Our Lord's transfiguration is recorded by Matthew, Mark, and Luke. In Matthew it is the shining forth of the majesty of the King, and a foregleam of His kingdom. In Mark it is heaven's vindication of the Perfect Servant; divine approval of that lovely life of devoted humble service. In Luke it is the glory of the one truly dependent Man. Heaven shines upon Him, who, upon another high mountain some three years earlier, had refused Satan's offer of the kingdom. (Luke 4. 5-8). John does not record the transfiguration. His is the gospel of the glory. The Son of God cannot be transfigured.
Of the location of the transfiguration mount we cannot be certain. Tradition says it was Mount Tabor. It is more likely that it was Mount Hermon on Israel's northern Galilean border, far removed from the unbelief of Jerusalem and Judea.
Both Matthew and Mark say that the transfiguration took place "after six days." Luke says "eight days," but there is no discrepancy. Matthew and Mark count only the six complete days of the intervening period. Luke counts also the preceding and succeeding part days, and says, eight days. "Six" is the number of man's day. Man never attains to the perfect seven. When man's day has run its course then the millennial sun will rise on Messiah's kingdom. "Eight" is the number of new beginning. The coming kingdom, which is previewed here in microcosm, will transcend all that has gone before in a new order. It is most interesting, and has often been pointed out, that while "666" is the number of the Beast (Rev. 13.18), the numerical value of the Greek letters which comprise the name Jesus, is "888". The transfiguration was a glimpse of the coming kingdom.
It would appear to be a night scene. The disciples slept. Also, we read of their coming down from the mount "the following day". It is kind of God, in the dark night of our Lord's rejection, to give to His saints a sight of the glory. For Peter, James, and John, this had a special significance. James was to be an early martyr. Peter was to be the bold spokesman and witness to the nation on that historical day of Pentecost (Acts 2). John was to wait for some sixty years more, some of these to be spent in exile, a prisoner for Christ. How these men needed a sight of the glory for their encouragement. What a comfort it must have been, in their darkest hours, to look back and remember the glory of the Holy Mount
It is most instructive, and touching too, to compare this mount of glory with Golgotha. Behold His countenance, His face, here shining as the sun, transfigured. At Golgotha it was marred more than any man's, disfigured. Here on the Holy Mount the darkness of night was turned to day. At Calvary the brightness of the noonday was turned to darkness. Daylight became midnight on the mount of suffering. "Let us make three tabernacles", says Peter, on the mount of glory. But three crosses awaited on the other mount of sorrow. Two men appeared with Him on the Holy Mount, Moses and Elijah, and spake of His decease. Two men, thieves, hung by His side on the mount where He died. From the opened heaven, at the transfiguration, there came a voice, "My beloved Son". At Calvary heaven was closed and silent, and the Saviour cries, "My God, my God". On the Holy Mount His garments shone white and glistering in the glory. At Golgotha they stripped Him and gambled for His garments at the foot of His cross. In the sacred record, the transfiguration precedes the crucifixion, but it is, in fact, a preview of the glory that was to follow. As has been remarked by another, "When the Son began to witness concerning His sufferings (Matt 16.21), the Father witnessed concerning His glory (2 Pet. 1.17)". He who was to be put to shame by men received honour and glory from the Father.
How fitting it was that Moses and Elijah should be there. Here were two of His greatest servants of times past, representing the law and the prophets. Here is assurance for us that saints in glory hold intelligent communion with one another and with Christ. They spake of His decease; rather, of His "exodus", which He would accomplish. It was not just the death that He would die, not the sufferings that He would endure, but His exodus which He would accomplish. Men might indeed betray Him, arrest Him, bind Him, mock Him, scourge Him, and crucify Him, but in heaven's view He is, Himself, accomplishing His exodus out of the world in His own way and in His own time. The saints in glory can converse about this with heavenly intelligence.
As they spake of this we remember that Moses had passed through the Red Sea (Exod. 14.22), and Elijah had passed through the waters of Jordan (2 Kings 2.8). But for both of them, the waves had been stayed, the waters had been held back. Here on the Holy Mount was the One who would go into the deep waters and the floods would overflow Him. He would cry, "All Thy waves and Thy billows have gone over Me" (Psalm 42.7).
Then came the cloud and overshadowed the scene. It was a bright cloud. This was no ordinary rain cloud; it was no mountain mist. Doubtless it must be compared with the Shekinah. The men of earth were afraid. The men from heaven withdrew. The disciples feared as they entered the cloud. It was heaven itself come down to earth to embrace the Son. 'The excellent glory", says Peter (2 Pet. 1.17).
But they must descend from the mount. Earth with its sickness and sorrow awaited them below. With the quiet remembrance of the glory they must walk with the Son of Man through the sad world to Golgotha. And the glory was not only to be remembered; it was to be anticipated. What they had seen was the promise of what was to come. May we too, in company with the Saviour, walk in the world that has rejected Him, in the full assurance of this, that one day we too shall see and share in His glory.
Christ is ordained of God to be the Judge not only of the dead, but of the quick, as Peter declared to Cornelius and his company (Acts 10.42). This is a large theme, and can only be dealt with briefly here. It is but little understood, though confessed as doctrine in all the Creeds of Christendom. It is quite the fashion to merge all into the judgment of the dead. The judgment of the living really covers a wide area. It commences with the judgments that will be poured out from heaven after the heavenly saints are removed, and which will go on until the public appearing of the Lord Jesus to put down all His foes. It will be continued more or less throughout the millennial reign, ending with the overthrow of the gathered hosts at the close (Rev. 20.8,9). Then will come "the time of the dead, that they should be judged." (Rev. 11.18).
