A short outline for the
New Covenant, Old Sorrow,
Once again we look at the scenes concerning Christ’s incarnation.
This time it is again threefold: the New SORROW that came, the Old EGYPT that was left and the New COVENANT that came on line.
Matthew 2 has FOUR rather fascinating prophetic references, one of which we took last week, as it introduces us further to Jesus Christ, whose testimony one could describe as “Truth Alive, Resurrected and Written.” HE, the truth is alive and resurrected; His words and His word concerning the Bible mean that for us of mankind, truth is also WRITTEN.
Our teacher has COME and has left His manual! (Matthew 5:19-20, Isaiah 8:20, John 14:25, Revelation 22:18-19, Proverbs 30:6, Galatians 1). It is a manual of discipline certainly, but also one of devotion. In coming to this earth, He did far more than a king going to war for his country and enduring privations. He left the form of the eternal God (Philippians 2) for that of a man ready to be condemned by the shallow, reviled by the callow, treated with contempt by the contemptible (Matthew 17:12, Luke 9:22, 11:48-54).
you willing to leave the comfort of your social setting, superiorities and
rewards, to serve in the Spirit of the One who did this ? Christianity
without tears is like bread without grain. Whatever it looks like, this isn’t
it! (Galatians 5:24). But first, let us look at
As Micah indicated, it was here Christ would be born.
It is from this date of His birth, itself derived from varied co-ordinates:
its relationship to Herod’s death (Matthew -20),
to the official enrolment mentioned by Luke (2:1-7),
to the age of Christ at His ministry (Luke ) in relationship to the temple at that time being some 46 years old (John ), and confirmed by
Chinese and Korean star sightings in B.C. 5 and 4 (SMR p. 944):
that His death date can be found.
birth date relates to the coming of the magi from far off, and reaching
Christ took NOTHING from this earth, yet coming from eternity, contributed EVERYTHING; but the world loves its little grandeurs, and dazzled is doomed as surely as in the flood. We are not to love THE WORLD, says James (cf. James 4:4). This is NOT a suggestion! Friendship with it is enmity with God, he declares. Are we on this earth to get for ourselves, or to give through the power of Christ! Giving is delightful when your resources do not fail; and as to God, He never fails (Zephaniah 3:5). His ways do not change (Habakkuk 3:6, Malachi 3:6). To act as a divinely appointed resource, a channel of replenishment requires faith; and faith works with God, in whom it is placed, as one hand in another. When HE gave His life, and then clean bowled death with it, He gave the magnificence of giving its display unit: Himself! (Hosea , Acts -24).
Without Him, giving is as useful as a stream from an iron foundry. So does Jeremiah speak (2:13, John 4:14, 7:37): “For My people have committed two evils: they have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, and hewn out cisterns, broken cisterns that can hold no water.”
Let us however follow the living source, the lively Spring that ushered in the New Covenant.
In Hosea 11:1 we see the little child being drawn
with cords of love, just as
Clamouring for fulfilment in infant steps on the one hand, and basic concept on the other, replacing failure with triumph, the Old Covenant with the New, the journey that failed for 40 years with the one which succeeded at once, God is here seen calling HIS Son out of Egypt. THIS is the instrument of His ransom announced in Hosea 13:14 and cited by Paul.
It is as in Isaiah 41:27 and 42:1. NONE among the
sinful sons of man could do what had to be done: the OLD ‘son’ was called into
calamity through lack of faith (cf. I Cor. 10), out
But Matthew has more for us!
Not least cause of this sorrow (Jeremiah
31:15), apart from the many sins which
Could he net Christ ? No he could not, but he tried, just as Hitler tried to eliminate the Jewish race and multiply confused forces seek to annihilate the church of Jesus Christ today, not with swords as yet, but with subtlety, making call in the name of peace, for the reality of a denial as robust anything Judas Iscariot ever conceived.
Naturally, this hideous action brought many to grief, as mothers mourned, just as they did at the time near the Exodus, when another king, the Pharaoh, tried to kill Jewish babes in order to redress population dangers! Many will likewise mourn in this, our generation, as false prophets, false churches, false christs and false claims would in their clamour, make new gospels and some other Jesus, even in multiple versions to make the cultural clutch, to hatch at their own convenience. Not thus was salvation gained; not thus is it that the people of God gather for worship. Satan is always at it; and the confused find in him their anti-resting place, their anti-saviour and their anti-salvation. Let us however return to the historic case of Jesus, the babe, and the frantic efforts of a contemporary king to … extinguish Him, before His light had burned!
