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Therefore the Lord will wait, that He may be gracious to you: and therefore He will be exalted, that He may have mercy on you. For the Lord is a God of justice: blessed are all those who wait for Him (Isaiah 30:18),and again:
In quietness and assurance shall be your strength (30:15).Do not be like those who say: "No, for we will flee on horses." To that, God replies (Isaiah 30:16): ''Therefore you shall flee!''
And if they ride on swift horses, then swift will be the pursuers!
But rather His reply comes appealing in this:
Return to Him against whom the children of Israel have deeply revolted (Isaiah 31:6).And in this:
The work of righteousness will be peace, and the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance for ever (Isaiah 32:17).In peace, you work, because at peace you are placed in the Prince of Peace who is also the Prince of Life! It is peaceful in Him, even in war; it is inspiringly quiet in the Forest of Faith in Him, even under fire from distant artillery. It is written:
Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints (Psalm 116:15),
so you know that, as one put it, your life is immortal till your work is done.
As to power and provisions:
He will dwell on high; his place of defence will be the fortress of rocks: bread shall be given him, his water will be sure. Your eyes will see the King in His beauty: they will see the land that is very far off (Isaiah 32:16-17).
This says Isaiah of the abiding man.
If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you will and it will be done for you, said Jesus Christ (John 15:7).With what beautiful intimacy this mirrors the earlier words of Isaiah:
The Lord is our lawgiver, the Lord is our king: He will save us (Isaiah 33:22).In every dimension of life is His life; and our derivative life (like branches in a vine) is not merely formally placed but vitally functional in correlation with Him, and indeed with His life! That is rest! rest on active service, service in active rest. There to be found is blessed energy - in non-distraught, non-distressed thrust from His thought, power from His perfection, sanctity from His sanctifying Spirit.
Christian life is not about worrying 'What if...', but 'burrowing because', into the ground of faith, Jesus Christ, and abiding there. He is able to act, as the disciples saw in their boating incidents; and you must trust and apply and rely, and observe Him act, working to keep yourself pure from spot, and watching with prayer that you do not faint, but have faith in Him in all matters. Is not God-who-sends as a Father, and Christ-who-is-sent, like a brother! and in Him there is a peace so profound that it ''passes all understanding'' (Philippians 4:7). It is a keeping peace:
And the peace of God which passes all understanding shall garrison your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.Do you have to put on a display ? Not at all. The beginning of that word is this:
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanks giving, let your requests be made known to God (Philippians 4:6).It is His will that you should bear much fruit (John 15:5,16); and in that way, HE does the bearing, you are the branches; and you abide, ''perfecting holiness in the fear of the Lord'' (II Corinthians 7:1). This is that clean fear (Psalm 19:9) which is the refreshing morning of the day in which the noon is love, His love; for God is love. In Him, in that, in His provisions therefore rest: for what is to be found ?
Thy God is in the midst of thee: He will save: He will rejoice over you with joy: He will rest in His love, He will joy over you with singing (Zephaniah 3:17).
When you have "ceased from your own works", then in Christ there is rest which specialises in a fruitful and unfretful labour: For its grounds are sound, and its life is found by that operative faith which renders life profound and functional.
As for ceasing from your own works:
Working with Him, this is a rest which makes indolence seem strenuous: it is a labour which is the "effect of righteousness" - His (1 Corinthians 1:30). It is, as Isaiah put it, ''the effect of righteousness'', and no part of its cause.
We proceed now to a corollary,
to a contemporary application.
Ponder these things as you listen to the music of the ancient blessing of rest.
(It may take a little time to download, but the result is beautiful.)
Time Magazine, May 21, 1990, has a tale of controversy on the best method for limiting the destructive effects on society, of drugs.
One party says, Make it free, or easy, and then the pressure will stop rising, the pressure to make money by getting drugs for those who will pay; the pressure on criminals to break the system and supply... at a price.
Another view: Make it hard. The ruined lives, wrecked relationships, impaired lifestyles, burdensome guilt... these things make it necessary to avoid anything approaching legitimising of drugs. "If illicit drugs are legitimised, there will still probably be a much larger pool of people addicted," says one.
Yet again comes the concept: Make it merely more readily available, and the wealthy are helped, the élite elevated. Moreover, he says, the affluent and educated may be better able to contain the potentially harmful effects of drug abuse ... so they would get a double benefit.
The reply provided: Perhaps this will be so; but the problem is not basically monetary; people are being locked up (for drug abuse) precisely because they can't cope with the barrenness of their existence.
In all this argument, there is one obvious problem. Masses of people are texturally deficient in their lives; there is barrenness, there is inadequacy of life, and there is desire. Some want the (false, misdirected, perverted) desire to be met in 'pity', others want it stopped on account of shame or peril, resulting from its satisfaction, when that satisfaction is in drug use. Some charge, with the ornery double standards so free in our time, moralist! using their own 'morals', the while; others charge, latitudinarian! One feels the case similar, not without reason, if drugs are made readily obtainable, to making the phenomenon of stolen cars to cease by supplying them. As for drugs, in terms of the analogy, at the least the 'theft' would come in the use of others' funds to support the disastrous consequences when, as often, these far surpass the means of the indulger.
