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IMPOSSIBLE TO MEN, OPEN TO GOD
This Easter message can begin with the Preface to this book, which we hope may become for some, the preface to eternal life in Jesus Christ.
Please read this first.
Now let us turn our attention to Easter, and indeed to that first Easter, in the sense of the crucifixion and the resurrection, with special thought for the Jews concerned at that time, in particular, and how the symbols of their temple sacrifice and Passover family tradition were in one night transformed into the substantial reality of salvation, accomplished and ready to be applied.
In this way, the very vividness of the events and the victory of the occasion may be experienced anew.
THE PASSOVER TO LORD'S SUPPER MERGER
The Passover (see Flight of Exodus) was held down the times from Moses, where the law was kept, on Abib, our April, 14th.. On the 10th, the lambs were to be secured, and at twilight on the 14th, slain, and eaten during that evening.
It is singularly striking that for them, this was to be the first month in the year! It was the NEW BEGINNING in which the slavery to the sinful lordliness of Egypt was stricken out, and the liberty to follow the Lord was brought in, not in words without deeds, for which the UN is not a little famous, but BY DEEDS and WITH WORDS, a desirable synthesis to substitute for sin.
As seen in Matthew 26:17-20, 27:2, on the day before the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, it was the first day that related to the Passover, namely that 14th Abib, and when the lamb was slain, and it was dark, then in what technically became for Jewish chronology, the 15th., since they start at that end of the day, it was to be eaten.
Thus the disciples, still under the Old Testament ritual, were instructed by the Lord to get the Passover ready, and in line with the royalty involved, the very method savoured of the miraculous (Luke 22:10ff.), right down to the identification of the place. There was danger indeed, and it was as if Hitler were present already, but it was with but ONE JEW in mind! This then was Thursday the 14th Abib.
On the next day, it was Friday as it happened, Friday the 15th Abib, which we are told was the day before the Sabbath as of course is habitual for the preceding, pre-Saturday part of the week (Mark 15:42)! God, however, leaves nothing to error, and so we find a day called the "Preparation Day, that is the day before the Sabbath" in Mark, mirrored in a way completely consistent throughout the Gospels (John 19:42, Luke 24:54, Matthew 27:62), all using the term having been defined by Mark.
It is interesting and provocative of thought that we find the Jewish leaders occupied on the "next day" which is the Sabbath (Matthew 27:62) seeking help from Pilate for a guard for the tomb, since Christ had put them on notice that on the third day He would arise from death (Matthew 17:20-23, John 11:25-26, 2:19, Luke 18:31-33. With a mouth like that of Judas and Christ's public declarations about the resurrection, the matter was known (cf. Matthew 27:63). Thus was the 'rest' of the rebels of religion! Here was there repose, scurrying for maximal safety from their crime. They assuredly did not want prosecution by the Victim, nor to be arrested by their sin. They set up their guard.
Matters of Divine Power, Operative Then as Now
After all, be the course of normal nature as secure as you will, in terms of the immediate past, yet when a man has raised the dead as famously recorded in John 11, and not then alone, has healed ALL KINDS of sickness as seen in Matthew 4:23-25, 12:15, Luke 6:19, performed such miracles repeatedly, dramatically and with direct challenge in view (as in Mark 2), for immediate display of the power of God, and done so in terms of having the authority to forgive sins, as in this last case: then it would be insanity to neglect His words.
Accordingly, they set their guard in terms of the not inconsiderable power given to them; for they had a guard of their own, such as that which arrested Christ!
What is impossible with men, however, is open to God, and the guard, as not unknown before in the history of God's dealings with His people, were not immune to sleep (cf. I Samuel 26:12). It was not of course deep enough to excuse their gross manipulation later in declaring that the disciples had stolen the body while they slept, since sleep does not allow such observation! this being one of the most patent lies of all time! Stealing a body, moreover, does not allow its rotting flesh to eat (Luke 24:39-43), nor do we invent heroes out of those who had run from His arrest (cf. Mark 14:50-51).
Indeed, any endeavour to be sure of hell on the part of any who would lie about the most sacred of things, is scarcely a ground or motive for people of any spirit to indulge in it! (Cf. SMR Ch. 6. Biblical Blessings Ch. 15, Extended Endnote 2, Acme, Alpha and Omega: Jesus Christ Ch. 11, With Heart ... Ch. 3, The Magnificence of the Messiah, Endnote 1, BAB Appendix 3.)
