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LET GOD BE GOD
DON'T SEEK TO PAWN THE PRINCE
The prince ? you say, who is that. Of God I have heard, but this prince!
There is about the concept of a prince something that might seem young, exuberant, well-brought up, trained, prepared, perhaps with dash, hopefully with wisdom, administrative skill or leadership with ringing tones and crested equipage.
Not now, you may reply. Now it rather betokens spoiled natures with persistent privilege making life a cheap imitation ... and so on.
However, there is obvious in any coverage of royalty in various countries, always the spark, which in turn may be ground for disappointment or even in extreme cases, reactions into cynicism, when its light does not come. The concept of a leader of distinction, young, refreshingly nascent, working and moving with address and skill, with something of splendour, not wallowed in, but yet discerned in the very spirit and movement of the prince: this is not dead.
You see a 'prince of the sporting world' or some other world.
Yes, you may reply, but what on earth or beyond it has this to do with ... God ?
This. The whole availability of a prince depends on human generation, for our race; for if there were none, who would be young ? There is the ... latest edition, if you like.
Yet God is eternal! you say, so what does He have to do with it. You make the concept still more obfuscatory.
To be sure, we are dealing here, with our interlocutor, who may be seen as rather rambustious, but still, there are such, so let us persevere with him.
In reply, this: God's eternity is not the same as inactivity; if it were, none could know Him, for to be known involves being willing to reveal yourself, which takes action. In ancient times, there was the concept of 'eternal generation' of the Son of God, pursued by the Cappodocian doctors. The concept is interesting and close to scripture. They meant that continually the Father exposed the Son, that His life was in continuance shining forth, perhaps as light from the sun, or better, a stream from a lake, a continual ebullience .
You see in Hebrews 1:3, that the Son, Jesus Christ who came as Messiah for the work to be done in redemption and demonstration in person of the glory of God, was the brightness of His glory and the exact image of His person. Brightness of His glory is its zenith were it to fluctuate, which it does not (James 1:17), but the point is clear: there is no diminution in the Son of the glorious light which is that of the Father. What the Father is in glory, that He also is.
Since, as noted earlier, no one in heaven even is LIKE God, it follows with logical necessity that the One who is not merely like Him, but in fact EXACT in representation of His being, IS God. No other interpretation is possible.
It is for this reason that we find a total parallel on the occasion when Christ, being disdained as so often, just as God is now whether in particular or in general by millions, declared, I and My Father are One (John 10:30). He did not mean two. The expression signifies complete accord in spirit and mind, and thus excludes both divergence and diversity. You cannot be thus with anyone who is not in effect or in general principle, your equal, for the simple reason that you would be so dwarfed otherwise, that the concept would be pretentious.
This of course is similarly conveyed by Christ as the SON of the FATHER, these also being correlatives in KIND, if you want to use that term. SUCH a Father has SUCH a son, for that is the sense of these correlatives. Thus whatever power, being, ontology, essence, either has, so does the other; and if for the salvation of souls, Christ on mission takes a specific format for a specific purpose, so be it: the case is not changed, merely the humility shown, precisely as in Philippians 2.
Of course, it is not a 'kind' that is in view, since as to God, there is ONLY ONE; but the concept is useful as a preparation. Put it rather, then, this way, that they are, Father and Son, of entirely comparable power and nature, the one always doing what pleased the other, operating in the same things and at that, in the same way. Hence their names as ONE are for baptism as in Matthew 28, and all three names of the trinity are used both there and in the blessing of Paul in II Corinthians 13:14. The persons are quite distinct, the nature and name is simply ... ONE. One NAME, three PERSONS, such is God. (Cf. SMR pp. 532-560).
To have such unison and unity as this with God, then, implies therefore being in NATURE His equal, like a husband and wife, at one, or friends at one, and in the mode of Father and Son, equal in essential being. If one is God, so is the other. If one becomes man, the other does not, but SENDS from the infinite glory (John 17:1-3, 6:60ff.), the One who has this mission, and who loves to do it (Psalm 40 cf. Joyful Jottings 22) and who, coming from this ONE, appears in an expression of God not merely suggestive, but definitive, as Hebrews 1 so clearly states.
What then is definitive of God ? Is
something less than God so definitive ?
Even that, however, is readily
explicable in terms of Romans 1, where the aversion
In fact, then, the expression and the fact alike is this: that they ARE ONE. No fleck of dispersion, no fashion of diversity inheres, between Father and Son. These are intimates (John 8:29), always in unison, of mutual understanding to the uttermost, one in nature, infinitely intimate in understanding, each of the other, for this is a matter of spirit. No sin is possible in such a case, for the One sent, the Christ, since the doing of any sin in body, mind or spirit would be an ACTION and it could not be one pleasing to God (contrary to John 8:29).
This being an impossible attainment to the mere children of Adam (cf. Romans 5:1-12), is possible with what is called the second Adam, a "life-giving spirit", God in flesh, able to control all the power of the devil, casting out devils by the Spirit, the finger of the Lord! (Luke 11:20, Matthew 12:28).
Positively, then, He is God; negatively sin is NOT available, being contrary to His being and nature.
That is why Christ could say (John 5:19-23), that He does what His Father does IN THE SAME WAY. If the unity before is potent, this is omnipotent. Habitually to do God's work in the WAY, EXACTLY the way He does it, implies ability on the same plane. Otherwise, at best, you would do it in your own way, not His, and certainly not in exactly the same way as He does. If not God, the creature would be infinitely disenabled from doing it in the same way, just as in sharing his name with that of God, as ONE NAME!