But we have space for a little detail. The Book of Revelation furnishes us with an outline. In chapters 2,3, in the epistles to the seven Churches, we have a sketch of the history of the professing Church from beginning to end. It is Church history, viewed from the Divine standpoint. In chapters 4,5, we see heaven preparing itself for judgment—God on His throne and the Lamb receiving the seven-sealed book. Grouped around the throne are the four-and-twenty crowned and enthroned elders representing symbolically the heavenly saints in their kingly and priestly character. These are all seen at home with the Lord before the judgments fall. Instead of being terrified by the judgments proceeding from the throne, they worship and adore. They know God, and they have been cleansed by the blood of the Lamb. In chapter 6 the judgments begin to be poured out. All this is future. It is freely admitted that there may have been some sort of analogy in events that have already taken place; but strictly speaking, all this is to come. These are judgments on the living, not the dead. First we have the seven seals broken one by one by the Lamb, and judgments falling—mostly of a providential character. Then the trumpets are blown, and further strokes descend. The vials follow, and in them is filled up (or completed) the wrath of God. The manifestation of Christ and the heavenly armies takes place next, and the assembled hosts of His enemies are overthrown, the leaders—the beast and the false prophet—being consigned forthwith to the lake of fire (Rev. 19). All this is the judgment of the quick; it is Divine dealing with living men on the earth preparatory to Christ taking His throne in Zion.
There is one important incident in the judgment of the quick which must be looked at a little more fully, because it is so generally misunderstood and misapplied. I refer to the separation of the sheep from the goats, in Matt. 25.31—46. This is often regarded as setting forth the final judgmentof the dead. The page in the Bible now open before me is headed "Description of the last Judgment." This is a mistake, and by no means a small one. Look carefully at the whole prophecy of which these few verses form part. The Lord was with His disciples on the Mount of Olives, and in answer to their questions, opens out to them the things concerning His coming to establish His kingdom at the end of the age. The first few verses (chapter 24.1—14) are general, and describe the general circumstances of His servants until the end. In verse 15 He speaks of the idol (abomination) to be set up in the holy place by the Man of Sin, of the great tribulation to follow, and then of the sufferings of the elect in Judea in that day. This part is closed up (verses 29—31) with His own appearing in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. This is His manifestation to Israel, and subsequent to His removal of the heavenly saints. Then follows a long parenthesis in the prophecy, in which we observe six parables. Three are for the Jewish people, the fig tree (verses 32—35), the days of Noah (verses 36—41), and the thief in the night (verses 42—44); the remaining three concern the professing Church, the faithful and evil servants (verses 45— 51), the ten virgins (chapter 25.1—13), and the talents (verses 14— 30). The thread of the prophecy is then resumed. "When the Son of Man shall come in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then shall He sit upon the throne of His glory; and before Him shall be gathered all nations; and He shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats" (verses 31,32). The time and circumstances of this session are thus easily determined. It is immediately after the public appearing of the Lord Jesus and before the establishment of the kingdom. But is it the judgment of the dead, as so commonly supposed? By no means. It is at least a thousand years too early. The dead, i.e., the ungodly, will remain in their graves until the reign of Christ is over, and will then be called forth to stand before Him. How then can there be a general judgment before the millennium? But there is a more serious difficulty still in the passage—there is no mention of any dead at all. Nor is there one word about resurrection of either good or bad. Further, three classes are found—the sheep, the goats, and the brethren (the first two being dealt with according to their treatment of the third), which quite unfits the passage for the purpose for which so many seem to desire it.
It is the judgment of the quick. The throne is not "the Great White Throne," but "the throne of His glory." The Son of Man sits there in His character of King, and calls all the Gentiles before Him, and enters into, not the question of their sins in general, as later at the Great White Throne, but their treatment of those whom He graciously styles "My brethren." These are Jews, preachers of the gospel of the kingdom during the brief interval between the removal of the Church to glory and the revelation of Christ to judge and to reign. Some will treat them badly, thus showing out their deep hatred to God and His Christ. Those who lose their lives at that time are found under the altar, in Rev. 6.9—11, crying for vengeance on their foes. Others will treat them kindly, bowing to their testimony, and receiving it as the Word of God, in blessed proof that the Spirit of God has been working in their hearts.
All this the King inquires into. The sheep He pronounces blessed of His Father, and invites them to inherit the kingdom prepared for them from the foundation of the world. They shall enjoy all the blessings of His millennial reign. They are not a heavenly company, but an earthly; and their portion is not said to have been ordered before the foundation of the world, as ours (Eph. 1.4), but from its foundation. This distinction is of great importance.
The sheep seem astonished when the Lord commends them for having fed, clothed, and entertained Himself. They inquire, "Lord, when saw we Thee as hungred, and fed Thee? or thirsty, and gave Thee drink? When saw we Thee a stranger, and took Thee in? or naked, and clothed Thee?" (Matt. 25.37—39). They had shown such kindness to poor Jewish preachers of the gospel of the kingdom, but had not thought of their deeds at all as done to the Lord Himself. "And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these My brethren, ye have done it unto Me."
It is most evident that we are not on Christian ground here. Christians are members of the body of Christ, constituted such by the baptism of the Holy Ghost; consequently, all that is done to them, whether it be kindness or otherwise, is accepted by the Lord as done to Himself (Acts 9.4,5; 1 Cor. 8.12; 12.12,13). This may not be quite understood now by all who believe, for many have no due understanding of their proper relationship to Christ, but all such ignorance will be dissipated in the glory. Christians will not then be surprised to hear the Lord speak of gracious acts done to His saints as done to Himself. But the sheep are surprised! They know nothing of such a principle. They form no part of the Church of God, where there is neither Jew nor Gentile, but are saved as Gentiles by Jewish preaching at the end (Col. 3.11). Then the King will reckon with those on His left hand. To them He will say, "Depart from Me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was an hungred, and ye gave Me no meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave Me no drink; I was a stranger, and ye took Me not in; naked, and ye clothed Me not; sick and in prison, and ye visited Me not. Then shall they also answer Him, saying, Lord, when saw we Thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister into Thee? Then shall He answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to Me" (Matt 25.41—45). Thus will He deal with those who have failed to show kindness to His poor Jewish brethren of the last days. It is a solemn thing to lift the hand against the Jew. "No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper" (Isa. 54.17).
But this does not complete the judgment of the quick. Many details are to be found in the Prophets, far too numerous to be reproduced here. Suffice it to say that when Israel reappears as a nation, her ancient enemies will reappear also, with hearts as bitter against them as ever in the past. The careful reader has only to examine the "burdens" of Isaiah and the other prophets to be convinced that none of them have been exhausted by the inflictions of long ago. Assyria will come up again, and be dealt with (Isa. 10.12); the Philistines (Isa. 14.29-32), Moab (Isa. 15.16), Damascus (Isa. 17.1,2), and many others. Israel will be specially used for the punishment of Edom, Moab, and Ammon (Dan. 11.41). These are all temporal judgments, for their implacable enmity to the chosen seed, and are all included in the judgment of the quick.
