W W W W World Wide Web Witness Inc. Home Page Contents Page for Volume What is New
2. The Summary of our Coverage
3. The Sequence of Steps.
4. Biblical Orientation to Title
Isaiah presents much of our matter so succinctly:
A king shall reign in righteousness... a man shall be a hiding place... and the shadow of a great rock in a weary land (32:1-2 KJV);
His refuge will the impregnable rock (33:16 - NASV).The first text noted, talks of Christ, as we shall see (Ch.'s 8 and 9 infra). The second speaks of the person whose Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ has become.
During the many years in different countries which I have spent in the work of the Christian Ministry at the call of the Lord Jesus Christ, I have met many different people who have enquired, or objected, or provided situations or made contributions, giving cause for reflection ... and action. While some quarter of a century has been spent as a Minister in what is now the Presbyterian Church in America, the work has not been limited to that.
Calls have come to the scenic splendour of the South Island of New Zealand, to short term labour among the Australian aborigines in Western Australia; through the rugged vastnesses of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, to the tender beauty of Prince Edward Island in Canada; to preach in Denver by the lofty splendour of Colorado, in Indiana, Cleveland, and Illinois; as well as in Melbourne and Adelaide, Australia. With all this, there has been a degree of fascination in the racial, cultural and personal differences; but some things are very much the same. On all sides alike, one sees the more or less broken image of God in our race: sometimes renewed in the vitality of eternal life and the power of the Lord, made available according to His word; often unrestored, and differently displayed, but always recognisably the same object.
The experience of the truth of God's abiding and written promises, both practical and personal, of His willingness indeed to meet every hostile challenge, every sincere enquiry, every need from His word and by His spirit, has been continual. Sometimes He works His will and fulfils His word startlingly, sometimes more painfully, but always effectively.
We are, in fact, told in the Bible (1 Peter 3:15) to provide an answer for the hope that is in us, to those who ask us; so that we might expect in one way or another, that the power to provide one, or find one will be given; and it is apologetically significant to attest that in all these things, I have unvaryingly found this to be so. God is wholly faithful and powerful. His word works just the same anywhere, and blesses through faith everywhere.
While we await the return of the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 1:7 ff., 3:19-22) - acting on His instructions in giving a reason for the faith, to those asking: we may find form and format may differ from one time and clime, to another. There are however underlying ingredients of substantial sameness, which give one cause to consider that the formulation provided in this book, showing the necessary truth of the Bible and the reality of its Lord, may be useful to many.
The work is in 10 chapters, and has four appendices, designed to satisfy certain predictably popular areas for research in showing the truth of the Christian faith, as defined in the Bible (see Chapter 7, Section 3A infra). The contents and sequence of thought in these will be shown in some detail later in this introduction. Meanwhile, let us give some thought to the book's title, drawn from the Bible, and to the scriptures which relate.
Freedom, like a child, can cry or speak, be delightful or horrifying. A gift, a work of Divinity Himself, a reflection of the Rock, with its scope towards sublimity, when rightly used: it yet carries also the power to blight, and indeed be blighted, in the judgments of Him who first made it meaningful for man. When extravagantly and grossly misused and misspent, freedom can not only spoil the integrity of the whole design of man, producing and provoking alienation from himself, from his neighbour and from his God; it can procure a personal response from the Creator whose beautiful product is so abused; and God is very deep, His rebukes being as remarkable as His loving kindness to those who are, and wish to be, His.
In this work, we will follow reason - both positively and negatively - and evidence to this Rock, and see the grounds of its attestation physically, chemically, biologically, psychologically, logically, sociologically, archeologically, historically, prophetically, spiritually and morally.
It will be shown that God's existence is demonstrable, that His nature is and must be what the Bible shows, true and righteous, and indeed that the Bible itself of necessity is what He has said with definitive propositions, to man.
