AUSTRALIAN BIBLE CHURCH - April 13, 20, 2014
Presbyterian Church following the Bible without Qualification
and the Lord Jesus Christ without Compromise by Faith
YOU HAVE ANSWERED ME!
This provides some outline of the earlier part, and application in
1. The Sovereign Assignment of Life and Rule
While this work has been associated with a wide dispersion of interest, from political to theological, to linguistic, to translational issues, to that of scientific method and applications in various sciences, to the contents of the Bible to the Gospel in particular, as to its application, historical exhibition and application and many more, there are some phases of the RESULTS which may be considered briefly here.
The glorious perspicuity and pellucidity, strikes the eye and moves the heart in the first part of Psalm 22. It shows the anguish and openly, the horror and confidence, conviction BY a court negatively but in conscience and heart positively, as the divine assignment is made, the cross in return for kindness, the agony in response to love, the nails in reciprocity for healing, the hatred in return for help: all as predicted (cf. Isaiah 49:7, 50, 53). Christ, the Messiah of prediction from a millenium before is shown in detail in the rankness of betrayal.
This is not our main topic this time, but it precedes the part of Psalm 22 where our topic lies, and we recover it as background.
The reason for this crucifixion in the divine plan of salvation is exposed in detail in Isaiah 52-55, in the purchase of free salvation by free grace for the benefit of faith in Him who made the payment, in this long announced manner, at the long announced date around AD 30 (cf. The Shadow of a Mighty Rock, Vol. III, pp. 943ff.) and with the long announced freedom without any kind of purchase from man.
How did the prophet predict was it made so free ? It was free because it had every kind of purchase from God, right down to personal suffering in the format of man for man (Hebrews 2), that many might receive freely as the guilty first pair left freely, the gift of God, to bring them back, and keep them secure for ever (Hebrews 6:19, John 4:14, 5:24, Isaiah 61:7, 51:11, 55:3,11). What is freely given depends on nothing but the word of God which does not change (Psalm 138:2, I Peter 1:22-25). There is salvation! (Ephesians 1:11).
Indeed, in Isaiah 55 God rebukes those who pay money for the water, when His water is free; who seek hard for the food when His is free, poor misled creation in the face of the glory of the infinite wisdom of God and the refusal He had to suffer for any or anything to get in the way of free grace. This came from a heart that would rather die (in a human format) than live and deny to the human race a restoration on such liberal terms. These, devised in love, were pitted in pity against all opposition from whatever source and for whatever specious reason.
In this sermon, our concern is rather with the RESULTS as we move past the divine cry of triumph from the Messiah, "You have answered Me!" Eternal redemption for man was now fully ready, paid for and ready to be received. .
Now He proceeds to tell the brethren of His quashing of death and resurrected vitality, recommending to one and all to rely on this dynamically reliable God from whom He has come, saying this: "When He cried to Him, He heard," Psalm 22:16. In the great assembly will He speak (cf. I Cor. 15), crying to those who believe in Him in heart and to all in offer: "Your heart shall live forever." This is one of the many direct statements in the Psalm from 22:2 to the end, a roll-call of affirmation, experience and answers, without query or uncertainty throughout, here symphonic with the statement of direct fact: GOD DID IT, SO BELIEVE and receive!
Let us indeed listen to Isaiah 55:1–7.
"Ho, every who thirsts, come to the waters,
and he who has no money; come, buy, and eat; yes,
come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.
Why do you spend money for what is not bread? and your labour
for what does not satisfy ? Give careful heed to Me, and eat what is good,
and let your soul delight itself in fatness.
Incline your ear, and come to me: hear, and your soul shall live;
and I will make an everlasting covenant with you,
even the sure mercies of David.
Behold, I have given him for a witness to the people, a leader
and commander to the people. Behold, you shall call a nation
that you do not know, and nations which did not know you
shall run to you because of the LORD your God, and for the Holy One of Israel;
for He has glorified you.
Seek ye the LORD while he may be found,
call ye upon him while he is near.
Let the wicked forsake his way,
and the unrighteous man his thoughts:
and let him return unto the LORD,
and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God,
for he will abundantly pardon."