That is precisely why Christ could go on to say, as He did in John 5:19ff., that ALL MEN should HONOUR the SON JUST AS they honour the FATHER. You do not honour a metaphor, but the matrix. It is Son and Father alike in honour, in a field where the attribution of divine glory where it does not belong is blasphemy worthy of ... DEATH! (Leviticus 24:16). It would be blasphemy of the highest order, as in the statement about seeing the Son and thus seeing the Father, if it were not an equality, that God the Father is one Person and God the Son another, with the Holy Spirit who is sent from the Father by the Son (John 15:26), the third. It is thus that Christ is saying that baptism is to be in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19). ONE in power to act and MODE of action; ONE in honour; they are ONE in unison. They are not two. NO ENTITY is like this one!
God REFUSES to give His glory to another (it would be a lie anyway if such a thing happened, inconceivable with God cf. Barbs, Arrows and Balms 6 -7), and hence in sharing these names, Father, Son and Holy Spirit in terms of the entry into His presence, He is giving glory where it is due, from which it cannot be dispersed, to His own name. It is not the NAMES, indeed, but the NAME, since it is one name, that of God (Matthew 28:19).
Yet let us pursue this work of Christ, His doing it in just the same way as His Father.
In any sport, to do the stroke in the same way as the champion grows harder as the stroke or strategy or series of strokes, grows greater and harder. To be able to do ALL His strokes in the same way, would imply you were as great a champion as he. Thus in John 5:19, we see that ALL THINGS WHATSOEVER that the Father does, THESE the Son does, and not satisfied with this omni-comprehension jointness, He proceeds - IN THE SAME WAY. The totality in scope is shared in the identity of method, relative to DOING.
Thus Christ declared that if they did not believe Him, then to believe for the works' sake (John 14:11). This was supplemental to the fact that seeing the Son constituted seeing the Father (cf. Matthew 11:28), just as seeing in faith the Son, constituted eternal life (John 6:40). It is all entirely operative in the Son, in whom salvation is clustered, is constituted, who obtained it and dispenses it to all who come to Him in faith, as He is, and not to a Pawned Substitute!
What then ? When the issue is doing what GOD DOES, there being but one God, there is but one way to have this power, and this is to BE GOD; for indeed, no one else is even LIKE Him in heaven itself. Man is a derivative image-bearer it is true, but his inability to act as God is precisely one part of his problem.
THE PRINCE IN ACTION
From Eve on, he has wanted, in various vast competitive compositions of brashness and pride, to act as if he could dismiss God, or ignore Him, or His commandments (Genesis 3:2-6), which involves very much the same thing. He has found since Babel and the flood (Genesis 10, 6), that this conception is mistaken. What is born and dies is not what creates birth and death. The disparity is apparent.
Christ however is not an uppity-phenomenon like faithless secular man, or pawning religious man. As God, He became man, needing no elevation, and as such He is involved in a life in which He does what the Father does in the SAME WAY, indeed JUST the same way, is the force of the Greek.
In view of such claims, which could mean nothing other than incarnation for someone born, the people, as recorded in John 10 felt it would be fitting to kill Him. Why ? It was because he, they cried, being man, was making Himself God. That was their understanding of it, as in John 10:33). There is no blasphemy if you are not referring to God Almighty, the only God there is, in such a manner (Isaiah 45:6, 21ff.). Therefore it follows with necessity that they saw that these words of Christ implied an equivalence with God; which of course, as noted above, it was. They were not mistaken in interpreting their own language, to the point of throwing stones about it!
From this failure to believe, seen with such lamentation in Christ who, having given all and come to such a place as this sinful earth on expedition of salvation, there has come the entire horror of the last two millenia or so of the Jewish race. From this failure to believe, there has come on the Gentile world its current terrorism, from the power complex and apparatus of the false prophet Muhammad (cf. SMR pp. 1080ff.). From this same failure has come the Inquisition and all the other arms of flesh, carnal dynamisms, gross distortions, substituting BEING crucified with Christ to crucifying, burning, expropriating in sheer robbery, people who did not so depart from the word of God, the Bible, who refused to use force to forward religion, as Christ did (John 18:36ff., Matthew 26:52-56). Worst of all, these heresiarchs even did it in HIS NAME! (as foretold in John 16:2).
The Prince is the pivot; and the disfaith (q.v.) is the ruin of many, the torment of this world, its ground of judgment and its folly of mind, heart and spirit.
Very well, our PRINCE, which is one of the titles of Christ (Isaiah 9:7), our leader, our commander (two more of His titles as in Isaiah 55:4), is related to GOD as prince. How can this be ?
Firstly, as noted re Hebrews 1:3, He is the exact representation of His being. As God IS SPIRIT, as Christ Himself declared (John 4), and is to be worshipped in spirit, it follows that Christ is in SPIRIT, in nature, in person, this exact representation, not in body!
That was simply a new form taken for a purpose, as Philippians 2 expressly indicates, adding that prior to this, Christ was in the FORM of God, and so in no way incorrectly described as God's equal. In Colossians 1:15 we find that EVERYTHING created was through Him, and in John 1:3, we learn that the whole category of created things arose from Him, who of course therefore cannot inhere in it, or He would have had to make Himself first, not being there, which as nothing has no characteristics, would be impossible. Quite simply, if EVERYTHING made has this status from Him, then He is beyond that status. He is not made, or increate, and so eternal, and of such beings, there is ONE.
