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YOUR TESTIMONIES ALSO ARE MY DELIGHT AND MY
WHAT DO YOU FIND TO TREASURE IN THE BIBLE ?
That is the question. it is often addressed. WHAT do you see in HER! says someone about the devoted friend, the loving wife, the prospective bride.
Often it is rather difficult to discover.
When however it comes to the Bible, it is easy.
First, it abundantly fulfils the testimony of reason, that it MUST by a logical necessity impossible to break, be the word of the one Almighty God. It surpasses what is to be expected, even when the expectation soars to the Infinite and Limitless God, from whom is the world, whose thought surveys its scene, invents the scenario and whose word controls in the end, the outcome. As to His word, the Bible: It flies to the heights, discovers in the depths, reaches laterally to the breadths, covers the topics, exposes the soul, surveys with sovereign and infinitely felicitous scope and beauty, the enormity and the profundity, along with the minimal and the dismal. It puts things in their place. It lifts one to the face of the Lord. To this some will not come; nevertheless, it invites and offers, and for those who receive the Lord Himself, whose word it is, so it acts.
It diagnoses the condition of man; it brings potent remedy; its word, like an electricity handbook, is vastly more impressive because its specifications relate to what has power, to what does things. The discipline is delightful, the impact on pride therapeutic, the exposure of grace like the Victoria Falls of African fame, immense, of unlimited thrust, abundant supply, multitudinous in voice, magnificent in aspect, tumultuous with peace.
It never errs. It is never improved. It is not rambunctious; it simply does it. It is glorious in dignity, ineffable in power, holy in integrity, the word of the One above all, coming down to our level without condescension, leaving and showing a path without apprehension, productive of a peace without limit, expressive of a love without equal, a willingness without aid, a will without flaw, a righteousness without spot, a changelessness without need to be other, since what it is is past all maturity, the origin and original of all, timeless yet making time, tireless yet apt to encourage.
Its words reach to the skies, to express how they were composed in the first; hammer to the subterranean passages of the soul, to bring to them light and air and comfort, that the spirit be WHOLE and the life wholesome, lived in light at all levels, at any depth. It meets every problem, solves every philosophic problem almost with the ease of a grandfather explaining to a child, makes mockery not merely of sin when it is kept wilfully, but of sincerity when it is treated in its childish superficial pretentiousness, as its own god, saying, If we think we are without sin, we deceive ourselves (I John 1). We do not however deceive God (Psalm 11, Romans 3).
Then in its words, it provides the payment for sin, for all who receive it, removes the power of sin, for all who receive the Sovereign who is author of the book, exposes as dust the solicitous choiceness of sin and presents purity which, like a crystal, the first a child has ever seen, astonishes with its wonder, order, colour and purity.
It has resonance*1. It has here a hint, there a discovery which amplifies its meaning, again an irony*2 which resounds to make the meaning clearer, and in the discovery, carries a sardonism, or an echo, which ramifies in its beauty, collecting like skiers on a run, a whole company of exhibits, all bent on the same course. So like friends, its words join hands, express themselves in intimate purity and peaceableness, the one chiming in here, the other addressing all, some responding with delicate little touches, so that it is all discovered as the work of ONE MIND, the word of ONE GOD. And what does HE do, who so causes His mind to be discovered, His will to be clear and His work to be attested ? He does what He says.
There is never a question of moods, of temperamental failings, character flaws. It is never like the case so amusingly discovered by a child playing teacher, who said: "Now I am in a good mood today, but I will be in a bad mood if I have to be ..." What a teacher was that whom she apparently mimicked! God is never like that. He does not vary in righteousness, deflect in decisiveness; He is pure to the pure, and appears subtle to the devious. His word is outright.
It does not equivocate. It does not bluster. It is decisive, challenging and pure like light; its beams like an uncreated beam, for although it is written in time, it is the expression of the mind of the One who is eternal, King of eternity, author of time, creator of the story of mankind, redeemer for remedy, killed for life, murdered for mastery, the conduit of an everlasting water supply to the soul.