The glory with which the Lord glorifies His people is His
own, which wraps around them like a garment, as they are covered with grace (as
in Isaiah 61:10), for ever (Romans 11:29, John 10:9,27-28, Proverbs 10:25,
2. The Eternal Generation
As a result, for the believer, the declaration is this - "Your heart will live for ever," (as also in Psalm 21:3-4, 73:24-26, 145:1-3). So grand is this unequivocal fact, that "all the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the LORD," none being exempt from this impact in the select measure of awesome exposure. The Lord will indeed rule all nations, Psalm 22:27 (cf. Revelation 1:7; 20, Psalm 67); and as in Micah 7, in Isaiah 66, Daniel 7, Revelation 19, He in Person will come in a thrust to subdue the evil, and so govern.
In the last, as in all, there is no space whatsoever, small or great, as in Revelation, so in Daniel 7 or elsewhere in the word of God, between the rule of the evil empires listed by Daniel, the bestial horizons imposed on the race and the act of immediate, direct divine judgment on the whole contraption of reigning evil (Daniel 7:15-22). This comes as in II Thessalonians 1, with the return in glory of the Saviour. As to create, as to save, so to judge, it is with God alone that each crux belongs.
The whole multitude of dominant, domineering devilries is abruptly terminated in His coming in direct personal power with His saints (as in I Thessalonians 3:14, Zech. 14:5, Revelation 19:9ff.), the restoration of Israel spiritually in the midst of it (as in Zech. 12-14, Ezekiel 36-39), while the cohesion to come of Jew and Gentile in one Gospel, is moving to the zenith of beauty and the wonder of divine wisdom as in Romans 11. Both elements of the promise to Abraham come true (Genesis 12, 17:7-8), a new nation formed in Israel and named as such, before the salvation reaches it (as in Zechariah 12:1-10), and a single, singular, changeless Gospel the sole Rock of Salvation for any and for all (Galatians 1, 3).
It is in this divinely omni-competent context, that we find the reference in Psalm 22, to that glorious generation, glorious because of HIS glory, which is HIS generation, as it is written (Isaiah 2:17):
"a posterity will serve Him.
It will be accounted to the Lord for the generation."
That is what is written without addition. WHAT generation ? what "the" generation is this ?
It is the notable one which depends entirely on the murder and resurrection of the Messiah, His sacrificial atonement and His purity as Son of God. Did not Isaiah 52 lament in the query, WHO shall declare His generation ? meaning that it could not be done in physical terms, as the biblical norm from Genesis on so often detailed for this and that person, since cut off, He was now dead and without physical issue. No one could therefore declare His generation! That is the answer to the overwhelming pathos of Isaiah.
But HERE in Psalm 22 we learn that the generation is to come, nevertheless; but that it will be one of a unique kind, fitting for the Saviour and the Lord of mankind (Romans 14:9). It is to be those who serve this smitten, written, resurrected, sin-bearing Messiah.
"They will come and declare His righteousness to a people who will be born,
that He has done this."
These are they; there is the new generation as in Isaiah 53:10, making the life of Jesus the Christ their offering for sin. But for what period did King David predict this ? Not only would this event, this predicted crucifixion occur in a time future to the life of the Psalmist, but when it DID happen, then those to be part of the new "generation", the one personal to the Messiah, would in turn preach of this basis to others! It is almost a self-perpetuating generation except that its power and work are continually of and from the Lord. The preaching ? it is to a people to come (including of course our own population in this twenty first century), telling what God as done, the way home, the meat and the meaning!
As it was to be, so it has been: all of it. As He said, so He has done. That is the way with the Lord, which you find more and more as you know Him, and in print as you watch His word and history as it swims its way, length by length, fulfilling the divine prophetic specifications. God knows, tells and does.
Peter explains clearly the nature of this generation that is Christ's, clearly in I Peter 2, THIS generation being a special nation, a holy people, a redeemed one who, as in Psalm 22, will trumpet to the world the saving grace and personal pardon purchased by the Christ. Its basis is secured in the vulnerability of death and confirmed in the triumph of resurrection, for the time, reason and in the mode foretold, that neither time nor power nor warning could prevent, no, not though for a thousand years was it foretold!
Are you part of this special people, this generation by grace for grace, given place by God in a prodigy of divine mercy ? You will not find application on the internet, but in the heart, not for money but without price, not by the mandate of man, but by the gift of God; for it is a gift by grace (Romans 5:17), and even more sure than the death that is the reward to sin (Romans 6:23). That is a desolatory matter; but this is one of glory.
3. Answers ? The first and the twenty first century...
The Messiah received His answer as in Psalm 22:21, and all of these things are the results that flow from that gracious and gallant test. One thinks for example of a modern example. There was Nate Saint, one of the five missionaries slain so early in their output by the Aucas. He had a son who at a particular time as a young man was yearning to be reassured as to WHY his father had been slain by what might have been some South American people on the 'wrong' day, when something upset them.