The reader who finds this the most dreadful seeming effrontery draws from me a chord of understanding; for relativism and other reactionary, irrational, rearguard movements (Ch. 3) of unbelief are taught with solemn assurance in schools and universities (Chs. 2,4), very often with a clear, missionary zeal. Long is it since many of these institutions understood that the varying loads of unbelief are are alike illogical, idle chatter; that God is not a subjectivistic area for personal resort and fulfilment or preference, but objectively more imposing and obvious than anything or anyone else. Clearly depicted, He is calling for repentance, and acceptance of that sole Saviour whom He has provided in kindness to the world. However, He is NOT available for casual or indolent expression or perhaps partial acceptance, 'providing that'... Herod found that rebuff.
We will, then, show that God is, that the Bible is truth and that Jesus Christ is what the Bible claims, the personal communication of God the Father, One equipped with wholly divine status, so that indeed, as He said, "He who has seen me has seen the Father," as John twice records of Him.
The only real room for rational preference is that of leaving reality, clinging to sin and weaving some temporary make-believe with which to self-deceive until, from time to time, if God be so gracious, someone brings you out of it and you seek, like a patient spider to weave another film of illusion, web of fancy. That, at least, is the way of consolidated unbelief; like people supplied in famine with food from the U.N., finding ways of contaminating or disposing of it, outside the needs of the human frame.
Yet there are some who, surfeited with fancy, will cease spinning their woefully inadequate webs, plant their feet instead on the Rock, and by faith, reside, abide and act in the self-conforming reality of the Mighty Rock.
This is the Truth who, we will show, is objective, revealed and Jesus Christ.
SUMMARY and SEQUENCE may be of interest, for a preview, and these follow.
1) To establish that God is; and that He is not less than is shown: in detailed demonstration (Chapter 1).
2) To show that since God is as a minimum, as established in 1) above, that therefore revelation from Him - explicitly articulated, given expressly in His name - is a necessity; and that the Bible is and must be that revelation.
To remove the pretensions of the pseudo-logical, and sometimes quasi-scientific reference to non-creation, to a non-creator god, series or situation, or a philosophically conditioned god-substitute or man-made rendering of 'the divine' or assault on it (Chs. 1, 2, 3).
This is extended in Chapter 10 where the consideration of the failure of the 'comparative religions' approach is provided in more depth. Jointly, chapters 3 and 10 abort the direct frontal assault on God, as also the subtler seeming provision of substitutes.
To show at a situational level, the superiority of the Biblical analysis, when applied to areas of tertiary student concern in sociology, psychology, economics and physics. There shown and used, is the Biblical basis for the understanding of (and impermeability to) irrational or ill-founded contemporary academic propaganda. This often, with strident and misled militancy, is seen conscripting students to folly. Here this meets due response, dwarfed by the word of God.
This is an applied section for student use (Chapter 4). It is one fascinating and compelling field in the many areas of verification.
To show the POWER OF THE BIBLE in principle as a basis for solving chronic philosophic problems. Like an answer for cancer, it stanches the bleeding of these intellectual wounds, with a unique efficacy which attests and evidences the answer of its perspective to man's problems, thus verifying its truth (Chapter 5).
To make an independent verificatory excursion into the historic Lord Jesus Christ, and to consider this also in terms of a verification of the independent earlier finding that the Bible is the word of God (Chapter 6). This includes the removal of radical pretensions, that might look to assault the testimony of Jesus Christ, based on ignorance or unreason.
To provide preliminary prophetic demonstration, through prediction fulfilment :
a) as verification of the word of God: intrinsically equipped with superabundant evidence of the action of the sovereign speech of the divine communicative Person, and
b) as a basis for extending the massive and grinding force of item 7 above (Chapter 8).