It may be urged against this, that most of the peoples named no longer exist. This presents no difficulty to faith. God has spoken in His word, and there faith rests. However apparently impossible to us, every sentence will be made good. Besides, who are we to say that Edom, Moab, etc., no longer exist? We no longer know these people by their old titles, but they are probably near our doors under other names. The same difficulty may be pressed with regard to the ten tribes of Israel. No one knows certainly where they are, nor by what name they are at present called (though many guesses have been made, especially of late years), but God has His eye upon them, and will bring them forward when the suited moment arrives. At the same epoch, their adversaries will show themselves, with the same sentiments as of old, to receive from Jehovah's righteous hand condign punishment for their hostility to the people of His choice. The judgment of the quick will go on more or less, throughout the millennial kingdom. "Behold, a king shall reign in righteousness, and princes shall rule in judgment" (Isa. 32.1). Longsuffering will not then be exercised with regard to sin, as now; every offence apparendy being summarily dealt with (Isa. 65.20). We are apt to overlook this aspect of the Lord's glorious reign. We speak much of the blessedness of it, and of the peace and glory that will prevail, but are apt to forget the strict righteousness that will form the foundation of His rule. The true Melchizedec is first King of Righteousness, then King of Peace (Heb. 7.1).
Another point to be remembered in considering the judgments of God soon to be poured out upon the world is that the heavenly saints are to be associated with the Lord Jesus in this solemn work. Daniel says, "Judgment was given to the saints of the Most High," or high places (Dan. 7.22). This the Apostle Paul reminded the Corinthians of. They were so far forgetting their high calling and destiny as to carry their disputes into the courts of the world, before the unjust. Paul indignantly exclaims, "Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life?" (1 Cor. 6.2,3).
This has been greatly overlooked in Christendom. Far from expecting to be the world's judges—yea, the judges of angels, too— not a few of those who really love the Lord Jesus quite expect to be brought into judgment themselves! This is serious—injurious to both peace and affection. As already shown, every believer is placed beyond judgment in the risen Christ, a standing in Divine righteousness being already his through His accomplished work. Nothing remains but eternal participation with Christ. Consequently in all He does we shall have a part; hence our future position as associated with Him in the judgment of the world and of the angels.
The final act in the judgment of the quick is the overthrow of the vast hosts which will be gathered together by Satan after his release from the bottomless pit. It seems inconceivable that after such a season of blessedness, man will be found ready to revolt against the Lord; but so it will be. The heart of man is so incurably bad that neither grace nor glory displayed before it, touch or alter it in the slightest degree. Nothing avails but a new creation, and this is the work of the Spirit of God.
Hence, when Satan goes out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, he succeeds in gathering them together to battle, in number as the sand of the sea. "And they went up on the breath of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city; and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them" (Rev. 20.7—9). Jerusalem is the object of their attack, for there the saints (i.e., the earthly saints) are congregated. Swift judgment falls upon them from heaven. Their deceiver and betrayer is then consigned to the lake of fire, his eternal place of suffering abode.
—Be ye: (ginesthe) Same word used in 4.32. "Become ye" or "show yourselves." They are to abandon one mental attitude and perspective for another. This verse continues the thought started there.
—therefore: (oun) In view of God's character (described in 4.32); our having the Spirit's seal (4.30); and the truth found in Jesus (4.20,21).
—followers: (mimētēs) An imitator. This word is used on imitating men (I Corinthians 4:16, 11.1; I Thessalonians 1.6; Hebrews 6.12); churches (I Thessalonians 2.14); and things (I Peter 3.13); It is used of imitating God only in this verse.
—of God: To imitate God, we must (1) know Him (2) keep our eyes on Him (3) cleave to Him.
—as: (hōs) A comparative participle pointing to the manner as well as the reason for imitating God. It means, "after the fashion of," "in the same manner as," "just like."
—dear: (agapētos) beloved, dearly loved.
—children: (teknon) an offspring. One born into the family. We are to imitate God, just like a loved child imitates his parents. This is the most important doctrine regarding character taught in the scriptures.
Our character is not developed by how well we stick to rules and regulations, but by how well we know God. This is not only imitating His outward actions, but by being occupied with that inward motivating factor that underlies all His actions. In this case, the motivating factor is love. His love was demonstrated towards us in His free, gracious, impartial, ungrudging, complete, and final forgiveness.
—And walk: (peripateō) Literally, "to walk around." It signifies the whole realm of a person's activities.
—in: (en) In the sphere of, as being immersed in.
—love: (agapē) Intelligent affection based on reason, choice, and decision, which reaches out to a person regardless of what they do or who they are. In the believer, it is only produced by dependence on God.
—as: (Kathōs) according as, in the same way as.
—Christ also loved: (agapē) The past tense, points back to His earthly ministry.
—us, and hath given: (paradidӧmi) (Literally, "to give by the side of). To hand over from the side of one person to another; to deliver up to someone or something else. Contrast 4:19 where the same word is used.
—Himself: It was not deeds of kindness, special favours, or lovely promises that He handed over. It was Himself completely, totally, and without reserve. A person can do and say nice things for others without the heart being in it. The Lord was not like this.
—for: (huper) On account of; on behalf of; for the benefit of.
—us: There was absolutely no selfishness which motivated the Lord Jesus.
All that He was, completely was for others.
—an offering: (prosphera) Used in the New Testament for all types of offerings. It is used for the meal offering and animal sacrifices in Hebrews 10.5,6. It is used of the offering of the Lord Jesus Christ as the sacrifice for sin in Hebrews 10.10,18.
—and a sacrifice: (thusian) This Greek word is used 29 times in the New Testament. It is always translated "sacrifice" and refers to something surrendered which is of value both to the giver as well is the receiver. (As Romans 12.1; Hebrews 5.1,23,26; 13.5,16, etc.)
—to God, for: (eis) "unto, with a view towards." That is, with the end in view of being to God...