At this time he ruminated with deepening concern, and moved to visit Timbuktu, which had long been on his mind with a certain curiosity. When he arrived in this highly desolate place, on the fringe of a growing Sahara desert, there seemed to be a feeling of suspicion as he entered their midst, mixed with some uncertainty on his part, as to how he could return to civilisation in so distant and deprived a place. Hearing that there was a substantial mosque, and a tiny Christian Church, he sought out the latter and come to find a deeply convinced servant of the Lord who, seeing what the missionaries had done and in what spirit they had done it, had years before been mightily moved; and came to the Lord. Yet he WAS SEEKING re-assurance that it really DID happen, this Auca horror.
He could re-assure the son of Nate Saint that it did lead to his own conversion, and Nate Saint's son could reassure him that the killing of his father by in his dedicated work to bring the Gospel to them, certainly did happen. Thus the prayers of both in such different ways were mutually answered by the good counsel; and grace of the God who ANSWERED them BOTH together, abounded! God made a place for detail, and so never despise it, nor yet be mesmerised by it, and fail to see the direction as well!
THE YOU HAVE ANSWERED ME! Psalm 22:21-31
. The Multiplying Pile of Answers
With this introduction, we can pursue a litany of cases found in various ways, concerning the asking for and getting an ANSWER, in a way which leads one to see more and more that the divine Lord does not throw power about like a drunken communist, despising truth, goodness and shame, or like a hedonist millionaire, shrinking his brain with excessive alcohol, or a corrupt trade union official, using other people's ,money equally sybaritically. As for the Lord, He acts with originality and wonder, and His wisdom is infinite (Psalm 145:3, 147:5).
Let us hear these: "Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised: and His greatness is unsearchable," and "Great is our God and mighty in power; His understanding is infinite."
Consider now some of His feats which, for the ones concerned, were as distinct as the eyes in a portrait, glowing from within. There are thirteen cases to consider.
1) There was that of Moses, when first demonstrating to the people the answer to their near to mutinous crying for water in the desert (Exodus 17). Moses had to stand and smite the rock, the Lord standing (as discerned by faith) nearby, and publicly, in so doing seek to produce the water. Faith did it; God honoured it; and the people drank. There are for faith always those naked moments which unbelievers CANNOT find, since they are in the domain of faith, as a vast supply of high peaks is in the domain of Switzerland, not the Sahara desert. You just have to face those times, and act as required. God does not leave you too tested, but prepares the heart for the work to be done. ISSUE: Water.
2) Again, Moses needed food also, and praying once more on the near approach to the leadership gang-plank, He found it in the TIMELY provision by the Lord of the amazing and continuing falling of the manna which, if not particularly exciting like steak and mushrooms with bacon and potato for the exceedingly hungry, was sustaining, and also, requiring discipline; for it could not be left overnight. Thus there are times when one who walks trusting in this great and only LORD God, must be disciplined and receive what is coming, with neither braggadocio nor ascenic weakness. It may require patience. Moses was literally living by faith. This is not the exceptional, but in type, the norm for eternal living with the everlasting God, the Rock, and underneath, the everlasting arms (Deuteronomy 33:27). ISSUE: Food.
3) Then another remarkable answer came to Moses' successor, Joshua, long his faithful helper and one who did not quail at the 'danger' of entering the Promised Land when the nation first came to it; but one seeking to enjoin and encourage them to occupy it: for was not God with them! They reneged and suffered 40 inglorious years in the desert, till the next generation went in. When at last they did, as in the book of Joshua, it was that same courageous young man, now much older, who led them in, and indeed had this ANSWER as to how they could continue their entry into it, by CROSSING THE JORDAN. It is interesting to note that this was not a way of leaving this earth, as now sometimes betokened, but of entering a promised land; and to the extent it now means to enter the promised land of heaven, you can readily see the point of the usage at this time.
Told what to do, he had the priests stand at the brink while the people advanced on the river Jordan, no mean stream in its fulness. They carried the ark and held it there, as the people went in. The waters had been arrested to leave space to cross, when the feet of the priests came to the edge of the waters. This symbolism saw the people cross without drowning, the way literally opened for them in a small version of the opening of the waters as they fled from Egypt. Here however there were no pursuers to seek to follow them, except the ever ready forces of doubt and complaint. The power this time, was to enter, not to flee as in the Exodus - reminding us of the two phases in becoming a Christian, repentance and receipt of redemption, in one big decampment and entry.