There is mercy and pity, indulgence and folly, problem and argument. There is no answer within these terms; there is only, to adapt the words of one party, a question of degrees of horror.
There is no rest; for there is no trust in the Lord who finished His works and expects us to be finished with ours, as autonomous activists. Quality of life users want rest and relish, but often decline to find it in righteousness and truth. This cannot be done. Quality of life defenders, fearful of the actions in their effects upon others, of drug users, want to be left alone; but there is no quietness in folly, and folly multiplies.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the answer to the drug user and drug fearer alike; for it brings to the first the reason for his/her folly, and the right direction for which this is a perversion, the delight in the rest of the Lord, and the labour which is joy because it is in Him. It brings to the second, the deliverance through the reaching and teaching of those who do not understand.
If however the gospel is not preached, and the reality is not substituted for the (destructive) artificiality of destructive drugs, then not merely do the deluded continue to destroy themselves (with or without power assist, from government subsidy, on their costly slow-suicide method), but in the process, others may indeed find that their blindness to the operation that restores sight to the drug users, is a blindness comparable to that of the emotionally sick
... even that of the drug users themselves.
In a sick society, where is health
? Certainly not in baffled battles to "solve" a problem which is made secure
by God, who has already offered the solution not merely to this but to
all the follies of life; and in the rejection of it, brings on the due
results: insoluble problems which resist every humanistic harangue.
The reek is physical as well as symbolic,
pharmaceutical as well as sensual: the pollution is not merely in the swelling
of the veins, but in the recesses of the heart.
Here we must pause a moment to consider the godless character of such a conception, not merely to remind ourselves that it is excluded from logical possibility, for the Creator, but to consider the implications for those of this ilk who are creatures. Instead of realising potential with delight, growing with joy, achieving - with fulfilment of divinely composed task-equipment: people, through ambition or fear, may worry and weary out their folly in a defilement of the wonder of life... before, as here, seeking to project their own incompetent aspirations, impiously, impudently and irrationally onto their Creator. But let us revert.
There are, we said, no inferiorities or restless elements in the nature of God; this is to affirm what we have reasoned in Chapter 1, as being clearly the case. Nor is there any question, in that supreme nature of God, of embattled or embittered psychic components, alert to project themselves into a quarrel with the texture of His creatures: there is no way His words will work against His deeds. For God, truth is as sure as His Being. For confirmation and pith, let us note again, the Scripture says: God ... cannot lie.
What glorious inability; what omnipotent incapacity! How we learn the supernal nature of omnipotence!: it does not deny itself. If it did, it would not be omnipotent, but a writhing system, contorted in its set conditions: and set, one must ask, by whom? Only by God; and since this is He, then not set for Him. He sets what He will and makes all what He would, there being no source or strength for any other action in despite of this. That is the nature of the Almighty, as we have seen at length. Necessarily the case, it is also given by revelation as we see.
We may add, for the sake of completeness, that it is also of necessity true that God is no experimenter, vivisecting His toiling creation - His pressured products - while gaining more knowledge for future divine exploits. He already knows all, as shown in Chapter 1.
Neither morally nor intellectually does God's very nature allow, then, alliance with lies. Accordingly, He has spoken His truth, His word, His remedy - provided His Redeemer to man, Jesus Christ, one infinitely pure, wholly efficacious. Creation is not a covert operation for divine growth, development, catharsis or deception. In confirmation, what does the Scripture say: God does ''not willingly afflict the children of men'' (Lamentations 3:33); ''Thy word is truth'' (John 17:17). It is good in this Chapter of John, to see this; as well as to reason to it, as we do and have done.
Yet there is more. God is lie-less, we have earlier shown; but truth also has in Him its only possible basis, an emphasis of Chapter 3, above. In fact, without God, truth does not exist. (Incidentally, this leads to the delightful absurdities that afflict the atheist - and as we see, the agnostic. If God did not exist, then, we would not truly say that He did not exist; for truth would not be available with which to say any such thing. No statement that He does not exist is logically possible even in terms of self-consistency.) If He were not there, there would be only interaction with no basis of perspective beyond reaction. Shall a cog designate the design ? Without a revealed God, truth is unattainable; including any alleged truth that there is no God... or may not be one. That too is an assertion, not equatable with nullity as an interpretative medium. It requires knowledge to designate such a possibility.
Unless then, God is there and known, it would not be possible to assert meaningfully that He is not. Your speech is then the screeching of cogs as to eminence, and it incorporates the vision of the viewless from the standpoint that is anything... and even that anything is itself a situational squeak, with no station for survey. It is the standpoint that does not stand.
It reminds one of the old War song: 'We're gunna hang up our washing on the Siegfried line, when the Siegfried Line ain't there!' The Siegfried Line ? the vaunted German line of armour.
