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JOYFUL JOTTINGS 25
Seeing with the Seer
Events far Distant brought under
the High-Power Microscope before they come
that one might go with God
INTERVIEWS WITH THE PSALMS
AND THROUGH THESE
WITH THE PREDICTIVE WORD OF GOD
Here is detail arraigned
to the point: we look chiefly at Psalm 16 and 22, but also refer to
Psalms 2,40,41,45,49, 8,69,55,72,109,110 - with Hosea 13 and Isaiah 26,52-54, and find certain facts. Facts are ALWAYS important in any investigation. Get them well, and their implications here will indeed bring joy to the upright. They will also beckon to all who seek truth, for it resides written and verified, where He who it is, has put it.
First let us prepare.
God is able as Creator and
sustainer of all the energy-form pockets called matter, all the investigating
instruments called mind, all the surveyors of scenarios called species, to look
up and down the landscape. With God, in this image, it is a landscape of time:
in Psalms 16,22 we see some of His actions foretold.
PSALM 72,110 - Majesty Immeasurable
King David, the super-abundant Psalmist, had promised to him that long-featured source of blessedness to all nations, assigned to Abraham's "seed" (Genesis 12, 15, II Samuel 7:16, 22:44-46, Psalm 72:1-7). Of this speak the prophets in combined chorus (examples - Micah 4 with 5:1-3 and Isaiah 52-53, 11:1-11, Zechariah -13, 3:8-9), and indeed God commenced this salient feature of revelation far earlier than that (see Joyful Jottings 22).
It is at times a lilting chorus, at times one of grief, always in the end, one of triumph: God's triumph in spirit, morality, love, mercy and power ultimately evidenced in one inseparable medley, though at times in distinguishable parts, on the way.
It was in and through this Messiah, and as He came to be known, the "anointed" (cf. Psalm 2:2, Daniel 9:24-25ff., the redemptive King (Psalm 72:14), the sent Saviour (Isaiah 52-53, 48:16, 40:10), that an eternity of reign would be in store; including that over death, as we see in Psalms 16,22, and reflected in Psalm 145:1 and elsewhere.
This pre-eminence was most natural as
earth (Isaiah 9, Micah
5:1-3, cf. cf. Repent or Perish Ch.7, pp. 173ff.,
The Shadow of a Mighty Rock, p. 773, Joyful Jottings 23),
unique in His accession to divine attributes or glory, which God does not share with non-God (Isaiah 42:8)*1 but exhibits pervasively in the midst of the trinity:
|has this power, deserves its glory, is innately both
the judge and the majesty,
so that on His visit to humanity among the creation, His works there wrought are
of infinite significance, unbounded impact, and immeasurable in consequence, except by Him, whose expressive power, likewise unbounded has declared it.
As He shows that He has also the will to deliver a people who come freely to Him, being called, those who receive this escape, so also He provides a means, a covenant of grace, specially constructed (cf. Matthew 26:28, Luke 6:16, Hosea 13:14) and likewise incapable of invalidation (cf. Ephesians 1:10, 2:4-14, 3:16-20, Romans 5:1-17, 8:29ff.).
Thus, just as God had the will, the plan and the means, and as He had the power, so He acted. When the Messiah has handed back the whole to His Father, then the trinity together, one God continue with this blessed new family of the redeemed (Revelation 5:13, 22:3-5, I Corinthian 15:22ff.).
As to this marvellous intervention in human affairs, they having been formed on model for just this thing (cf. Genesis , Colossians , Ephesians 1:4, I Cor. 15), we find preliminary indications, rising to a crescendo in the Bible, in the Old Covenant or Testament, when God spoke. In particular, there are very intimate portrayals in the Psalms, and as God did these things in history, from beyond it, these portrayals, tableaux, pictures, descriptions become predictions, and like all such predictions are very simply assessable, verifiable in principle. They happen or they don't. In this case, there is more than the rule of a scientific law, which may later be shown to have exceptions which operate UNDER CERTAIN CIRCUMSTANCES; for there is no way His word is so limited. As for this, it has ever been shown that one single word of God falls to the ground (to use the Biblical idiom) or fails.
While that is undoubtedly an excellent record, it is not more than one would expect from God. It is this prodigious superiority of God, translated into comparative terms (with any other performance) and practical acts, which leads to so overpowering an evidential record, a testimonial and a verification not only to meet the case, but to amaze the mind. Like a vast waterfall in its beauty, or a tempest in its power, but again far more than this, the mind and actions and word of God are what they would be expected to be, and are experienced to be by those who know Him, and shown to all whether they will or will not: they transcend 'competition' in abstract and practical terms like a cyclist who finishes the Tour de France, while the others are simply beginning to put foot tension on the pedal to push off.
The Psalms of our special interest, 16,22 show events which, then, at their time, had not happened: so that God divulged His intentions to support faith, assert sovereignty, manifest care and to distinguish the word of God from all lesser words (Isaiah 41,43,48).
Before we proceed to detail in these two
there are a few preliminary principles to realise.
There are also some allied Psalms to investigate briefly.
Thus as can be seen often in the Psalms, the writer may turn freely from his own person to that of the Messiah. Thus one type is found in Psalm 110, where David sees the victory in and through "my Lord", who nevertheless is his descendant, according to the maternal line. There is reported diction between the Father and the Messiah which comes as a revelation from the domestic felicity of the trinity... (Psalm 110:1). Again in Psalm 40:17, we have - "But I am poor and needy; yet the Lord thinks upon me: You are my help and my deliverer; make no tarrying, O my God."
There the Lord is referred to in the 3rd person, but addressed readily in the same sentence in the 1st person. Again, in Psalm 97, there is found direct communication with the Almighty (verse 9), followed by a charge to those who hear the Psalmist's words, then reflection on the Lord, now in the 3rd person: "He preserves the souls of His saints." This in turn is followed by the principle he is discovering and revealing: "Light is sown for the righteous" - 97:11. In parallel, in Psalm 99, we find a sequence: in verse 6, Moses and Aaron are mentioned as among "His priests", in verse 7, the narrative that "He spoke to them," and in verse 8 the empathetic intimacy of the discourse rises as the King declares: "You answered them, O Lord our God. You were a God who forgave them." This is followed, again, by the exhortation concerning this Lord, to whom the Psalmist has been speaking in the preceding verse: "Exalt the Lord our God ... for the Lord our God is holy."