The NEW SORROW, forecast in Jeremiah 31:15, comes just a little before the prophet reveals that there is to be an astonishing thing: a WOMAN will ENCOMPASS a man (Jeremiah 31:22). There is nothing strange about child-birth, but a sole maternal side is so, and is hence a “new thing” which God is doing in the plan of salvation. It was in this mode that Christ would come, the other side being GOD’s own side, for the incarnation, so that indeed the Prince of Peace, the Savior, would ALSO be THE EVERLASTING FATHER (Isaiah 9:6), in this, that Christ as the WORD of God on earth, exposed His eternal Father (John 14:9), saying, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father.” (See Heart and Soul, Mind and Strength Ch. 4.)
Notice how EVERYTHING is as always, fulfilled, just as Jesus the Christ SAID it would be (Matthew -19). You should rejoice that your God knows everything, and does everything that He says. This includes your being KEPT if you have come in faith to Him (John 10:9,27-28), so that it is simply not possible for anyone, any person, yes even yourself, to snatch you from Him, and you will accordingly, never perish (Titus 2:14-3:7).
This is implicit in Matthew 2:6, and so from Micah whose is cited by Paul in I Corinthians 15.
HE is to SHEPHERD Israel, and you may recall now that in Ezekiel 34, GOD HIMSELF has declared that dissatisfied with human shepherdings, HE WILL DO IT HIMSELF (and so it is seen in the Messianic psalms, for example, Psalm 2, 72 and 45).
In Jeremiah, to which Matthew refers as above, we have then, three astonishing and intimately related prophecies. One is the SORROW as in 3 above; one is the WOMAN ENCOMPASSING as also noted there, and the third is the NEW COVENANT, famously in Jeremiah 31:31ff.. They fit as do the stars and the heavens. They came like a meteor shower, all together, just as they appear together in the predictive vision.
Thus Jeremiah brought together these three great foci: A NEW MODE OF BIRTH associated with a NEW SORROW. As to the last, it was as in the days of the founding of the OLD COVENANT; for then also, children were slain, Moses himself narrowly escaping. In perfect parallel, in the days of the founding of the NEW COVENANT, again children were slain, Jesus Christ Himself narrowly escaping; but both interventions of God, in the basket of Moses and in the vision of Joseph, were in the providence of God. In each case, the shocking cruelty of unconverted man is contrasted with the life God gives, and the tenderness He shows.
Indeed, it is all so closely known to God, and has been, that He even refers to the sorrow of those who relate to this new birth of Christ, fulfilled in the mass infanticide of Herod, and in this new covenant which in Christ’s blood, in this 31st chapter of Jeremiah. This total commitment to man’s deliverance, salvation and joy, He achieved, dismissing animal sacrifice in favour of His own (as in Psalm 40 and Isaiah 49-55, 66:3, Jeremiah , one of the great !).
Jeremiah thus presents in one chapter the new birth, the incarnation, the new covenant, the new sorrow to come as it commenced its regime of joy, and the new way to look beyond the old covenant
into the very face and features of God Himself,
when He should come, as He did,
as always, according to plan,
to die as predicted at about 30 A.D. (see The Shadow of a Mighty Rock pp. 886ff., with 943ff., the latter pages dealing with the date of Christ’s birth).
In Jeremiah we saw that the Old Covenant was prepared for its passage off, in preparation for the New. Of this, there is no end (Ephesians ); for when GOD DOES IT HIMSELF, no one else need ever try!
What a lot of birth there is about the time which Christmas is set to commemorate! Certainly we do not know for entire certainty the date of Christ’s birth, except that compelling constraints bring it to the YEAR B.C. 4; but we do know that we love Him and wish to celebrate His greatness, only too glad that the world, even if in its normally degenerate way, it celebrates the season wrongly, yet allows, if not the light, at least some glow of it to reach it. In this way, SOME may be converted OUT OF IT.
WE of course need to remember what it is that WE are celebrating, and share it as the season may the more readily permit.
For the non-Christian, there are
delightful parallels. Many Jews in
worldlings are still metaphorically in
Many are still IN SORROW, fretful of heart and filled with fears and uncertainties (Luke -26), along with many lands, “distress of nations with perplexity”, this being the divinely forecast state of things before Christ returns: and it is so now, almost to the last degree. Their sorrow through faith in Christ, needs to be turned to joy; but is it so with you (I Peter 1:8) ?
In droves, man knows nothing of the New Covenant, ignores God and wanders like star on the loose, looking for some planet for an atmosphere in which it can successfully burn up, a short stab of light yielding an infernal darkness. But do YOU KNOW the new Covenant, the deep peace, the profound joy, the entire necessary power to do the work of God, find the will of God and delight in Him (cf. Philippians 4:13): “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!”
This, it is not some pious hope: it is practical religion in the Lord!
For the Christian, consider all the above, and as when you polish you car, already reasonably clean, so polish your understanding and rejoice in Him as in Isaiah 61:10. There may be pain in the service of Christ to mankind (I Corinthians -34); but there is a joy unspeakable and full of glory, to be allowed to serve in love, and to seek in peace.