As in Joshua 3:13, the leader had to act in practical faith, having waited on the Lord and being in the way with Him in his life, so that in telling them that the feet of the priests, on entry into the waters as they carried the ark, would lead to an open way for the peoples in their great numbers to cross, it was naked faith. Yet it was one nurtured by long conversation and companying with, and obedience to the Lord. God gives the Holy Spirit to those who obey Him, says Peter, as in Acts 5:32.
Leading the people in, with need of their confidence, he showed his own not in that ludicrous and unholy self-belief, that delusive misdirection of faith to a withering object, but in the eternal Source, in utter reliance as a dog with his master, on what the Lord was leading him to do in the fulfilment of his highly specialised and eminently authorised mission. Faith is the opposite of fidgets on the one hand, and phantasmagoria on the other. It is clear because God is clear, a channel for inspiration because God is first inspiriting and then inspiring, the object of faith which is necessary at its focus: the Messiah who died and rose and returns to judge. ISSUE: Obstruction.
4) Again, Joshua cried to God as in Ch. 10, needing more time to demolish an enemy to the appointed occupation of the land by Israel, ordained by God after a delay of centuries (Genesis 15:14-17), enabling the rampant evils of the Amorites to culminate before their removal. When the day for this at last arrived, the battle raged, in a crucial time, Joshua asked for more daylight time. For this, he. called on the Lord to extend the day. Thus aided was Joshua's overcoming of the military opposition, and conquest. So he openly cried to the Lord, who did what was asked,using His astronomical notations and preparations, for He has known all from the first (Isaiah 46) and HENCE can predict, extended the day of the battle against the Amorites.
Here was a result of its own class; but WHAT it takes, even beyond all we ask or think, God can and will as needed, act. Faith believes this and acts according when its object is the risen Jesus Christ, Lord of glory, who for us, mankind, took the path to flesh, as container, to the cross, as the condemnation, and to the resurrection as the demonstration that His work was not in vain, but gives eternal life to its believing recipients. ISSUE: Time Needed.
5) But what shall we say of Hezekiah! of him who faced with the soaring might of the arrogant and devious King of Assyria, sought not arms but the Lord, and sending to the prophet as he had first sought the Lord, received an answer... Sennacherib, that King, had gone too far, making God appear as one of the human inventions which like naturalism, and indeed examples of it with personalisings added, were so common then, as now With different flavours, they possess very similar ingredients. Hence God advised the enquiring prophet of the devastation the bumptious invader would receive, answered his guilty arrogance and disdain, and destroyed his army. Later his own sons killed him, and not only that, did so in the temple of their illusory god. God answered Hezekiah by war to create peace. ISSUE: Invasion Protection.
6) When it came to Hezekiah's sickness, bordering death, which brought him to the challenge to set his house in order, he humbled himself, crying in lamentation, sought the Lord. In anguish, he rehearsed his desire before the Lord, even that of a ruler who had so educated and helped and strengthened and evangelised many, for more life. The Lord ANSWERED him by the prophet Isaiah, and his continuing life, like my own rescued several times, continued for a purpose. ISSUE: Terminal Sickness of a Servant before Desired Term.
God can and does heal, and while this does not make of the one healed, a plenipotentiary, but a penitent who has received a particular kind of mercy, yet it is always possible that someone will mistake this privilege for some kind of congratulation. Alas Hezekiah later received ambassadors from Babylon: that pagan nation (cf. Jeremiah 50-51), doomed in word and now in history, to destitution. Instead of being courteous but having no fellowship (cf. Numbers 16:1-21, with emphasis on 21), Hezekiah was as much chameleon as modern diplomats often are, and showed the very treasures of the temple to these arrant pagans.
Isaiah asked him afterwards, what he had done: I showed them ALL, said Hezekiah. In this he seemed temporarily and atypically as far from the ways of God as those who nowadays share in churches which deny the virgin birth, the deity of Christ, the sole Salvation in Christ, mixing the sacred realities with the profane mind. Adding this or that or subtracting this or that basic concept from the Bible (as utterly condemned in Romans 16:17), they prey rather than pray (cf. Acts 20:28-29). With God, it is not enough to have Him with hamburger sauce and find it tasty as if making a concession; for it is the opposite. Forsake ALL that you have including your cultural dress and grounds of earning if need be, and FOLLOW HIM (as in Luke 14). Let Him keep you, if need be, and use you in His own way. The apostles are not amazing people in this, but good examples!