Thus the versatility of the intimations is vast, like an enveloping series of successive range upon range, blue and beautiful, stretching to the horizon. That is a landscape; but David's movements are in the inter-personal, the historic, the hortatory and the expression of what the Lord has done, will do and is. So we see the guileness beauty of his turning first to the Lord, then to His actions, or to His declarations, then to Him personally, then to auditing the word of the Lord, or the Lord speaking to His Son, or to reflections on Him, to whom he has just been speaking, or to the word of His Son, or to the sufferings or glory of that Son, or to the consequences of the same.
We see in all this the Redeemer's immense significance (as for example in Psalm 72), His sufferings, pivotal position in world history (as in Psalm 2,22), His categorical intervention in human affairs even to the point of overcoming death (Psalm 16), and His role as exclusive opening for effective relationships between man and God, for all nations (as jointly in Psalm 72,96,97,98,102, and see Joyful Jottings 17). This is the background of this medium of expression. Now let us turn to our immediate interest more particularly.
David can readily look, then first to his own case, then to his divine descendant, then to Him and His Father, then hear a charge from Him to his heart as in Psalm 27:8 - "When you said, Seek my face; my heart said to you, Your face O Lord, will I seek." In Psalm 40:5-6, we see the specific case where David, starting with his vicissitudes, is arrested by a divinely guided vision focussing a stage in the plan of salvation way past his own time, indeed one in which the new focus, the person SPEAKING, is actually the One who would render obsolete animal sacrifices (as in Isaiah 52-53, with 66:1-4), by His own.
So at times we see a formal historical introduction to the Messiah (as in Isaiah 9, 11, Daniel 9:24-27), at times a functional rendering of His deeds (as in Psalm 72, 102), at others a depiction of His works (as in Isaiah 52-53, 35), at others a description of His situation as He institutes the plan of salvation (as in Psalm 22), at others again His conversation with His Father (Psalm 40:1-3). He may be alluded to, adverted to, turned to, described in glory, shown in suffering or given itemised treatment as to His procedures and attainments (as in Psalm 72).
thus moves in the family, His divinely begotten descendant, His own affairs,
the wonder of the Messiah, the power and the works, the personality and the
grace, the details of His tribe, race and introduces Him repetitively, His
unique distinctives always apparent. It is rather
like a man deeply in love, who raises points concerning his beloved 'at the
drop of a hat', with an occupation of mind which we ALL UNDERSTAND WELL. Now
romantic love, it is not wholly other than religious love, especially if it be
not lust in variety, but delight with joy that savours.
In Psalm 40 we find David patiently waiting on the Lord, and this, as he lifts up his eyes, leads with the thoughts of the blessings of the Lord, to the announcement of that man (as in Isaiah 52-53) who would BE the sacrifice, efficient, sufficient, once and for all, for sin and iniquity, and hence the One to render all animal sacrifices obsolete :
"Sacrifice and offering
You did not desire:
My ears You have opened.
Burnt offering and sin offering
You did not require.
Then I said, 'Behold in the scroll of the book it is written of
I delight to do Your will, O my God,
And Your law is within My heart.' "
Where was it written in the book of the Lord ? (cf. Isaiah 34:16). Why, in Isaiah 11:1-5, 10ff., 32:1-3 with 4:1-6, 52-55 as earlier adumbrated in Genesis 3:15, Psalm 2, where He is the righteous Son of God, in whom one must trust, in Psalm 22 where His saving work is consummated, while He escapes, only by breaking death itself. HERE is the MAN who is to be the tabernacle, the temple, the shelter, the refuge, the delight, the just one, incandescently righteous, able to destroy by His very word. How does He render animal sacrifices obsolete*2 ? Why, when the Son of God is sacrifice, alternative or addition is -
1) blasphemy, comparing the infinitely better with the
incredibly worse (Isaiah 66:1-4)
2) a multiplicity complex, for this One is to do the iniquity removing once and for all,
IN ONE DAY (Zechariah 3:9, 2:8)
3) a plan of salvation rejection, for this One is SENT for it (Zechariah 2:8,3:9, Isaiah 41:28-42:6), and CONSTITUTES expressly, the COVENANT OF GOD.
Interestingly, the Septuagint, translated before Christ came, gives even more, in free use in Christ's day, as might be suggested by Hebrews 10:5:
offering You did not desire.
But a body You have prepared for Me,"
is here the beginning. "My ears you have opened" is replaced with "a body You have prepared for Me." Both doubtless are true. It is also possible that this sense of the Old text, a freedom being permitted to the Author to quote from Himself with such liberty, does nothing more than exegete, tracing out the implication.
Since the ONLY ONE who could POSSIBLY do such a thing as announce that sacrifice and burnt offering God did not desire, SINCE He was to come, had to be "that prophet", whom Moses predicted would supersede himself (Deuteronomy 18), and since the only One who rules and innovates, consummating and completing, is the Messiah, it is clear that this privileged and amazing Person, in whom one should trust as in GOD (Psalm 2), whose judgments can suffer no breach is this same Messiah, the Christ. Indeed, it is He whose kingdom is incapable of supersession: it is for ever (Psalm 72:16-17, Daniel 7:13-14) - UNIVERSAL IN ITS SCOPE, ENDLESS IN ITS MANDATE, FROM GOD, FOR GOD, BEFORE GOD, THROUGH GOD IN A SALVATION WROUGHT BY THIS GOD-AS-MAN, THE MESSIAH (Isaiah 43:11, 52-53).
Thus the style in which He
is to come is that of Isaiah 52-53, with the completion in Ch.11, 54,59 and the implication further traced in 55. To be pierced
and smitten and whipped, to have your heart crushed and lungs depressed, to
have bones unbroken, there is certainly one thing you need. And that ? It is a body, is it not! So this is the teaching in
A) PSALM 16 FACTS
Intimately linked with the above, as we shall see, is Psalm 16. It gives more detail on the METHOD used for this sacrificial splendour of the divine, as does Psalm 22. To both of these then we shall look for answers to such questions.
