Hebrews 1, as an introduction to Hebrews 8, where the great unity in Jesus Christ is shown, which promotes blessing as birds promote song. There we read this:
As to this HEIR TO ALL THINGS (Hebrews 1:2), deity the word, the Son, the Saviour, His is no less this also: responsibility for "ALL JUDGMENT". This is His (John 5:19-23, Matthew 7:21-23), whose is eternal glory undimmed (Revelation 21:23, 22:3, 5:13, Hebrews 7:24,21, 5:9, 9:12-15, 12:19-29, 13:8, II Cor. 13;14, Ephesians 1:12-14, Isaiah 45:23, Philippians 2:9-10, Colossians 1:16). It is in Him that there is the everlasting covenant (Isaiah 55:13), wrought for those who likewise shall have upon their heads per favour of His blessing, everlasting joy (Isaiah 55:3), kindled by the everlasting kindness (Isaiah 54:8) of the Lord!
1) NO OTHER NAME under heaven given among men by which we must be saved and
2) NO LESSER SCOPE than this for His reconciliation with God, which He is able to confer, than ALL, for it is through Him and from Him exclusively, and toward all, whether they be in heaven or on earth (Colossians 1:19-23) - this being the determinate prerogative of the Son; and it is applicable effectually for all who come in faith to Him, known to God before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4); and
3) NO LESSER RANK for Jesus Christ than pre-eminence in ALL things (Colossians -21). For ALL creation, this is the case: HE has the pre-eminence. And are there not two fine reasons: that He CREATED it and that He alone provides REDEMPTION which HE earned, for all who come according to the Father's loving good pleasure, to Him!
4) NO LESSER POWER than this, and in this depth and dimension: that ALL THINGS were created through and for Him (Colossians ), nothing is in the category "made" unless HE made it (John 1:3), He the in-create word, preceding in rank and power anything and everything that is MADE! The universe is like a play pen, and it is accorded to Him who first created it.
its total breadth towards sinners - "it pleased the Father that in Him all the fulness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven", as to outreach and willingness, and
its total performance on the other, in the death on the Cross to cover what is in fact His, the redeemed. The attitude and the action are like two partners in perfect accord.
Indeed, let us examine three scriptural passages in addition.
Ephesians tells us that in the dispensation of "the fulness of the times", God has a good pleasure "which He has purposed in Himself", to "gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth" - and it is "in Him", he adds for emphasis. The "fulness of the times" as before the one God who knows all, is the end of the matter. It is moreover a dispensation or territory of events specifically designated for the maturity of the ages. Finally, those concerned are "all things", which is comprehensive; and the site in which this is to occur is this: "in Christ", and the Christ in view is the one defined, not "another Jesus" with "another Gospel" and "another Spirit" which you did not receive, as he chidingly told the Corinthians (II Cor.11).
The time, the contained and the container are all precisely specified. But let us go further, for Paul does so. Let us look now in Colossians 1:16.
are seen the same terms, "all things" that were created "in heaven and that are on earth".
"BY HIM ALL THINGS WERE CREATED" (Col.1:16) is the prelude. He stands as and with the
Creator (cf. Isaiah 48:16, 43:10-11,44:24, 45:11-13,18). We are not referring
to the created "variety" as if a sub-type; that category of creation
outside the operation of the Creator Himself is
If it is something, He made it; indeed He created it. If it in heaven, not earth, He made it; if on earth, not heaven, He made it. If you think of heaven in invisible terms, then He made all "things" of this kind, Paul declares. If you think of it in astral terms, no difference, He made all "things visible".
you think of personalities in heaven or on earth, outside of course the
increate Creator Himself, who is statedly from everlasting to everlasting
(Psalm 90,102), these He made these also: "things invisible". Various arrays of powers and
potencies ? These two by name, we find Paul declaring in Col.1:16, Christ made.
If it is the Creator it is God, says Isaiah; if it is the Creator, it is
Christ, says Paul. There is no other, says Isaiah, and from the One was sent
the other, in these persons who are in that holy trinity, says Isaiah 48:16,
That is the Creator; that is the creation. What then more of this myriad totality which He made, which is the creation ? of that multitue of which John says this: "All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made" - John 1:3. Inclusively the whole array is His, and He made it; exclusively, made things cannot escape from a manifest made past, from His hand.
