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THE OLD COVENANT, THE
THE SPIRIT AND THE CHANGELESS CHALLENGE
AND PROVISION OF GOD TO SINNERS
THE CHANGELESS GOD,
and CHANNEL OF MERCY
Psalm 22 focusses the Messiah. Here is the holy One of God, the sacrificial Lamb, the rejected Saviour, bearing the sin of His gaping oppressors, as many as would believe in Him. At this time, there is a pandemonium, a pageantry of hate, a relish of rejection and a roar of bullish belligerence, esteeming Him a mockery, a misfit, for God to deliver if He would have such a man of mission.
Mistaking the royalty and demeaning the reality, they toss about in turgid untruth, dismissing the only hope of this world, which is now without hope, though there is hope and indeed destiny in deity Himself, as His children, for those who receive Him (Isaiah 53:10, Hosea 13:14), their ransom from sin, redemption from dismissal, reversing the scorn of the crucifiers, with faith in that same Jesus!
When this Holy Sacrifice, the Saviour - for there is no Saviour but God and here is the One who actually DOES the payment in Himself, the Saviour, God Himself, as Isaiah 53 shows - is through with His exquisite pain and determinate destiny as victim, so that He might donate victory and receive the praise which is His due: of what do we read in Psalm 22:22 ? Once we see, "You have answered Me" as He prays His way through the pit of others, that He might become the Prince of His elect, once indeed this appears on the spiritual screen (22:21), we find, being delivered, He has a clear intention. It is this.
"I will declare Thy name to My brethren."
He goes further, and indicates where this will be done.
"In the midst of the great I will praise Thee."
Indeed, even this is inadequate, for He proceeds in 22:25 to announce this: "My praise shall be of Thee in the great assembly; I will pay My vows before those who fear Him" (cf. Psalm 40:1-3).
What IS this assembly ? Harris, Archer and Waitke in their Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament indicate that this is the normal word for significant assemblies. It can be military (but this one is for 'praise' of God, and paying of vows). Here it is other than this: for it is clearly a religious assembly that is in view. Thus the Word Book has this datum, that this term especially designates an assembly for religious purposes, the Horeb Assembly for receiving the Law being of this kind (Deuteronomy 9:10, 10:4, 18:16), just as this is the term for feasts and worship. Indeed, this word, lhq --- is 13 times used of the "congregation of the LORD".
From the USE of it shown in the Psalm 22 instances cited, then, it is clear that this, the normative use, is the one in view: it is an assembly for worship and praise purposes, as would be expected in terms of the testimony to be made (22:22), after so great an act, so wonderful and strange an epochal epic, as the Cross of the Messiah by which souls may be pardoned and made ready for their Prince (Isaiah 53, 55, 61).
Thus it is in the sense of the normal Hebrew term for a significant religious assembly that we find Christ referring to His appearing to His brethren, which of course included the 500 noted by Paul in I Corinthians 15. There is, in other words, the same continuity here as apparent in Stephen's speech (Acts 7:38) when he refers to the ekklesia or gathering, or church in the wilderness. ('Church' is a called out body, as in Psalm 22, both simply designating such a species of action).
There is a continuity in terminology, and the called out body in not given any novel expression for its existence, but rather an express continuity of designation and cover. There is no difference in type between the great congregation of Psalm 22 and those in other affairs of Israel, nor is there any divergence from what is specifically a Church congregation. They are all one, in different modes to be sure, in this, that in the one case the Messiah is still to come, predicted but yet to pay, and in the other, He has come and indeed is busy declaring the name of the Lord to those ready to hear it, even the 'great congregation' of Christians.
It is the same God with the same intention (in the Old Testament) and performance (in the New) who will perform His word to Abraham and so pardon, delighting in mercy (as in Micah 7:19ff.) the people who receive the One to be sent, now crucified and risen. His people are the called out ones for the purpose of hearing what He is about, is doing, has done, what is His nature, and calling on His irrevocable name of LORD.
Far too much is made of the difference in the administration of the truth, in the Old and New Testament; for not only is the picture-reality parallel explicit as in Hebrews 7-10, where the sacrifices of the Law betoken His who was then to come, and the priesthood His who would offer Himself without spot, and the temple His own body, but there is more. It is the same grace which is willing to die for the people of God, attested so vigorously in Hosea 13:14, where it is God Himself who will come and ransom His people, and so destroy the familiar terminus of death for those so redeemed, evacuating for ever its sting for those who receive Him. It is He who as in Ezekiel 34 will come to be the efficacious Shepherd, not a time-serving religious reactionary/functionary!