That is why He and His Father are correctly described as ONE. Creator, not created, eternal, not placed in that creation called time (Romans 8:38-39), God moves in these triune ways, and in so doing, has plotted the course of the plan of salvation for man.
That is why when God the Word, the Son, became man, He was without sin, which since all men have sinned (Romans 5, and 3) REQUIRES a different parentage. Of Mary's there is no doubt; the other party therefore HAD to be GOD HIMSELF, using without need of means, which having created He could readily surpass, His own generation direct so that, as Luke 1:35 puts it, THEREFORE that Holy One would be called the Son of God. The Holy Spirit would overshadow her, and the power of the Highest would so act, and THEREFORE that being who was so engendered would be called the Son of God.
Our PRINCE thus is seen as engendered into flesh by God, so that He and His Father would indeed be one in spirit, in nature, in capacity; and although in flesh, by its very nature as a chosen format for the purpose of manifesting God and bringing redemption for man, to as many as received Him, there would be constraints and restraints, and especially the power to suffer injury and death, yet IN FLESH He would SHOW the way the prince of God conducts Himself, His purposes in His face and function, His power no fraud, but the very indefectible power of the ONE GOD.
Nothing could overthrow His statements whether in word, or in deed; no miracle essayed would fall without result; if He put it to the test, telling the paralysed man to take up his bed and walk, as a SIGN and verification that if this which could be seen would follow, then the power back of it being true, so He could and would and DID forgive sin's in His own NAME!!
As you see in Mark 2, they did not like this; but if He has failed to gain the verification for power to forgive sin in the way which He proposed, in healing the sick and overthrowing in one moment the deadly paralysis gripping the suffering seeker, then that, that one case, would have ended the messianic role. If JUST ONCE, in parallel, those vehemently in mobs trying to drag Him down, overcome Him in words, had succeeded in showing Him wrong, then that too would have ended what only God could do, and what Christ, being God, both could and did do. He was a priceless Prince, even using he DOING OF GOOD to show the REALITY of power to those who insisted on condemning Him! (Mark 2:1-10).
What a benign test, and what a therapeutic marvel, to answer in blessing, those who cursed!
This too is just what He taught in the sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:44ff.). There too with the vehemence arraigned against Him, it was necessary that His words should be seen to be DONE by Himself in the quality of His own life, and not only in pure power in healing! Anything, everything, they eyed, they debated, they judged, they watched. Consider Luke 11:52:
" 'Woe to you lawyers!
For you have taken away the key of knowledge.
You did not enter in yourselves, and those who were entering in you hindered.'
"And as He said these things to them, the scribes and the Pharisees
began to assail Him vehemently, and to cross-examine Him about many things,
lying in wait for Him, and seeking
to catch Him in something He might say,
that they might accuse Him."
The more they hated, the more they tested; the more they tested, the more they demonstrated His authenticity; and the more they pursued him, frustrated in their guile, pushing Him to death, pursuing vexatiously (Luke 11:53-54) their own temporary escape from the Truth which He demonstrably was, then the nearer they came to the fulfilment of Isaiah 52-53, Psalm 22, Psalm 16, Daniel 9:24-25*1, so instituting in their inane hatred, the love of God in its highest expression, the Cross! So did God, giving millenia of notice, simply carry out ALL that He had said in prediction, in history, with that ready facility which betokens supreme power, and that anguish in pain, which signalled extreme love, to bear what was needed, to liberate man, as many as would receive it, and not sit in darkness by some sort of rote and routine.
Indeed, the more they failed to overcome a group of no worldly power whatsoever, even after the crucifixion, ludicrously unable either to produce the body or to give any sound reason for not killing the guards who lost Him (as was a custom), but rather showing as normal with Him, no power to control Him, though they seemed to have all the power required: the more their debased part in the abyss of history became an object of loathing. For all that, even there the love of God was paramount, for even to such as these, the Lord on the cross KEPT ON crying to His Father, Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing! (Luke 23:34). In this way, His objective of liberation proceeded, even in the midst of His enemies, for this, it is the day of salvation, even until He comes (cf. Matthew 24:29ff.).
It was not a ministration like that of Elijah, with donated power, and times of being downcast, weak; it was rather an integral realisation of God in flesh, so that as in Hosea 13:14, it would be TRUE that disdaining any other agent, GOD WOULD REDEEM MAN BY HIS OWN BEING.
It is for this reason likewise, that this prince of Isaiah 9:7, of the house of David (through Mary, one of his descendants), would be found to have such titles as "everlasting Father", inextricably interwoven with "prince". HOW could He have such a title ?
The case is simple and HE explained it in His own way. In John 14, you find Philip asking to SEE the FATHER. He who has seen ME, said Jesus Christ, HAS SEEN the Father. This was not all. The pith of it, Christ had presented, pursuing the point and even declaring this: "Have I been with you for such a long time and you yet you have not known ME!"
It was then that He added, He who has seen Me has seen the Father. Not satisfied with this, Christ pursued it further. How then do you say, Show us the Father!
Even with the worst will in the world, it is not possible to distort this threefold presentation. To see the Father is the ultimate, the desideratum of Philip, it is to see God, to dispense with preliminaries and with steps. Jesus indicates that this is done, in one thing, that when you see this one being, JESUS CHRIST, you have already seen the Father. Long has He been with them, and so what a ridiculous question! How could Philip possibly ask it. In other words, this indicates a lack of the most fundamental realisation, and now with Philip's understanding increased in this crucial aspect of the Lord, the Prince of Peace, the Commander, the Leader of Isaiah: this disciple is told that from that point on he HAS SEEN the Father and known Him.