Further (), they "consist" by Him; and before all such modalities, all such created things, before all that began, is He: "HE IS BEFORE ALL THINGS". THAT, says Paul, is why - though obviously He did not arrive on the created scene in person till late in history - "HE IS THE FIRSTBORN OVER ALL CREATION" (Col. 1:15-16). He is no mere part of it; He transcends it for the simple reason stated: He is "the firstborn over all creation, for by Him all things were created". THESE are the things which are to be gathered together in Christ in the fulness of times; these the exhaustively itemised and categorised and characterised ALL of creation, which exhaustively DEPENDS on Him, consists in Him, and without Him would have had no being at all.
universal pageant, this "all things" which are created by Him, as
increate and the image of the invisible God, are, for good measure as it
were, also gathered to Him as a name. He to whom and in whom they are so to be
gathered, in quantity and survey is, by stark contrast numerically, ONE,
CHrist whose name is "FAR ABOVE every name that can be named" (Ephesians 1:21). That covers and
means not merely those which we DO think of, but those which by any conceivable
turn or twist of imagination or unfolding of reality, COULD be named. Indeed,
as if this is not enough, then this is the case indifferently, whether we refer
to this Age or to the Age to come, when all things are judged by Him (Ephesians
1:21, John 5:19-23).
Now let us look at the third scripture in Revelation 5. Here we learn this:
"Worthy is the Lamb who was slain
"Blessing and honour and glory and power
Further, in Rev. 22:1, we find that it is no case of the 'thrones' of God and of the Lamb, but of the ONE THRONE on which they both reign, "the throne of God and of the Lamb". Similarly (Rev. 22:22), "the Lord God and thd Lamb are the temple" - NOT the temples. The Father, the Son, theirs is throne and temple as ONE BEING without separation, with a differentiation of person, not of quality. Thus placed, the Lamb is the One in whom ALL things are gathered together in ONE, as Paul declares in Ephesians; and the ALL is a folio in which are contained all the ingredients of creation, all that is not the Creator Himself. He who rules on the other hand is the Creator Himself (cf. Isaiah 48;16), both He who sent, and He who was sent, both the Father and the Word; and there likewise is the Spirit which calls,"Come!" (Rev. 22:17,2).
Then indeed, this same Son is the be the JUDGE of all! (John 5:19-23).
We must now most gladly resume our focus on the Son in the next category.
The Priest who Makes Priests Old-Fashioned Encumbrances
In Hebrews 8, then, we find the unity of truth in its beauty, in just accord with what Paul declares in Ephesians (1:10): "That in the dispensation of the fulness of the times, He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth - in Him. In Him also we have obtained an inheritance..."
IN CHRIST IS UNITY OF TRUTH, and from HIM IS THE TRUTH OF UNITY...
In Hebrews 8, then, we find that
What then? Christ preaches the covenant, is the covenant, is the priest, offers Himself, is the temple, in whose precincts the offering occurs, is the minister who proclaims the Gospel, is the offering, the sacrifice which satisfies justice, but then again, He is far more.
What then of this? He has obtained ETERNAL REDEMPTION (Hebrews 9:12), replacing in ONE, in HIMSELF, ALL the animal sacrifices, oblations and presentations, in this, that HE PRESENTED HIMSELF and "offered Himself without spot to God", so that He shall "cleanse your conscience form dead works to serve the living God..." ().
THIS is done ONCE by ONE*1 (Hebrews 9:1-28) who being God, has done all things well; so that any reversion to animal sacrifices is not only obsolete, but blasphemy, since HE has DONE all that is needed, and less is more, derogatory and superficial as well as superfluous, as if the finite should dare to compete with the infinite, when the infinite has acted.
For this reason, He justifies those who accept His action, HIS ONE ACTION, HIS ONE OFFERING, and this completely, sanctifying for ever those so justified (Hebrews 10:10,14).
Where then is the blessing? IN ONE, you have ALL. "All things," says Paul, "are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas, or the world or life or death, or things present or things to come - all are yours. And Christ is God's" - I Corinthians -23. "God has sent His only begotten Son INTO the world, that we might live through Him" - (I John 4:9).
THAT ONE is sympathetic, empathetic, holy, harmless, undefiled higher than the heavens, has proven His faithfulness, loves to death, and in power breaches death for life. In Him you have anything, everything, all power, all provision, all opportunity, all responsibility, all grace, all sufficiency.
There then is the walking Temple, the talking Temple, the living Sacrifice, the Personal Promise, the Covenant with a Countenance, the Prince who is Preacher, the God who is man, because He took that form, the Love which used Licence to Die, the Life that used Power to Life through death, changing form; and there too is the Light that will shine when the world faces destruction (Matthew 24:36, Isaiah 51, II Peter 3) for its sins and follies, and in whom is singular and perfect continuity when this WORLD FLIES AWAY. What does it matter if the world goes, it has not been going so well! How marvellous are the Biblical blessings of the Almighty, the only Saviour (Isaiah 43:10, Acts -12)!
What blessedness to be immune and invulnerable to the gross departures of form, being found in the favour of the Almighty, with a "living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice..." ( I Peter 1:3-5, I John 3:1-2,9).