It is one God, one pardon, one depiction in symbol and history respectively, one intention, one mercy and one redemption, whether it is in pre-ordained symbols through animal sacrifice, or in ordained flesh through the sacrifice of God.
The same spirit works whether in Moses who is willing to die for his people (Exodus 32:31ff.), to be blotted out rather than see his people unforgiven (cf. Romans 9:3 in the case of Paul), or in the apostle. The same Lord who was both good enough and acceptable, the second Person of the Trinity (Isaiah 48:16), God-sent, being pre-figured and foretold, came and did it. In this, He was unlike Moses or Paul for so intensely sacred a purpose as redemption required the purity and power of God Himself.
The results operated in both Testaments with the same remission, even from Him who does not "impute sin" to David (Psalm 32), who both knows Him as his Shepherd and knows he will be resurrected in the 'likeness' of the Lord (Psalm 17). It is the same God who tells Isaiah He will awaken those who dwell in the dust, who will "My body" (no 'together' with it, in the text itself) arise! It is He who in the flesh showed the apostles that He had arisen (John 20, Luke 24).
He who repeatedly "wrought for My name's sake" as we see in Ezekiel 20, in order to distance deletion of Israel and enable its continuance, despite the enormities of their sins, is He who declares that a righteous man may fall 7 times and yet be rescued, in Proverbs. It is He who prefers the publican who beats his breast in horrific contemplation of his sin, to the Pharisee who in self-righteous smugness, addresses his praise in the temple, his own praise. There is no difference. The vital case is the same: for ALL have sinned and to ALL who receive Him as He progressively reveals Himself, through the law to show the exceedingly great sinfulness of sin (Romans 7:17), or the Lord, to show the exceeding greatness of grace (Romans 5:1-11). In both cases mercy through sacrifice and longsuffering through grace avails.
But what does He give in that magnificent exhibit of the splendid beauty of mercy: it is "truth to Jacob and mercy to Abraham" already sworn to the fathers. Look at the dimensions of this sworn mercy then, in Micah 7:18-19, for anyone who knows the Gospel, it has that essentially thrilling ring which is unique to it.
"Who is a God like You,
And passing over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage?
He does not retain His anger forever,
delights in mercy.
"He will again have compassion on us,
And will subdue our iniquities.
You will cast all our sins
Into the depths of the sea.
You will give truth to Jacob
And mercy to Abraham,
Which You have sworn to our fathers
From days of old."
That is not all promised to Abraham, but it is nothing less! He does not alter, His ways are everlasting.
In both Testaments, what do we find when His people meet ?
It is the same assembly, one pre-paid in sacrificial symbol to be substantiated, and garlanded with symbols signifying grace, the other ransomed in the always seen and intended sacrifice of Christ Himself (cf. Genesis 3:15, Isaiah 51:16), without whom mankind itself would never have been so much as made (cf. Victory, Heritage of Christians, Exile from This World Ch. 9).
It is the same Lord. It is the same Gospel, signified in symbol, then wrought in deed, the same mercy, the same God of forbearance and truth, precision and power, loveliness and grace. Now He teaches this aspect, now that; but grace is over all, and mercy through all (Romans 4:9-25), and provided for all. For all, sacrifice is always both needed and intended (cf. Revelation 13:8), by that God whose choice of Christians preceded this world's very institution (Ephesians 1:4, Romans 8:29ff.) in a love which is invariable as He is (Malachi 3:6, Habakkuk 3:6, Exodus 34:6-7) and as broad as the universe (Colossians 1:19ff.).
He has always been "gracious to whom He will be gracious" and this aspect is as clear to Moses as to Paul, despite all the torrential ramblings of Arminianism. He has always long-suffered those to whom His dedicated works are directed as in Ezekiel 20, Psalm 107, 105-106, II Chronicles 36, even to a degree all but inconceivable. When He 'wrought for My name's sake' (Ezekiel 20), it was a payment in patience to flower in a payment for sin, which meanwhile animal sacrifices portrayed, just as His word attested their coming fulfilment in Himself. He is insusceptible to deception now and then; to man's will now and then; susceptible to calling on His name now and then (cf. Psalm 145), and delights in mercy (now and then - cf. Micah 7:19ff.), having NO pleasure in the death of the wicked, now and then (Ezekiel 33:11). Indeed, even for Moab, His heart stirs like pipes piping, as judgment at last must come to that dissident nation and wallowing people (Jeremiah 48).