First, Psalm 16 then. Here as we read it, we find ourselves in the midst of sensitive perception of the mercies shown to the Psalmist, see his heartfelt fidelity to God, past all snares and illusions, all competition from idols of any kind, from the gods that man is ever a-making. Here is David, father to the line into which the Messiah was to be cradled (cf. Isaiah 9:1-7). David again sees Him as the victor of victories as in Psalm 110. He himself had no bodily promise from God, for his own day, that his body would be preserved, for his own son, Solomon, was simply set to succeed him, and assigned to replace him on earth.
Yet here (Psalm 16:6), as
the king reflects on his "good inheritance", he sees the best part of
And that ?
He looks at this chosen Messiah, where God graces humankind with a gift as generous as startling, as expressive of the love of majesty as of its devotion, the Messiah with universal victory ordered and prepared for the completion of His whole mission. Such victory is over any kind of selfishness, carelessness or disregard, as much as over any external affront. This is the assurance for HIS KINGDOM, where He is king. It is He who (as in Psalm 72) can have such concern for the poor (in spirit, in whatever, but those willing to receive, others being rather 'fat' to use the Biblical terminology), that what ?
That He redeems them from deceit, oppression and violence. There is beauty and wonder. Deceit and violence currently grip the world like an electro-magnetic arm, seizing it with electric power, crushing it with indifference. HE in His time of rule to come on His return as depicted in Zechariah 14, Psalm 72, will break all that. THIS is very wonderful, a joy to the heart, refreshment to the spirit. With such power, there is no question that He will perform (cf. Joel -13); and with His plan, there is no doubt of His intention.
The Messiah redeems from oppression, but also from death (Psalm 21, Isaiah 53-55, Hosea , Ezekiel 34; Psalm 49:7,15).
Now in Psalm 16, practicalities of the case are spelt out.
Seeing an eternity of life in the Lord, stretch before him (Psalm16:8, 21:4), David now realises that it has this working base. Not himself, but his descendant in the maternal line would break death - God Himself being the express and explicit Father (cf. Jeremiah 31:22, the imperial gift presence before the New Covenant, as found in 31:31ff., Isaiah 9:1-7, Psalm 2, 72 esp. vv. 12-14, cf. 102:18-21).
Perceiving this as something to be attributed by the Messiah, his Lord, to him (cf. Isaiah 26:19), David then spells out its nature. In verses 9-10, this is staggering, but also refreshing, such a wedding of spirituality supreme, with humiliation unthinkable in human format that the angels might well chorus, and men listen, yes and children with their mothers too!
For the Messiah, even His
flesh will rest in hope. Why should it ? For this
"For You will not leave my soul in hell,
Nor will allow your Holy One to rot" - .
On the contrary, "You will show me
the path of life;
In Your presence is fulness of joy. At your right hand are pleasures for evermore" - 16:11.
In Psalm 40 as here in Psalm 16, and in Psalm 22, you see King David's spirit rove (cf. I Peter 1:10-11) from his own experience as a "type" or emblematic foreshadowing of the Christ, to that descendant of the maternal line, the Messiah Himself. Thus David, progenitor for the maternal line for Christ, can still feel suddenly, proleptically, as if the present time at once grasped and entered into future things, can sense spiritually its mordant morbidity.
Similarly, the Psalmist can be conveyed by the Spirit of God to the coming pangs, betrayal (pp. 232ff. infra) and exaltation of the One who is to be his Lord (Psalm 110). His eyes lifted up as to some distant (chronological) hills, he sees the clouds and storms, the wonders and the beauty of these coming events, around their sublime and sovereign pinnacle which soars into the heights, bearing like the US mountains for presidents, the face not of man, however, but of God as expressed in human form, His only begotten Son.
Nor is it in stone, but in flesh; nor does it simply endure in stone, but in life, past death, for its overthrow, His to secure, is done!
let us revert to our special site, to consider the special significance in
B) PSALM 16, IMPLICATIONS
1) Hence the Messiah HAD to rise from the dead. Anyone who, work finished, could not/did not do just that, was certainly NOT the Messiah; for this was one of those magnificently clear and clearly magnificent feats which He had to perform. Nor was this merely a distinguishing feature: it was a function necessary for the character of His promises to be fulfilled to many, and integral to the revealed plan of salvation.
Thus, any claimant to this role, who could hope to secure a massive acceptance, an acceptance indeed by the faithful who had long awaited the Messiah with sacred trust and intense knowledge drawn with anticipation and relish from the Bible, would simply have to be resurrected in body. That was all there was to it. It is not very easy to do.
A shiny face speaks fine, but facts speak 'clear' (cf. Isaiah 53:2). Voluntary sacrifice of an eternally magnificent form for this role also speaks clear, as does humiliation for such a purpose as this.
Small wonder the disciples were drawn by successive revelations in practical life, of who this Jesus was, were gathered to Him, like children to the sea. Small wonder this capped all (cf. John 20:24-31, cf. , John 16:4 in context to v.24) at the testimonial level, in works! (cf. John 16:10-11). Indeed, as it is a cap-stone, so it is a basic necessity to faith (Romans 10:9). Faith without it is fraud, fiction or both.
2) We have - in The Shadow of a Mighty Rock, Chs.6,8-9, shown that there were also miraculous healings and profound wisdom predicted, and to be shown by the Messiah, and much more besides - birthplace, death-date, tribe and so on. All this we have seen before. In our present context however, let us emphasise this: ANY failure in ANY detail or dimension would be certain to be snapped up by His opponents in order to discredit Him, remove a stimulus to envy, to give them the priestly pre-eminence or scholarly portent desired, the national security in their foggy terms, that they desired (cf. John 11, Matthew 27:18). If they tried so hard with false witnesses, who could not be accredited in truth, WHAT, just what would they have ACHIEVED IF there had been the smallest particle of error to be used in fact! (cf. Matthew 26:59ff.).
