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JOYFUL JOTTINGS 18
faithfulness with a face
We were thinking about the bunch of Psalms from 93 to 102 and 117, looking at the universality beyond all races, of the mercy and grace of the Lord, this being shown THROUGH two main phases in the two covenants which Hebrews considers, the Old and the New in Christ's blood. Here seen is the FAITHFULNESS of God which, like His sentence on sin and mercy through sacrifice, moved throughout both covenants, and moves in the New which incorporates what is not fulfilled in the Old (Matthew 5:17ff.).
Now that faithfulness is given enormous stress in an adjoining Psalm, 89, and from this we can look to that utter balm of Psalm, 72, which gives to faithfulness its face of glory on this earth. Thus cradled in Psalms, we see the ancient glory of God as shown to man, in place and perspective, the same now, like enfolding fire, with flames of brightness (cf. Ezekiel 1, Acts 2).
Psalm 89:8 says this: "O Lord God of hosts, who is a strong Lord like You ? or to Your faithfulness round about You ?" Incidentally, it goes on to say, "Righteousness and justice are the habitation of Your throne; mercy and truth shall go before Your face" - v.14. This is where it is. In Jesus the Christ, the Messiah mercy and truth have indeed gone before the face of the Eternal Father, so that "neither do I condemn you" (John 8:11) is the famous word from Christ to the woman caught in the act of adultery, but willing to receive from the hand of the Lord what He would give, even from the One who rescued her from her accusers. He "did not come to condemn the world," as He declared, but "that the world through Him might be saved" (John 3:17), and the final ticket to hell is NOT that they sin, but that they should prefer the darkness of no deliverance, of no salvation through that mercy which goes before the face of the Father, given face and hands and feet AS Jesus Christ, whose goings are from everlasting (Micah 5:1-3). This desire NOT TO CONDEMN is just what Christ also declared and indicated, both (John , -23).
It is thus that the word
says this (Psalm 89:6): "For who in the heavens can be compared to the Lord ? Who among the sons of the mighty can be likened to
the Lord ?" There is none comparable, far less is any who is NOT deity,
able to be His exact image (Hebrews 1:1-3), as Christ indeed is. This shows
again the eternal shame of the Jehovah's witness movement, which really has
entered into competition with the Lord Jesus Christ, who Himself is Jehovah's
Witness, having come from heaven to BE that WITNESS (John 14:6, Philippians 2).
There is no better witness to Jehovah than Jehovah, and to enter into
competition with this is doomed by any not sinless and not God! (Cf. SMR
"My faithfulness and My mercy shall be with Him, and in My name shall His horn be exalted" - Psalm 89:24. Thus look in John and you see that Christ (-50) did not even lay claim to HIS OWN DOCTRINE, but passed on the truth from His Father, as the word of God. "My Father who sent Me, has given Me a COMMANDMENT what I should say, and what I should speak. And I know His commandment is life everlasting"' and again we read, "I can of My own self, do nothing. As I hear, I judge, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of the Father who has sent Me" - John . It is indeed in the name of the Father that He acts, as is His wont and way.
In revealing the Messiah,
the Psalmist in Psalm 89 declares: "I will make known Your
faithfulness to all generations. For I have said, Mercy shall be built up
forever; Thy faithfulness You shall establish in the
very heavens. I have made a covenant..." (89:2-3). And indeed into the very heavens from His
slain status as sin sacrifice, has the Messiah returned: "Who, being the
brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person, and upholding all
things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat
down on the right hand of Majesty on high ... to the Son He says, 'Your throne
O God is forever and ever, a sceptre of righteousness
is the scepter of Your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated
iniquity; therefore God, even Your God, has anointed You
with the oil of gladness above Your fellows' ". Of Him likewise Hebrews says this:
"For such a high priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens..." (Hebrews 7:27).
Thus prepared, let us visit PSALM 72, one of the most intimate exposures and expositions of the Messianic mercy and FAITHFULNESS. It is not our purpose to give an exposition of that Psalm, but to see the FACE of GRACE and the PLACE OF FAITHFULNESS in the Messiah there.
THIS is precisely what happened when He came*1; but there is still more to follow: not in gaining salvation, but in expressing its features and facets in this world. The redemption of the body is yet to come (Romans ) and so is the divine rule on earth (Revelation 20). For listen, when He first came it was as LAMB SLAIN; but then, on His much prepared return (Acts 1:7ff., Matthew 24), it is as the LAMB RULING, just as in the end, it is as the LAMB IN GLORY (Revelation 5, 21-22). Indeed it might be put :
PSALM 72 on
Now we move to Psalm 72 itself.