Indeed, when men assert - this or that is the truth, about the nature of things, whatever characterisation, it is not because they are insane ( I speak of the unbeliever who here needs perhaps some defence, in measure ). No, it is because statements about truth are natural to image-bearers of the truth. This merely, once more, verifies in our own human beings, whose products we are, and who has composed us. Even in denying God, logically, men attest Him.
God is then at peace without the squirmings, warpings, turmoil and triteness of little man, when sin controls him, defeat seduces him and illusion controls him, seeking fulfilment in the illicit or derivative joys from the misuse of other products of God, or, if possible, of God Himself, as happened at Calvary.
God is at rest, and has attained and will sustain all His good pleasure; everlastingly what He would be; but the opposite is true of the men, whose lives yearn, but do not attain; are harassed, vexed, but do not achieve their innermost designs (cf. pp. 30-34 supra). The psychiatry of paranoia and schizophrenia, melancholia and obsession has no cosmetic side.
Casual or hedonistically taken drugs are merely one of the tangible options for the warped personality, avoiding the paths of peace available in the purity and the power of the Creator: often thereby deriving the illusion of attainment of what is lost, through the folly of wilful avoidance of the way to find it - Jesus Christ.
There is rest.
There is, however, no rest for
the wicked ( Isaiah 57:21), who are ''like the troubled sea, when it
rest''... (it. added). That is the nature of the case, in its crucial
and final outcome. That too is verification of their abuse of design, a
predictable consequence; and rest for the redeemed in Christ is the correlative
verification. It is indeed, experientially, one that passes all understanding;
and that too, it is verification (Philippians 4:7).
Here follows an exposition of Isaiah 52:7 to give a clear, Biblical contrast to the surge of anti-mission revisionism coming from the World Council of Churches, in its devious and sometimes desperate desires for an all-inclusivism which must omit Jesus Christ, since He was against it, being the truth, and exclusive of any concurrence with the thoughts of god-makers. Since He made man, it is a peremptory presumption indeed, to have man try to make Him! (John 14:6, 8:42, 7:17). But WHAT can HE make of man!
A Christian is some one who believes
Him, not rejects His words. Let us then remind ourselves, or learn, the
glorious directness of the truth as it is in Christ Jesus, applied to the
field of missions. Indeed,
at any moment, that field may be ... you.
How beautiful... Why then are these particular feet so beautiful ? What is there which has such beauty... about these feet ? Why is God who inspires this Scripture, so lyrical, so rhapsodic about... these feet ?
First let us intensify the problem. Paul quotes this text in Romans 10:15, or draws from it. But this same Paul also says, or clearly seems to imply in 1 Corinthians 12, that feet are less comely than... say eyes. In ancient times it seems, statues might have colour in the eyes, colour which would wash out by now. The eyes were the expressive, the attractive, the picturesque part. How then such beauty in the... feet; these uncomely feet! No, your feet would hardly seem to be the most exquisite product of your beauty parlour - we may look to your face, to your eyes for that.
Ah! it is their function which is beautiful, irrespective of any apparent inelegance of form; it is the fact, not the appearance; the purpose to which they are bent, and sent, which imbues them with a loveliness. Indeed, it is this contrast, or apparent jar which is so expressive: even the feet are transformed to beauty by such a function as this... that they bear such a message as this: Thy God reigneth! Further, the message they bear is that He has peace and salvation to publish.
Thus your mother might have hands in which veins stand out, hands with wrinkles and even a little afflicted by arthritis; but they may seem truly beautiful to you, if they have become worn in patience and application, in sacrifice and endurance for love for her family, before the Lord. They are expressive, yes even their form is expressive of an inward beauty, which you see translated into their appearance. They speak. How beautiful are the feet... with such a task which they are performing, there is a derivative beauty which interprets and lends comeliness to their character.
Can you not see such feet ? You know every Christian is an ambassador for Christ; if you are professing Christ, you are, whether you know it or like it or not, being used to bring credit or discredit (there are different sorts of ambassadors) to Him who sends you, or in whose service you claim to be sent.
Can you see these ambassadorial feet ? moving over the lowlands of one country, directed to terrain yet to be covered, striding with valour and vigour; subduing mountains, physical or spiritual, moving undeterred amid defiant circumstance; or having mountains removed, when they are to be cast aside, a task which has the added joy of a change of landscape and geography. Is it not a great sight ? Difficulty is enticing when such a task is committed to you. (Cf. Mark 11:23.)
Challenge! So often people talk about a challenge as if it were a problem, problem, problem... But a challenge is not a problem if you know God. It is a joy (James 1:2). With all His power for His work back of you, it is thrilling to face a challenge. What IS a problem, is the life people live without a challenge; without being called, or sent, or commissioned, or given purpose and definition and point in life: people who grope without the Prince of Peace and the God who reigns. If there is any counterpart or preliminary in one sense, to hell on earth, that to me would seem to be that hell. It would be like a room without air, masking life and witnessing to death without immediately contriving to seal it.
But what is it that these feet bring that we read of ?
We find that they bring good tidings. That is one verb, a general proclaiming sort of verb; it indicates that they bring proclamation; sympathetic proclamation however. But it does not stop there!