In fact, with such able and motivated men in such masses in various groupings, machinating and soaring in pride and desire, whether before or after the resurrection, not merely may we safely assume that the facts were pondered carefully for any fault (as, though in error, evidenced in the narrative in John -52). They also were turned with some of the fleetest of foot-work. It is like having 100 barristers with the strongest possible personal stake in a thing, ranged with greedy legal minds against you, looking voraciously for your least formal or factual error; and quite simply, making them look like empty mouths, unable to do anything more than obscure the air with the foul breath of ambitious frustration.
3) In the present case, they had merely to produce the body. Even a credible scenario would have helped. The notice of God's intention to act had long enough been given. The predictions of Jesus made the danger resound with contemporary force. Yet nothing has ever been produced to explain the failure of Roman priests, keenly motivated (see SMR Ch.6). It is as the British announced a few hundred years in advance, or more accurately a millenium ahead, what they would do at Dunkirk, then succeeded in doing it just the same, though their plans were known.
It is far better than the case where such plans were stolen, as if by spies to show in advance the landing was to be at Normandy. In this case, that of the resurrection and NON-ROTTING of the body, the thing was even announced, declared and exposited with the authority and imprint of it. It sat not in the shadows, but lustrous with light, in the synagogues, for those who awaited the Messiah, and they were many.
4)There is only one explanation: the sheer power and method that God would use, had been pre-selected by Him, so that this would prove effective.
The stunning of the guards in fear, as the boulder is moved - this was simple - to God. Some idea, for example, of a little shuttling, a shuffling shuttling of the body w while soldiers slept ignores the death penalty they would face - commuted to save face in view of this act of god. In the case of the murder of Christ, He was selected to die, not least, because He had the power of life. It was as if they found it unfair competition as we read John 11 on this topic. False witnesses were merely an adornment of the strategy, since He was too careful to be caught.
So here: a false story, not even a good one, any more than the false witnesses were any good (for their evil purpose) is concocted. The sleeping guards were so sorry, but they were wide awake at the same time as they slept, so being able to report that the disciples had nabbed the body. Sleep walking we have heard of; but sleep seeing, and seeing what happens which you are supposed to intercept, it is more than a little rich.
Indeed, the case is worse for the lie. The notoriety of the victim, plus the fact that He had to rise from the dead, as it was predicted, as we have just seen, and His bold claim, indeed His announcement of rising within 3 days (also predicted as in SMR Ch.6, we see), gave them an excellent time warning. Not only was He to rise, flesh intact, bones unbroken, He was also to do so in 3 days. This is like mighty mouse telling a cat 3 hours ahead in just what way he will pull out his whiskers. The whole scenario is absurd, unless of course you take account of one thing: the main actor is God.
But what is it like ? It is like President Clinton would lightly toss the keys and codes to his atomic console (if he has one) to someone who stood by, and in a dreamy, hazy daze, watch him walk away, and enter the place where it was.
Simply God put His plan on record in such minute detail of place, time and method, of procedure and the Person to be concerned, and then proceeded to put it into action with that immeasurably knowledge and depth, decisiveness and deftness which is seen in the creation which is His. Nothing could or would stop it, or cover up what it all meant. As to motive, sympathisers with Christ, believers would not be drawn to going to hell as liars, frauds, for if seeking to authenticate what (if He did not rise) would be a false Messiah. Hell attracts few. Pretending a heaven in order to get there is indeed a common phenomenon, but it is not - and here is the point - the intention. It is however a result.
He HAD to rise and all the power of hell, of this world, simply did not and could not prevent His escape. It was by wholly unconventional methods, through completely irresistible power and the risen body had as well, significantly supplemented powers - not that this was strictly necessary in exiting the tomb before such retiring soldiery in the dark and the awe, like a ship in the night, during a storm. People are human. They tend to react to the wholly unfathomable. These did, helped by some physical accompaniments of the titanic act.
These powers of hell could neither prevent the escape nor quash the demonstration of the characteristics of His new body, His new powers, nor annul the testimony of the action and the doughty arising of the church, built, if you will, just above His tomb.
No one ever - even in Jerusalem shortly after His death - actually stopped the Church dead by the very simple expedient of showing that His works did not happen, "as advertised", or that some of the hundreds of prophecies concerning Him had failed. After all, they were all THERE in the city, during that past time (or nearly all of them, there was no mass exodus!). It was not for lack of ability or agility or enterprise. Indeed, in the crucifixion itself, and in the attempts to trap Christ in His words before this, a failure which led to the murder as the best expedient before such triumphant testimony as that of Christ consistently was seen to be: had these not shown enterprise, motivation and such qualities of persistence as would have adorned the curriculum vitae of the sinners who walked in the name of priesthood!
Those who preferred honour from one another to that from God (John -47) would certainly be deluging themselves with such honour, except for one thing: against Him, you just could not win. Not merely did He do good, but He used a supernatural power which in exasperation many tried to link to the devil (but what devil would be destroying his own kingdom, Christ countered!), since they could neither show it as weak or wilful, selfish nor aggressive. It was kind and humble. Who could fight against a life like that! But what a bit - why of course, murder! That would do it.
The sheer lameness of the cover up of the "escape" from death into life that was far greater, individually made manifest on this earth was intolerable. The failure which was to be turned to triumph through murder became the murder turned into failure by resurrection - and worst of all, PREDICTED resurrection, making them all look like dummies.
To counter His claims by showing His weakness, failed; to catch His mouth in casual utterance, failed; to trap His audacity by exposing ignorance or lack of forethought, failed; to murder, failed and the bumbling nonsense given out afterwards failed even to be rational. Any attempt to prove that He had failed to perform any of the hundreds of prophecies in their turn and order had every chance of success, as a potential weapon, but this too failed, since no such omission COULD be shown to occur, even by the hundreds of severe and sorely tried enemies whose prestige, power and self-respect might be in part restored IF ONLY - if only there were one weakness in this parallel: the life and the predictions in comparison.