So this answer of healing for Hezekiah appears to have led to a later weakness, showing for all time the danger of becoming at all careless once you are well 'established' in miracles, deliverances, or whatever.
7) But again there is Josiah, who as in II Kings 23:17 fulfilled the prophecy made as in I Kings 13, and spying some bones, was arrested in mind, to perform what the earlier prophet had said would happen. This is one of the ways in which God assures His people, that whether it take long or short, He DOES what He says: and if this is to give a land or eternal life to a people, while land is there, while life is there, so it will be precisely as He said, when you 'cross' your own Jordan, being one of His own (cf. Isaiah 26:19). ISSUE: Protection from Unintended Negligence.
8) Similarly Jeremiah, as in Jer. 15, was indeed delivered from the "hand of the terrible," when Babylon as he predicted, thrust toward Jerusalem to demolish it; but though freed, he stayed voluntarily to look after his people, who were still rebellious to the end. Thus compulsion, whether from God or man, did not move him, for love is free, and where man loves the Lord, so the Lord is freely taken and the beauty of holiness adorns like an everlasting dawn! Jeremiah was answered! ISSUE: FREEDOM for love, not Compulsion.
9) Again, Nehemiah, a Jewish person in a highly conspicuous place before the King, was deeply anguished for the state of the fallen city of Jerusalem, and praying, WAITED patiently on the Lord. Then one day the King noticed a sad look about him, enquired, and was told the cause of the sadness. Seeing this, he elected to grant Nehemiah his wish to go and superintend the completion of the restoration, rebuilding the city, walls, temple, so that it could be a maintained city of rule and government. Ezra had done much; this would be an attainment in bulk!
Granted! The king not only gave him time away from his duties and imperial responsibilities, but letters for the pursuit of his work and requiring local inhabitants to help with materials. His prayer was staggeringly quickly and quite imperially answered. THEN he was most diligent in executing the power given, and overseeing the work without regard to personal safety or failure to be prudent in overseeing affairs. Such was the fulfilment of second part of Daniel 9:25. His answered prayer was the Lord's way also not only of re-establishing the people as a nation, but showing His faithfulness so that everyone who seeks the Lord might see and come and be restored in heart as well as in mission, to follow Him in faith. ISSUE: Removal of Grief at Lack of Opportunity.
10) But what of the leper, when the Messiah came in His own predicted time, the stricken man who cried that Christ could heal him if He would, receiving the reply that He was willing, and in a brief enactment, told him, Be healed. What answer to liberal faith, suddenly exposed, awakened, operative! ISSUE: Relief from Empowered Regality.
11) Yet Peter's escape from a sixteen soldier guard ranks high in the list of prayer portraits. This prison decampment occurred when Herod sought to ingratiate himself with unbelieving Jews, planning to kill Peter. To add to the apparent impossibility of the answer needed, there was a squad of believers praying ardently for him, Peter was not only bound to a soldier on one side, but to another on the other. There would be no escape from the tomb this time! Secular (slow murder) and religious power (priestly taunting) would make it sure. But the angel knew how, and God so displaced the worship of power with the use of His own, that men might marvel. Never count ANYTHING impossible with God, that does not breach His will! If they were slow to realise their prayer was answered (and they were, as in Acts 12), yet they were quick to look after Peter when he came, a holy blessing to His people. God answered their prayer, right to the very house door! ISSUE: Deliverance from Humanly Inescapable Confinement.
12) But what of Paul's site for preaching in Rome. Feeling constrained to go to that city (Acts 19:21), as also to go to Jerusalem (Acts 20:16), he hastened, but God brought him by a strange though eminently fruitful route. What a way to be central in Rome, with government protection, a prisoner with liberty, and to preach for months in that ironically safe condition in that very city. How did God do this ? It came as an answer to the prayher of many, leading through tumult in Jerusalem, false accusation, imprisonment, sending to Rome by ship, ship-wreck and acceptance by brethren in Rome so that he could expand the teaching of Christ. ISSUE: Finding Ways to Penetrate a Mission Field.
Surely God knows how to answer prayer, and those who ask must know how to ask, from the heart, for His purposes, as you wait in surrendered faith and trusting expectation upon Him, not to direct, but to seek mercy and enablement to serve Him with all godliness in the marvels of His plan for you and for those who love Him (II Peter 1:1-3).