We read on that they cause to be heard concerning peace. There is a scene envisaged of proclamation, as when a city is founded; there is a testimony to peace, the provision of it, it is being exposed to the ear. But now it continues that they bring: good tidings of good.
You may ask: Is that not repetitive ? Are they not saying it all over again, thereby ignoring that tenet of 'good English' taught - when they may descend or apply themselves to such topics as English - in High School. Redundancy ? But if you look carefully at the Hebrew, you will see that here is not just a general proclamation as before. Peace has been divulged; the ears that awaited such a development have been met. Now the proclamation has focus, it is an exposure of realities that the mist of rebellion would tend to shroud. Now, with peace absorbed in terms of this great news, there is a proclamation of good tidings concerning good.
This time it is more than a healthful message. The message focusses on good. For centuries philosophers have been harried, and worried about this topic, of good. What is it ? or why is it ? They try to avoid, or escape it, frequently, or reduce; saying, for example: it is just pleasure. But in that case, we have to ask: But if it is mere pleasure which you call 'good', how it then that there is any impact in calling anything 'good'; how can you bring any new pressure to people's thinking, by talking of something which has no being, a mere word; and why then use it ?
If it is merely a local device for adding charm to a thought, how is it accepted for another end ? when this function is all it has. You see, it has to have an awe, a greatness beyond, to have any point; to tempt anyone to use it! They never agree. What is goodness ?... the cry remains when their discussions end. But here we see the answer to their age-old problem; and it is the answer which had to be: for without an absolute standard, goodness is totally impossible; there is no measure, no ground, no test, no criterion, no explanation. There is no stimulus and no basis. The aspiration for 'good' is merely one of the numerous symptoms of our created status; and the philosophic confusion is one of the many symptoms of our sin. It results from ignoring the whole answer. And the message these feet bring ... includes the revelation of goodness.
It is charming in its intimacy; alarming in its ultimacy. Thus it is followed by the confrontation in the passage parallel to our text (Isaiah 40:9): ''Behold your God!'' Here in Isaiah as you will see by examining these passages, the whole point is the one who is the Messiah; thus Isaiah is called the evangelical prophet. His stress is simply extraordinary. It is the Messiah, the Christ whom he is presenting; and in the Messiah is the face and the heart of God, functionally, spiritually traced via incarnate personality; for God is a Person. Here then is good in its personal basis, settled character and awesome charisma, unveiled and revealed for all who will see Him. Here is God incarnate as Jesus Christ, His word, and total expression, His express image, His sole Son and only personal generation.
In the face of Jesus Christ, in His Person you see God; you find good. Your aspiration is satisfied. Your vocabulary is met with rationality. The inbuilt insistence of the human race is confronted with sublimity. It was total enlistment in heaven: for God has only one Son by nature; and this was not spared but sent. His eternal companion and the generation of His heart... Good ? Yes this is good, and this is God. But let us revert. Our text says more. It says the feet bring a message, one publishing peace.
It is the Prince of peace who came. With good, He brought no idle enervation: Jesus it was who said, I came not to bring peace, but a sword. Not the sword of mere disorderly illegality; but the sword which cuts sin, and disturbs it; which challenges it and can conquer it. He came to bring a peace of purity and power, which prefers division and sword to pretence and degenerate diplomacy - of which we may recently internationally have seen an example. His is no peace of time servers, trading purity for pragmatic preferences.
He brings a peace which follows pardon and requires war, war won on the Cross, war levelled on the blight that sin is, war on self-deception, war on the megalomania which mimics God, seeks to dismiss Him from office and instal the thoughts of the heart of men in His place. His peace brings salvation for slavery: freedom for fate, beauty for ashes, godly knowledge for spiritual illiteracy, the removal of ruined fragments of the image of God and in its stead, the rebirth of the divine image in man, in holy peace and inner concord. Yes this, together with divine mission from Him who is good. These are the exchanges we quickly see, in the peace ... of God ... in the goodness of God... to men without God, who receive Him.
And with such a peace, therefore, is the publication of salvation, as our text says. It is salutary, straight, this message, effectually summed in Christ; deadly to sin, it is regenerating through the power of God, and saving to the soul. But note this next: the message, brought on these beautiful feet, seems to grow and glow in strength, and we hear the majestic clause: Thy God reigneth!
Thus the world does not whirl too fast for Him; He is neither deceived nor disrupted by the petty power of His little men, though He loves. He reigns. SIN does and will have its satisfaction - God reigns; sin will have its just satisfaction in salvation, or in damnation. Truth itself will have its vindication, whether in the cords of vice or in the presence and perspective of victory, attesting on the one hand the end of its violation, as on the other, the grandeur of its adoration. Already made clear, it will stand completely manifested to the lover of God, when mortal day is done.
So God reigns: He works everything out, and He works everything in - and sweeps the canvas of history into shape. There it is with its sin and its sorrow, there its pride and its punishment, its challenge and its ruin as a result of refractory departures from His word by individuals, societies or the race.