These things His word expresses with tenderness; towards them it exhorts with power, appeals with a delicacy like that of orchids, nothing too small, nothing too big, all in proportion, but no proportion any excuse for oversight: rather like an astonishing architect whose work is grand in conception, glorious in conspectus, detailed in design, panoramic in feeling, cohesive in form, individual in discovery, adapted to use but never created with mere utility in mind, always expressive of sublimity, nobility or righteousness, touched with tenderness, with the gardens of serenity, but not serendipity, stretching out with the astonishing beauty of the rose, expressed in words that are chaste, rich and powerful. It is like a house in a garden, a garden in a house, a wonder in the forest surrounding the whole, and the mountains of elevation with the untouched wonder of snow in its vastness, in the distance.
It leads one to behold the land which is very far off (Isaiah 33); it lets one see here in Nahum 1:15 his brief reference to the One who bears glad tidings, and then discovers the marvels of His might, the depths of His suffering, the wonder of His love, in a detail in Isaiah. In Nahum, the topic is the end of Nineveh, its extravanganzas of evil and ultimacy of rebuke. Thus we read:
Lord has given a command concerning you:
Your name shall be perpetuated no longer... I will dig your grave,
For you are vile" - 1:14.
as this oppressor and vaunter of godliness against Israel has its sentence
read, we hear this tiding, as if to all who are oppressed comes this hope,
this ONE hope of this ONE God, who has ONE way in which to bring ALL to
"Behold, on the mountains,
The feet of him who brings good tidings,
Who proclaims peace..."
Thus, in the midst of the exposure of the tyrant, there comes this kernel of joy, this expression of delight, this prediction. Therefore in this as in much, the Bible, this word of God, this definitive written expression of His will: there is wonder.
It has exuberance. It is friendly. It never tolerates one ounce of iniquity, hides nothing, reveals with decorum, exhibits with incisiveness, never wanders, will not stray, in its greatest eloquence, never flinches from exactitude, never becomes pedantic, never becomes wrong; launches into song, as aircraft taking off in select numbers, one after the other, arise to consort in the skies.
It has becoming grace; it reveals without excision. It never is exhibitionistic, never merely utilitarian. It stops at nothing; is stopped by nothing. It stops when it has gone far enough; and it is wise to know when that is. It is not evocative like the charm of the prosy; it is provocative where sleep is the risk. It warns, it adorns, but it is never artificial. Its words arise with strength and address one's soul; and then retire. It chortles in unison when a topic is thrown about like a magpie throwing about its find. It draws from the well of depth with pure water; it anoints the fevered brow, touches the sickened heart, makes joy where there was sorrow. HOW ?
see, it is the word of the LIVING God*3,
so that when one consults it, the entire power of this inimitable and glorious
Being is about one: provided only one is His, and one knows Him, so that
HIS word is the entry not merely of intelligible symbols, but of the expression
of the Person with whom one has to do. It is as if His very inflection
and intonation are there: His Spirit is expressive as His word is expressive.
They work together. His Spirit leads into truth; the word is the truth.
One is thus placed in a concert hall; one is skiing down the slopes of victory; inspired with courage; regaled with comfort; equipped with wisdom. The imagery attests the richness; there is no limit. It is a plethora of experience, a ski slope of adventure, a presentation in concert. an artistry of delight.
Its pages bring confluence of concepts, like mountain streams coming from some vast chain of mountains, and joining together nearer the lower slopes. It brings resonances of phrase, where the sound is amplified, like an echo, interpreted as when one more exactly tunes the radio; they move like a team, they act like the waves on the sea, this one buffeting that, and the other responding with grace. They bring atmospheric displays, like aircraft in a wonder of unison, moving with speed, grace and precision when aloft. It is all aloft; but it reaches down. It never stops flowing: it is always the same. Its lights glint like the sun through stained glass windows, touching this aspect, glowing with that light, exposing the other artistry, bringing into warm cohesion the company of characters. Its word breathe integrity, breach barriers, expose follies, confer graces.
What do I see in it ? The victory and the triumph and the glory and the power and the vitality, the exuberance and the tenderness, the appeal and the exhortation, the predictions and the meaning and ground for them, the fulfilments and the reason for that, the entire coverage of mankind in outline, of his history in incline, of his mind in analysis, of his position like a map. There is the map of status, of status quo, and of history to come. It is a time map. it brings to the finish, it starts from the first. It mocks at test. It exposes its side like a tennis player deliberately leaving his side-line open in doubles, so that the opponent can smash his shot into the open space, only to have the sudden volley intercept. It always intercepts. Its vulnerability is always the testimony of its truth.