To show, thereon, Biblical Prophecy in more scope - its security, amplitude, precision and mastery:
a) in pointed and verificatory contrast to the common confusion and frustration which the World finds with 'intractable' history, and unmanageable human nature. This contrast also exhibits and provides the meaning of this intractability, and of the chronic failure of man in life.
b) in verification of the specific divine claim which Biblical prophecy makes for its origin, one which confers on it a startling status, one which is eminently testable (esp. pp. 375 ff. infra).
c) as illustration of the meaning of a divine sovereignty which not only is stopped by nothing, and can begin to act where it pleases, but which is also personal, spiritual and moral in dimension (Chapter 9).
To provide some indication of what the Bible in fact teaches, in some of its system, both in future coverage and in relation to the past, in one unified stream. This is done partly for convenience, as apologetics is NOT an isolated segment of Christianity or of theology; and partly for sheer verificatory delight at such an exquisite system, the sort of thing which is seen in categorically lesser degree, in some of the experimentally and theoretically blended thought of man, when put to the test in practice (Chapter 7).
To exhibit and ponder, in negatively directed verification (as was done earlier with organic evolution and the philosophies of assault, as one phase) the hopeless logical inadequacy of common religious substitutes for the truth: and as further verification, to look at the Biblical analysis, which even shows how and why even brilliant minds may be inveigled by such trifling irrationality as is provided by substitute systems (Chs. 10, 3, 4).
In the process, the myth is destroyed that there are really any competitive religions of rational charm and warrant at all; or any competitive approaches outside the Bible, rationally, whatever. Thus provided is a system both positively and negatively directed, to construct and to destroy - but not the same things! and to direct to the Bible by reason, for the obtaining of (authentic and explicit, divine) revelation.
With THE FIRST EXTENSION, on THE WONDER OF THE WORD OF GOD, ITS WORK AND ITS WITNESS, there follows a more extensive treatment of areas of logic, thought and language, an area which has become a veritable swamp of muddy thinking for so long now; and with that in mind, dialogue precedes this Extension, to brighten the task.
The dramatic dialogue format is intended to stimulate or facilitate thought beyond the philosophic conditioning processes that may in fact tend to bind or to blind.
In Chapter two, the survey is made of the vital scene - physical life- and in directness, reason and evidence is considered. This requires us rationally to dismiss the hypothesis of organic evolution as an erratic creation in substantial violation of scientific method, its bizarre and banal 'creativity' the only place at which it reaches any substantial connection with its field... Certainly, the facility for such a droll work of imagination is, inadvertently, a good testimony to the sheer exuberance of creativity conferred on the created mind of man.
In Chapter three, we look at some of the efforts to ESCAPE the obvious - and it is accordingly called LAIRS OF IRRATIONALISM. We there inspect places where desperate efforts are made to preserve human autonomy in our generously framed, and yet limited situation; we look at the forced marches to preserve blindness in the place of sight, evasion in the place of light. These could have been considered at the first, but this would have been to weary some readers with what battle reports might call 'a few skirmishes', with no real substance except to confuse issues which are in fact clear.
Here we dispense logically with the concern these may seek to evoke. It is not that these lairs lack some attraction for the anti-God desperado, perhaps psychologically, certainly spiritually at times; but that is a different and purely personal question. Our concern here is logic, our motivation truth.
Chapter four is intended to provide help, by way of application, to students in sociology, economics and psychology, in several places where the plane of Christianity intersects with the plane of humanism: it is intended to expose the belittling begging of questions by which so many for so long have so much harassed so many students with grounds so irrational, with no more substance than vacuum.
In the same chapter, an allied excursion and application is made where the planes of physics, logic and theology meet, so that the lively mind can enjoy this aspect of the scope of Christian virtue, vigour and vision, and see that the path is clear.
In Chapter five, it is time to examine the many arresting and stimulating solutions which the blessed Biblical perspective in fact provides.It is like removing a car window handle with the proper tool - incredibly simple, once you approach it rightly, being properly prepared, and willing to learn. Or what is it like ? it is like picking strawberries on a farm: they fall into the hand, yielding and delicious. It is merely a question of being in the right place, doing what is fitting: obviously it is very difficult trying to pick strawberries from arid desert sand, and that is why, in the general run, the philosophers have so hard a time of it.