God's judgments dwarf human skill, but His salvation dwarfs human imagination... "According to Thy fear, so is Thy wrath" - (Psalm 90:11)... As His wrath is great and His judgments are fearsome, and past the pride of human direction, so is His fear, His trust greater than the greatest of imaginations; in love His devotions are as wonderful as in resistance and lying are His judgments terrible. He reigns... "Thy God reigneth."
We have spread out our field ... but
now let us return to those feet.
How so definite ? Let us be very clear
it is of Him: for it is ''not by works of righteousness which we have
done, but by His own mercy that He saved'' those who believe,
as Titus has it (3:5). The application of what He has already accomplished,
the provision of what He has already obtained, can be worked instantaneously
in the heart of the man who calls upon the name of the Lord.
There was some years ago, and there may be still, a controversy and a challenge about the price of drugs. Why so much ? some asked. Are they not simple? The tenor of the reply of the manufacturers seemed to be that there is not only the cost of immediate production, but the cost of paying chemists to do research, of discarding many unsatisfactory results.
But the Scripture indicates that Jesus was "slain before the foundation of the world" - Revelation 13:8. God had the answer to the sin problem before it commenced. There was no cost for research. It had been done in the timeless analyses of God before it was presented in history. It was, in the small analogy, as if some manufacturer found a chemist or doctor predicting a certain disease would arise in so many years, and had the drugs manufactured in advance, ready.
It is free, the medicine of immortality, as it has been called, this sin satisfying sacrificial death of Jesus. Thus in John 6, Jesus says: "He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood, has eternal life" (v.54). Again, "Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink His blood, you have no life in you" (v.53). Lest you should think He was admonishing you to become cannibals (physical or conceptual), He notes: "The words that I speak to you, they are spirit, and they are life" (John 6:63).
''What then if, He asks, you shall see the Son of man ascend up where He was before'' (John 6:62, cf. Acts 3:21). No! He will not be available for mastication by men; murder is sufficient. But His death - of which poured out blood speaks so eloquently - the spiritual sense of His death, and all it stands for, this must be personally received just as intimately as food to the stomach; this to the soul. You have to accept Him as broken in your stead, that you may be whole. You must receive Him as the Lamb, eaten by the Jews at Passover: as Paul says, Christ our Passover! (1 Corinthians 5:7). These words are spirit, and they are life (cf. John 5:24).
Thus received, however, this Christ
gives freely eternal life (Romans 3:24, 6:23, 5:15, Isaiah 55:1-4, 1 Peter
1:18-19, 1 John 5:10-13). It is Paul who says: "God forbid that I should
glory except in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is
crucified to me, and I to the world"; and in Romans 6: 23 - "For
the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life"
One philosopher of the Krushchev era - before that was found to be also the Krushchev error - said: "Our rocket has by-passed the moon. It is nearing the sun and we have not discovered God." Rushing into one of God's little poems or toys, this universe of ours - the heavens which Thy fingers have formed (Psalm 8:3), they are lost in what seems indeed limitless immensity to their little minds. God is not found! as if He were a mere part of this little play-pen which He has created. What did they expect ? Did they perhaps expect to see God sitting on a moonbeam, swinging on a cloud, scuttling off in terror to the nearest galaxy at the approach of their spacecraft ? Why if God were merely a part of what He has made, He wouldn't be God, any more than I would be the writer of a poem, if I were merely a word on some line of it...
We may have forgotten God, but God has not forgotten us. That is why those feet are so beautiful. When we think we have forgotten God who overarches, overrules, who made distance, thought up time, decided worlds and creates history - then if we turn again and seek Him with all our hearts, why God is at home. But we must cease confounding the Father of eternity with the gods of men. And it is precisely to the predicted Christ that our text is pointing here in the prophet Isaiah.
Isaiah foretold the coming, detail, resurrection (cf. p. 472 supra), and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He will come, says Isaiah - you will see it though you do not believe it. That is the force of his utterance: come as a servant despised, rejected, close friend to grief, battered... (Isaiah 52:14). We read of astonishment at His appearance, because He was so disfigured beyond human semblance, and His form beyond the sons of men.
Yes, for that is what sin does, and He bore believers' sin. But He will be delivered, says the prophet, yes delivered unto death! and we will blame Him for His end (53:4). Delicious, but a fanatic, says the unbeliever. Yet His bruises, writes Isaiah, were on account of our iniquities (53:5). The whipping we deserved became stripes for Him. (In those days, a judicial chastisement could be so severe that death could result with slight excess.) He was taken as a lawbreaker instead of us. He will bear the impact of our sin. Such was the prediction by the prophet, fulfilled in Jesus Christ.