Thus, IF ONLY He had not prayed for His tormentors, the sinners while He "poured out His soul to death" (Isaiah 53:12), then this detail would have rebuked God's word, or shown the Messiah a fraud. It did neither, because with just that feeling of accuracy, as when the Space Shuttle lands, but far more so, He moved on in His exploration of man, acting with all the supremacy of God, while being subjected to all the vulgarity of man. He DID so pray. That was all; that was that.
the case is clearly outlined. Showing a flaw in God's word is something the
world never does, though tormented to it, like a man by lust in the presence of
an obsessively desired woman.
Past and beyond all this, one must note that the brilliant brevity of the detailed scenario had meaning, and it was fulfilled in all points. Not MERELY detail as a test, NOT ONLY sequence as a test, but MEANING in the program, even the plan of salvation, could omit nothing. It was not a Punch and Judy show, but a show of the punch and the Judas quality of much of the earth.
What failed did so for one reason: it did not have what it took to succeed, even with entrenched authority, both political and military, both bloody and with alleged links to the supernatural God, behind it. THIS ONE MAN made it all fail, because, very simply, in ALL things He admirably succeeded. That, after all, is ONE thing God always does (cf. Isaiah 43:13 and history...).
5) However, God had still more to do. It was not merely that He had to raise this mutilated remnant of the Christ's body. You have to die before you can be resurrected.
In this case, with that characteristic directness which His power enables and His heart here asserts, God specified details of HOW the Messiah would have to die; and indeed WHEN (the latter as shown in SMR pp. 886ff.).
Any detail of
this, of the procedure specified in prophecy, any datum in this field missing
or contradicted, would provide a lethal shot for His enemies to demonstrate
that He was spurious. And so He would have been, if He had failed in anything.
No words wars would then be needed.
If you had ONE FACT, contrary to the prophecy - something God had not 'managed', then that would that. The Messiah would be a fraud. God however DOES manage. Indeed, it is very amusing as we see dis-faith in action, to note that
"the factless society"...
But "as for God , His way is perfect; the word of the Lord is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him. For who is God, except the LORD?" (II Samuel 22:31).
That is just - the way that it is. This is how it happens, these are the data which consistently present themselves, in all things, and for our present purpose, why it is so here!
Just incidentally, one might add here one other obvious implication. One of the chief, because necessary reasons why theologies of unbelief (from anti-Christians or from 'liberal' anti-Bible 'Christians") constantly change is the same old one you see in some chronic areas in science. It is because no one of them ever manages to do the job, to repudiate with reason. It is especially so in organic evolution as we have traced many times; it is so in theology in general. Its climes and chimes, its moods, its modern and post-modern, its phases and phrases, some like Ritschl's now seeming ancient like dinosaur deaths, some so new that they have scarcely had the froth drunk off the top, its frilling, trilling but spiritually chilling follies, and folies, these dance to the tune of the piper, the liar, who like the Pied Piper, leads them like rats to their hole in the mountain. Receiving honour from one another helps them. It takes the mind off the direction of motion, perhaps. We leave them there, then, and proceed to move from our Psalm and its implications, to the next one.
This is the
one which will SHOW US THE METHOD OF DEATH, which as we saw, had to come BEFORE
the resurrection. IN BOTH phases, God delivered the statement in detail about
When Death is Defied by Breaking it
manifestly, is the tableau, picture, portrait of a slow death in agony, such as
David did not suffer (-18).
Is this David ? Of course not.
PSALM 22 INFERENCES
"You have brought Me to the dust of death."
WE ARE IN THE ASSURED TERRITORY OF THE MESSIAH, HIMSELF IN THE ASSURED UNITY WITH GOD - as so beautifully delineated in Psalm 45, exhibited in Psalm 110, stated in Zechariah 12:10 and expressed in Zechariah 2:8, Isaiah 40:10. ONLY SAVIOUR HE IS ASSUREDLY GOD (Isaiah 43:10-11).
It is thus time to look in our survey, at this aspect: PSALM 45
Hence the victim's deliverance was confirmed, not despite sin, but in view of its absence. Psalm 45 acquaints us (as Isaiah 11, 52-53) with the fact that a love of righteousness unique on the earth, was to be exalted, and be deemed God Himself (Psalm 45:6-7). Addressed as God, His eternal throne is there noted. No one else occupies the ruling symbol of sovereignty but the One called God, so the two elements seal the deal. It is God indeed, the One of whom Isaiah would write, Say to the cities of Judah, "Behold your God," (Isaiah 40:9), the same One who "will feed His flock like a shepherd," and who "will gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom, and gently lead those who are with young" - Psalm 40:11, as He stated He would do in Ezekiel 34, together with some of His grounds for so acting!
the Messiah's love of righteousness and hatred of wickedness is of infinite
delight to His sublime parent, and eternal Father with whom He has always been
(Micah 5:1-3), and His anointing with the oil of joy is a marvel of divine
grace (Psalm 45:7). He is however available on stern challenge. The "daughter" who hears of Him, has to be willing
to leave her father's house in order to join Him: as indeed many Jews did have
to do, and all must do in this sense, that whatever the race or culture,
authority structure or conditions, Christ is Lord of all or not Lord at all
(Psalm 45:10-11). That is not a silly slogan but a scriptural fact from His own
mouth (Luke 14:27ff.).
· Those joining His household must know who He is (cf. Matthew -16). It is indeed on that rock that the Church is built, the ANSWER to that QUESTION, WHO IS HE! The correct answer is this: the Christ, the Son of the living God! This with all its scriptural terms, is the rock. God is the rock, and the church receives Him as such, by faith. THAT is how the church works. This is the rock that offends, that will crush to pieces, or be that stable and assured foundation of those who stand on it (cf. Psalm 62:1-3, Matthew 21:44, Matthew 7:15ff.).
· Peter, with the play on words of the name and the noun for living mass of rock, both similar, is the pebble. Christ is the rock. Of course Peter was to have a special leadership, but is limits were rather comically, yet in grave comedy, illustrated at once when the pebble moved too far with the stream and had to be brought back smartly, Christ rebuking the devil as Peter was swayed to foolishness (Matthew 16:22-23).
THIS then is that Messiah, and THESE are His requirements, this His majesty, this His status and stature.