However, their candour was complete, their fearlessness full, once they knew for sure that death was nothing to fear (Acts 2: 24, 4:19-32, 5:29-42). And who would WANT His body removed ?
Would they, if soldiers, facing death penalty for such action (the embarrassment of His departure ensured a bribe instead, but the resurrection was not something the persecutors expected) ?
Would they, if Sanhedrin facing acute embarrassment at least, and having sought out Pilate to avoid just that development ? and how would the impossible abstraction of His body then be obtained in so high profile a case ? it is easier always to 'explain' something if you assume witless nincompoops in action, and place morons where foxes are known to exist!
What is impossible with man is open to God. The method: Christ arises, the soldiers are induced to sleep by the power of God also, and He proceeds out as one is able to do from an enclosed space when the boulder is removed: and as to that, it is something which God who made all, does not find difficult, the mere impartation of acceleration to a heavy object.
It is necessary to realise that this generation has become obsessed with a puny power, its own methods of entry into the interstices of created matter, and has become neglectful of divine power, making compromises like that of a large Lutheran consignment, in some kind of synthesis with the idolatry of Romanism (cf. Stepping Out for Christ Ch. 4, with SMR pp. 1032-1088H), or even talking of Christianity as if it were not CERTAIN, as a supposedly evangelical archbishop was reported to have done! (cf. Beauty for Ashes Ch. 9).
The simple fact of the power of God is as much neglected in its practical realities (not the emotional ferments which sometimes are used like rain dances of the soul, instead of faith), as the power of the atom is conceded.
Man has become spiritually demented with his own puny destructive power,
and thus his world on the one hand, demonstrates his follies,
and on the other remonstrates against them,
by its increasingly human and environmental intractabilities.
Man mucks his world because he himself is increasingly debauched in spirit, and
if not in flesh, in morals, then in pride and devastating ignorance of power of God,
its ways, wisdom and access.
The world given to man will not play with such puniness.
Indeed, it is, with increasing speed, being fouled by hearts separated from their God.
All these things, like the resurrection of Christ (Psalm 22, 16) itself, are as foretold (Matthew 24, Luke 21, II Timothy 3:1-5). Each leaves its vapour trail in the skies of history.
And now, as if to add to our global warming perils*1 from increasing gaseous emissions, such as those of CO2 , there is talk of GLOBAL DIMMING (ABC TV, Monday March 21st., Four Corners). In this, it is found that particles and cloud diversification - through a trend for many small droplets to replace fewer bigger ones, as pollution spreads - together bring about an obscuration of some of the sunlight. This so reduces heat in the oceans, and by this account, is aiding the horrors of sub-Saharan drought.
Removing false hope, this BBC 2005 production indicates that the dimming, also reported by Russian scientists, in a quantitative degree which matched the independent assessment results, is substantial.
A test gained from the Maldives, was significant indeed. This group of islands was used for a comparison of a relatively pure (southern sector) atmosphere, and one polluted by winds driving pollution from India (in its northern sector). It was thus a most convenient location for such a test. Using these two results, one from the purer and the other from the more polluted read-out, it was shown that there is here a slightly complex but eminently simple fact.
The DIMMING does, as one might expect, indeed tend to reduce the temperature of the ocean: for example, where the newly reflective surfaces of the changing cloud formations tend the more to reflect sunlight BACK away from the earth, which thus receives less. It is reasoned that this affected the cloud patterns over the Sahara, the ocean cooling in the total meteorological situation, and the bands of potential rain moving.
However, while it is conceded that this dimming effect LIMITS the heating effects from the green-house special pollution, which tends to keep in the sunlight and radiation, and that indeed this more recently researched phenomenon even ACTS AGAINST the green-house trend of heating, by doing the opposite: yet this exposes a greater problem. What if the cooling from dimming were removed ? would not the green-house effect then be shown to be greater in its own dynamic, than previously thought ? Would not the removal of brakes show just how potent the greenhouse heat accelerator really was! Data were obtained.
The cooling effect is being reduced over the past few years, it is found, by improvement in particle emission, so that the obscuration of the sun by clouds and - incidentally - by the jet aircraft clouds which proliferate in some cases to a large percentage of the sky - is now rather less than it was; and yet what does this disclose ? More data were to be obtained. Was it indeed the case that particles, and reflective mirrors polluted into the atmosphere, were making such an impact on receivable sunlight ?