—a sweetsmelling: (euӧdias) A fragrance, sweet aroma.
—savour: (asmë) This wording reminds us of the burnt offering, the meal offering and the peace offering in the Old Testament which were called offerings "of a sweet savour to God." This means, that as God looked on the work of His Son as prefigured in the Old Testament pictures, it brought rest and satisfaction to Him. The Lord Jesus, by His sacrifice, brought eternal satisfaction and rest to God.
—But: (de) "In distinction" That is, in distinction from the Lord Jesus and that life which is totally unselfish and only motivated by love, there is the life of selfishness.
—fornication: (porneia) Immorality in general. It includes every sort of illicit sexual act outside of the marriage bond.
—and all: (pas) any and every; every kind of.
—uncleanness: (akatharsia) As in 4.19, (a) impurity, lewdness, and moral uncleanness in the wildest sense (b) Impurity of motive — I Thessalonians 2.3.
—or: (e) a disjunctive, showing that there is a distinction. He is going to describe something of another class.
—covetousness: (pleonexia) (a) The desire of having more of anything. Greed, (b) Sensual greed; an insatiable desire morally.
—let it not: (mëdë) A strong negative word, which has the force of, "let it not be even so much as . . ."
—be once named: (onomazӧ) to name or to make mention of.
—among you: A believer is never to mention evil that comes under these categories in a descriptive manner. This is further explained by verse 12, "For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret."
—as becometh: (prepei) what is suitable, proper, fitting, becoming, right, decorous.
—saints: (hagios) "Holy ones." People set apart with God who sets evil apart from Himself by His glory. A "holy one" is one in whom God dwells so that He can demonstrate His own glory. Every believer is a saint Believers are to speak and act in a way that is becoming of one who has been set apart by God for this purpose. They are to be like God Himself by letting God, who is in them, live through them.
See Galatians 2.20. "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me."
What is it that makes something holy? (1) God's glory makes something holy: Exodus 29.43 'The tabernacle shall be sanctified by my glory." (2) God's personal presence makes something holy: Exodus 29.44 " I will sanctify the tabernacle of the congregation, and the altar: I will sanctify also both Aaron and his sons." See also 1 Corinthians 3.17,18. (3) Divinely appointed sacrifice and divine anointing makes something holy: Exodus 29.36 "Thou shalt anoint it, to sanctify it. Seven days thou shalt make an atonement for the altar, and sanctify it." See also Leviticus 8.11; Hebrews 9.13, 14; 10.9.
—Neither: (kai) and, also.
—filthiness: (aischrots) It denotes shameless, immoral conduct in general. (Expositors) "Implying that such things are disgraceful, ugly, revolting, the opposite of "kalos," fair, comely, attractive." (Pulpit Commentary).
—nor: (kai) and.
—foolish talking: (morologia a compound word composed of "maron" = "dull, foolish, senseless, wicked" and "logia" = "to talk.") The word implies talking senseless wickedness. The context indicates crude, offensive, dirty talk.
—nor: (e) a disjunctive, showing that there is a distinction. He is going to describe something of another class. (As in verse 3).
—jesting: (eutrapelia, a compound word composed of "eu" = "well, easily" and "trepӧ" = "to turn.") The word means primarily, "that which easily turns and adapts itself to the moods and conditions with whom it must deal at the moment" "Versatility." (Vincent) "It then came to apply to morals as time serving, and speech... polished and witty speech as the instrument of sin." It is outward refinement and moral versatility without Christian conviction and grace. "Sometimes it is lodged in a sly quotation, in a smart answer, in shrewd intimation, in cunningly diverting or cleverly retorting an objection: sometimes it is couched in a bold scheme of speech, in a tart irony, in a lusty hyperbole, in a startling metaphor, in a plausible reconciling of contradictions, or in acute nonsense ... sometimes an affected simplicity . . ." (Barrow, Against Foolish Talking and Jesting, Sermon XIV).
—which are not convenient: (anëkӧ) befitting, seemly.
—but: (alia) This word indicates a contrast with what precedes.
—rather: (mallon) in preference
—giving of thanks: (eucharistia) gratitude, gentle cheerfulness of a grateful heart. (Wigram)
—For this ye know: (ginӧskӧ) To take in knowledge, come to know, recognize completely. "Ye are aware of knowing." (Expositor).
—that: (hoti) used when starting a fact.
—no: (pas) any, every. All who do the following are included.
—whoremonger: (pornos) a man who indulges in fornication described in verse 3. Immorality in general. It includes every sort of illicit sexual act outside of the marriage bond.
—nor unclean person: (akathartos) This adjective describes:
(a) defilement of the soul by all types of wrongdoing, (b) One that is lewd; one morally filthy in motive and deed.
—nor covetous man: (pleonektës) This is the adjectival form of pleonexia in verse 3. (a) One who persistently desires to have more of anything. Greed, (b) One with sensual greed; an insatiable desire morally.
—who is an idolator: One who worships any thing apart from God. That is, "they worship and serve the creature more than the creator." Romans 1.25.
—any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God: The kingdom is one. It is owned and occupied equally by Christ and God. This indicates that they are one. An individual who practices the above evil is not saved.
—Let no one deceive: (apataӧ) To delude, deceive, seduce, especially with false statements.
—you with vain: (kenos) empty of contents; hollow; without substance; without truth or fact.
—for: (gar) giving the reason for not allowing yourself to be deceived.
—because of: (dia) on account of
—these things: (tauta) that is, those things referred to in verses 3-5.
—cometh: (erchetai) The present tense indicates that it continues coming.
—the wrath: (orgë) Primarily means "mental bent." It signifies anger as an abiding condition of the mind, frequently with a view to take revenge. See W. E. Vines Dictionary. "Orgee" is less sudden in its rise than thumos, but more lasting in its nature. (As 4.31).
—of God: God's wrath is different from man's wrath. God's anger is slow to rise. It is produced by the harm that is done to others.
—upon the children: (huios) "sons." A Hebrew idiom, which describes one with a certain behaviour.