Take the revelation of the word of God, and you are in an environment of peace and abundance, glorious and unique rationality, yet not stunted by rationalism. That is what this section is designed to show, by selecting cardinal examples of the Biblical power to resolve chronic and, ostensibly at least, complex intellectual problems. This the Bible does with all the facility and felicity of truth. It is like living in a house, when once accustomed to a mere tent; it is like hearing a good orchestra when habituated to the screeches of an unskilled mob of untaught musicians.
Chapter six confirms what we have found in the form of the Bible as the word of God, in a particular and uniquely important area. It is that of Jesus Christ Himself. Here regarded in history from incarnation to resurrection, He provides a testimony, evidentially mighty in its own right, to His own identity and to the nature of God. Further, we see that here the Bible and the life of Christ mutually reinforce. As far as unbelief is concerned, this assemblage, Christ in history and the Bible in hand, is like two hydrogen bombs destroying a hillock. When what has to be done, is done, the hillock... is not there. There is only the hole where it was, the pit.
Chapter seven, is simply a summary of Biblical teaching, meeting the natural and logical need for the reader to ask: What then is in this Bible ? What are its main teachings ? Now since we are in a fast-moving Age, we turn here also to part two of this summary, providing an outline of what the Bible in fact has to say about this, our Age, and about what awaits us... the future!
This leads on naturally to a section in Chapters seven and eight, on BIBLICAL PROPHECY. Here we study this an an independent, but intimately appropriate aspect of the word of God. He has not left us to guess, but confirms His word (Isaiah 44:26, Joel 2:11). He has said that He will do so, has done so and challenges us to check! This we do. All this appears in this section.
For that, there is a little preliminary work on perspective, to assist understanding, where such rich food is used. To avoid bewilderment and to aid clarity, we first then briefly look at predestination. This is treated at just and due length in my PREDESTINATION AND FREEWILL (75, 000 word M.A. Thesis, University of Melbourne, 1964, available from its Baillieu Library, from Covenant Theological Seminary, St. Louis U.S.A. and from Concordia Seminary in the same city).
Here merely enough is given to see how it could be that God either could or would make precise, factual predictions, duly accurately fulfilled. This is intended to remove intellectual tensions in territory which may be new to some readers. It thus helps (like prac. work in a science course) in enabling one to see in detail, something of the amazing wonders of performance, feats of functionality, of the acute accomplishments of the Almighty God who "alone does great wonders" (Psalm 136:4).
In Chapter eight, we proceed to a treatment of prophecy which - though rather intensive - is taken relatively briefly: basically in terms of what Jesus Christ predicted, when on earth. This is evidentially related closely to what has in fact happened, in order to fulfil the task of verification: what He said: what it (history) did. Perfect correlation is seen. It is this task which one must be prepared to perform, if thoughtfully inclined, honest and sincere.
There follows in Chapter nine, an extensive coverage of a broad scope of Biblical prophecy, with emphasis on recent times: and this, in view of the fact that we appear now to be the most fortunate generation since Jesus Christ on earth: in the following respect. More prophecies from the Bible are being fulfilled before our eyes than ever before since Christ, since the actual time here of Jesus Christ, when He Himself was fulfilling them multitudinously, in Person, on earth. If conditions are in some ways harder for Christians now, because we are further from His blessed day on earth, yet in one way, it is easier now than almost ever before in this Age (of almost 2000 years): because of these super-abundant prophetic fulfilments.
These, as Peter indicates (II Peter 1:19), are for re- assurance in no small part: as the day of the Lord draws near, it showers us with preliminary and marvellous episodes of fulfilment. They do provide this re-assurance with a certain style and panache, in these increasingly perilous and aggravated times. Yet surrounded by such power of prophecy, and personal company in the Lord - as when a child accompanies a father: the worse the trials, the more is seen the skill and prudence of the parent. In this, we are extraordinarily blessed, needing merely eyes to see, eyes that are open.