How long will it take before those who hear and evidently receive that God is love (I John 4:7ff.), realise that He means it! (cf. I John 2:2), that while some wreak havoc with holiness to the point they end by despising it and hence themselves, producing in their defaced kind what is far from mercy, even these if they heed (as in Proverbs 1), will find that He will CAUSE them to hear and to understand. This is His unchanging CRY to them! there we read. It is the results that change, when the cry is stomped on, at last irremediably.
THE EVERLASTING COVENANT
The Divine Nature
Accordingly, in Ezekiel 11, we see the same language used for those simply returning from exile, the penalty for successive, intensive sin over generations, for their renovation as with Ezra and Nehemiah, as in the Everlasting Covenant of Jeremiah 31:31 and Ezekiel 16:60-62. In the latter it is distinguished from the covenant of that day, for it is future, not past. It is that of which Jeremiah speaks in 16:19-21, in which the Gentiles will come to the Lord from the 'ends of the earth', discerning their former naturalistic follies, in which God will write His law on their very hearts (as in Hebrews 8:7ff.).
Thus in Ezekiel 11:19, we see this:
"I will give them one heat, and I will put a new spirit within them and take the stony heart out of their flesh, and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in My statues and keep My judgments and do them, and they shall be My people and I will be their God."
That is for the simple return from exile, from Babylon, with no other criterion.
In Jeremiah 31, where a New Covenant is in view,
"Behold the days come when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah".
In this Covenant,
"I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hears: and I will be their God and they shall be My people. No more shall every man teach his neighbour, and every man his brother saying, 'Know the Lord', for they all shall know Me."
That is correlative to John 2:19. There is to be a de-emphasis of the priesthood, though this does not remove the gift of teaching and its employment (Romans 12).
To be sure this is a different covenant. The bill is paid; the priesthood is passé; the temple is Christ (cf. Revelation 21-22); the legal ceremonials are decrepit in their sacrificial multiplicities for the blood of Christ Himself has now been shed; the obligations of such depictions of law and grace are no more in such symbolic forms at all, so that "they will say no more, 'The ark of the covenant of the LORD'. It shall not come to mind, nor shall they remember it, nor shall they visit it, nor shall it be made anymore."
It IS different; but the message is the same. It is consummative, no more preliminary, substantial and not merely pictorial; but it is the same Lord, with the same internal result, though it is with less paraphernalia of depiction and more open countenance before God. Yet His people knew Him, as we see in the Psalms where to this day Christians rejoice in the similarity of their deepest emotions to those of David, toward God doweringHis grace, mercy, pardon and internal strength and kindnesses.
The law misused was as a veil, but grace deployed saw through it to Him, as in Isaiah 6, 49-53, Micah 7, whose eternal attitudes were to be found in Himself, and then in His works.
The Domain of His Spirit
Similarly, though there is, once more, a new liberty and directness, in the field of the Spirit of God working in man, yet it is not so categorical that His direct vision, direction, command and guidance have not been known to the man of God over the ages of His revelation, Noah to Nehemiah, David to Stephen, Micah to Matthew.
Thus we have only to look in the book of Judges,
at Gideon, for example, and
at Joshua as in 5:13-15, when he
beheld the Commander of the host and had a personal introduction to his task
under that Lord, the same Lord; to gaze
at Moses in multiplied dealings
direct with the Lord,
at David in communions all but
innumerable in the direct presence of the Lord,
at the prophets,
at little Samuel, but a child
(for as the text tells us, before that great introduction to the Lord,
and what do we see ?
It is direct communication and aspiration which meets with the same God.
Thus Isaiah 32:15-17 tells of the result of the people who "refuse to know Me" (Jeremiah 9:6). Indeed, if we see that in the context of Jeremiah 9:5-11, we see the deepest travail in the heart of the Lord whose love stretches all that may be, but yet whose judgment at last - like a plane circling an aerodrome for hours, then landing - must come down. Truth demands it, though mercy kept it aloft for long ...