To suggest that the true perception of Christ INVOLVES without addition the true perception of God, so that there is NO difference, NO further step, and to have such a concept regarded as wholly erroneous in three stages leaves no question. THIS prince is God. No sinner could possibly limn in his own being, the glory of God; and no creature could attain even in kind, to the glory of God, so that seeing the creation you saw the creator.
Some sign ? some suggestion ? some symbolic index ? yes, but not the being Himself, or otherwise the finite would be equal to the infinite, and the sight of the finite would SHOW the infinite, like a pauper with one cent, having a bank balance which in itself was the full representation of the US national debt. The thought is ludicrous, and no wonder Christ exhorted Philip so strongly upon it, for on this hangs all life. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son does not have life (I John 5:12). Such is His eminence in deity.
Yet is He also PRINCE by virtue of birth as a man, a change of format, as Paul declares, from that which being that of God, is unique and apt for infinitude of power, to that of man in pursuit of a purpose which is now fulfilled (Philippians 2). With this on the one hand, and by virtue of His eternal status as the EXPRESSION, the word of God, on the other, you have the PRINCE, in fact the prince of peace, since through His judgment, He proclaims peace to those who receive it in their own stead.
That whole process of course is also seen in John 1:1, where, there being but one God, there is the declaration that the Word of God, who became flesh in the person of Jesus Christ, WAS GOD. There is no 'a god' for Him to be, as you see in Psalm 82, where the pretentious use of the term 'god' of men, is brought to the bar of guilt even with irony, for such 'gods' are told of their human status roundly. Gods ? says God derisively: you will die like men! Are they really and truly gods ? how wonderful! Let us see their calibre, then, and find their connotation when they DIE LIKE MEN. Pretension God hates, as you see in Matthew 23, and you find the same ironic exactly in Ezekiel 28:9:
"Will you yet say before Him who slays you, I am God ? but you shall be a man and no God, in the hand of Him who slays you."
So much for pretentious gods, seeking by mere possession of strength to change status. It cannot be done. Polytheistic were the neighbours of Israel, but the word of God KNOWS NO OTHER GOD WHATSOEVER.
In Isaiah 45:21ff., you see God declaring, using both el and elohim as we saw last time, two words able to be used of Himself, that of such beings there is ONE. If it is the heavenly you think of, if it is in the realm of GOD at all, that you are dealing, then the number is of no difficulty whatever to encompass. It is ONE (cf. Ephesians 4:4). Let us hear Isaiah:
"Who has revealed this from of old, and revealed it from then ?
"Is it not I, Jehovah, and there is no other God (elohim) than I,
a just God (el) and a Saviour.
There is none except Me.
"Turn to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth, for I am God (el) and there is none other."
No one is like Him in heaven. He is ONE, and UNIQUE, and as Creator, obviously is infinitely so.
Thus when we are talking of the Creator, of the divine, of deity, of the Saviour, of the revealer of truth: there is ONE. You can use el, meaning strong, mighty and obviously one of the names of God in terms of its quintessence, or elohim, that plural noun with the singular verb, that so well fits cases like that of the THREE men who came to Abraham, and were directive in their way to Sodom, about to be destroyed, and who had sacrifice given to them. It is then that the narrative resumes in terms of THE LORD! (Genesis 18). He appears as three, and then continues to speak to Abraham as ONE: the LORD.
Thus the three are found suitable as a theophany, giving information concerning Abraham, and Sodom, and merge into the voice of the LORD. It is the LORD. The SPIRIT of the Lord hovered, in the image of Genesis 1, over the waters on the surface of the earth. GOD spoke, and here we see three representing God. Just as the grammar allows for it, so the symbolism to Abraham expresses it.
In Genesis 1, accordingly, God speaks, and His Spirit hovers over the result. We learn as the Old Testament proceeds, that there is to be ONE who will come to earth, the STAR (Judges 24:17), a RULER (literally sceptre) whose will be a vast dominion. Since this is a man, and one who has such characteristics, one is reminded at once of the promise in Genesis 3, where despite man's fall into ignominy and sin, under judgment, ONE as man will come who will destroy the power of the serpent, stamping on it with supernatural assurance and dominion*2.
Who could this be but one of the stature of God, to overcome the vast power of the evil one, a spiritual being of enormous guile and cunning, power and fraudulence! Only the life of God can overcome the curse of God, and the power of the jackal, the Adversary with it. So it became clearer and clearer, in such passages as Psalm 45, where this PRINCE has the name GOD given to Him, so that God addresses Him as God (45:6); just as in Psalm 2, though men are FORBIDDEN to trust in man (Jeremiah 17), yet in this ONE men must trust, and to Him give religious devotion is NECESSARY.
Thus is deity in man’s format, Jesus Christ, the overturning of what for mere man, is blasphemy and idolatry. Here it actually becomes a divine stricture and requirement! When GOD is at work, and when GOD is present, the difference is just that, categorical, overturning all that is applicable to mere man.
In the same way, though Christ, the Prince is Saviour (Isaiah 52-53 giving the means and the result of this death defying sin-atoning act, in the illustrious One so enduring for the divine purpose in view), yet GOD ONLY is Saviour (Isaiah 43:10-11). Similarly, shows the prophet Isaiah, though GOD ALONE IS CREATOR (Isaiah 45:12, 44:12), yet this One, this God as man, this Prince, this Messiah is the same, Himself the Creator no less, and that not of some but of all (John 1:3, Colossians 1:15). As to that, it is scarcely surprising, for even in Micah 5, we find that the MAN who is to SMITTEN, though He be the judge of Israel, is the one whose GOINGS are from EVERLASTING.