In Psalm 45 it is clear, there too, that from generation to generation this divine figure will be praised, as in Psalm 72 and in -31.
Hence His resurrection in defiance both of His enemies and of death, is a work of righteousness (Psalm 22:31), and He, free of sin, God incarnate (cf. Micah 5:1-3) is requisitioned by His Father from death, as being able to vanquish as man all claims by it, so that death being no more relevant to His case, it is bundled out for His pleasure, which is His people.
met death for others, in His own nature, He routs it for Himself: thus Isaiah
25:8 shows us God announcing this, concerning "the LORD of hosts" - "I will swallow up death in
victory." The dual
concepts of victory and eternity enter here with the term rendered
"victory", and are amply validated elsewhere. There is a categorical
dismissal of death, correlative to David's "life for ever" in Psalm 21, and to his trust that "in the
morning", he would
in Thy likeness".
The speaker ? GOD. In the same place: "I will ransom them from the power of the grave." But WHO is this Person who will so ransom, who will BE the destruction in and of Himself ? It is of course the Messiah, the only One, the one who being deity, has nothing to do but condescend, who becoming Man has nothing to do but transmit who He is in the form which in humility, achieves its place, purpose and target. Like a minute surgical robot, but very alive, He goes in person to the active and exact site of the trouble, and sews it up. Part of the cost was to become undone, but in love He paid it. GOD is the ransom, Christ is the ransom, the Messiah as always is presented as God-the-Sent.
ON WITH PSALM 22
In the midst of these spiritually and physically lacerating viciousnesses, the Victorious Victim, the Messiah suddenly
announces this, as seen in Psalm 22:21:
"YOU HAVE ANSWERED ME."
As His cry was intense, His faith immense, so His restoration is complete. The NEW congregation not of ravening wolves, bellowing bulls but the meek, praise to posterity and international worship, all result (cf. Psalm 2:10-12, which sings like a duet in the presence of Psalm 22).
In answering this person, the Messiah, God vindicates Himself,
His word, His predictions, His honour, His essential morality
not an offshoot of power, but integral to the very nature of Him who says this:
I am who I am. His righteousness will thus be declared by peoples still to
come, as the Psalmist wrote (Psalm -31).
Thus we have seen in Psalm 16 the call for a method, since resurrection implies death, and in Psalm 22 the death form chosen, and its method. These then are brother and sister psalms, as 22 and 2 are partners.
Remarkable too is the fact that in neither 22 nor 16 - the method of death and the fact of the resurrection, is there seen anything but an absence, as far as vengeance is concerned. At the specifically gospel level, the suffering and shame for sin, and the victory and love for righteousness graciously dispensed, the thing is not heard of; it is stricken as if ashamed, silent as if derailed. Rather, a positive, constructive consequence is in these psalms foretold.
What does this imply ?
Since God in His righteousness is vindicated, it follows that the point of this program was NOT a contest of evil men over goodness, but rather an exposure of goodness in perfect righteousness, in the Messiah, the criterion, giving crucial aid to worshippers, implying that this mighty triumph over death will embrace many more lives as gifts (22:29), lively gifts for those whose heart will live forever.
What of Psalm 2, then when justice and rule emerge ? It is clear that this is for those aberrantly intractable, remorselessly resistant, as we shall see, but as in John , the PURPOSE of the program is NOT condemnation, but rather its avoidance, salvation. Only outside this arena, does the sad landslide occur, which knows no bottom.
the contrary, there is to be a special "generation" to serve Him (Psalm 22:30), as in
Isaiah 53:10, where its genesis is considered in receiving the Lord in His
salvation (cf. The Kingdom of Heaven, Ch.9, No.8), a matter of extreme individuality (as
reflected in Zechariah 12:10ff.).
To a generation to come the matter will be relayed, it will cause worship, it will indeed lead on to a whole generation of those who will serve Him, the Messiah generation, the engendered generation, the Messiah people, the people of the Lord related to HIM as the only Saviour, in the plan of salvation of which there is no counterpart, just as the King, His Son, has no equal in the populace of heaven or earth, and is in Himself, God (Psalm 22:30, 25-29, Psalm 89:3,19-28,36,Isaiah 43:10-11, 41:27-42:6, Daniel 7:14, Psalm 45, 72:17) and covenant (Isaiah 42:6).
In particular, notice Psalm 89:29, which is talking about the Messiah whose universal rule is envisaged, through His divine appointment, so that His "seed", once again as in Isaiah 53:10 and Psalm 22, is the generation of Messiah people, the Christians who are not vacuous verbal substitutes for spiritual people, but divinely engendered by the word of the Lord (cf. I Peter 1:20-24).
As then, to this special generation to serve Him, as in Isaiah 53:10 and elsewhere: these are His (only) 'seed', to arise DESPITE THE FACT, as it is rehearsed in this part of Isaiah, that He is CUT OFF FROM THE LAND OF THE LIVING. It is a normal family substitute. Though He is impoverished in this, that His own begotten child will be replaced by a murdered head of family, yet He is enriched in this, that HIS family will be from all nations and generations!
THUS He will indeed, in their immense number, vast variety, spacing over the centuries, personally conducted salvation, "see from the travail of His soul and be satisfied" (Isaiah 53:11). Indeed, "He will justify many," it proceeds. Such is the nature of His 'seed', which are thus here being described.
Not only the necessary action of salvation, but its vast impartation alike, in the presentation of so many as His own, will be that sort of munificent glory in which the Lord delights, whose removals from our lives may be vast and compelling, but whose graces are without limit! So to the acme, is it with the Messiah (cf. Daniel -14). This is in the beauties of holiness and love; but where there is an indissoluble resentment against salvation, and it is with the rebellious, then the gulf which is the result, is an exercise in the abysmal. This begins to appear rigorously even in Psalm 2, as it ends.
is not one which had no bridge; but when the time is over ,
the day is past, the bridge will appear no more. When the time of trial is
over, judgment sets in like night.