All this allows us to feel at home in our Age, seeing it from divine perspective, in that God has made it clear in advance; and thus equipped, we may penetrate its way and meaning with power and peace. Indeed, it helps us to see that the Age is proceeding in some ways like a disease syndrome, with highly particular elements prominent, as forecast. There can be no doubt that the extent of what was predicted, and what has happened in complete conformity with it, is amazing, overwhelmingly delightful and powerfully penetrating: easily seen if we are but awake.
Touched with wonder, we proceed to Chapter ten. Logical deficiencies in the empirical field of competing religions now show, by negative means, further verification that the Bible, the sole logical option, is the word of God. In this Chapter is seen the confirmatory quality of divinely given expression; and this is contrasted with misled human effort. That effort is such that God is by many told who He is or what He is... as if He did not know, and we did not need... to be told by Him!
With mingled presumption and confusion, this often rushes past the obvious threshold of His works. It would indeed insert words into the divine mouth and then have them echo back to earth, either directing with fearless effrontery or suppressing with witless strivings. Some would even do a jaw operation, or strike deeper to render the 'beyond' conveniently mute, as an alternative to performing spiritual ventriloquism; shutting 'God' up or doing His work 'for' Him. Such 'strivings of the people' constitute no lack in enterprise; merely in truth (cf. Psalm 2). Yet without truth, we are nothing.
2) In Appendix B, on the human will, attention is then given to its Biblical presentation, and this could well be read in conjunction with the brief abstraction, predestination and freewill, which constitutes the preliminary introduction to prophecy, in Chapter eight (above). Here again, the outcome of the presentation is in some ways moderate; but this is not so much by design, as because the Bible leads us to a full acceptance both of divine sovereignty and human responsibility, in a way which is both rational and harmonious and - a matter of further verification - also unique in its consistency and scope, in all literature.
Divine solicitude and seeking is no mere verbal ploy in the environs of some unBiblical and impersonal 'sovereignty' which acts, as if the declared heart of God were apart or the mind withdrawn. Rather is such solicitude divinely divulged as true of deity, in such scriptures as 1 Timothy 2:2, Ezekiel 33:11, Hosea 7:1, Jeremiah 51:8-9. The testimony of Jesus Christ (Luke 13:34, Matthew 23:37, cf. Ezekiel 18:2) displays what John declares (1 John 4:7-8), that God is love (cf. John 10:16, 17:20, 12:32). Light does not annul love, but rightly expresses it.
It must categorically be stated that there is no sovereignty which ignores the personality, pleas and approaches of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself who, being the brightness of glory and the exact representation of His being, misleads us not at all if we take it that ''he who has seen Me has seen the Father.'' Suspect Christologies, derogating Christ, also have a tendency to blaspheme the Father, through failure to be devoted to the declarations of Christ. In fact, sovereignty is the assurance of the heart's principles and desires being fulfilled and not distanced - that is, the heart of God; for had He wished, He could have made a different universe (Revelation 4:11, Psalm 115:3).
This is the one, however, which He made and it is here that His will, heart, spirit and desires are devoted with all the sincerity He states and all the sovereignty He declares, so that His will is fulfilled even when, despite seeking from His divine heart, there is endless human straying. It is not the will of man, but the will of God which ensures that the wisdom of His meaning is fulfilled, and that those whom He foreknew, those are the predestinate.
These matters, seen in the glorious light of scripture, in their unique consistency are verificatory of the Bible as the word of God; but this they are also in divulging, systematically, the rationale of history in its lustre and its loss. In this way, we become accustomed to something of the Biblical heights and depths, and learn to adjust to such grandeur as God reveals to us.