In any consideration of the Psalms it needs to be borne in mind that it is not uncommon for any one of the different writers to be at one point talking of his own experience whilst speaking expressly of the Lord Jesus in another section of the very same Psalm. In consequence it may be that the reader finds some difficulty in deciding into which category particular statements or passages fall. Can we in fact be sure that our own interpretation is right in any particular instance? Here are three possible ways of deciding, one bad, two good, the bad first.
Why not just rely on your natural intellect? This did not prove much good to the Pharisees who, in spite of what we probably think of them, did know the Old Testament, including the Psalms, thoroughly. When the Lord Jesus was discussing Psalm 110 with them and introduced a query into the conversation, "no man was able to answer him a word, neither durst any man from that day forth ask him any more questions," Matt. 22.46. So much for natural understanding. But do not be either worried or surprised at this failure. God has clearly said that "the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God for they are foolishness unto him, neither can he know then because they are spiritually discerned," 1 Cor.. 2.14. He does not expect us to understand that way, which brings us to the second possibility, a good one this time.
There have been given to the church a wide variety of spiritual gifts. We can quite rightiy see these gifts as being made the responsibility of individuals, but their prime purpose is "for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ" Eph. 4.12, i.e. for the spiritual wellbeing of the church, especially the local church where the endowed individual is in fellowship.
Amongst these gifts are "prophets — evangelists — pastors — teachers," Eph. 4.11. 'Pastors' we all recognise, though the scripture is not speaking either of a tide or a salaried job, rather of an individual actually carrying out pastoral care. 'Teachers' also are fairly well identified, but the term includes those able and willing to teach, when required to, in circles smaller than the whole local church, e.g. Aquila and Priscilla, Acts 18.26, and Timothy, 2 Tim. 2.2. 'Evangelists' have the particular task of spreading the gospel message and so being the means used by God in "(adding) to the church daily such as should be saved," Acts 2.47. Philip who was known in the church as "Philip the evangelist," Acts 21.8, shows the range of ways in which this gift may be exercised. Under the instruction and control of the Holy Spirit, Acts 8.26,29,39, he met one man in the desert "and preached unto him Jesus," Acts 8.35, then went on "and passing through (Azotus) he preached in all the cities till he came to Caesarea," Acts 8.40.
The title 'prophets" though may tend to confuse us a little. In general parlance we use it to mean those who foretell the future, and such an ability or gift was evidenced in New Testament times, e.g. in Agabus, Acts 11.28, also Acts 21.10,11. But prophecy in the church is not so much concerned with forecasting coming events as it is with the impartation of divine truth for the edification of the believers. The prophet was prominent prior to the completion of the Holy Scriptures, and since its completion, has been replaced by the teacher who expounds what is written.
This means that we need to "give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard," Heb. 2.1, assuming of course that those from whom we have heard them are evidencing a God given ability in "righdy dividing the word of truth," 2 Tim. 2.15. Even those among us who consider ourselves, rightly or wrongly, as being able to minister the scriptures should remember that "the spirits of the prophets are subject to prophets," 1 Cor. 14.32, and obey Paul's instruction, "Let the prophets speak two or three and let the other judge (consider). If any thing be revealed to another that sitteth by, let the first hold his peace," 1 Cor. 14.29,30.
This then is one means which God has given us to know, and benefit from, the truth of the scripture. Those given spiritual gifts, then they themselves being given as gifts to the church.
Thirdly, it is always a great help where we find the New Testament giving us definitive guidance as to Old Testament meanings. One example of such a situation is found in Acts 2.25-36, where Peter, quoting from Psalm 16, states quite categorically, "David speaketh concerning him," i.e. the Lord Jesus, going on to explain, "Men and brethren let me speak freely unto you of the patriarch David that he is both dead and buried and his sepulchre is with us unto this day." Therefore, he argues, when the Psalmist spoke of resurrection he could not have been speaking of himself but, having been promised by God that "the fruit of his loins," i.e. his offspring, "according to the flesh," Rom. 1.3, would one day sit on his throne, "he seeing this before spoke of the resurrection of Christ." It is a good thing when reading or studying the Psalms, as indeed all Old Testament scripture, to see what the New Testament has to say about the portion under direct consideration. There is a phrase which bears repetition. "The new is in the old concealed, the old is by the new revealed."
In some cases however the matter is not dealt with in such a cut and dried manner. We need then to look at the whole tenor of scripture to see what the Psalmist cannot mean, to whom his words cannot refer. In Psalm 69 for instance, verse five shows David as saying, "O God thou knowest my foolishness and my sins are not hid from thee." We know that he cannot possibly be speaking here of the Lord Jesus for He had no sins. Indeed it was precisely because of His sinless perfection that He could die in our, the sinners, place. "God hath made Him to be sin for us, (He) who knew no sin that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him," 2 Cor. 5.21. In this verse David therefore is obviously speaking of himself, and in the scriptures we are shown some of the foolishness of his sins; see e.g. 2 Sam. 12.9.
But in the previous verse, Ps. 69.4, we read, "They that hate me without cause are more than the hairs of my head," and of this lament we are told positively that it was spoken prophetically of the Lord Jesus, John 15.25. It will be seen from this example that it is a dangerous way of interpreting a Psalm, indeed any Old Testament scripture, to try to assign the whole passage as applying to one specific person or as teaching one isolated truth.
The two methods recommended above as ways for seeking to determine what God wants to teach us of Himself and His ways are not to be seen as mutually exclusive alternatives, they need to be used in tandem. Whilst it is true that, because as believers we are all sealed by the Holy Spirit, Eph. 1.13,14, "ye need riot that any man should teach you," 1 John 2.27, it is also true in the context of bible reading and understanding that "we then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak and not please ourselves," Rom. 15.1. There was plenty of corn about when Ruth was gleaning but Naomi was not capable of collecting her own so her daughter-in-law did it for her. Boaz went further and ensured that there were "handfuls of purpose for her," Ruth 2.16, to ease the double workload of the newly arrived alien.
God looks for us to adopt both methods of spiritual feeding, to work for it ourselves and to gratefully accept the fruits of the work of others. But do not rely on the first stated method. Neither you dear brother, dear sister, any more than the author of these notes is capable of understanding spiritual truths with our natural mind, however clever and educated we may be. That throws us all back equally on God, and He is the source from which true blessing and understanding must come.