Once again we find it is the Son of David, that promised seed of whom Psalm 89 says so much, and whom God testified to David, as before that to Abraham by covenant (Genesis 12, 15, 17; II Samuel 7:12-13,25 ); and here is displayed that ONE and ONLY gift in and for grace, that King whose throne is forever (cf. Psalm 40, where He is shown to displace through His own body, the sacrifices formerly required, as also in Isaiah 52-53, 66:3).
Notice now in our Psalm, that He "shall judge the poor". This relates to the fact that the Gospel shall be preached to the poor (Isaiah 61:1ff.), a category in many dimensions which concerns this same Son, whom the Lord has anointed for that very purpose not least, the Messiah. How often the rich bring gifts and bear authority; but this Gospel is not wealth-adjusted, it is incorruptible. Verse two shows the beauty of the earthly environment able at last, in this warlike generation, to bring peace, the peace which lies so hidden with beauty in its midst. "He shall save the children of the needy" - not only to the affluent will the gospel of His grace come, but He will even penetrate to poor districts, to needy children. His reign will have the loveliness of
"He shall come down like rain upon the mown grass." There is that light-reflecting sharpness on the grass, that illumination of many colours as the light strikes prismatically this way and that, that gentleness of grace, that augury of goodness.
"In His days the righteous shall flourish." There will be no little mEn in great places through massive corruption of those in power.
His rule and reign will be unable to suffer breach while the heavens last (72:7). In fact of course He will take His own and then return with them to rule on the earth, after "the marriage supper of the Lamb" (Matthew 24, Revelation 19:8, 12ff., II Thessalonians 1, Zecharaiah 14:5), as we learn elsewhere in more detail.
"He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river to the ends of the earth" - 72:8, as in Psalm 89. His rule is universal, beyond all bounds and all time.
"All kings shall fall down before Him" - there is no rebellion allowed to rest in the land.
What is the impelling power ? "For He shall deliver the needy when he cries; the poor also, and the one who has no helper. He shall spare the poor and needy nd shall save the souls of the needy. He shall redeem their soul form deceit and violence, and precious shall their blood be in His sight. And He shall live ..."
What a lot is in that section! He is acclaimed because the enemy does not have the power to dethrone Him, but it is a popularity of grace which impels submission that is unable to grasp any straw for attack: His rule and reign are so dextrous, so individual in application, so thoughtful in dealing with individual need. He even REDEEMS the afflicted from deceit and violence; and despite this, "HE SHALL LIVE". Now redemption as we saw (Psalm 49) in another place, is costly. No man can provide it, unless He be also the sinless and all-powerful God, in that human form (Philippians 2). Christ is that One, and so can do this, and nevertheless "shall live" - cf. Hosea 13:14 where God makes it perfectly clear that HE HIMSELF will do the redeeming from death and will by Himself, constitute its destruction as a scourge to the race, for those who receive Him, bearing its pangs and taking its sting (cf. Isaiah 53)..
All the deceits of sin, which are multiple and multiply throughout interaction and inaction and driven action, these are covered for those of a poor and contrite heart; for poverty in the worst case, is not of body but of soul. It is not merely a lack of provisions which is deadly, and there only to the body, it is a lack of soil for the soul, of basis for belief, of way for the feet, of understanding for the heart, of God for the spirit. For those without the Messiah are "without hope, and without God in the world" as Paul tells the Ephesians (2:12), and there is not other name (Acts 4:11-12 mirrors this Old Covenant stress on the singularity of the Messiah, the descendant of David in the flesh, the Son of the Almighty on the other).
Thus the poor and needy are
in the most essential fashion, those poor in spirit, aware of their needs, needing
God and knowing it, repenting of their sin and being redeemed (cf. Matthew 5;
Isaiah 66:2, Psalm 51).
THERE is FAITHFULNESS BUILT UP FOR EVER. HERE is FAITHFULNESS WITH A FACE. Here GRACE HAS PLACE. Already He is here, and soon He will be standing upon the earth, as Job foresaw so long ago (Job 19). There is the name beyond every name which can be named, and that name is Himself poor and lowly in heart. What a way to go; and without doubt, there is no other; for all have fallen, the theories and their exponents, the philosophers and their political putsches by devious disciples, misled men with manacles in their hearts and in their hands to place on the hands of those who are ... dissidents from the madnesses of man.