It is like flying. Attenuated theological formulations, heeding merely some of the written counsel of God, being left in whatever unbiblical extremity, yawing on the right side or the left: we see the practical force of the theological beauty of what is written in the Bible, on the will. For any desiring a far more extensive treatment of this delightful Biblical area, my earlier work PREDESTINATION AND FREEWILL is available. Here, our main purpose is simply to show the force and strength of the Biblical rationale of freedom, sin, discipline, destiny, doom... together with a responsibility that is real, not despite sovereignty, but because of it!
The present plight of the will of man, in all its peculiar pathology, is carefully distinguished on Biblical grounds, from its intrinsic potential; and in this perspective the problems of philosophy in this area, depart like morning mist.
3) An historical coverage of basic aspects of Jesus' life on earth, as to factuality, follows in Appendix C. It may serve as a background for chapter 6, allowing readier comprehension.
4) Appendix D proceeds to find by research from the Bible, precisely what it teaches concerning itself.
These Appendices are forests in which to walk, not - in an apologetic work - merely for pleasure; but for those who need the exercise in order to approach the structure of system with a clearer mind.
Having left behind the vigorous but
erratic spirit of the Age, we give attention to the conception and conceptualisation
of revelation as it in fact is: we consider it in its definitive
and delimited form, as the objective and assured universal declaration
from God. What does it show ? How does it show it ? What does the
Bible, by now identified as the word of God, itself teach about the special
topic of revelation; and what God has seen fit to do in this area ? In
the interests of precise and deep knowledge at a point, an
expository analysis of Matthew 5:17-19, a crucial declaration on the point, is also provided, showing the decisive and exacting approach of Jesus Christ on the topic of written revelation. That is Appendix D.
It then remains for the individual, without needless confusion, or deforming conformity to the contortionist spirit of the Age (always a dangerous and variable inhibitor of the perception of truth), to read this word of God, the Bible: to seek the only Lord and Saviour as shown from time to time in the text; or, if He is already known to the reader, to follow Him with a chastened joy (Psalm 2:11), a purified and a grateful mind, believing and receiving what is "written" (Matthew 4:4,7, 10) "not as the word of men but as it is in truth, the word of God which effectually works in you who believe" (1 Thessalonians 2:13).
If words then are the most explicit, yet are there not multitudes of forms, crafts, tides and ebbs for the human spirit to 'speak' in other tongues, in diverse expressions, interpreting soul to soul, life to life and mind to mind; which speak of God and angels, of heart nad spirit, of creation and desecration! All of these speak.
These there are: and wonders may in these things be performed. God however in His wisdom has used the most explicit form of expression: His word, uncovering and exposing, revealing with majestic certainty; for it is His Spirit which intimates, and just as man will use words to bind and formulate, so God who made man, has given a distinctive, definitive and verbal revelation that does nore than inspire, though not less: it declares, instructs and teaches, surpassing air, nuance or appeal. He has told us.
This He has done, but also He has gone beyond all comparison, by setting in the format of a man, the Son of His love, His own intimate and ultimate expression, as Jesus Christ, as Life which speaks, and works and acts - and saves (1 John 1:1-7, Hebrews 1:1-3)). Here is the architecture of the incarnation, the celestial music, the symphony of speech flaming with art and reality, unmoved, immovable; here is the greatest of all visible design work, a human body prepared for the humble majesty of the living Word of God, just as it was predicted 1000 years before:
Sacrifice and offering you have not desired... then I said, 'Lo, I come, in the volume of the book it is written of Me. I delight to do your will' (Psalm 40:6-8).This is that Lord Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today , forever (Hebrews 13:8). He has come, He has gone, and He will return (Acts 1:1-10).
Without cease, the word written directs to this word incarnate, the personal expression of God Almighty, who has come that the blind might see and the deaf hear (John 15:21-23, 1:1-14). In the supreme artistry of the incarnation, this same Lord Jesus Christ then confirms the inspiration of the written word which served to authenticate Him (Matthew 5:17-20); for God in the munificence of His expression, yet remains unchanging and unchanged. Indeed, as always:
He frustrates the tokens of the liars, and makes diviners mad:... turns wise men backward, and makes their knowledge foolish;... confirms the word of his servant and performs the counsel of his messengers (Isaiah 44:25-26); indeed - The grass withers, the flower fades; but the word of our God shall stand for ever (Isaiah 40:8). As Jesus Christ declared: Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My words shall not pass away (Matthew 24:35).