What do I find in it ? I find God in it, for since He lives, and since He has accepted me through Christ, when I read His word, He reads me, and I look to Him, and there is a fellowship in the beauty of holiness, or a consolation in the wonder of tenderness, or a bracing in the vigour of integrity. It is a highway to God, for those who know Him. It is a map for those who do not. It is replete with simplicity in the Gospel of pardon for sin through the vicarious atonement of Christ, by faith received; and with depth to intimidate the bold, intimate to the lowly and with a graceful graciousness, bring growth to the weak.
What would one expect to find from the WORD OF GOD ALMIGHTY! He is infinite in understanding, absolute in knowledge, is Himself love, does not behold iniquity as a friend, but disperses it, corrects His own, disposes of evil, composes good. One would NOT expect to find all that one does find in the Bible, for how would the imagination, be it never so powerful, of a mere creature, someone created by this God, be powerful enough to conceive of all that one empirically finds. Thus the laboratory test, applied to the Bible, once it has first been demonstrated as in SMR Chs. 1-3, to be the word of God, surpasses expectations. It is like a living verification. It actually has a living vitality. Not only in all propositional contents does it sustain itself, fulfil its predictions, attest its truth, meet all assault, and that with ease, but it works as the word of the living, not as the symbols of the dead. Thus its attestation is stringently propositional and testable; but it is ALSO fragrantly personal, filled with integrity. It works more than the electricity handbook; for that attests where the power for performance lies, and how to reach and deal with it; but THIS attests the availability of the One who made both material power, and mental; both the mind to understand and its field for understanding; both the life one uses for living, and the avenue for its feeding.
The Bible is its own verification. It works. Its words have life. Its qualities are unapproachable by any written competition. Like the smile of a genius faced with 'impossible' questions from some university faculty, it handles its investigators with simplicity, silencing the strident, inviting the curious, embracing the willing. Its sovereign ease matches its zealous strength. It does not patronise into superficiality, but shudders not at all at any level, any depth. Its depths meet like ocean currents visiting from distant continents of comprehension. They move as one nautical reality. The winds aloft bring spice fragrance from afar, from 500 BC from 750BC from 1000 BC, from 1400 BC, where the writings and song of Moses, of Isaiah, of Zechariah move like the freshening breezes of Spring, at the seaside, frolicking through the flowers by the ocean, touching the pines with charm, skirting the fields, lilting to the shores. They match. They are like a team of players, the soaring wonder of pirouetting bird formations, the hundreds without martial order, yet with natural grace making display in the atmospheric heights, only to dart below, with a facility and agility which sees not fatigue or clumsiness.
is the word of my Friend; and such are His testimonies. Small wonder then
that the Psalmist declares in Psalm 119:24:
"Your testimonies also are my delight
And my counsellors."
THE DELIGHT OF DETAIL
Let us Make an Excursion!
Some Glances at Wonder
SOME LITTLE LIGHTS THAT SHOWER WITH DILIGENCE BUT GLEAM WITH MODESTY
Some of the refulgences in the crystal of truth, are met in strange places. Thus in John 7:37, we see that Christ is the one who gives water which will well up and spring out from one, meaning the Spirit. In Isaiah 44, we see at the threshold, the combination of water poured out UPON the people who believe, who are seen in the light of the surroundings plenitude of water, like reeds, whose thirst is quenched, whose action springs up, like happily moist plants near the watercourses. They have exuberance of devotional life, we there read, one calling himself by the name of Jacob, but others more direct - and perhaps Gentiles are here meant - may write THE LORD'S upon the hand. Moreover it is personal and individual, for ONE shall write upon his hand...
Again, in Joel 2, we find the reference cited by Peter at Pentecost, where the Spirit will be poured out on many, who will respond, and out from them in turn goes the prophecy, like waters from the water, metaphorically, power from the power, in energic sympathy and symphony, good tidings from their purveyor as the Spirit of God - sent by the Son from the Father - appoints, anoints; and in such ways the refreshing realities of Christ, the fragrance of His Person, the facts of His Gospel and the fervour of His love proceed.