Over what then does the Messiah not rule ? (cf. Psalm 72). Nothing. There is the ruler (Isaiah 54:6) for whom skies, heavens, all creation is no limit. Here is God-the-sent (Isaiah 48:16, cf. Zechariah 2:8, and see Barbs, Arrows and Balms 17, A Spiritual Potpourri, Ch.12): valiant, vulnerable by empathy and the need for vicarious sacrifice (Psalm 69:9, Isaiah 53:5-6), victorious as well, destined to return ot His home, even the rebellious participating voluntarily (cf. Psalm 110), while He rules the earth, as indeed the One in whom trust MUST be held (Psalm 2). Judges of the earth are invited to CONSIDER, and all are exhorted to fear the Lord, to kiss the Son.
It is this phase of the sacrificial splendour of the Messiah, to which we must now look. It is to those who will not take - to use an illustration - the antibiotics, even if it kills them, the renegade, the ungrateful, the souls determined on their lack of faith, as if the sun refused to shine out of sheer dudgeon (if it could: in the world of men there is a facility, like a radioactive power plant, which can function to the glory of God with much power, or blow up with much rubbish).
The incalculably rejecting, whose life is set for NOT GOD ? There are those as in early Israel, who worship what is not God as we have seen (cf. Deuteronomy 32); this may be any form of vacuum, suitably filled to taste with various frivols, and follies. Alas God is the source of light so that for these darkness is endemic.
Now in Psalms 69, with 41,55 and 109 we see this situation. At first it might seem so different from the suffusing wonder of the Gospel, as to surprise or startle. But in a little, the position becomes clear.
In these Messianic Psalms, punitive justice and condign consequences bring horror, anguish and contempt on those in view. Indeed it is ONE betrayer whose seed resemble him, but whose hand was in the height of the drama, who figures and who is focussed. Mercifully pursued with pity from the King, this treacherous friend (cf. Psalm 41:9, a word in strict qualitative parallel to the Psalm 69 case) nevertheless hardens his heart. (See Psalm 69:8-11, Psalm 109:4-5, with Psalm 55, 41). Although, then, there is a class and category involved, it is to ONE that the light shines on stage (cf. Psalm 109:6, 41:9). The desolate appearance of the betrayer, like a blasted heath, is seen fulfilled in Acts 1:15-22, the focus of fulfilment ? - Judas Iscariot.
The result of this betrayal brings predictively (from about 1000 B.C.) desolation to the betrayed (cf. Psalm 22:1, and 69:20ff.) - a pitiless circle surround Him, giving gall for food (in parallel with Psalm 22 with enormous precision). It is clear that this too is the Messiah, the appointed Lion of Judah and King in the Davidic line, according to covenant. HE is ONE (cf. Psalm 72) and His like is not to be found (cf. Isaiah 41:27-42:6, Psalm 45), not even by investigation! To Him goes the title which is God's alone, Saviour, and to Him is to be given what is for God alone, unquestioning faith (Psalm 2). That is the message of the word of God.
Why then in Psalms 41, 55, 69, 109 is there the exact opposite, in this, from Psalm 22: namely that instead of vengeance being absent in the face of forgiving suffering, now we see justice weighing in its claims, and zeal undeterred! Why it is simple!
The answer answers another question: why is THIS judgment to the enemies of the victimised king so terrible, awesome, implacable ?
As Psalm 22 intimates, and Isaiah 52-53 declares, God's vindication of the slain Monarch of Mercy, the Messiah, results in mercy - it leads to victory over death, even over their own.
HOWEVER, here we see the other side of this magnificent operation. Despising persistent grace (Psalm 69:10,4, 109:3-5, 41:9), directly from the Messiah, the Monarch of Mercy, with no alteration in the hardened, unresponsive, obsessive heart of the betrayer and those of his ilk (Psalm 69:10), even in the mellowing midst of the abominable horror of the crucifixion, there are many (Psalm 69:19). They are found like snipers in many a tree.
Peace is declared, but they are for war.
and unrepentant, what would they be expected to inherit when they so consign
the Prince of Peace ? With mercy excised from their
souls, through sustained betrayal and rejection of the Messiah, that unique and
inimitable highway of mercy, covenant mercy: they are unable to invent any
other road of access to God, or any way to excuse Him completely.
This depiction of course, this predictive depiction, this scene, this tableau, this setting and scenario of the predictive word of God is abundantly fulfilled as to agents, and the betrayed King, in attitude and consequence, as for example in John 3:16-17, which has the intimations of Psalm 22, the mercy in magnificent magnitude, moving on to John 3:19, with 3:33ff.. This traces amidst the publication of peace, the announcement of salvation, as in Isaiah 52:7, the imperial consequences of an imperious will;. How good, then, that "YOU HAVE ANSWERED ME" - as in Psalm , that evocative and decisive word of the Messiah, depicted in His profound and effectual sufferings. It is from their that we see His declaration in vital vigour to the brethren and read of the generation to serve Him. How good that "His dead body", His people will arise (Isaiah 26:19).
In the end, though it is hard to say it, we must realise that to those dedicated to the destruction of the post and place of the Messiah, to its irrelevance, evacuation, heaven would be hell! It is as simple as that. In the very glorious manifestation of His magnificence would they glory ? Would the near spiritual presence of the One whom they will not, cannot and would not stand or seek or have, be a haven or a hovel ? It is not a mere matter of some geographical destination, though the reality of hell is clear enough; but this is not its acme. It is the state of heart which MUST HAVE IT SO. Darkness is chased from chaste heaven. It is, after all, preferred in the very face of two vital facts:
1) It is DESPITE the FREE MERCY voluntarily offered not in proud superiority, but in all but incredible and only just conceivable grace, out of love, through a medium of actual identification with the vulnerability of man, yet without sin.
prefers the absence of this, and hence consigns itself to the exclusion of all
the grandeur of love and life and loveliness which is the suffusion of the
presence of the God who alone is good, and from whom it flows.