"Everyone will deceive his neighbor,
And will not speak the truth;
They have taught their tongue to speak lies;
They weary themselves to commit iniquity.
"Your dwelling place is in the midst of deceit;
Through deceit they refuse to know Me," says the Lord.
"Therefore thus says the Lord of hosts:
'Behold, I will refine them and try them;
For how shall I deal with the daughter of My people?
Their tongue is an arrow shot out;
It speaks deceit;
One speaks peaceably to his neighbor with his mouth,
But in his heart he lies in wait.
" 'Shall I not punish them for these things?' says the Lord.
'Shall I not avenge Myself on such a nation as this?'
I will take up a weeping and wailing for the mountains,
And for the dwelling places of the wilderness a lamentation,
Because they are burned up,
So that no one can pass through;
Nor can men hear the voice of the cattle.
Both the birds of the heavens and the beasts have fled;
"I will make Jerusalem a heap of ruins, a den of jackals.
I will make the cities of Judah desolate, without an inhabitant."
We observe therefore that firstly, they OUGHT to know the Lord, that secondly, they pathologically DO NOT know the Lord, and thirdly, to 'achieve' this prodigy of ignorance, they use DECEIT. That is how they delete the norm, deviate from the desired and fail to KNOW GOD! It takes some doing for a people exposed to His word!
When therefore, having waiting 'until the Spirit is poured upon us from on high' (Isaiah 32:15), a delay consequent upon their cited sins (Isaiah 1, 32:9ff.), then they will find the consummation of holiness always in view, here coded into certainty. "The work of righteousness will be peace, and the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance forever." Eternal security in peace of heart comes as in David, and as announced in kindly cannonade of amplitude in the Gospel (Philippians 4). This is of course associated with the Messiah (Isaiah 32:1-6), but just as this is a more intimate inheritance in structure, yet even before that day, there is the proper and deep, individual and direct knowledge of God, much known and departed from. The veil was sin, not lack of divine desire, distortion, not decrepitude in the Almighty, departure from the words and the Spirit to be poured out as in Proverbs 1, not divine indifference.
You see this intimacy in its earlier but still potent and special form in Ezekiel 9-10, where the decisive glory of the Lord is seen departing in steps, from the Temple. It is known in disobedient Israel who refuse to know the Lord, as He says, often chiefly in departure and loss, as becomes rebellion; yet it is there, its absence or diminution, a subject of grief as in Jeremiah 9, cited above.
Where He is sought with all the heart, He is found (Jeremiah 29:13-14).
" 'Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you,' says the Lord, 'and I will bring you back from your captivity.' "
How little is He known when His people act as a deceitful bow, that sends arrows astray from the target both in civil sins and religious renegacy (Hosea 7:14-16):
"They did not cry out to Me with their heart
When they wailed upon their beds.
"They assemble together for grain and new wine,
They rebel against Me;
Though I disciplined and strengthened their arms,
Yet they devise evil against Me;
They return, but not to the Most High;
like a treacherous bow.
"Their princes shall fall by the sword
For the cursings of their tongue.
This shall be their derision in the land of Egypt.
How different is the way of the man of God:
"Hear me speedily, O LORD: my spirit fails: hide not Thy face from me,
lest I be like those who go down into the pit.
Cause me to hear Thy lovingkindness in the morning;
for in Thee do I trust: cause me to know the way wherein I should walk;
for I lift up my soul to Thee.
"Deliver me, O LORD, from mine enemies: I flee unto Thee to hide me.
Teach me to do Thy will; for thou art my God:
Thy spirit is good; lead me into the land of uprightness.
Quicken me, O LORD, for thy name’s sake..."
His good Spirit is there, and He leads. So does the Spirit of God work, as you see in Ezekiel 11:1,24. How vast was the loss, for as we see in the Old Covenant day of Proverbs 1, the power of that same God and same Spirit (for God swears that He does not change - Malachi 3:6, nor do His ways deviate - Habakkuk 3:6) is deeply seeking for man. In Proverbs 1:20-28, you see the whole matter epitomised:
"Wisdom calls aloud outside;
She raises her voice in the open squares.
She cries out in the chief concourses,
At the openings of the gates in the city
She speaks her words:
"How long, you simple ones, will you love simplicity?