Further, this BASIS of the wonder is shown clearly in Ezekiel 47, where this extended allegory puts the water coming from the altar, hence from the sacrificial centre, so that the whole of Hebrews 8-10, and indeed 1-2, is brought in, the Christ from God, taking post as man, to do as God in manhood, what man needed, dying for sin, and rising in rejoicing over death, to appoint life everlasting not to some aristocracy, but to those who receive Him for who He is, in terms of what He has done (Ephesians 2:1-10). Here, in the allegory in Ezekiel, the rivers flow on from the altar to the banks where fishermen fish for fish ("I will make you fishers of men!" said Christ to His disciples), where refreshing life comes to the areas swept through with this surge of life, while some marshes remain, where the life was not desired, they being too wet with their own dampness to need any refreshing, and hence like the self-righteous, left alone to their inadequacies, never to be redeemed. As Christ said, "I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance" (Matthew 9:12-13).
So do these reserves and reinforcements of glory adduce themselves, the one to the other, and resound with rejoicing. It reminds one of wisdom rejoicing daily before the Father as One brought up before Him (Proverbs 8) in the foundations of the earth (for which see Barbs, Arrows and Balms 27).
Again, in another genre, this time not verbal but conceptual, we see Daniel in Ch. 6 in something rather more detailed than a type of Christ. It is almost a stage presentation of it. Thus he is to be betrayed ONLY by the envious opposition camp finding some way in which the State or established authority (with its religious aspect prominent, if not dominant) will turn to crush him, so that those in other places of power can perpetuate their profiles on earth, or what they like to do with them. So with Christ and the out of hand religious structure of superb insolence against the Almighty, but in fact shameless and shabby, envious and willing ... to murder judicially, like those with Daniel, to gain their form of prestige, influence, perspective, power or whatever item or combination variously appealed.
Again, the King made a law which could not be changed, in this episode of Daniel. So with Christ, the law of God could not be changed which brought sentence on false prophets. In fact, Christ was true, His judges false, but the law was applied by the false; just as false hearts USED the law of the king against Daniel. Further, the King was upset and troubled all night, like the disciples when Christ was arraigned and set for death, and the authorities swirled about in their monstrous pontifications and uncomely personas of unrelished religion. Again, it was EARLY in the morning the King came, just as did the women to the tomb. It was to enquire, IS your God whom you serve continually able to deliver you ? So the disciples RAN to see if it were indeed true that the body was gone, the Saviour risen! The lion's den was even SEALED to see that the King's command was carried out; just as - and indeed for the same purpose, but for King read governor - was Christ's tomb uselessly but in hope, sealed. It needs to be realised that the King relished Daniel, but had been snared by trickery in his courtiers, to make a law which forbad prayer to any but to the king, a touchingly close prelude to what is to come soon now, when the powers that be will once again REQUIRE worship of the beast (Revelation 13), that simple symbol for worldly power with political and forceful clout, and religious inhibitions and prohibitions which require people to default whenever the glory of the flesh should think fit.
Death was overcome with Christ; the lions did not overcome with the teeth of death, with Daniel. And so it goes on and on.
Again in the case of David and his rebellious son, Absolam (II Samuel 14 and on). The son is UNGRATEFUL for the grace of his father, as the devil is for his being created originally so fine. The son USES his privileges to seduce many to attack the father (David). The father allows himself to be removed from Jerusalem, so that the son has a temporary occupation of Jerusalem, as the devil ... 'the whole world lies in the wicked one' says John (I John 5:19) or is under his sway. The son when in Jerusalem with temporary power, goes wild, abuses the concubines of his father on the roof: so even an Anglican primate can say that it is too late now to have Christ only: it is public and the Biblical figure has been explained in detail earlier, in this physiological representation on of the spiritual in such matters (cf. Answers to Questions 2).
The father leaves and is hidden away, moving in the woods and to another place. There is a lull, as the son, Absolam is seduced into waiting, by a strategy of the defence of the king. Then battle. It may be it lasted for two days, for the events seem widespread. David is then found sitting in the gathering of the people in the distant town, and then returns to Jerusalem in triumph and power, but very kind and forgiving. So Christ being removed from Jerusalem, and not using FORCE (just as David retired, barefoot and weeping, rather than have immediate war), on the third day returned, very forgiving as we see, to Peter (in some detail expressed in John 21, but there was a much earlier meeting!).