What GOD ALONE CAN BE, repetitively and characteristically, Christ is. It is so simple that the child could see it, at five years old, but the savant cannot see it when blind, for the blind cannot see. Hence was Christ so strict in stricture in Matthew 13:15: the heart of this people He there declared, has become gross, their ears dull in hearing, their eyes they have closed! How sad is the divine exposure and diagnosis that follows ...
"lest at any time they should we with their eyes, and
hear with their ears,
The diligent deceitfulness of sin
is there deliciously exposed!
It is this same power and presence of God, in the Messiah that Isaiah and the psalms, for example have repeatedly shown.
It is exactly what Psalm 2 and 45 have been telling us, and what Isaiah 11 tells us, when the MAN who is to rule with the understanding of God, and whose power will strike evil to devastation on this earth, is a descendant of David according to the flesh. Indeed, in Isaiah 42:6, 49:6, with 9:7, we find that it is HE who is be the light of God, and CONSTITUTE THE DIVINE COVENANT, thus summing up in Himself, the very word of God, invariable, ineluctable, irrepressible, immutable, ruling a kingdom which will endure forever.
Focussing this same ONE, then, Isaiah indicates from the inspiration of God, that this being will BE the salvation of God to the earth, just as Isaiah 52-53 attests in literally gory detail. This is one case where the gory is the glory, for that God should so suffer and demean Himself in love for man is stupendous, almost distressing in its grandeur, but beautiful beyond bounds in this cursed world. Here is the answer to the curse, like light from the everlasting sun of righteousness, focussed on earth, featured in Israel, killed by His fellow countrymen, raised in their land, the Gospel His mandate (cf. SMR pp. 763ff.), expressible IN HIMSELF, the very salvation of God which the eyes of Simeon actually SAW as he beheld the babe, and held Him in his arms (cf. Luke 2:30-32). Why was this so especially delightful to Simeon ?
One extra element was this, that God has ASSURED him in prayer that he would not depart from this earth until HIS EYES HAD SEEN the salvation of God. This was it, and he held Him in his very arms, before leaving, sighting what the blind could not see, what he had long realised, and now held (cf. John 6:40, Luke 11:52ff.).
Thus have we met the PRINCE. He is prince by birth, becoming in the sense of PRIORITY, the 'first born of all creation' (Colossians 1), BECAUSE He created all things, and because He is here born whose goings have been from of old, from eternity (Micah 5:1-3). That 'first-born of all creation' is the Pauline statement. Indeed, the apostle goes further and states of the Christ, that He is the first-born BECAUSE He created all. Thus, coming late into history as man, He yet has the status of the first-born, not because of contemporary priority, as if Adam, but because of honour and glory, because the whole thing is His, and He made it, so that on entry He has this role, this eminence, this pre-eminence, this status, this right over it all.
He is not only the first born not of creation, the one in prime place over it, but over ALL OF IT. Why ? He made it, so WHENEVER He comes to it, He is its primary prince, in format of flesh belatedly it may be, but in taking flesh, the very first-born status, the authentic leadership and possession, the place with precedence over all. Nothing could be more emphatic concerning His authorship of creation that this direct statement that this is so, coupled with the statement on His pre-eminence when in creation for His divine purpose as Messiah, on the ground that because of His having created all, He is first over all.
He, entering upon it, having made the category of creation, becomes PRINCE on entry, by right not only of prior existence, not only of being divine, but because HE made it all, which now for a benign purpose He inhabits for a time, direct, man among men, God as man. As the WORD of God, and GOD, the only one there is, whatever term you use, the only Creator, the only Saviour, He is the expression of God, BECOME flesh, incarnate.
The Spirit of God is seen by John descending on Him as a dove, a signal which that prophet was caused to understand designated the Son of God; and this same Jesus was driven by the Spirit to be tempted as in Matthew 4, to pass this, His test in the wilderness. Thus does the trinity show its glory, ONE as to being, THREE as to persons, purity in all and over all, to perfection.
At times, one almost despairs of inveterate incredulity, but then, ONLY GOD can awaken the dead and give sight to such blind. Some try to make it seem in some obscurantist way, 'difficult' that in one respect you have one, in another respect you have three. How on earth is this difficulty to be invented ? If there is one Australian coastline, it has many indentations, if there is one family, it has many members, if there is one man, he has various functionalities.
Even man will talk to himself, quite sanely, or even exhort himself, so that his SPIRIT, the spirit of man is addressing his life, his character, his established personality, subjecting it to review and challenge. With God, the matter is of course unique, since of infinite beings, creator, saviour categories, there is only one member, and indeed, so amazing is this singularity, that it is only for clarificatory purposes that one could use the term 'category' at all. Rather He is the ONLY one whose actions are such; and in Himself He consists in three persons, infinitely mutual, divinely disposed as He will.
One of these, the Expression, or Word, is so far above man, that just as an author writes a book, and it is his expression in some sense, so this Author, God, exhibits Himself in the LIVING WORD, operative creator and intimate beyond barrier with the Father. Nor is He embarrassed to put for man into propositional form, using verbal symbols, the realities thus disclosed in the coming of the Prince; for whether in the eternal Word, or in statement and declarations, it is One. God can speak to man in one form, or in both, and does in both, the One expressing for the leisure of reading, what the other did and only could do, in the measure of salvation!