The plain sympathy, security, spirituality, godliness - for what godliness is greater than the godliness of God, of the Messiah - this is the coming beauty in the glory of His holiness; for this earth for a time, it comes, when He shall be vindicated and the last vestiges of complaint are removed, so that when the rebellion arises to be swept away for ever, there will be no excuse (cf. Isaiah 26:10). On the other hand, there is no lack of the door of opportunity, for the poor and the needy, to them does He turn.
It has been said and does
well to be repeated: God is not SEEKING TO DAMN. He takes no pleasure in the
death of the wicked (Ezekiel 33:11, I Timothy 2, Colossians 1, Lamentations ). He is not looking to some plan or
principle or procedure which will get rid of the mess, and shove all the
difficulties into hell. HE descended into hell, as the apostle's creed states
(cf. I Peter 4:6, -20, Colossians 1:19ff.). HE came to
earth. HE went to the Cross. What more could one
ask ? IF I HAD NOT COME AMONG YOU, He said, and done the deeds, spoken the words no one else had done, YOU WOULD NOT HAVE HAD SIN (John 15:22ff); for HE did not come into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved (John ). THUS Christ declared that there is more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over 99 'just men', justified persons there already.
And WHO does not rejoice
when others join in the Messiah, the chorus of "joy unspeakable and full of glory"
(I Peter 1); for that
which is right has done beautifully and wonderfully, in bringing redemption
freely to man. If he will not take it, then that is his preference; but God
neither did nor does stand back and watch the decline to hell. HE has taken all
action, and offers and moves and sends those with beautiful feet, and appeals
and warns and encourages and will rule upon the earth. In the end, heaven's
door is open, for HE, Christ the Lord, is IT
(John 10:9, 27-28), and entering is a fate irremediable for sin and for death!
It is to life eternal. There is your joy (cf. I John 1:1-4). Forsake it if you
will; delight in Him, if He is yours, for HE IS DELIGHTFUL (cf. John ).
For more on these topics, see:
Barbs, Arrows and Balms Item 17, and
Appendix IV, The
Magnificence of the Messiah.
This is taken and adapted slightly, from Repent or Perish 2, where it may be seen in context.
4. FACE CHRIST LIKE A REALIST ?
the prophecies, from Jerusalem's fall, as also foretold by Daniel in Ch.9, to the restoration of the Jews (Luke 21:44), to the profusion of His slithering and serpentine substitutes who were to - and do abundantly now, misuse His name or His fame, and hence to our own times, in their specialised and specific forecast as a contour of events and characteristics (SMR Ch.8),
the panoply of power whether over sickness, demons or the weather,
the historical provision which led from long before, to His exposure to the world in hundreds of fulfilled prophecies ranging in topic from His date to His death, His healing to His joy, from His words to His Gospel, to its spread and to its extent throughout the world,
the program which He followed as laid down both in the Old Testament and in His own words,
the penalty-bearing and
the precision of His answers in all matters with which He was confronted, and
His performance, never aborted, never failing and never out of His depth whether with words, disease or events of any kind;
His predication of His power to the presence and His place with His Father (John ) ....
We could go on, for where can one stop with perfection. The Bible, the Creation and the Lord Jesus Christ all speak with one voice. Sin speaks with quite another, whether in the judgments Nature has received (Romans 8) or those which man successfully pleads for, from the Almighty, although He is all but incredibly patient (II Peter 3:9). As to the judgments on this world, they roll up like a crowd to a circus at the booming of the drum, and the drum? It is the sins of this world which neither diminish nor depart; its failure to repent of its wooden worship of nature, like the fallen Israelite parties of old (Jeremiah 2), of the world and of themselves as altogether the greatest there can be, or at least satisfactory and acceptable to anyone anywhere: and IF NOT, where then is their repentance! And if so, where then is their Lord? NOT in their hearts, or else they would be His and say so (Romans 10:9).
Will you then justify GOD
or justify YOURSELF? (cf. Luke 10:29, Romans 3:24-26). And if yourself, then
you are your own cause, your own centre and your own power, all manifestly
absurd if reality is in view, fantasy and pride in abominable distortion!
Publicans did better than that.