Moreover, David went on the way OUT of Jerusalem, weeping up the Mount of OLIVES. He loved his son, and would have died for him, in his heart's desire. So Christ in major agony in the Mount of Olives (Hebrews 5:7) bore what he had to bear, and proceeded, crying, Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me! Nevertheless, not My will, but Thy will be done! So in the figure, the allegory, the historical itemisation in advance, did David in profound sorrow leave those whom he loved, hoping and seeking and paying as needed, if by any means any might be delivered, the city kept. So Christ wept over the city (Luke 19:42ff.). It goes on and on, and this is the sort of shelter for the light that strikes out now modesty, now more brightly, like sparkles in a jewel.
We could speak of Joshua a type of Christ, in Zechariah 6, but not before he has earlier been portrayed in the garments of sin, and these removed in the pantomime of exegesis; the olive trees in Zechariah and the witnesses in Revelation 11, subtly for those who love the word, and discreetly shown in their correlation (we must SEEK OUT sometimes, just as a good teacher ensures that his students must press to find, at times cf. Proverbs 25:2, 2:3-5,10 ). This is treated in Ch. 5 of Acme: Alpha and Omega.
Again, in Isaiah 4:6 we are provoked in imagination; in 32:1-3, satisfied concerning the puzzle, but at the same time briskly arrested and accosted: the TABERNACLE is to be a) a man b) a king and c) its refuge from the anger of God, and comfort for the believer, is to become the precise property in function, of ... a MAN. in 41-42, in the movement between chapters, we find the uselessness and futility of man for his own salvation (as in Psalm 49:7,15), but by utter contrast, one who is NEVERTHELESS a man in format, who is entirely useful, utterly efficacious and constitutes the very speech of God in His life! given as a covenant in Himself. In 49:6 we find the same meet for the Gentiles as well, the light of life for man; in 50, we find Him scarified, in 52-53 sacrificed, in 49:7 rejected, in 53, despised and reputed as a victim of divine wrath, not the Saviour from it; in 54 He assumes command, as in 11 He is illustrious in greatness with no stay or limit, His word effective without restraint; in 55 the freedom of His grace and the folly of trusting in one's own righteousness instead of in His (as in Ezekiel 33:13 - a fatal error always, for it is never good enough to populate heaven, and leave it heavenly), the rebuke to littleness and the entreaty to partake of a gracious grandeur.
Meanwhile, 60 turns the gory to glory, 61 indicating practical passion for deliverance of His people, while 65 shuns formalistic ceremonialism and is caustic to this byway, and those who follow it, surveying new scenes of a new people for a new covenant, broaches the unspeakable and says it, stuns the mind, brings heavenly dimension to allegorical vision on earth.
It is, however, always in HIM, by HIS WORK, His PERSONAL work, His SACRIFICIAL WORK, and in 66:1-3 we see the whole animal conundrum of picture-type sacrifices as a pageant to prepare for the efficacious work of Christ, removed. In the end, hell is touching the perimeters, a gross outlet for disbelieve in the spiritual necessities. So touch and light, blend and breeze, confluence and ricochet, resonance and overtone, they all accrue through many writers, from one Author, whose word programs like a play written first, and played to the end.
All of this is not merely without effort, pedantic processive grappling and sweaty literary toil, without panting for glimmers, as with the scholars, but sails like a schooner before impelling winds (Cf. II peer 1), hopeful, unvanquished, serene even in violent waters, majestic in pitch, lofty in sail, the flag of truth flying. Not as the scribes and Pharisees does the word of God speak (cf. John 7:45-47). Incarnate, this is the way of Jesus Christ, who commands just such a regard, and stirred it even from those who sought to arrest Him, in the course of their duties. He arrests those who would arrest; He liberates the possessive.
Nothing can arrest the word of God and succeed. Kill it, it arises. Murder the incarnate, He breaks death and presents eternal life as a gift. These things, in the written word, which is His, they illustrate; in the incarnate word, they are definitive of the ways of the Lord. Blessed are those who know Him, and rely on Him, in whom His grace lives, His beauty is found and His energy and freedom live, who take His paths and follow Him.
verbally or conceptually, in pantomime or parable, there is such an integral
alignment, and its depth does not spare or stay; there is a deft differentiation
of differences as in the case of Joshua as a type of Christ (Ch. 6, that
is the priest, Joshua in the restoration to Jerusalem in the 6th century
B.C.), but only in purged parable, in refined symbolism, duly installed
with care, in Ch. 3! There is a constant thrust and parry of example in
communality on the one hand, and distinction from the ONLY ONE whose the
right is, and to whom the glory is due, so that even the dull might be
delighted, and none dazzled. Yet it is not pearls before swine, for their
snouts are in other troughs.