Moreover, since heaven, the mode of creation which involves male and female is not operative (cf. Matthew 22:30), obviously the term 'Father' in this spiritual context means what is correlative in some sense to our use of the word, adaptation being made for the independently given context.
In practice, this simply means that Christ on earth, the Prince, the Son of God via the virgin birth, is indeed the SON of God, and we remember that "therefore" in Luke. Yet what is seemly for exhibition of the Father on earth, is not divorced from the reality in heaven, so that the Father though of course, as SPIRIT, not Father in an earthly reproductive way such as we have, relative to the Son, yet has affinity in this respect, so that the Son is His exact image, His word.
Thus, as Dr Allen Killen pointed out, we do not have an invention of fellowship in the act of creation, since God had it always, in Himself.
This we see, but what of the pawning ?
To pawn normally means to allow something to depart from you in the interests of gaining some temporary or lesser thing, such as money; with the hope that perhaps you may wish to get the thing back when better supplied with money.
To pawn Christ then would and does signify to get rid of Him, to reject His overtures, or to ignore His entreaties, or to devalue His offering , if you like, in biblical terms: in some cases it would mean to "have trodden under foot the Son of God" as in Hebrews 10:29. It would mean to keep some sort of 'tab' on Him, some sort of recollection or possible intention to resume or begin a real relationship rather than a merely formal one, for instance. That would be another correlation with a pawning!
It would be like leaving Him, dumping Him, somewhere, with a view to using Him yet in some way, or the proceeds of His sale, for your own purposes.
Pawn-brokers, this is the name of the category who receive such dumped goods, and issue chits for possible recollection, assuming the object is not sold in the interim. Selling Christ is a well-known occupation among men, notoriously in the case of Judas, but there needs to be a realisation that Judas being 81/3 percent of Christ's elders, or apostles, was a substantial and significant section; and that this has implications. What are these ?
In view of the prediction that false christs and prophets will multiply at the end of the Age (Matthew 24:5,24), which is our lot as seen in Answers to Questions Ch. 5, then there may well be far more than this percentage of the pawn-broker habitués, nowadays in so-called churches, many of which are not more churches than were those in Revelation 2:9, 3:9, some within them being collectively referred to as a "synagogue of Satan" , and this not once but twice.
Small wonder in those chapters we see people threatened with having their 'churches' de-recognised, made mere pretence, without God, without hope, mere reckless polluters of the spiritual atmosphere.
The NAME of Christ is thus used, like an object for deposit with the pawn-broker, and the broker himself, or herself, may greatly desire to have this object on deposit, like some imaginary relics, and to have it for use and abuse as he or she will; and then, if the price is right, to give it back, in tatters or in polished format, depending on business, so that the pawning agent may continue this deceptive, delusive use of the 'name'.
Thus do those who rejecting the deity of Christ, as if absurdly shouting at Christ to shut up when He instructed Philip, but still wanting to keep some 'him', some object of spiritual art, for various purposes, dare to use HIS NAME for their purpose, inventing their own religion, as if someone used the Holden or the GM name for a new car, one made not by those bodies, but by themselves, at their own will. There would doubtless be a law suit or some confrontation, since it would be bogus and a trading on the performance of an established maker, on the part of someone wishing to utilise what they have done, without having to do it themselves.
It would be insufferably dishonest and misleading. Small wonder that Paul uses certain distinguishing phrases on just such people, who make a NEW JESUS, and a NEW GOSPEL therefore, or ANOTHER ONE, since He is the heart and centre of it, and have ANOTHER SPIRIT. Let us hear them: "false apostles, deceitful workers". They transform themselves into the apostles of Christ in a way which causes no astonishment, since SATAN HIMSELF, says Paul in this epistle, "is transformed into an angel of light."
Such therefore are enemies of Christ, fraudulent and deceptive, and should by no means be received. That is Paul's exhortation and divinely inspired declaration (I Corinthians 14:37). In this day, one not only MUST, but does say: LET HIM WHO HAS EARS, HEAR! Does this seem like soporific inaction to you ?
If you should talk outside your house to any such false teachers, hoping to snatch from the flames (Jude 22-23), remember TWICE is the limit (cf. Titus 3:10). Further, if they will not listen, do not speak; and if they will not take, do not receive what they give; and do not on any account undertake to read any of their materials, as if you should inhale sulphurous gases, turning to acid. It is enough that they are blasphemers, misusing the name that is pawned. Give them opportunity if you will, but keep to one scripture is often best, such as John 20:28, where Thomas calls Christ THE GOD OF ME!
The conversation is between Christ and Thomas, each addressing the other in sequence, and in this interview, as with Nicodemus, the interchange is that of two minds, on one topic, with events unfolding. This "THE GOD OF ME", which Thomas employs in being reconciled to Christ as the death-breaker, even at the very physical level involved (cf. I Corinthians 15:1-4, where the thing buried is the thing raised), becomes in Christ's lips a CRITERION. Thomas in this has BELIEVED, having seen; blessed said the Lord, are those who having not seen in this direct, laboratory way, yet believe.
In whatever way you proceed however, let NO scripture pass, or be overlooked, disregarded; let NO case arise in what is written is suffered to be bypassed. Use the sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6, Hebrews 12), for here is invasion into the kingdom on false pretences with another Gospel, making alleged 'witnesses' of those for the Lord, who reject Him and discard His word This is the worse in that Christ is already the witness who AS GOD declares God, and He, He is the FAITHFUL WITNESS (cf. Revelation 1:5). No other is needed when God is His own witness!