More experimental data were required, and some testing in the 3 day virtual airliner moratorium in the USA following the September 11 disaster, became available. This disclosed a SIGNIFICANT change in temperature RANGE in so short a period, a mere mini-half week! The results showed the very notable increased penetration of sunlight when the particle-jetstream effect was reduced. If in such a short time such a change occurred, what would be the extent of the shielding of sunlight for a considerable time!
Thus this striking fact of sudden and great change in temperature range, implying strong short-term reduction in dimming, gained in 2001, confirmed grounds for some necessary reflection.
If then the DIMMING of the earth, relative to sunlight, is a fact, and if it has tended to COOL the earth, and to do so substantially, what would be found if it were eliminated ? Now that particle emission is in fact being reduced to some degree, by improved attention to the processes of emission, there may be disclosed a new fact; and models based on measurements were constructed to enable projections of events which might be expected.
]he HEATING effect of the Greenhouse gases has thus been MASKED in measure by the cooling effect of the DIMMING phenomenon. Remove the masking, and quantify the change to the extent possible from the data available, and what does one find ? It is this: that the models for global warming as a RESULT of greenhouse gases are currently improperly reduced, since no allowance was made in these models for the counter-effects of dimming. Remove the latter, and the former soar.
On this basis, it was found that taken by itself, the greenhouse global warming thrust is far greater than thought, and figures such as many metres for ocean rising (obliterating much of human civilisation), and up to ten degrees temperature rise by the end of the century were produced. In a far shorter time, an irreversible warming, even say of 2 degrees might account for much of the stability of civilisation on earth.
IF the DIMMING continues, so do such tragedies as the Sahara, now somewhat improved; if it is cleared, then the WARMING from greenhouse gases is projected to be far faster.
VAST and drastic action on both scores is deemed necessary.
Now all this is merely to give one very recent illustration of the general reality that life on this earth is becoming increasingly painful and uncertain, because there are many things which for man is impossible, and some of it appears irresponsible in a responsive environment! It is not easy, and it may now not even be feasible, to avoid catastrophes of much greater scope than that of the Sahara, or Aceh Province. Why is man so acting ? and why is he so slow to show restraint ?
One reason is his tendency to self-centred sin, as individuals, as nations, and even as groups of nations. Another is this, that there is no peace, and so little wisdom arises, as wars and alliances disturb with their turbulence, any hope of sound and global wisdom. A third is that the tendency for human sin to display itself in the desire to be first, to lord it over others, to be dominant, which seems currently to be in a dangerous play in China, and was formerly in Japan and Germany for example; but by no means is this evil confined to these alone, as much of mankind is seeking to prostitute conditions of peril for advancement in power. Again, there is the desire to avoid God at all costs, that is, the living God whose worship is not routine and sophistry, but in truth according to His word.
Thus the international seeking of dominance before God becomes the next lure, if all the rest were to be put to rest; and thus the endless conflict continues, man against man and man against God, until the place reeks with rebellion and unreality. This cannot continue. Abuse your car badly enough, long enough and it ceases working. If the environment fails, man is sitting on air!
As Christ declared, iniquity will abound and the love of God will grow cold in many, and unless He returned, human life could not, in the end, continue on this earth: BUT HE WILL RETURN (cf. Matthew 24:24-51, Acts 1:7ff., 3:19-21).
He will return because what is impossible with men, is open to God, just as the tomb was opened; and when you come to think of it, how SIMPLE it was, to bring sleep to one party, the guards, and acceleration to another, the boulder by the tomb! It was less simple to resurrect the body, but when a personal being has created persons and world and life, it is not so hard either! It is just something well within the power of God. It has been foretold, done and applied at the date prophetically given, in fact around 30 A.D. (Highway of Holiness Ch. 4).
It is always relatively simple when
you have that blessed combination of wisdom and power which is the singular
prerogative of the Creator; and a solution is always available to those who know
the Lord and so have access, on HIS terms, to His power as in Ephesians 1:19ff.,
even the power of His resurrection (cf. To Know God, the Power of
Christ’s Resurrection and the Fellowship of His Sufferings ). It
is God who meets the one who rejoices and remembers Him in His ways, ways that
do not change (Haggai 3:6, Malachi 3:6, Isaiah 64:4).