"Crucify Him, crucify Him," cried the enraged religious leaders. As they made known their outrageous demand to Pilate, Jesus stood silent. Declaring repeatedly that he found no fault in the guiltless Prisoner and desiring to release Him, Pilate found himself powerless against the priests' persistent demands for His death. Finally rejecting Him to be the Son of God and openly refusing to acknowledge Him as their King but declaring hypocritically that they had no king but Caesar, the Jews fiercely demanded His crucifixion which was Rome's prerogative to permit or reject in a vassal state such as Israel.
"Away with Him, away with Him, crucify Him," shrieked the merciless mob of Jews as they clammered savagely for His condemnation to death. Pilate's several public appeals for compassion had fallen upon deaf ears as the Jews raised their relentless and obstinate cry, demanding the Prisoner's death by crucifixion.
Convinced in his own mind that he should acquit the Prisoner but fearful of the Jews' reaction if he did.what he knew was right, Pilate was in a quandary. Sacrificing the claims of justice and yielding to the base fear of man, he sanctioned this sinless Man to be crucified, and so Jesus was led away to be crucified.
Bearing His cross as other criminals were compelled to do, Jesus apparently felt exhausted from the strain of several trials during the past night which was an illegal time for holding them. Therefore, He was relieved of its weight when the guard seized Simon of Cyrene to bear it and follow behind Jesus. The common notion that the cross had a transverse bar is not borne out by the Greek word stravros which means 'an upright stake' of heavy rough timber (Matt. 27.32, 42, and so in the gospels). This is confirmed outside the gospels where Jesus is said to have been hanged on a "tree" (xulon, Gk.) which means 'unsawn timber' such as a tree (see Acts 5.30; 10.39; 13.29; 1 Pet. 2.24). The ecclesiastical form of the cross has apparently a heathen origin in ancient Chaldea. Christian Churches had become apostate by the middle of the 3rd century A.D., and tragically they adopted the cross with its transverse bar as a symbol for improving their standing in the pagan world. Of the cross, some one has aptly said, "Rome gilds it; modernists evade it; believers glory in it!"
During the six hours that the Lord Jesus was hanging upon the rough wooden stake, He endured reproaches from passers-by, jeers from the religious leaders, mockery from the soldiers, taunts from the criminals on either side Him, and yet, "when He was reviled, He reviled not again; when He suffered, He threatened not;" says Peter about thirty years later, "but He committed Himself to Him that judgeth righteously", 1 Pet. 2.23. As the hours passed, several miracles occurred, none of which had happened before and certainly have not happened since Calvary. Attention is paid to some and others are often overlooked, but they all deserve meditation in their contextual setting and in the light of the Scriptures.
The first miracle for consideration is the fulfilment of the Old Testament prophecies relating to the death of Christ. This follows the example given^by4he Lord Jesus Himself when "beginning at Moses and all the prophets, He expounded... in all the scriptures the things concerning Himself to the two distressed disciples pondering upon the recent sad events as they were walking along the road to Emmaus. In His exposition, He would have shown how forecast and fact fuse in the perfection of His Person and His atoning work upon the cross.
1. The Miracle of the fulfilment of Old Testament Scriptures when Christ died.
"Christ died . . . according to the scriptures," said Paul when writing to the assembly at Corinth, 1 Cor. 15.3. The Death of Christ, which had occurred about twenty years earlier, was then an undisputed fact of history. His Death was in fulfilment of, and in agreement with, the Old Testament Scriptures. Writing several decades after the event, this was apparently understood by the four gospel writers who found nothing contradictory between the prophecies of earlier centuries and the facts of history.
In recording the Death of Christ, each evangelist, avoiding the horrors of crucifixion, describes it with dignity and brings out the harmony between the Old Testament predictions and his statements. Sometimes an Old Testament sentence is interwoven in these four accounts of the Lord's death. Other times an incident that transpired at the cross is said to be in fulfilment of an Old Testament verse which is quoted. Despite a centuries long interval between the prediction and the event, there is no contradiction which is nothing short of a miracle.
Arriving at Golgotha and just before the Roman soldiers crucified Jesus, "they gave Him vinegar to drink mingled with gall", says Matthew (27.34) who, without saying this fulfilled a Scripture, refers undoubtedly to Psalm 69.2 la, "They gave me also gall for my meat;...". Apparently, the common practice was to give a prisoner this drugged potion for deadening the pain and making him easier to handle, but Jesus, after a taste, refused to drink it (Matt 27.34). With His senses clear, He was determined by the grace of God to taste death for every man (Heb. 2.9).
Passers-by reviled and jeered at Jesus hanging on that shameful cross, "wagging their heads" derisively at Him. In the same way the chief priests with the scribes and elders mocked Him and said sneeringly, "He trusted in God: let Him deliver Him now, if He will have Him", Matt. 27.39,41,43. Both the revolting behaviour of the people passing by and the religious leaders' reproaching Him with their words of Scripture were seemingly predicted in Psalm 22 most of which, unlike any other portion of Scripture, describes the horrors of crucifixion so graphically many centuries before that form of capital punishment was known. The suffering Victim of the 22nd Psalm says that He was "a reproach of men: and despised of the people. All that see me laugh me to scorn: and they shootout the lip," all of which described prophetically the hatred of men displayed at Calvary. Then continuing, "they shake the head (as the passers-by and religious leaders did contemptuously) saying, He trusted in Jehovah that He might deliver Him: let him deliver Him, seeing He delighted in Him" Ps. 22.7f. In expressing their abhorrence of Him when quoting from this Psalm, the chief priests with the others were careful to change the ineffable name "Jehovah to "God". Without claiming that those verses of the 22nd Psalm were then fulfilled, Matthew incorporates them into his account of Calvary, illustrating the cohesion between the Old and New Testaments.
Not only are there these instances where the gospel writers have interwoven Old Testament scriptures in their accounts of Christ's crucifixion, but there are those where they quote from the Old Testament and state that it was then fulfilled, which will now be considered.