Do not fear, nor be afraid. Have I not told you from that time, and declared it ? You are my witnesses. Is there a God besides me ? Indeed there is no other rock; I know not one (cf.Isaiah 43:21-25).David, in his delightful praise to his delivering God (II Samuel 22:2,32,47), gives a rising crescendo of lively recognition of this unique power, peace and wonder of God:
The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;In Isaiah 2:22, God goes further, saying, "Cease from Man, whose breath is in his nostrils: For of what account is he ?"
The God of my strength, in Him I will trust...
For who is God except the Lord ?
And who is a rock, except our God...
The Lord lives!
Blessed be my rock!
Let God be exalted,
The Rock of my salvation!
Those who visit and abide in the only spiritually relevant Rock find - and this too verifies the Rock - that not merely does the shadow attest it: the looming rock itself provides refreshing shade, coolness, stability and Godly refuge, itself a place of defence. As it is written, "Upon all the glory shall be a defence," and again, "Wisdom and knowledge will be the stability of your times, and strength of salvation: The fear of the Lord is his treasure," (Isaiah 4:5,33:6). Indeed, Psalm 91:2 expresses the finding of practical Christian experience:
He who dwells in the secret place of the most highGod is like rock, reliable, reinforcing, robust and covering with defence. Man is justly fragile, easily misled: only in the Rock is the strength relevant to such a creation to be found. Psalm 62:2 says of this God:
shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
He only is my rock and my salvation, reminding one of Psalm 18:31, which says:
For who is God, save the Lord ?This resounds keenly with Isaiah 44:8 -
and who is a rock, besides our God ?
You are my witnesses. Is there a God besides me ? Indeed there is no other rock; I know not one.Only God , He it is who is the eternal refuge. As Hosea puts it, You shall know no God but Me, for there is no Saviour besides Me - 13:4.
Moses attests with David the identity of the only Rock, in his words in Deuteronomy (32:4-5): For I proclaim the name of the Lord: Ascribe greatness to our God. He is the Rock, His work is perfect; for all His ways are justice. A God of truth and without injustice: righteous and upright is He.
How, Moses asks a much helped people, could ... One chase a thousand, and two put ten thousand to flight, unless their Rock had sold them, and the Lord had surrendered them ? For their rock is not like our Rock, even our enemies themselves being judges!
It is He and He alone who rescues, judges, resurrects, brings peace perfected (Isaiah 26:3-4,13,19,20,14):
Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusts in thee. Trust in the Lord for ever: For in the Lord Jehovah is Rock of Ages ( Lit. Hebrew ...26:3-4.)It is this Rock which has presented Himself, as Isaiah 48:16 indicates and indeed as the book constantly affirms, in the Messiah, the Christ; and it is that Christ who said of Himself, the rejected cornerstone:
Whoever falls on this stone will be broken: but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder ... Matthew 21:44.Of Him, says Peter (1 Peter 2:6, quoting Isaiah 28:16):
Behold, I lay in Zion a chief cornerstone, elect, precious, and he who believes in Him will not be put to shame.As Paul puts it:
For they drank of that spiritual Rock which followed them,
and that Rock was Christ (1 Corinthians 10:4), and again:
Other foundation can no man lay than what which is laid,I recall as a child the wonder of a vast rocky mass constituting a headland, thrusting into the ocean. The side we ordinarily viewed was exposed, sun-smitten and less remarkable. On the far side, however, there were jutting overhangs and a small beach often in a deep, cool shade because of the shadow of that mighty rock; and in it one could find recesses near the water. It was quiet except for the resources of the ocean, and so amazingly cool as to provide almost instant refreshing when the heat struck upon a weary land beyond. There then is an excellent provision in that nature which God made, to illustrate the unmade and eternal nature of God: a sublimity made available in the recesses of that vast, foundational Rock (Isaiah 28:16, 1 Corinthians 3:11), Jesus Christ, in whom alone one can hide without retreat, in the full face of the ocean of events, celestial and terrestrial (Isaiah 26:3-4 - lit. "Rock of Ages"; 17:7,10, 32:1-4). Here before the very eyes was a symbol of that Biblical truth, that God has provided for us who receive His provisions in Christ, the Shadow of a Mighty Rock. It is HE who is that Rock (I Cor. 10:4)..