For scorners delight in their scorning,
And fools hate knowledge.
Turn at my rebuke;
Surely I will pour out my spirit on you;
I will make my words known to you.
"Because I have called and you refused,
I have stretched out my hand and no one regarded,
Because you disdained all my counsel,
And would have none of my rebuke,
I also will laugh at your calamity;
I will mock when your terror comes,
When your terror comes like a storm,
And your destruction comes like a whirlwind,
When distress and anguish come upon you"
One must note that presence of these conjunctions repetitively, 'because ... because.' In other words, this denudation is the result of rebellion; and had it not happened, then the offered, indeed deeply desired communion in the Spirit of God would have occurred in this, that He would have poured forth His Spirit on them. That is explicit. That is Old Covenant. It is one God, one in heart and mind, who reveals not another, but Himself, at all times. He dealt with individuals perforce, for some came, some left, some shuddered and quit; and in love He used the willing as in Daniel (Daniel 10), Isaiah (as in Isaiah 6) and called whom He would to do exploits in His name (as in Judges). None was too small, nothing was required.
So was the offer generic, and the ground of refusal particular, even if most of Israel for much of the time proceeded to act in this negative manner towards the Lord, and the knowledge of Him. DECEIT, that was the method of managing not to know Him: for through DECEIT they REFUSE to know Me. It is not this or that; it is a large number, from which the remnant is always drawn (Isaiah 11:11, 37:4,32, Micah 2:12, Zephaniah 3:13, Zechariah 8:6,12, Jeremiah 15:11, Micah 5:3).
The Domain of His Spirit and the Diction of Jesus Christ
In John 7:38, Jesus makes it clear that AS THE SCRIPTURE SAID, he who believed in Him would have, out of his heart, rivers of living water flowing. John at once tells us that this means the Spirit of God. In John 4, we find that the believing person, having faith in Him as He is and for what He did, would have a well of water springing up within, to eternal life. No more for such water would the daily travail be needed, for the supply was eternal, and the result everlasting! This is that same Spirit.
AS THE SCRIPTURE HAS SAID, said Christ.
In Isaiah 12, we see believers drawing water from the wells of salvation. In Isaiah 44, we find the Spirit poured out on people, and on the ground, and the 'seed' of believers springing up, the water of the parents, that is the presence of the Lord, having successfully flowed on from them as from above, to their 'seed'. There is the feeling of a deluge so that the water flows on and over the people, as well as onto the ground, so that there is a spiritual milieu, sustaining the parent stock and the offspring as it leaves and is rooted anew, with its own supply of water, alike.
There is this superabundance, from parent to child. It is not exhaustive, but it is qualitatively magnificent when it comes. Thus in Isaiah 55:1-3, this 'water' is being offered freely, and indeed proclaimed as to its availability; and while this is in the domain of the Messiah (Isaiah 42,48-55), yet it is expressed in the language of the day.
Even however of old, as we see in Isaiah 63:10-11, God "put His Holy Spirit within them", though they "rebelled and grieved His Holy Spirit." It is this Spirit which will not depart, nor will His words, from generation to generation (Isaiah 59:21). Such is the spiritual remnant from that time in Isaiah. Not all are so: some do a 'Saul' or a Jeroboam, but these slightly healed, touched but not transformed, tasting but not swallowing, sedated but not secured, shallow ground people with the rock of the heart still unbroken, it seems, to see it in terms of the famous parable of Jesus (Matthew 13), show no evidence of access into the Lord, nor access of the seed into prepared soil in their hearts!
For His own people however, there is a marvellous depiction in Ezekiel. The Spirit is seen coming forth from the altar in Ezekiel 47, like water, even in that day, and indeed at that time as now, it is necessary to be willing to walk in it, not only up to one's ankles, knees and middle, but to be so borne along in it, that one 'swims': such is the word from Ezekiel. All who are Christ's ARE prepared to do this, for UNLESS you forsake all that you have, said Jesus, you CANNOT be My disciple. But if you DO regard Him as Lord (the same thing), then not only eternal life but double what you lost He supplies - if you lost it for Him and His Gospel. God does not deal with dithering but with disciples. Those who come in faith are kept in His power (I Peter 1); for love is stronger than death (Song of Solomon 5, Romans 8:32ff.).