In other words, DO NOT TRY TO PAWN Christ, or frequent pawn-shops. All that such people sell is pretence, and there is no value in that shop at all. The 'name' they sell is a word, without the works which go with its authenticity, divorced from its history and its place in scripture, made over to another usage for another cause.
THE PRICELESS PRINCE,
WHOSE WAYS ARE FROM EVERLASTING
Let God be God, let God define Himself as He will, and do not contend with Him who has said, "Before Abraham was, I am", using thereby the Exodus 3:14 NAME of God, signifying an eternal existence, as in Micah 5:1-3, Psalm 45, Hebrews 1:8-12: dependent on nothing, accountable to nothing, ringing through the ages, sacred to God, ascribed by God to Himself, declared to man in Christ whose is that eternal life which He confers (I John 1:1-4).
How clearly it is expounded when we see the dialogue, moreover, as in John 8. If Abraham rejoiced to see your day, they said to Him, how is this so, since you are not of such an age ? Not of such an age, is the logic of the answer: not only was I in existence before Abraham, but the mode of existence which I had was not a matter of before and after, but eternal continuity, for which I use the famed name of God: Before he was (in time), I AM (beyond it).
Such is the intimate harmony of all scripture, the fulfilment of all the eminent promises of the Old Testament, the parallel of Isaiah and John 1, the insistence on Christ as being equal with God, both as understood by men and as stated by Paul, and manifested by Himself in word and deed. Such is the intimacy of the ultimacy, that God became one of us in format, not only to show the way in suffering, but to create the way for the NEW CREATION in Himself, by carving it out of the rock, taking death as in Hosea 13, He said He would, PERSONALLY HIMSELF, in order to create redemption.
What then do we find ? It is harmony for 3500 years, development in prophetic detail of the whole wonder of the PRINCE, over such a time, all the phases in unison, in wonder, in glory, fulfilled already in substance what has been presented in foresight, focussed in the Christ, acting in compassion, the dénouement in passion, infallible in act, never distressed to answer, His main pain the thought of the bearing of sin, as Saviour (Hebrews 5:7, Luke 22:40ff.), His last word, "It is finished" and to tell His Father that into His hands He committed His Spirit.
That, it was His last word before the resurrection, and after it He showed them as in Luke, the meaning of the scriptures (Luke 24:25ff.), familiarity with which having apparently rather deadened the perception of some; but then it is so amazingly wonderful, that it was when HE DID IT, that the eye was opened (cf. Luke 24:31-32, John 20:8). The astonishing reality of word becoming deed, prediction performance, annunciation incarnation, prospect propitiation, came into their hearts like an eternal dawn.
Now He who sees the Son, likewise, has eternal life (John 6:40), for what He sees is the SALVATION OF GOD, which He has provided. For these millenia it has been presented, then done, then its application wrought as predicted; for the Gospel itself was predicted (SMR pp. 755ff.). Now following like stations on a train line, the Age has come to its terminal times, in some ways resembling a hacking death rattle and cough, this too as predicted; and now we shall once again see this great action of the only Creator and Saviour God, consisting in glory, acting in compassion, performing power.
In times past, the world was inundated, leaving staggering layers of massive sediment (cf. News 1), in what now follows in the divine plan of salvation, the people of God are removed at His coming, and while the world writhes in its last rebellions, near Israel, He returns with His own people, resurrected, to cover the earth with the knowledge of the glory of God as the waters cover the sea (Habakkuk 2:14).
It is well to be prepared. It is well to serve the Prince of truth as well as peace, the Leader of Love as well as the Faithful Witness. Life apart from Him is only a form of death in waiting. Faith in Him, not another Jesus, this is the preparation, and it is to be found according to His ever effective and always unblemished word, not in another Gospel, that is for the pawn-shop, where the pawn-broker is Satan, an unreliable character at best, and a lie in heart (John 8:44).
Let God be God; let the Prince be your peace (Isaiah 26:1-4, 9:6-7, Philippians 4:4-6, Ephesians 2:17-22), the foundation of all who are not to be confounded (Isaiah 28:16, I Corinthians 3:10ff.). There is, in fact, no other. It is as simple as that. Double dealing with God does not create another option. Let God be God, or else truth will itself crush you (Matthew 21:44); and why should this be so, when the author of your life and your very power to love or even think, has done all this for you, so that you might become a new creation with the Prince of Peace your rest, the truth your delight, adopted children of God (Ephesians 1:5ff.).
Daniel 9:24-27 is one of the most meticulously magnificent prophecies in the Bible, and small wonder, since here lies the prediction of the state of the case for the Messiah and the date of His rejection, cutting Him off from the people. For detail on this, and its outcome, see Highway of Holiness Ch. 4.
The reference to the death date is there adequately provided; but here our interest is in the PRINCE, in terms of our topic and theme in this chapter. Keil with a thoroughness not often sought in vain in the Old Testament Commentary from himself and Delitzsch gives a fascinating word study associated with the verse 26, where the NKJV has, concerning the prediction of the Messiah, that He will be "cut off but not for Himself".
He points out that grammatically the formula of words here, "cut off and there is not for Himself" is NOT simply a negative. The word "there is not" is a denial of EXISTENCE, he affirms with careful perspective on its usage. There is no subject, though one is normal for such a construction, so that the sense is one of DENIAL, and the subject is found in the focus, the Messiah, verse 25 - that is, not the grammatical subject, but the referent. What then is the meaning of this ? It is this, that there is a denial of existence: there is not, relative to the Messiah; and with this, we learn that He is to be cut off.