which is Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 3:11).
As Moses sheltered in the rock, so that he might safely see what God revealed of His splendour (Exodus 33:18-23), so in Christ does the Christian in safety and strength find "He who has seen Me, has seen the Father" (John 14:9). As Moses on occasion, struck the rock and life-giving water flowed, so does Christ, the Rock who gave Himself and was stricken as divinely planned (Isaiah 53:10, Psalm 40:1-3), provide refreshment of waters that never cease (John 4:14, Acts 3:19). Stricken on a day (Zechariah 3:9-10), He always provides refreshment from His unmatchable splendour. His faithfulness is profound, His reliability total. As Davi"Who dwells in the secret place of the most high,shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty" (Psalm 91:1), so does the Christian find in Christ, "His refuge is the impregnable rock, his bread will be given him, his waters are sure" - Isaiah 33:16 NASV). Indeed, it is this Lord who is ''the Rock of my heart'' (Psalm 73:26). This is that Jesus Christ, the Lord, the "I am!", the only Saviour (Acts 4:11-12).
It is to His honour this book is named; it is to evidence His truth that it is written; it is that He may be found, honoured and glorified, and people may find their bearings. Accordingly, as we identify scripture, the word of God, we READ it methodically, to find, to discover, to ascertain what God has said; but the spirit of man also must visit this Rock; and the feet that do not err will be upon it. Jesus in John 5:39 makes it eminently clear.
Let me add this word of praise to God... In all the decades since I have been a Christian, in all the locations, the countries, the States, the situations in which I have been placed, in every open conversation and discussion, confrontation and assault made on the word of God, the Bible, NEVER ONCE has there been a failure for that eternal and valid word to be sustained, the assault to be quenched. Whether in the invidious, shameful and devious deceitfulness of the Melbourne Seminary, whether in the far more restrained environment of Philadelphia, in Canada, Chicago, in Army Camp or School, in College or University, in Adelaide or Colorodo: Authority may be abused, but as to the word of God, the result is the same. It stands, while all else falls. This is the empirical fact.
A whole University has been challenged for weeks at a time, but no one cared to continue in the line; and the word prevailed. One should have thought that with all the evil propaganda so many Universities add to their fare, there might have been some, even one, who would overthrow the word of God in open debate; but no, not one. And why is all this ? There are a number of visible reasons. First, it is because the word of God is truth. As with a murder case, the immeasurable advantage is with the truth. Second, it is because God is gracious: with many able to see the gospel, it is a work of love that the truth should not appear capable of entanglement with the mere thoughts of man. Third, it is through the power of God, available to believers, to which is aligned the example of Paul "casting down arguments and... bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ" (II Corinthians 10:5 - N.K.J., Ephesians 1:19, I Corinthians 11:1). Some may feel uneasy with such captivity; but the word is figurative. The real captor is sin, with its askew devices and destructions. Being 'captured' by Christ is the 'fate' of folly, the place of impiety; the PEOPLE are LIBERATED to the love of their Creator in the Saviour, Christ, whom to know is joy unspeakable.
Robert E. Donaldson, as Minister, Australian Presbyterian Bible Church Inc.
Valley View S.A. AUSTRALIA