Of course you will realise that the sacrifice pertained effectually only to those who received it. Thus Jesus said (in John 10 it is recorded), that He laid down His life for His sheep; but some were not His sheep (10:1-4,9-12,26,27-29). *
But you ask, When will that help me ? Isaiah is careful to provide due answer in this as in all his words, given by God. It is this. You know God, you become a child of God when... note this well, for God is punctual - when you make Jesus' soul a sacrifice for sin (Isaiah 53:10 cf. John 6:49-53); when you enter that door (John 10:9), drink that water (John 4:14).*
God was pleased to bruise His beloved Son. Why ? (v. 10). The emphasis is continually on the beneficiaries, relative to whom alone is any fruition as such considered. Even in verse 11, His satisfaction is linked to justifying others. That is the nature of love (1 Corinthians 13); it does not seek its own. It is here therefore exhibited in the new sin-offering maker, the one who now replaces the priest, for we are a kingdom of priests, as Peter says, He the high -priest, as Hebrews expounds, offering Himself (9:12-15).
* Cf. pp. 727, 1113 ff., 1123, 1205 infra; and Jeremiah 29:12-13, Psalm 22:4, 94:9, 145:18-19, Romans 10:9.
It is he/ she who by faith accepts Christ's sacrifice and in that sense 'makes' a sin-offering, accepting what is already done in the NEW covenant fulfilment of the Old: it is the converted sinner who is in view.
There is in verse 10 a poignant contrast: God (He) was pleased to bruise Him, but when you make His life a sin-offering, then the holy fruition of children will come, redeemed by this sacrifice (cf. John 1:12, 6:47-54). They do not come in a general or generic way; but in a particular way. His sacrifice is made; it is to as many as receive Him that He gives the authority to become the children of God (John 1:12-14). When in faith you are moved to take Him at His word, and take Him to set you free, to clear your accounts with God, to pay off your debits - and when you come straight and earnest to God and accept His offering of Christ for you - then you are making the most dynamic entry into the very presence of God.
But if you won't, then just like the sacrificial lamb, He does you no good, bears no sin: "I said, therefore, to you, that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you shall all die in your sins," Christ told them (John 8:24).
It is dynamic either way.
Which way is it for you ?
Have you received Him ?
Are you sure ?
What would you do if you were unsure if you had signed some contract ?
Make sure! Why not then, if unsure, be precise and come to Him now, or
this day at least, privately, assuredly, explicitly, on these His terms ?
for this is your life. Your only one. (Cf. Psalm 22:20.)
Slithering substitutes have spiritually wrecked the mass of men ever since Eden. There simply is no substitute for Christ, the Son of the living God... how could there be! If you have not taken God's way to God, how can you expect to get there ? Jesus said: "I am the way, the truth and the life, no man comes to the Father except by Me" (John 14:6). He made no mistake. Wherever you may get by another way - it will not be to God...
It has been said that you must vote for God, you must vote (l) for Jesus; but it must be remembered if we wish to be accurate, that God would not be out of office if you did not vote for Him - or for that matter, if the whole world cast its vote elsewhere. Indeed, even if - in a grim but popular game of words and confusion, men vote for another Jesus (II Corinthians 11:4) and call that Christ, it will not help them... Thy God reigneth. His eyes behold, His eyelids try the children of men (Psalm 11:4). He is not duped by deceit, or dithered by duplicity; He delights in the truth.
True, Shakespeare said - A rose by any other name would smell as sweet; but can a cabbage smell sweet as a rose, though it be called one ? Will it exude fragrance at the stroke of a pen ? beware of substitutes then at every level, including those which parade a name which they do not own: for substitutes do not save. It is this same Jesus, we are assured, who will save (Acts 2:36). In Acts 1:11, as also in Acts 2:32 we learn it is this, this Jesus who saves, He alone, and who will return in power. Moreover, what would you have expected! that He would leave a name to cover the concoctions and fraud of every imitator or pseudo-Christian "theology", parasitic to His cause and conduct!
True it is, that in love our God came and consented to be treated as a criminal; but He never resigned nor will resign His mastery. Consult the record: instance it! Jesus was and is master, unalterable, inimitable: the dynamic and living, sacred and divine door to Almighty God. Forever let us remember that Christ did not become man in order that we men might become ignorant of His identity and His nature (cf. John 12:48-50). What a colossal mockery is that! If you doubt in that way, then you doubt Christ and defy God, as if He were impotent instead of rejected, tired instead of patient, incommunicative instead of unheeded by the deaf and the deafened, or unloving rather than categorically revealing, the author of the greatest love story of all time, once only enacted on earth, continually broadcast to men, scripted and available in book form. Yet men will wonder why, in their impenitence, they are so often called rebels in God's word.
Nevertheless, if you do but believe
Him, the changeless revealed Christ, then you are facing an open door to
destiny, a door which no man can close, a destiny that God has prepared
specifically for you in Christ, that Master of souls and equal co- adjutor
of judgment (John 5:27, Matthew 7:21-23, 28:18). He indeed is the One to
whom the Father has committed the judgment of man. It is the Christ of
God presented in the Bible and concerning Him, Him alone, you must choose.
There is no other possibility.