Although all four gospel writers record the parting of the Lord's garments by the soldiers, only two state it was in fulfilment of a Scripture. These were Matthew and John. Having crucified Jesus, the soldiers "parted" His garments, casting lots" says Matthew (27.35) who then gives the reason, "that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet" who is quoted, 'They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots," which is cited from Psalm 22.18. Writings two to three decades later than the others, John gives more information saying that the soldiers "took His garments and made four parts, to every soldier a part," implying incidentally that the centurion had four soldiers, whose action was not wrong under Roman law because a criminal's clothing was their perquisites. It meant that one soldier had His headdress, another His outer coat, the third His girdle, and the fourth His sandals. His inner "coat was without seam, woven from the top throughout." Instead of tearing it, they agreed among themselves to cast lots for deciding whose it should be. Unknown to these pagan soldiers, the motive behind their actions was not their lawful rights but primarily "that the scriptures might be fulfilled," says John who, like Matthew, quotes Psalm 22.18 (John 19.230. Whilst Matthew saw the predictive element in this Psalm by ascribing it to "the prophet" without naming him, John viewed the same verse as "the scripture". Unconsciously the soldiers fulfilled this prophetic scripture spoken by David about a thousand years before— this is nothing short of a miracle! —(to be continued).
The brook, Kidron, is mentioned on six occasions in the Scriptures, five in the Old Testament, and one in the New. The five references in the Old Testament set forth forth aspects of what our Lord had to pass through as He went across the brook into the garden, John 18.1. The five references are:
Absalom's Rebellion.-- II Sam. 15.23.
Shimei's boundary -- I Kings 2.37.
Maachah's Idol Destroyed.-- I Kings 15.13.
Josiah's Purging.-- II Kings 23.4,6.
The City Rebuilt.--Jeremiah 31.40.
II Sam. 15 brings us to consider a sad chapter in the history of David. As a result of the intervention of Joab, Absalom had been restored after the death of Amnon, this was an act of compassion on the part of David which was to be repaid by a betrayal that rivals that of Judas Iscariot. It is very probable that the reference in Psalm 41.9, 'mine own familiar friend. .. hath lifted up his heel against me', relates to this incident, and so we learn that the experience of David is a picture of what the Lord was to suffer at the hand of Judas.
Both David and the Lord knew the character of the traitor, although David remained ignorant of the deed until the time; there is, however, little by way of comparison beyond this. David acted in a way that would warn us of the danger of allowing natural affection to cloud spiritual judgment and also show us the solemn harvest of sin. He had lost Amnon at the hand of Absalom, and therefore he effectively lost Absalom as well. These events were in fulfilment of the prophecy of Nathan that David's act would be enacted against himself before all Israel, II Sam. 12.11,12. Amnon was guilty of sin in the same manner as his father, II Sam. 13.14. Morally, David could not condemn another where he had been shown mercy, and so the matter is taken out of his hands. Absalom, however, is not content, and so he plots to avenge his sister, II Sam. 13.22, waiting two years to carry out his purpose. The result was exile for Absalom, until the intervention of Joab on two occasions, II Sam. 14.1,33.
II Sam. 15 begins with the account of how Absalom repays David by his deceit in drawing the hearts of the people after him, v.6. Here we see the parallel between Judas and Absalom. Both are recipients of the evidence of the favour of their respective lords, yet both desire more than they are willing to give. Judas turns as he sees the Lord commend Mary for her act of devotion. He only wants the money, and so he cannot accept the praise heaped upon her; Absalom sees his father's weakness, and sets his heart on the kingdom. The Lord crosses Kidron to meet Judas and the band sent out to arrest Him; David flees from the army of Absalom. For both the end is a wilderness scene. David, with his men, flee the way of the wilderness; our Lord goes meekly to the cross, and such desolation as none could imagine.
The hearts of both men are still full of love. David pleads for Absalom to be spared, 18.5, while our Lord pleads for forgiveness for all involved in His death, Luke. 23.34. Let us learn the first lesson of Kidron, it is a place where love motivates all that is done.
If the first reference to Kidron reminds us of the treachery that faced both David and the Lord, then the second brings in the thought of iniquity.
The background is once more the rebellion of Absalom. Shimei had cursed as David fled, but David had shown mercy as he returned. Shimei accused David of reaping the consequences of his actions, the very charge of which the nation thought the Lord worthy, Isa. 53.4b. Solomon was given a charge to repay his iniquity, I Kings 2,8,9. He set Kidron as the limit of Shimei's movements, ordering him to build a house in Jerusalem. If he left the city, then he would die. Solomon is therefore careful to ensure that he does not have any opportunity to stir up trouble for him. This is a warning to us of the need for caution in dealing with the contentious. Although there may be evidence of change, the wise will realise that such men will often put on an appearance in order to become accepted. David and Solomon both show that they were unconvinced about the true character of this man. He is to be restricted in his movements, and if faithful, then he will accept the limitations without question. Shimei maintains the terms for three years, but then two servants run to Gath. Shimei decides to follow them, and so he breaks the agreement with Solomon. Although three years had elapsed, he is still bound by his word, and so Solomon executes the sentence agreed.
In crossing Kidron, Shimei rebels against the command of Solomon, and therefore suffers the consequences of his own sin. As our Lord crossed Kidron, He went into the place where he would be taken in order to carry out the work of bearing our iniquities, Isa. 53.6. Shimei goes his own way, and suffers, but our Lord never moved outside the pathway that the Father decreed, and yet He was to suffer for those who had both in ignorance 'gone astray' and wilfully 'turned .. to his own way', Isa. 53.6. How we rejoice to know that the very place that spells judgment to the rebel, is the place where the Obedient One took the judgment so that the rebel might be set free. Shimei went three years before he transgressed: the number three speaks of resurrection, that which seals the work of our Lord, and the judgment of those who reject, yet assures the believer of his security, Rom. 4.25.
Maachah's Idol Destroyed.