). It is God who meets the one who rejoices and remembers Him in His ways, ways that do not change (Haggai 3:6, Malachi 3:6, Isaiah 64:4).
JESUS AND JONAH
Let us now return, however, from the splash of power devoted to the resurrection of God's only begotten Son, the Christ, and seen like waters down a giant spillway, to the work necessary before mere power could be so much as relevant! Wisdom must come first in all things projected.
We return to the sufferings of Christ, before the vital power display at the level of death, put in place in the way shown in Hebrews 2:14ff., covered that fateful feature which has so troubled man for so long ... We have been seeing the power for His triumph, but in soul and spirit, no less was required for His endurance on the way to it!
The time for eating the Passover was the evening of the 14th. Abib, so that when Jesus was arrested in that time, the Lamb of God was seized and thus there began the three days and three nights parallel to the case of Jonah immersed in the large fish (Matthew 12:40 cf. Overflight ... Ch. 2). This was Thursday night - the night before the crucifixion which in turn was on the day before the Sabbath, a High day presumably since it was that which occurred in the Passover week (Exodus 12:19, Leviticus 23:4-6).
Let us look for a moment at Jonah, in his first night! Jonah, suddenly tossed overboard (parallel to the crucifixion), and gaining extraordinary anchorage in the large fish, what a time was that! It was the first exposure to utter horror, and so came much of horror, on that first night for Christ, the commencement of the three. Thus had Christ predicted He would spend three nights in the depths like Jonah.
The impact then hit Him: mocked and struck, He gained experience for His part, that included the SENTENCE, the death sentence in the hurried 'trial'. With this came the mockery of the attendants to the high priest, the clouting with their hands, the rejection and the exposure to the great deep of human depravity, regardless of truth. In the melee, they were citing by blasphemy their sentence of blasphemy on Him who, unlike all others, had shown irrefutable grounds of authenticity, even to this very point. To His first night experience, therefore, He added this: being rejected, as foretold, by His own people! (Isaiah 49:7), with a devious passion and an outrageous vilification.
How ironic, that in the act of condemning Him for blasphemy, they were fulfilling the account of His suffering, the just for the unjust to bring us to God, as Peter described it, and Isaiah had long before foretold it (II Peter 3:18, Isaiah 53:10-12)!
Thus did Thursday merge into Friday; thus did the eating of the Lamb by many families, according to Exodus 12's requirement, in their religious observance, coincide with the death sentence and torturing mockery of the Son of God, the Lamb of God (John 1:29), long recognised as such by many of the faithful. Now, being by successive steps, legal, emotional, physical and spiritual, by torture of truth and reality, stricken, He went on to the following day, slowly slain for them.
Some more detail may please and help some, so it is here provided.
Professor J.A. Archer, in his Bible Difficullties, a classic and in the main exceedingly sharp and remarkable account, shows that "Preparation" became a term for "Friday" in terms of normal usage, signifying the day to get ready for the routine Sabbath, that rest day for the Jew which came on the Saturday. Indeed, he notes, the same term is used for this purpose in modern Greek, just as it was in the first century A.D.. Thus Thursday merged into Friday, and the camp of oppression made for its own nation a horror the like of which this world has never seen, in the centuries to come (cf. Luke 23:28ff., Matthew 27:25).
The ceremonial week followed the Passover when they were on Abib 14th, to kill the Lamb at twilight (Exodus 12:6, Leviticus 23:5), and eat it before the morning. This, also named the feast of unleavened bread feast, became known as Passover week; and its particular "Preparation" day thus was quite simply Friday, or the day before the Sabbath as Mark defined it. The Gospels thus for the crucifixion demarcate Friday of the Passover week.
This Passover feast, or feast of unleavened bread, being a whole week, there had to occur a Sabbath within it. The preceding day, then, was the "Preparation of the Passover", as in John 19:42, or in our terms, Friday of Passover week, as it is translated in the New International Version of the Bible. This was the day as all the Gospels concur, on which the Lamb was physically slain.
The parallel with Jonah, for three days and three nights in the belly of the marine creature, disturbed in the deep, enclosed in what seemed to him the bars of hell (Jonah 2), thus is provided for in terms of the interment of Christ's body:
Thursday night, day one;
Friday night, day two;
Saturday night, day three.