Meanwhile, He speaks peace and drains your wounds, crisps your souls - when they are wayward, refreshes your spirits when they are inert, channels His fire when you are indifferent; cuts when you have cancers of subtle sins for a little, while escaping detection. Very well. Rejoice! He deals with you as sons and daughters; and is the best physician, the only adequate physician for the wretchedness and the unspeakable lowness of that fallen thing, the human soul. While even the sinful hands of the psychiatrist, except God intervene, can rather bring spot and pester through probing: Jesus directly and delicately diagnoses us, knows our condition. At conversion, salvation time, He is a drastic surgeon - thank God - but ever afterwards, though He may cut, He restores form and abounds in graces which, like a flock of birds passing, are too numerous to be counted.
In all these ways, Jesus Christ's marvellous gifts lie back of the beauty of those feet which bring glad tidings. But in addition, there is a beauty about those gospel-bringing feet upon the mountains, on account of the horrible state of the field to which they bring this gospel.
We have just seen a number of reasons
why the feet are so beautiful for what they bring. Now secondly,
we look at another aspect of their beauty.
This, which the feet bring, you might say is enough to send armies, legions of men to mouth the message of Christ. But it is not only a question of what the missionary of Christ brings, but also of the need of those to whom he brings it. What does Romans 10 say, in developing this: "How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed, and how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard ?" Their need is dire; and this lends new beauty to those journeying feet.
This is rendered acute by the presence of evil. Doubt, wanton thought, complacency, or reliance on the ready stream of bubbling pleasures ... beggar the soul. Your soul is a battle-field and if it is not ... it is because it is lost. In politics - war; in the world of ideas, strife, pride; in morality, conflict between the right and virtuous thing and the evil and desired thing. Between nations - war. Corruption, contest. Why ?
A real and present evil sends its savage static down into the divine harmonies, impels millions to misery. Is there growth in greatness ? Watch for it. How often - down go the dikes of decency, selflessness, virtue, nobility, sacrifice. In rushes the sea with all its dark creatures of sin. Murder, malice, slander, sickness, agony, follow as the flood seems to find no check. Thus an active evil, subject only to Christ, looms in the land of humanity, in the soul, in the mind, the spirit, the psychic depths.
It is intelligent. It can plead with the subtlest strokes. It matches all the more, the mightiest human personalities; and they are powerless. It is not primitive. It is polished. It is not a principle. It can propagandize better than a politician. Small wonder Luther threw his famous ink bottle. It may strike at the physical, the mental, the moral, the spiritual level. It maddens. It masters even common sense. It warps. It inflates. It flatters. It mars. When its ruin is done, it departs until it finds a more convenient season, some other virtue, height, creation to conquer. It is like a parasite, a pest. It creates nothing. It kills. It corrodes. It corrupts. It is not original. It copies. We have a name - the devil, the Satan.
It lusted after
Christ. It wanted His worship. It wooed Him better than a lover, but Christ
withered Satan with a word; and abiding in Christ, you with Christ and
from Christ must use God's word. That is a crucial reason why we need a
Saviour, to demit sin and deliver from the impact of the devil. Yet those
to whom our missionaries go, to whom we as ambassadors for Christ must
go, at home or abroad, they do not have a Saviour. Are we to let them drift,
subject to the forces and dreadnoughts, these missiles and poisonous gases
of the devil and his characteristic deceit, deviousness and death ? But
lf we will act, will move, if we will go ... ah, how beautiful! what beauty
the need of the task lends to its least instruments, provided only they
be found faithful. (cf. I John 3:8, 5:18-19, Hebrews 2:14-15, Luke 22:31,
Job:4-7, Ephesians 6:12-17, John 8:44, I Peter 5:8-9, II Corinthians 11:13-15,
It was General Booth who said, I believe - If you ever doubt the horror of hell, look on the heart of sin. We have looked on the horrors of the heart: its torment, its plain expensive ruination; and we know that those who consent to be mastered by the Devil are not delivered thereby from guilt. Yet there is more. The very world where we walk, the stage where this play is acted, the ground under our feet, has been injured, "subjected to vanity", as the Scripture says (Romans 8:20). The very house of humanity is spoilt and will pass away. Stylized, strange, rich, deep, inspired by something beyond genius is this universe. Yet that insidious evil is at work: the world is harassed and vexed at every turn. The world is a prodigy, abundant past measure in fineness and delicacy, in wonder and excellence...
Consider - the dainty purity of the flower
The strange perfection of a child's flesh
The eager newness of an adolescent mind
The raptured freshness of a new-born Christian soul
The grandeur of the ocean
The poetic symphony of colour
The crisp neatness of the wood in its dew
These things ... not to mention that passion for order which even
diseases follow, and the constant supervision of all these laws
These things show the ample liberality of the great God.
But disaster intercepts, ruin...
Is God then divided ?
Is He a spastic idiot who has lost control of His creation ?
If strife were the nature of His life, then He would not be supreme,
but in conflict with the enduements with which He was ... made!!!
and in that case, no Creator but a mere creature.
Far from this lies the truth. Necessarily so. For the delicate and liberal God creates. And God has judged (Revelation 12:7-9, Luke 10:18, John 12:30-31, 16:11).