So has the Eternal God wrought, now making a more direct mode, but not a different Spirit available. There is contiguity and continuity. There is reality and there is hypocrisy; but in faith, there is access and in Him there is peace (Isaiah 57:19-21):
"I create the fruit of the lips; Peace, peace to him who is far off, and to him who is near, says the LORD; and I will heal him. But the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. There is no peace, says my God, to the wicked."
THE CORE OF CHRIST
Similarly, in the Everlasting Covenant of Jeremiah and Ezekiel's depiction, there is the very core of the whole matter, the Christ, Immanuel, God with Us (Isaiah 7). This is seen in Ezekiel 44 in the Prince, in Jeremiah 23 in the "branch of David", "the Lord our righteousness", and in Isaiah 4,7-9,11,22, 28-29, 32, 35, 40, 41-42, 48-55, 59-61, 66 freely. It is in Him who died as a ransom (Hosea 13:9-14, Isaiah 52-53), who sends forth His Spirit (Isaiah 11, 61, 59, 32), whose pardon is profound (Isaiah 55) and whose loosing from sin's bonds is dynamic (Isaiah 61), that the new Covenant is found. In fact, HE IS THE COVENANT (Isaiah 42:6), and has come at the time foretold (cf. Highway of Holiness Ch. 4), God-the-Sent as in Isaiah 48:16. That is fulfilled as in Matthew 26:28-29, I Corinthians 5:7, where we see Christ our Passover, as in John 1:29, where we find the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.
These terms and truths are intertwined, wound together in glory, the Sender, the Sent and the Spirit, the Covenant, the Commands and the Witness (as in Isaiah 55:3-4). What God was, He is; and what He did in part, He does in full; where He offered and was refused, except for the remnant (cf. Isaiah 11:10), there He comes to a new nation, a special people (I Peter 2:9), in direct contiguity in kind to that which went before, as to the remnant, and in consummation of the opening made from heaven to earth from the first.
Now is He available without intermediary officers (I John 2:19, 6:47, 5:24), not even in pageantry, and all are exhorted to be filled with His Spirit, by which there is all the strengthening needed (Ephesians 3:16), all the wisdom (I Corinthians 1:30-31), His gracious presence abounding freely, It is with ultimate divine distinction that He has come, and being alive meets His people, and it is thus that He is in view (Hebrews 7:25-28) and His grace is sufficient (II Corinthians 12).
Here and hereafter there is NO FLESH which will glory, as Paul there tells us, for God does not diminish, nor is man made greater than in Christ! no ... not flesh of Israel, not of Gentile nations, not of this gender nor of that, not of this race or of that (Galatians 3:22-23); for the LORD ALONE will be glorified in that day (Isaiah 2); and how great is that glory (Revelation 5, 21-22)!
For more on this wonder of Christ made manifest, see Victory, Heritage of Christians, Exile from This World, and especially in this, Chapter 6.
THE CONSEQUENCE IN CHRIST
From this there flow three results that are clear, simple and refined. Firstly, there is that same quietness and assurance forever (as in Isaiah 26:1ff., 33:17). Secondly, there is an open door direct to the Lord through this same Jesus (Hebrews 4:15-16), the perfect 'high priest', for those who have fled to Him for refuge (Hebrews 6:19); for He supplies within the very veil of God Himself, in irrevocable sanctuary, the anchor of God to the believing soul, whatever may be the results of the wavering, of the rebellious then as in Israel's own past likewise! His Spirit is good and He indeed leads into the 'land of uprightness', strengthening with the power of His Spirit (Ephesians 3:16), and granting grace that moves us into a victory which is His, and where we find an abiding friendship (I John 5:4, Romans 5:12-21), irrevocable in character, replete with grace, inspiring and inspiriting with wisdom (I Corinthians 1:30-31).
It is BECAUSE of this, as Paul there declares, that NO FLESH is to glory, except in the Lord: no Jewish flesh, Gentile flesh, no flesh whatsoever.
Thirdly, however, there is the coming King who, crucified and bodily resurrected (I Corinthians 15, Luke 24), now glorified, will rule. Psalm 72 shows this, as does Isaiah 65 and Micah 5. As we have seen in Ch. 7 above, it is the LORD who ALONE gets the glory in this epoch. Israelite has come in through MERCY alone, despite the shame (as in Ezekiel 36:22, 16:60-63), just as is equally true of the Gentile (Romans 5), who finds that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Noble in either case ? Not at all, for a man might die, we read, for some noble spirit, but Christ died for US while WE were yet sinners. That is the base for our face, and here is the glory in His name.