The PRECIOUS PLANET OF Time Magazine (October 1997) is indeed precious, but polluted and rancidly misinhabited by squads of unrepentant loyalists to deviousness, deceit, delinquency in high places, follies, rebellion against the Lord, watching their terrestrial "house" decay before their unbelieving eyes, and prizing what is temporary above what is eternal. For the child of the heavenly Creator however, there is no eradication, merely transmutation: what is to go, goes; what must stay, stays, and in Him, we are always around; and better, because of His glorious salvation, we are around about Him, and He is around about us. For us, "we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens" (II Corinthians -5:1). Comparatively indifferent is change of address, though the new address is incomparably magnificent: yet it is always in Him that we find our most delightful address: and in His provisions we rejoice, because they re His. Thus Isaiah has it (51:6):
And look on the earth beneath.
For the heavens will vanish away like smoke,
The earth will grow old like garment,
And those who dwell in it will die in like manner;
And My righteousness will not be abolished."
You could, as it were, be walking along, and the universe disappears. So what? What in the world or beyond it, does it matter? Are you a worshipper and dependent of the universe, or of its Maker? Do you know the painting or the painter, the sculpture or the sculptor? If the latter, then what of His works, when they are burnt up in this case, being soiled and spoiled, a test pad that will explode when the time has come, and the count-down has finished, because man has tried to take it over, to penetrate the heavens, the celestial heavens of God's own being, with his arrogance and his pride.
The Walking Riot
It is not only that the Bible states this, that the heavens are the Lord's, but the earth has He given to man. It is rather more that contributes to create the whole offence. It is the spirit of the survey in which man is seeking in the UN, in the pacts and powers, in the WCC and in all his varied peace accords and concords, so prolific: and man slaughters man, the while, in millions, and children starve in thousands yearly. More than this: it is this spirit of climbing to the pinnacle of power, with unhealed hearts that drives man to destruction. "It hurls you to destruction," says God in Hosea (13:10), "that you are against Me, your Help."
What He said to Israel applies no less here, in this regard: "When Ephraim spoke, trembling, he exalted himself in Israel; but when he offended through Baal worship, he died" - 13:1.
The blessing is NOT to be hurled to destruction, NOT to be dependent in the least on the (just and due) fate of the universe, of the works of this world, on its peace treaties which are yet no peace, not to be fascinated by the whole hideous conclave of proud people posing as gods, since they disallow the God who alone could given them the truth to know He was not there: in which case, however He has to be there to let them know it, so there is no way they can know or declare anything true, except God be back of it.
The Eternal Blessing
The blessing is this: to be in CHRIST, the eternal and the assured, the foundation and the pinnacle, the glory of God in human form, in His team, in His "body" through which He moves by His Spirit, to be where the glory of God is to be found, where human nature is transcended and thus able to become what it should be. This is the blessing: THAT "GOD was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation." The blessing is this also, that this is not some past opportunity, but rather it is now:
It is everlasting:
The redemption is eternal - Hebrews 9:12. It is also impregnable and inalienable, authoritative and activated, blighting to blight, and intransigeant to deceit (Galatians 1:6-9). Moreover, the promise is of "everlasting inheritance" - Hebrews 9:15, secured by the infinite might of Him who having passed this vale, is now "within the veil" (Hebrews 6:19-20). That symbolised the intense and sacred area of God's most holy dealings of mercy and pardon. Where the high priest went once a year, Christ in reality and no mere symbol, dwells there as by His own place, whose goings are from eternity (Micah 5:1-3).
Such a covenant, such a redemption, such a Redeemer, such a Prince, such a pinnacle is indeed the provision of God, and in such stability we reflect with Isaiah, whose predictions covered so much of this, so long ago:
and knowledge shall be the stability of your times, and strength of salvation.
The fear of the Lord is his treasure" - Isaiah 33:6.
It is done once by One! Hebrews 1; 9:12,23,27-28 indicate that it was NECESSARY for the Mosaic patterns to be purified with lesser things (such as animal sacrifice), but that the heavenly things required better sacrifices than these; that hence Christ, deity in flesh was HIMSELF offered ONCE "to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself." This ONCE is not only the terminus of all sentence on sin, effectual for those who receive Him, but the sole and necessary terminus before that great judgment (Revelation 20:12-15) which shall dispense entirely with movable things (Hebrews 12:25-29). The thrust of Hebrews proceeds (Hebrews 9:27-28):
ONCE men die; ONCE Christ was offered. Man's death once, is prelude to that judgment which knows no repetition, those grand assizes which complete the ushering in of eternity in all directions; Christ's one offering is equally solitary stay on proceedings for all who desire mercy.