It is not His judgment but His patience which ought to stagger us. But judge He will. The creation "groans and travails" (Romans 8:22). "All these things will be dissolved" - says the apostle Peter (II Peter 3:11). "The heavens and the earth are kept in store, reserved to fire against the day of judgment" (II Peter 3:7).
Nor has God left Himself without a witness as He says (Acts 14:17, Amos 4:13, Psalm 50:20-23, Habakkuk 1:13, 2:3, 3:16, Jeremiah 7:25, Hosea 12:10-13, II Ch. 36:15-16). Nor has He left this judged world without a word of witness directing to its remedy for the sin that blasts and the judgment it has already inherited, pending the final account. God has not suffered an inane mockery and contradiction, but has long spoken and sincerely, offering salvation to a world otherwise merely unreasonably - dangling in disorderly disarray. Not at all has God been slack, as Peter strenuously affirms in the Spirit; rather is He willing for man to repent and be saved before judgment is fully expressed. The Saviour was long predicted, announced, and has now long come. Abusing man, libellously labelling God and desecrating His very word of remedy, the world has been sent the Living Word Himself.
No other Saviour has authoritatively been offered to man, but Jesus Christ, a fact to which Peter bears eloquent testimony (Acts 4:12). The facts are stark; the judgments yet starker; and the sole remedy remains unutterably clear.
But if the world itself is judged, "What manner of persons ought you to be in all holy living and godliness" (II Peter 3:11) ... and how beautiful are your feet, if in the sight of judgment aligned against the earth, and its day determined, you too, ordained or unordained, young or old will be found as one "who brings good tidings of good, who publishes salvation, who saith unto Zion, Thy God reigns!"
In and through the Lord's Christ, you
will thus be showing the effectual mastery of the mystery of men.
It is finished and there is nothing more to say or be done. God has spoken, sent and the world is confronted. In one sense, God may seem 'silent' in the face of twisted theories, twisted hearts, twisted statements in a crooked world speeding towards the just and due day of judgment.
This element is well brought out in the following quotation. There is of course has the further aspect that when God saves a soul He has, by His Holy Spirit wrought on the basis of His word an applied work from the furnished base; there is no sound, but the voice of God does not need any. Moreover, the predicted paths of history echo the sovereign voice of prophecy, while God's judgments flicker like lightning into the clouded skies of history. However, having said this, one must solemnly note that there is not yet in history the full articulation of that great and dire, final, pronounced judgment.
Within these parameters, let us hear Jim Elliot...
I think there is nothing so startling in all the graces of God as His quietness. When men have raged untruths in His name, when they have used the assumed authority of the Son of God to put to death His real children, when they have with calloused art twisted the Scriptures into fables and lies, when they have explained the order of His creation in unfounded theories while boasting the support of rational science, when they have virtually talked Him right out of His universe, when they, using powers He grants them, claim universal autonomy and independence, He, this great Silent God, says nothing. His tolerance and love for His creature is such that, having spoken in Christ, in conscience, in code of law, He waits for men to leave off their bawling and turn for a moment to listen to His still, small voice of Spirit. Now, after so long a time of restrained voice, bearing in Almighty meekness the blasphemies of His self-destroying creatures, now how shall break upon the ears, consciousnesses, hearts, and minds of reprobate man the Voice of one so long silent? It shall thunder with the force of offended righteousness, strike with lightning bolts upon the seared consciences; roar as the long-crouched lion upon dallying prey; leap upon, batter, destroy, and utterly consume the vain reasonings of proud human kind; ring as the battle-shout of a strong, triumphant, victory-tasting warrior; strike terror and gravity to souls more forceful than tortured screams in the dead of night. O God, what shall be the first tones of that voice again on earth ? And what their effect? Wonder and fear, denizens of dust, for the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a battle-cry, with the voice of the archangel and the trumpet blast of God Himself, made more terrible, if that could be, by the long suffering of His silence.The scripture in Hosea 5:15 gives voice to this aspect authoritatively:
I will return again to My place, till they acknowledge their offence. Then they will seek My face; in their affliction they will diligently seek Me.What immediately precedes is most instructive, in Hosea 5:13-14:
When Ephraim saw his sickness and Judah saw his wound, then Ephraim went to Assyria and sent to King Jareb; yet he cannot cure you, nor heal you of your wound. For I will be like a lion to Ephraim, and like a young lion to the house of Judah. I, even, I, will tear them and go away; I will take them away and none shall escape.Then in the face of judgment, we find that v.15 which we earlier noted, telling of 'returning to My place' until the offence be acknowledged. II Peter 3:7 also speaks more generally to the Gentile, indeed to the whole world:
The Lord is not slack concerning His promise... but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. But - the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise...There is now the gospel call, while God sovereignly, and yet without violence to His creatures, exposes them to His grace; there is later the call to come when Christ comes for His people; and then the call of calamity when He comes with them for judgment. In the end of it all, there is the call for the collapse of the very heavens when a new stage is set fit for eternity.
Collapsing stages for active actors wrongly agents of sin, shorn of glory and without base: these things are the distorted image of the glory of the Lord to which the recipients of His mercy and grace, truth and courage pay willing testimony.
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