David was a type of Christ not because of his sins, but because he was, despite this lapse, a man after God's own heart, and reigned, and showed mercy and judgment with care, as a rule. Christ is Himself, and His sufferings give way as He told them in Luke 24's account, to His glory which is to follow. Here, in that epoch of His return (cf. Acts 1:7ff.), it DOES follow, more than any result in a geometrical theorem!
It follows not only logically, not only essentially, but because GOD HAS SAID SO. Moreover, it is the outcome of His redemptive splendour, that His Shepherding should have glory. It is not that one then asks, Is He sincere in service ? On the contrary, this is placarded on many hills: He has died for us. How far would He go if tested ? He HAS BEEN tested (as in Hebrews 2, 5), and uttered cries of agony as He sought the power to face and break death (Hebrews 5:7). Moreover, He did it, the victor who makes the everlasting difference and sacks through resurrection of Himself, to be accorded to those who believe in Him, the Lord's Christ, that grinding horror of death and brings back the eternal security and beauty of life.
Here then is the retrospect in Israel, in the Old Testament, the prospect of the Prince having come, then ruling this earth (at last!), and the bold relief in Him, who having let the captive free in spirit (Isaiah 61), now anoints the earth with His presence like dew (Psalm 72), not because man upgraded over many generations, but despite the fact he so fouls the earth that unless the Lord DOES so come, NOTHING OF OUR RACE would remain (Matthew 24:22).
But the end does come (Matthew 24:14), and with that, the beginning of that new domain of consummated eternal life in Christ. The end indeed of this universe comes (II Peter 3) after the world having received at last the Messiah in His power (Psalm 2, Revelation 19, Zechariah 14, Acts 1), and having at length baulked even at that after His beauty of holiness has been shown past all the abuses of liberty and dissections of love (Isaiah 26:10), is removed like an old coat (Isaiah 51:6). The regimes of test are concluded. For the Christian, the realm of insecurity is already over; for the world then, however, the realm of existence terminates! Spirits outside Christ are left as naked as they always were, with not even an earth to cover their judgment (Revelation 20). To be exposed directly to God is very exposed: the vaudeville of life without God is then shown in its intoxicated folly, in everlasting shame.
The end ? It will and does come. You need no prophetic gift to see this now: it is apparent. Even individuals now are coming to the point that they could obliterate significant parts of the earth, delete sections of its order and man's power, and leave a blenched residue in ruins; and madmen abound to do it, refusing to know God by deceit, precisely now as then.
It is one, in retrospect and prospect, and does not change because God, He does not alter, His ways are eternal. It is good to know Him, and Jesus Christ whom He has sent. Without this unchanged and unchangeable charge being followed, there is NO eternal life, and man becomes a seized remnant, a befouled residue. As Ezekiel 47 has it, there are places where the water does not go, untouched swamps of muck.
In Christ, however, there is the eternal life for which man was made, and it is not only free (Romans 3:23ff.), but people are SOUGHT, one by one (cf. Acts 16:14), to find it where it is. This is precisely as in Isaiah 55, just as it is now. The changeless God, the Messiah has come, in this same Person who was Lord to Israel and is Lord to all now, and remains alive for evermore, even He who died and is alive! - cf. Revelation 1:18, Proverbs 10:28, 12:28, 8:1-34, Isaiah 26:19-20, Psalm 16-17,21-22,40, Romans 14:9).
What man lost in Eden, that eternal life, that he should live for ever: this is gained, and has been available through the coming Christ, and His retrospective provisions, as in His prospective coming again, one Lord "slain from the foundation of the world" (Revelation 13:8). His people have been clear in Him before the world was so much as here (Ephesians 1:4); for He does not act without wisdom (Isaiah 51:16), but having all things before Him, and knowing the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46:10), He is there, both beautiful in holiness and immutable in nature.
He appeals as in Proverbs 1 then, as in John 3, now, one God, one way, one self-revealing Saviour, moving in majesty, sublime in progressive teaching, perfect in constant availability through that same salvation, whether prospective or retrospective, always in bold relief.