In the Jewish inclusivist counting, Friday is day one, Saturday day two, and Sunday as the sun tipped the horizon, day three. We think in this period of I Peter 3:19-20 (cf. mcontrib3).
It was on this third day that Jonah was ejected from the heaving walls of his piscine tomb; and on that day likewise, that Christ moved freely from the grave, the impeding boulder gone, and unable to hold Him longer in any case. Death failed to hold the illimitable God, who having done His task, handed the liberty of the city of life, even citizenship in the kingdom of heaven (Philippians 3:20ff.) to His people, the keys His own body, the path, His own entry back into heaven, and the preparation, His own construction, as He said,
"In My Father's house are many dwelling sites.
If it were not so, I would have told you.
I go to prepare a place for you. "
Just as Jonah on eviction from the fish, then went on his journey to Nineveh, so the Christian, on deliverance through Christ from death, goes on his journey to the resurrection which life preaches unfettered by sin, its everlasting message of triumph (Philippians 3:21).
BETRAYING GOD: ECCLESIASTICAL HOUNDS BAYING
There is value in this concentration on day one in the Jonah parallel, so that there is a substantial part of the whole suffering to be found on the first evening, Thursday night, before the blood flows, except in the wounds inflicted on Him before the stark event on the cross. It stresses the suffering, mockery, clouting and the arid, bad taste comedy of having sinners in robes of religion condemning the Lord they profess to worship, subjecting Him to every kind of contempt, while being themselves more than contemptible. It is this kind of sin to which Christ could look, crying,
"Father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing!" (Luke 23:34).
That, it is truly divine, and what makes it if possible, even more so is the fact that WHILE He kept crying in this forgiving way (as the tense of the verb shows), they for their part were as hard as flint, and rejoiced in their 'triumph' of atrocity, like adolescents doing wheelies and making the neighbourhood reek.
This then was an integral part of the 'burial' of Christ in the 'deep' in the Jonah parallel, and indeed, it was preceded in that same evening by a trial of a much harder kind (cf. Hebrews 5:7), when Christ sought with piercing cries, His Father, while He faced the awful impact of fact to the last, that the ultimate sacrifice of all time was indeed to proceed (cf. Luke 22:42).
Thus, on that first night, did the burial in blight commence, in atrocious slander, delirious demeaning by contemptible judges, with outright rejection of truth, of Himself, and hence of the only mercy for man. It was done before the judgment seat of man, guilty ultimately by these means, of man-slaughter against Himself, by the murder of the only Saviour there is (Isaiah 43:10-11, Acts 4:11ff.). From His arrest to His resurrection, the body seized, tortured, despised, buried, is taken and then it is interred. It is on the third day that as I Corinthians 15 shows, and J. Gresham Machen points out, that the 'thing buried' arises: the same, but oh so deliciously different. For now, the limitations of being human as far surpassed, for the test is over, the work is done.
That resurrection where life proceeds in victory, now has its triumph.
Able to eat, as in Luke 24, Christ is able to depart and arrive without notice; able to tend a fire and pass food for others to eat as in John, just as He is able to ascend to His Father from their sight. God is not subject to limits, and when He chooses to take a form which imposes this on Himself, in order to rescue those who receive Him among mankind, it is an ultimate testimony. It testifies to His love, that He should endure this, as to His wisdom, that He did it successfully, triumphantly overcoming all temptation (Matthew 4), passing every test as man among men, and showing the reality of deity in our very own form.
Here, here is ground for worship and here is the beauty of divine holiness worthy of it! It is as sung in Revelation 5:
" 'You are worthy to take the scroll,
And to open its seals;
For You were slain,
And have redeemed us to God by Your blood
Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation,
And have made them kings and priests to our God;
And we shall reign on the earth.'
"Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures,
and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice:
" 'Worthy is the Lamb who was slain
To receive power and riches and wisdom,
And strength and honor and glory and blessing!'
"And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth
and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying:
'Blessing and honor and glory and power
Be to Him who sits on the throne,
And to the Lamb, forever and ever!' "
THE PERFECT FIT
and the IRONIC REST
How, precisely, then, does this relate in time sequence, to the Passover ? It does so as occurring on the night designated for eating it, integral therefore both to the time of its symbolism, and that of the consummation in Christ's torture and condemnation. From that decision, made on that self-same night, the only outcome is death; and this is its formal declaration.