VERIFICATIONS GALORE, ENCORE, AGAIN ENCORE
From the Predictive Data to the Historical Fact is a Journey that is Smoothness Itself, a Joy and a Thrust of Jubilation. It was not so for the One who instituted it; but the passion past, in its provision, there is much joy in its activation in the hearts of the redeemed. He does indeed see from the travail of His soul, and is indeed satisfied. The Gospel as predicted is as it was predicted it would be, as vast in scope, as international in outreach, as unduplicable in kind, as detailed in its historic stanchions, as irresistible by reason, as certified by every test, as supernatural in origin, as based in the Messiah. It is all fulfilled, yes even to the zest, industry and ardour of those who reject it, whose caution was stated from the first, and continues to the last (as in Psalm 2), the appeal to whom is not yet quelled (as in II Peter 3:9), and continues in the marvels of divine mercy.
is thus that are found these all but incredible detailed fulfilments
of the word of the divine impresario which from the first have ignited the
hearts of tHis people, illustrating His faithfulness
who is the covenant-keeping God, of whose people He declares:
"Your heart shall live forever" - Psalm 22:36, cf. 21:30, 17:15. It is no chance that 17:15 follows Palm 16 as the righteousness and resurrection of the Messiah is followed by resultant blessing, or that Psalm 22 is wedged between the eternal life of Psalm 21 and the pastoral proficiency, intimacy and splendour of Psalm 23; or for that matter, that Psalm 41 in its horror of unbelief, follows Psalm 40 in its exuberance of joy in the delighted arrival of the Messiah to perform His prodigious task. Night follows day, and results both of light and darkness, follow the arrival of the Light of the world, turning to and with Him, or from Him
eternity is added to the preserve of men - even of those who trust Him
(Psalm -12), and are reconciled to the Redeemer, and through the
Redeemer, to their Father.
FAR WORSE AND FAR BETTER
This then is not an account of gloom and doom. It is far worse than
It itemises the means of entry to heaven and hell: the second deserved, the first a gift, a spiritual channel that bored through rock under an ocean of sin, and brings the direct route to hand. God has stared down death, by the perfect purity of the sacrificed Messiah. Let no one attempt to stare down God.
The view on the other side is glorious (cf. Isaiah 33:17ff.).
One reason for this NON-SHARING OF HIS GLORY, is that infinity cannot be made, for it starts too late. It would involve a contradiction in terms. Nor can it be conveyed into the finite as such, since it is not ample for it, but can only condescend by grace to share what it will in plan, gift of grace, in challenge or in fellowship freely, using its infinite power to do so. Hence we see the depth of Philippians 2.
It is for this reason that in Psalm 22, to which we shall later turn, in verse 1, we hear that historic, predicted cry of the Messiah in the midst of His slow murder!
"My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me!" (Matthew 27:46, Psalm 22:1).
This is intensely significant. It illustrates poignantly the pointed fact that the Messiah, though He w as God in form, had become a sacrifice for sin, and hence of necessity, as sin-bearer, would not only be executed, but inwardly and spiritually as a man would experience a desolation that is the program for sin on the part of man (cf. Isaiah 59:1-2, Jeremiah 5:25). His cry was the predicted experience, the predicted utterance that authenticated the reality of His sacrifice and its purpose. No mere form, it was configured in injury, expressed in agony, and consummated in travail.
Equally, the all-knowing God had put it there, this cry with its exact words, for the day to come, put it in His ancient Psalm (cf. Acts 4:25), like a space capsule to be activated in its time, a time capsule from a millenium before.
So too, as the Saviour, the victim (as in Isaiah 52-53, 43:16, Zechariah 2:8, 3:9), the Messiah was reduced to the weakness that shambles off into death, through the priestly murder-machine. He felt the weakness itself (Psalm 22:6-7), so contrary to His custom, while many, a jeering mob, a sort of Inquisition before its day, satisfied their envy and lust, having a field day of sport and bitterness. Towering in sublimity of morals, clarity of mind, experiencing in sensitivity of perception, the vicarious victim endured, and blessed amidst cursing, as predicted.
Sin-bearing is NOT a pleasant task, but no cursing, no ravings, no truculence was displayed, for after all the prediction was this: "As a lamb is led to the slaughter, and as a sheep before His shearers is dumb, so He did not open His mouth" - Isaiah 53, in protest or curse. He uttered rather a word of encouragement to one of those being executed with Him, in which His OWN kingdom was recognised as sure, by that criminal, and saved that soul then! Saving while on the cross! What an example of chastity and charity! The flesh at bay, the Spirit rules: such is the Messiah.
Sin-bearing is not a genteel task.
Ignoring its kindness is NOT a pleasant response.
In parallel (Psalm ), those who turn to Him as Lord and
Saviour in meekness, and praise, having sought Him,
have this transfer of blessing from Him, to them: "Your heart shall
live for ever!"
Thus the structure and the result of this profound excursion of the Prince, alike, are alight with joy. You gain the impact of the relief and the dependency on this Saviour, in the last verses of Psalm 22. Those who cannot keep alive their own souls, nevertheless in Him find ground for worship, and who would not, whose heart in such a spiritual scene, with such spiritual strength, at such spiritual cost with such a spiritual leader, would ... live for ever!
Indeed, the universal turning to the Lord, a large swathe throughout the earth (as in Psalm 72:11,17), as a tribute to the Messiah, the King (Psalm 2:6ff., 72:1,14, Isaiah 53:4-6,10), its many members constituting a seed, or race - "a seed shall serve Him; it shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation" (Psalm 22:30 cf. Isaiah 55:4). A people of this kind will "declare His righteousness" (cf. Romans -26). It is indeed the believers of all generations (II Peter 2:9), "a chosen generation, a royal priesthood". It is the generation of the regenerated, who, true worshippers, do not die (Psalm ,30). HE, however, on the way to producing this eminently desirable outcome, He who Himself if the "desire of the nations" (Haggai 2:7), is the One whose reality is such that the suffering of the sentence of separation from the Father, which sin incurs produced this cry: "My God, why have You forsaken Me!"
It is part of the wonder of the Eternal One, that He foresaw this in reality, before in the Person of His Son, He condescended to experience in the vulnerability of human flesh, that severance like an electric saw at work on a mighty oak, through the heart, which evoked from the splendour of His purity, this anguish. Such is the departure of anguish, that it needs so powerful a Conveyor. Such is the Messiah, and such He was to be: as He was to be, He has been, and He is.