depths of humility of God in His excursion for salvation are thus shown
in their unique splendour as well as the heights of glory which nevertheless
have so come! It is never heavy-handed, always appealing, even in rebuke,
the passion of tenderness, the glory of kindness and the sweetness of love
appear; and if judgment sets in, then like those who insist on staying
in Rhodesia when the government has lost its bearings of humanity, so be
it. There is a time to warn, and a time for scorn; but in the end, what
will scorn despite those who warn, finds that the warning is not for scorning,
but for deliverance... and there is no other.
The delicious deftness and thoughtful pathos combined in the thrust in Zechariah 13, in the light of Chs. 9,11 before it, is like some rare pink diamond, blazing with delicacy, triumphant in gentleness, piercing with light.
Thus in Zech. 3-4 we are introduced to the coming Messiah with delightful pageantry, in dress up dogmatics; in Ch. 6 we come to a direct intimation of the regality to come, where rule is universal, through this same Messiah, who is nonetheless a BRANCH, signifying His human incarnation, as growing: this is He, who prince and priest alike (the combination of tasks error, for any other, one which brought leprosy to Amaziah when he presumed from the role of prince to add that of priest), act in plenary power and grace. It is HE who builds the Temple (not merely is in it!), and bears the glory; yes, He shall "sit and rule on His throne" it adds, as if to perfect the provocation and hence stir the mind and stimulate orderly imagination to REALISE that this is the MESSIAH, past all bounds, yet on earth as man (as in Isaiah 9), whose kingdom shall not cease (9:7).
In Zech. 9 He is seated on the foal of an ass, an enormous increment to His masterly humility, His unassuming majesty and as it states, His being two things: HUMBLE and HAVING SALVATION. Indeed, as Isaiah 42:6 tells us, He IS the covenant. It is not here at last to stop at words; it is to come to THE WORD made flesh. The covenant is in His blood, as Zech. 13:1 with 3:9 makes so clear, and when read in the context of Isaiah 52-53, it is as if it were all one book from one mind in one day, just as it discloses just one mind in however many books, makes clear like a searchlight on aluminium.
Thus when we see Him SOLD for 30 pieces of silver, and digest the irony that this was a "goodly price" or "princely price", we see without peering. It is the Lord who is speaking of the sale price; and those of us who have been betrayed by those near and dear can appreciate perhaps the more readily the sense of it. It is the LORD who takes His elements of the people, the remnant who belive, and breaks the covenant, none other; and it is He therefore who says to them, "If it is agreeable to you, give Me My wages...", and it is He whose comment on the sale of God price is so scorchingly gentle.
With this preliminary of stark and simple, deep and delicate, we come to Zechariah 13 where we find more. Having seen by the inspirational time telescope, in Zech. 12:10, that they shall, in something approaching a national repentance, "look upon Me whom they have pierced", we come to this further reflection, shall we say, on the transactional elements, the situational analysis, given by divine diction likewise.
As to the "in the hands" reference to the wounds, as Keil notes in his remarkably erudite commentary, "the expression 'between the hands' can hardly be understood in any other way than as relating to the palms of the hands and their continuation up the arms." It could of course refer to wounds in the area of the body near the hands, such as the abdominal cavity, or to the general sense of mutilation which leads to a series of lesions so extended, aggravated and torturous, that they represent more an area devastation than wounds only. It gives the sense of being extensive lacerations which defile and deface the defined area, with whatever implications. It might extend to visual context; but it assuredly is manually located in the intensity of its focus.
If you said, ''What are these cuts among your eyes? or between your eyes?" then we might sense that there is not only a localisation to the members mentioned, but an outbreak of injurious type in the whole area. This of course is precisely what hanging by piercings of the hands, would be expected to produce after hours in which blood, and perhaps separating blood and effusions of various sorts streamed out of the sagging, weight-bearing members, which bearing more than their design permits, would tend to tear, from whatever point in wrist or palm they were inserted.
bruising, battering, tearing and splitting such as might occur, would depend
on the case; but there would have to be an area result which "among" rather
tersely and almost terrifyingly attests.