The merger of preliminary, of preparatory symbol and fulfilling historic fact is complete, the performance of a literal lamb merging in the midst of acute agony as in Luke 22:39-45, in the garden, and that of another in kind in the betrayal which Judas performs, outrageously with a kiss, acting a a 'mole' or stooge for the priests, in away that became representation of the nation as such. It continues in its timing to coincide with that of the death penalty and the defiling contempt and buffetting.
As to Judas, they used him, and what he did, was for them as employers. The train of slaughter had many stations, and raced through them on that evil time.
Thus this merger so acts even in the very evening designated for eating ... the Lamb.
Into the sacred Passover Preparation Day the train of events moves, into the black arms of the Friday, and it passes forward towards the "rest" of the Sabbath to follow, a rest in form, so notoriously blasphemed by the fact that it becomes a national horror to this day, even deeper than the many other horrors of all but incredible brutality forged by many in Europe, even in Christ's name, as if they were lusting to get as near as possible to the error of Israel in that blackest of all its days.
Rest ? a day for it, in the midst of national iniquity, relentless, remorseless, so that they preferred a notorious murderer freed, to the just liberation of Christ! So was He indeed numbered among the trangressors, as Isaiah 53 foretold, and killed in assemblage with thieves.
Thus it was, in hideous irony, a matter of verbally honouring God, while actually abominating Him in the person of His only begotten Son, the only Saviour.
When that defiled 'rest' is over, at once, on the Sunday, He being resurrected, by victorious life and divine power together, rebukes Israel and this world, represented by Pilate and Herod, Rome's puppet, both in agreement on His condemnation.
Life invincible rebukes its gallows men. In this way, the Passover week proceeds to beget a new release and a new power, greater than that of the Exodus even with its events of the passing through the Red Sea: and it does this, as first Mary, then the women and Peter, then the Emmaus disciples and the assembled group (Luke 24:36ff.), not only see for themselves the risen Christ, but are exposed to instruction as He eats with new liberty the very food they eat (Luke 24:42-43), while they give to Him just that food.
Afterwards, Christ even imposed a training class for Thomas, so that the methods of the laboratory could be employed, in setting his fingers in the actual wounds! (John 20). However, even by the third day, all but this was accomplished.
SPIRITS HAVE NO BODIES
Indeed, it was on that very evening following the third day, staggered at this Jonah parallel, death having vomited the Christ, for it could not contain Him (Acts 2:24), that the disciples are not left to their senses alone. Having come together, but without Thomas on this first Sunday, they are made to observe as by an instructor at a laboratory session, that it is no spirit they are regarding:
"Behold My hands and My feet," He requests, "that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see." Thus goes the script of this most miraculous adventure, designed, operated and consummated by the Lord God Himself; and it continues, "for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have " (Luke 24:39). This Thomas missed through what appears his ill-advised absence (John 20:24)! For him a personal course was required, on the following Sunday, the worship day (John 20:26ff.).
Thus Christ our Passover ( I Corinthians 5:7), takes the Exodus to new and heavenly heights, as not mere slavery, but death itself has its hold broken, and not Christ only, but the special or peculiar people, now called Christians - or Messiah-ans, find at once, their promised "land", secure in the Rock that is Christ (I Corinthians 10), immovable in providing unshakeable assurance, testimony and lodging place.
Moreover, this Rock, it is alive, and keeps what is committed to it "against that day" (II Timothy 1:12) when heaven itself consummates the Cross and becomes the last recourse of the Resurrection. Here is the annulment of judgment, for mercy smiles in the face of judgment (John 5:24, James 2:13), or "triumphs over judgment" as the NKJ translation has it. The way He has shown, and it is Himself; and the life He has shown, and it is able to overcome death, and did so; and the truth He has shown, and it is He who declared,
"My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.
And I give to them eternal life, and they shall never perish."
He did not do all that for anything less than this. Love loves its objects, and having found them, He keeps them, His life upon them, His eye on them, His will available for them, as He leads them, the Good Shepherd who KNOWS His sheep. He is there for consultation, excavation, renewal, inspiration, for counsel and for grace, for direction and correction, in the beauty of holiness.