The Messiah as in Psalm 2, where the grievous ranting against Him, and the open discord and effort to disperse His role and deny Him life indeed is seen, is found transfixed in Psalm 2 (cf. Joyful Jottings 25), and wounded and set to death in Isaiah 52-53, a veritable sin-offering without praise, an offscouring of the Almighty in His presence in the format of flesh, as noted in this chapter (cf. Isaiah exposition in Heart and Soul, Mind and Strength Chs. 4ff., and here esp. Ch. 6).
That HE should suffer it, not
just bear the pain but tolerate the insult,
that He should overcome it by
the device of breaching death itself, as He attested from the first,
This Prince however is cut off and there is nothing for Him. In other words, as Keil so well expounds it, there is an excision from the congregation - the word is also used of the destruction of the wicked - and He is removed from sight, offered to nothingness, and given nothing. It is a solemn removal with spiritual loathing which is in view as in Isaiah 49:7. Though the MESSIAH, the anointed One, so often in focus in the Old Testament in preparation, as in the New in culmination and fulfilment, is in view in Daniel 9:26, yet the response is this -
NOTHING FOR YOU! How often this too is the lot of His servants, since the servant as He declared, is not greater than his Master, and if they have done it to Him, how then not to His servants, the redeemed who show forth the One not desired by the nations! (cf. John 15:20).
Yet how blessed to be permitted to suffer for Him (cf. Acts 5:40-41), who so many find insufferable as an antidote, since it requires the swallowing up of sin's guilt and power, and the unleashing of the divine beauty of holiness, IN HIM (cf. Romans 5:1-11, 8:1-10,37ff.). Let us however revert to Daniel 9:26.
Someone once asked me concerning the translation, being obviously vexed by this and that wording. Whatever the wording of the translation, the understanding of the text here is straightforward when carefully considered. Messiah ?
What is such an understanding, in paraphrase:
Forget it. In fact, get out, and take your precious life with you - you are cut off, not recognised, and you can have the only thing we have in mind for you, NOTHING. Nothing for You! Go and we'll help You off.
How then could it be translated ? That is not so easy! However it is possible, but always best when understanding precedes and is present in the reader. It could intelligibly be rendered like this: "Messiah shall be cut off, and subjected to negation".
For our immediate purpose, our interest in "the Prince", we note that in the preceding verse, we find the designation, "Messiah the prince". Thus is this Prince - this Being of éclat and exuberance, of wonder and glory, of marvel and incisive understanding, of pity for the poor (Isaiah 61), constituting in Himself and His deeds, duly proclaimed, the Gospel (cf. SMR pp. 755ff.) - subjected to nullity in the hearts of the people, their hands adding to the thing as they pierce and despise Him, letting the blood ooze as their spirits lose their life source. Would they suffocate Him ? alas it is their own spirits which are suffocated. Would modern man suffocate His memory, lacerate His lordship, deny His deity ? Very well, it is this world which suffocates, and can you not even now hear its rasping breath ?
It is this Prince who is the Commander and the WITNESS (Isaiah 55:4), and as in Revelation 1:5, it is He who is faithful in this, Jehovah His OWN witness, attesting Jehovah AS Jehovah on earth, the criterion for all witness, its source and exemplar, needing no exotica from those who continue in despising His role, rejecting His reality and giving Him in His standing, the same reviling as did Israel: there is nothing for Him!
But everything is from Him, not from the false christs (II Corinthians 11), manufactured in the discordant hearts of man, as in Psalm 2, so now, for these contribute but air, being aery contrivances of imagination. Let imagination then save those who trust in it, as for Israel of old, so now! Jeremiah has it so clearly in 10:11 and 11:11-12:
"Thus you shall say to them:
'The gods that have not made the heavens and the earth
shall perish from the earth and from under these heavens.'
"Therefore thus says the Lord:
'Behold, I will surely bring calamity on them which they will not be able to escape; and though they cry out to Me, I will not listen to them. Then the cities of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem will go and cry out to the gods to whom they offer incense, but they will not save them at all in the time of their trouble.' "
The gods that have not made heaven and earth are no princes, but fictions to whom God says, Will you still say you are God when I slay you. They cannot save. The One who did, He only can save, and His Prince the Messiah is He who has made ALL things (John 1:3), being one of the blessed and holy Trinity, not to be dismembered by those who appoint to Him in the divine role, deity in flesh, accorded, "There is nothing for you."
God however has other intentions. Thus in Philippians 2:1-12, you see that He, having humbled Himself, leaving in His enduring identity the FORM of God for the FORM of a servant in order to perform the function of salvation, which He gloriously did, is given a name which is above every name so that every knee shall bow and acknowledge, yes whether the beings should relate to heaven or earth, and every tongue confess, whether in praise or subjection alone, that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
It is of course taken, the bowing of every knee in this way, from Isaiah 45:23, where it is used in reference to the final result relative to God Himself. This signature exhibition of God, in differentiation from every other being, is thus transferred bodily here to Christ, God the Word, the Saviour, no other name being given to man, no, nothing under heaven (Acts 4:11-12), by which he must be saved..
On the increasing detail in the Old Testament as it successively divulges more and more of the coming Messiah and His work, see
Barbs, Arrows and Balms 17. Also you may find help in consulting News 87.