So they were to do, and so they did. The Shepherd is removed; the little ones are exposed.
They asked; they got. SO too and likewise do so many of the nations and individuals among the Gentiles to this day. Here is the One who is to bear, as the STONE, the sin and remove the iniquity, imprinted upon HIM, in one day , as in Zech. 3:9. He provided for one, He is provided for all; for Jew, for Gentile.
in few words, much is gained, made coherent with much more; and indeed,
the more you search, the more resonances of delicate verbal phrasings and
conceptual preliminaries you see.
It is like lecturing with perfume, and then dabbing, then flaring the nostrils to gain the scent.
Much is communicated direct, more in suggestion, more in implication, more in commutation, as thoughts and words assemble in almost unison, the differences significant, until the flowers of the woodland speak as one, and the deep messages are conveyed, which might be expressed in detail over some hundreds of pages. To change the imagery, this is but ONE of the reasons why it is likened to a diamond: much is said in a little, and the more you look, the more light you see. Thus "a princely price" and "in the house of My friends", go so well together like old friends, though they are 2 chapters apart; and lowly and having salvation, go well with both in the further context of Isaiah 53, "By His knowledge shall My righteous servant justify many; for He shall bear their iniquities", and a further companion, found when one turns to look in Zechariah 3:9,
behold the stone
That I have laid before Joshua:
Upon the stone are seven eyes.
Behold I will engrave its inscription,'
Says the LORD of hosts,
'And I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day...' "
STONE ? The LORD is our rock (Isaiah 26:4, where in the Rock is peace, II Samuel 22:33 adding the expostulation, "WHO is a rock except our God!", and there is none other (cf. Psalm 62:1-3). What God makes clear, man makes obscure ! Is it that he cannot read ? Alas no, but will not in a scale to make the ravens themselves to weep (cf. John 7:17). But let us return to our stone.
Here it is equipped with an inscription to be imprinted into it. This is in the environment of terms of the immediate cover of sin. The engraving on THIS stone is efficacious not in multiplied sacrifices, but once for all; and it is the Rock Himself who provides it, IN ONE DAY. Here He is seen as precious stone when we investigate further, as we shall; and inscribed. This, as stark as simple, as sovereign as redemptive with everlasting redemption, is the pronounced effect of the engraving. You almost have Hebrews written before your eyes. But it comes later and says it all!
And 'inscription' ?
The ENGRAVINGS were to be made, as in Exodus 28:10ff., on two onyx stones, and these stated the names of the children of Israel, 12 for the sons. They were to be made like a signet, suggesting an UNDERWRITING and a Signature, and a promise. They were placed in the shoulders of a special priestly garment called an ephod, and they were to be engraved in gold. They serve as a MEMORIAL, says Moses. These then formed part of the official and officiating raiment of the High Priest, who would symbolically represent the people before God, and once a year go into the holy of holy with the blood signifying the redemption to be wrought by the Messiah. (See Barbs, Arrows and Balms 17 for that delicately but decisively developing theme in the Bible from the first.)
Hence the INSCRIPTION on a STONE at once takes the alert reader or the practised and devout Jew to the carrying of the people like a burden, so that before the Lord all their need might be met, their sin purged, their help gained. On this ONE person, however, on ONE day there was NOW to be placed the INSCRIPTION. In ONE DAY, it would prove effective, not on many, not in many ways, through many means or many priests. HE takes it, and it is gone.
So it goes on, wheel within wheel, eye within wheel looking at eye (cf. Ezekiel 1 and for this see Biblical Blessings Ch. 4), all fitted together like a mighty rocket engine, or an intricacy of jewellers' art.
we move back, then, to the fountain of Zech. 13;1, to cover sin and
uncleanness, we ask a question. Of what should such a fountain be composed?
In answer, we find this: not least, of blood, since "the
life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the
altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes
atonement for the soul": - Leviticus 17:11.
The contents of that fountain are left unsaid; yet, since the added figure of water is an application of the foundation of blood, and we are left in that studiously diligent way of the fascinating teacher, to see all this for ourselves, we move from one to the other, by necessity, by completion, both.
are left in no doubt, but far more than that, we find the lilt and verve
of the thing, the sting of the folly, the wing of the wonder and the terseness
of the telling, which indulges in NOTHING, but divulges with a ready wit,
deep wisdom and magnificent brevity.