PAGEANT AND PERFECTION
Christ did all things well - for God's splendour was in His mission, His Person and in the love that sent Him (Philippians 2).
Thus even as glorious as is the merger of the symbol of the passover into the Lord's Supper, with the arrest, sentence of death and torture of Christ on that very night set aside for the eating of the Passover lamb, it is not yet seen fully. There is even more to be seen.
In Leviticus 23:8 we read that an "offering made by fire" is to follow the Passover night. This then takes us to the very next day, here the Friday of the crucifixion.
In II Chronicles 35, in the day of that great and righteous King Josiah, we observe that such was the slaughter of beasts for the day after the Passover, that the priests laboured till night - though of course, that was a gala occasion of restoration and revival at which this occurred. Nevertheless, it is indicative of the following of the instructions.
Thus the national offerings associated with the private family supper, occurred in the very next day - here the Friday of the Cross, on which Christ hung for hours in a lonely, dripping, crushing of His physiological life.
The people on that same day as in II Chronicles 35:6-17, could all eat of the national sacrifice made available, while Christ died at the same time. Thus the symbolic, itself about to decease, is immediately fulfilled (cf. Hebrews 8:13), and the actual arrives in perfect time sequence to a marvel, to be 'eaten' by faith (as in John 6:53-54,63). And when is this eating by faith to come and how ? It comes when faith arrives: where the personal appropriation is spiritual, while the thing to be taken, is that very physical death of that Lord, God as man, which denied the grave its power and sin its target.
This He did, by pardon and power (Micah 7:19ff., Titus 3:5-7), by virtue and patience, through grace making the grave a broken power, in the summit of perfection in Christ who, as representative and substitute for all who receive Him, leaves nothing for the negative but its negation (cf. II Corinthians 5:17-21).
The promises of God ? In Christ they are YEA and AMEN (II Corinthians 1:9-11,20-21, II Peter 1:1-5).
THE SPLENDOUR AND THE MAGNIFICENCE
Thus the splendour of divine strength, savour and pardon, of the Passover week, with all its historic lessons in deliverance and sacrifice, surged into the day of Christ's final sufferings, announcing grace by role reversal (Matthew 20:28), in a declaration-by-doing, even more surely than did the words of the angelic choir, in earlier announcement make clear His arrival (Luke 2:14).
Here was food to eat in one's spirit, designed to liberate, as He who knew no sin became for us who believe, a sin offering, a peace offering, the avenue of the strength of God, clearing the boulder of sin, the clogging of confusion and the obstreperous traffic of evil priests, even as they performed their blind ritual, and declared their depravity for all time.
When Christ arose, there was the death sentence on death, the signature of God on eternal life, on the same document (Ephesians 1:11), dynamised by the seal of peace wrought on all lives covered by the blood of the death of Christ, as applied by the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:7,11,13-14).
Now the power which raised Christ's body is available for Christian living (Ephesians 1:19, II Peter 1:3ff.) in an extended Passover week (I Corinthians 5:7), lasting to the end of the Age (Matthew 28:19-20). It is given to be utilised for His kingdom, His will, His gracious provisions and His Gospel. It is always sufficient for all of His works, and it is given with the wisdom and deployment that He Himself desires.
His work is not so fragile that He does not discipline error, nor so loose that it does not require discipline in the performance. Where His name is involved, there is adequacy, there is endurance and there is persistence in truth. The resurrection is a testimony of power with precision; Christian life in Christ is a testimony to His fatherly grace, His brotherly compassion and His saving strength. There is, quite literally, NOTHING to hard for the Lord. It is a privilege to work for Him, beyond all other work.
Such is the grand plan of a greater far then Jonah, of Jesus the Christ; and such is the fulfilment of the everlasting Gospel (Revelation 14:3). It was not any experiment for its own sake, but a divine labour out of love for a fallen creation! To die daily to self, the world, devil and sin alike, in the face of marvels such as His, it is all but trivial. To live more abundantly in His presence (John 10:10), it is truth in action.
On the global warming topic, see also
News 1 , News 45,
SMR Ch.2 , pp. 160-170, 234-248; SMR pp. 714-715,
Cascade ... Ch. 11,
Red Alert Ch. 14, PITTERThe
Pitter-Patter of Prophetic Feet Ch. 6, esp. *3,
Red Heart, Dead Heart and Pure Heart Ch. 4.
See also SMR index.