He is the God who lives and speaks, does and acts. Consider the beauty of Isaiah 64:4 and the words following.
since the beginning of the world,
Men have not heard nor perceived by the ear,
Nor has the eye seen any God beside You,
Who acts for the one who waits for Him
You meet him who rejoices and does righteousness,
Who remembers You in Your ways" (bold added).
We have considered at some length, the wonder of knowing His word. It follows from knowing Him, just as one intimately relishes the letter of a friend, almost everything tending to reinforce both one's recollections and other things, which cohere in the fabric of shared experience; at least, this is the characteristic TREND with a friend.
Let us pause to consider that Friend Himself, in this case, available on His magnificent instrument of accord, the Gospel.
This message, this everlasting Gospel (Revelation 14:6) HAS ARISEN, BEEN DISPERSED TO MANY, OCCUPIED THE AGES, CONCENTRATED IN INTENSE ARC-LIGHT, FULFILLED, APPLIED. Over centuries it was the same, in prospect; now in retrospect. As the time came for the payment to be made by Christ, it had long been there, like cliffs facing the dauntless breakers. The centuries past till its fulfilment, pass till its consummation in judgment and glory.
It has sent its spray into the air like the swelling breakers dashing upon the rocks; or the rising torrent of vapour, rainbow crested, above the falls of Niagara. This it has done as we approached it, as it came nearer to Calvary, to Christ crucified, yea rather risen (Romans 8:34), to the sheer force and wonder of it all, as we drew as a race to the day of the deeds and words of the New Testament, like the tumultuous splendour of the Falls themselves, the rocks the nails, the precipice the hatred, the rainbow the love which prevails, and crowns it all.
From time to time, in the New Testament we are reminded how we heard the thunder of the Falls from far of, back in 700 B.C. in Isaiah, 1000 B.C. in David, 500 B.C. in Zechariah, and in sundry listening spots, like Nahum, Joel, and of how we caught its music in small snatches, which nevertheless increased the longing, and became exalted, at the last, in amplitude and clarity. Now the face has shone, and we have beheld the glory of God in the face of Christ Jesus, who says ... Not a jot or tittle of the law or the prophets will pass till all is fulfilled! (Matthew 5:17-19).
It is NOT that WORKS EVER brought salvation to sinners; but that the word which has conveyed all these things in ineradicable. Why ? It is simply because it is the word of God, everlasting truth. What He does not fulfil, remains till earth departs. He has inscribed His word, as sin is inscribed on His palms... neither is going to go. Many will go without Him; but this is not for want of grace. The inscriptions are there, adequate for any, for all; and the call .... it is not muted.
Such are the ways of the word of God. Wise the one, who stirred by His Spirit (John 16:8-14), repents, relents, believes, receives grace and abundance of mercy (Isaiah 55), freely; who no more sails in tepid dreams of philosophy or amid polluted clouds of pretentious religion which does not know God (Deuteronomy 32:14-21 esp. 21), and which God knows only as the work of the enemy of souls ('adversary' - I Timothy 5:14, I Peter 5:8, Rev. 12:10, Psalm 96; John 14:6, II Cor. 11, Galatians 1, Ephesians 1:10).
Such are His children, whose only entry to the Holy Land of salvation is through the Head of Christ, to the Harbour of Eternal Life. With this harbour is a veritable park and hinterland of wonder, when you dock, spread out before you, where all the country is redeemed, and the seas beside it, are still at His word.
is the way of the word of God, and blessed are those who worship Him, joyous
those who attest Him (Rev. 12:11, Isaiah 51:11, John 16:22), whose are
all things (John 16:14-15), from whom all things (Colossians 1:14-18),
who with the Father is ONE Creator, for there is no other (Isaiah
45:18, 44:24): ONE GOD, Expressive, Expressed, Presented, Father, Son and
Holy Spirit: never inarticulate, chaste but glorious, holy, helpful, solemnly
joyous, sovereignly tender, eruptive with grace, patient in operation,
radical in rectitude, impervious in countenance, and His word written is
like Him, a gift to man, and His Son the gift by grace to lift the
race to where it began, as many as receive Him. These, He binds them to
Him: by His word (John 10:27-28), through His blood (Romans 5:1-11) and
by the work of His grace (Ephesians 2:8).