This incident ends a sorry chapter in the history of Judah. Maachah was the daughter of Absalom and the wife of Rehoboam. This is a union which should have existed. There is a clear principle in the history of the Kings of Judah that where the mother is named, there is an indication of character, I Kings 15.2. makes it clear that Maachah was the mother of Abijam, Asa's father, and her influence is seen in the short reign of her son, who followed the ways of Rehoboam, lifted up with pride, but calling on the Name of the Lord in his trouble. It was only mercy towards Judah as a result of David's testimony that preserved Abijam, yet he still refused to repent. How strange that Absalom's grandson is preserved because of the faithfulness of David, and yet, in a day to come, Israel will rejoice in a salvation based entirely upon the work of the Lord which He accomplished when they refused Him. The pride of Absalom is seen in both Rehoboam and Abijam, but now Asa succeeds to the throne, and a new order is established in which the profession is to be matched by the reality. The two earlier kings has boasted in the sacrifices and temple, but Asa set to work to see that the moral state was maintained in line with the ceremonial. He takes away sodomites and idolatry, removing Maachah from her position because of her idol, which is burnt by Kidron. If Kidron is associated with treachery and rebellion, then there it is associated with personal holiness. The family of Asa as well as his own life, are brought to the test of the Word of God, and sins are judged in that light.
If the previous incident ended a sorry state for Israel, then this marks a far more serious evil that had come into the land. It is now the temple itself which has been corrupted. The evil of the individual that was seen in Asa's day is now manifest in the temple. It has permeated the whole nation, even to the place that bears the name of the Lord.
Sadly, it is not merely the place of the evil, but also the extent that is notable. As Josiah orders the purging of the temple, there is evidence of homage to Baal and all the host of heaven.
II Kings 23.7 shows that such idolatry leads to gross immorality. How sad to think that the nation who had inherited the land as a result of the judgment of God on the earlier inhabitants, now allows the very sin of Sodom to be carried out alongside the house of the Lord. Here is the awful depth of iniquity that faces Josiah.
Once more, Kidron is the place where judgment is carried out. Every idol, and all associated with them, is carried out to be burned and ground to powder. Let us learn the lessons seen here. It is not enough for the idols to be put away once, such is the heart that the temptation will return. We need care to maintain the vigil. Secondly, if sin is not judged in the individual, it will permeate the whole body. We are warned of this in respect of both moral issues, I Cor. 5.6, and doctrinal issues, Gal. 5.9. The result of this cannot be estimated in terms of the depths of sin to which any may sink if it is not checked. Let us be careful to live in the light of the cross, to put into practice our profession of being dead to sin and alive to God, Rom. 6.11.
The City Rebuilt.
In Jer. 31.40, we see the association of Kidron with the glorious future of Jerusalem. How good to remind our hearts that, while we see the judgment of God executed at the cross, we may rejoice in the assurance that the very place that is such a solemn reminder of the call to holiness before God, is the place at which our acceptance before a holy God is secured.
The judgment maintains the character of God, but we know with assurance that 'He hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified', Heb. 10.14, and that is accomplished by His one offering, not by our merits. We know that, while we must be careful to maintain practical holiness in the sight of God, all has been fully done on our behalf, and we may joyfully anticipate the inheritance reserved in heaven for us, I Pet. 1.4. Just as Israel will receive the inheritance on the basis of faith, so we know that we are saved by faith, not works.
The word "conversion", although found only once in the Bible, describes the experience of all who trust Christ for salvation. Mine was simple, yet unique in that it was I to whom God gave life eternal and afterwards called to serve Him in a land far from my birthplace, which was the town of Lurgan, Northern Ireland. Born in a humble home, of parents who belonged to the Presbyterian Church, I with my brothers and sisters regularly attended Church as well as morning and afternoon Sunday Schools. From infancy we were taught the holy scriptures and as I grew up I knew I was a sinner, in need of a Saviour. On entering my teens, my two Sunday School teachers, both true believers, were interested in my salvation, for which blessing I have often thanked God.
In October of 1934, special meetings were to be held in the Church, the invited speaker being an English evangelist, called Mr. Tom Rees. The townspeople were made fully aware of the coming meetings and at that time I was very concerned about my spiritual condition. One evening, before those meetings commenced, I heard the gospel preached at an open-air meeting in the centre of the town, and one of the speakers in his message, said: "young man, if the Lord were to come for His people before these meetings start, are you prepared to go with Him?" I knew I wasn't saved, and God used that pointed question to awaken me to the danger of missing His salvation. I went straight home, and in my bedroom before God, conscious that I was a lost sinner and knowing that Christ died for the ungodly, I believed God, put my confidence in what He said about His Son and asked Him to save me. He did, and on that last night of September, 59 years ago, I passed from death to life John 5.24. While attending those meetings I got assurance from God's word, as did many others who were saved at that time.
In the succeeding months and years I was one of a group of young men who were interested in Bible study, tract distribution and preaching in the open-air, near and far. These young men belonged to different religious persuasions in the town and it became our custom to meet together in a band-loft to pray and study the Scriptures after all had attended their Sunday evening services. Many were the themes we considered and when the subject of baptism came up I was left in no doubt as to what the Bible taught. Inevitably the subject regarding what a scriptural church really is resulted in some most interesting discussions.
The time came when we had to put into practice what the Lord had taught us, and having acquainted myself with a number of different denominations in my search for a place where all God's word was taught and practiced, I found a gathering of believers in the Union Street Gospel Hall, so started attending meetings there. The first time I sat at the back observing the procedure at the Breaking of Bread meeting one Lord's Day morning, I decided there and then that it was the nearest thing to New Testament practice that I had seen. That night I told my companions what I had found, something new to me but known to some of them, so I continued to attend the meetings in the Gospel Hall. Before long I was the first of the group to make a move, so I approached the brethren and asked to be baptised. The elder brethren who interviewed me were very gracious and kind and it was a happy day for me when one of them baptised me as a believer at the close of a gospel meeting. Some time later I asked for fellowship in the assembly and the day I was received was another memorable day in my life. Since then I have never had any reason to doubt that to gather thus is God's plan for His people.
Several others of those young men took the same step and years later went overseas to serve the Lord, while others were used of Him in the homeland.
Attending ministry meetings, Bible Readings and Conferences I learned a lot from highly esteemed men of God that has since been of inestimable worth to me.
Being employed as an industrial and commercial artist in Lurgan and Belfast I decided, after much prayer and exercise, to emigrate to Canada where I found employment in the same profession, but it was my desire to serve the Lord where and when that would be possible.
With a letter of commendation from the Lurgan assembly I was received into fellowship in the Pape Avenue assembly in Toronto and soon became occupied in the assembly activities. It was there I met the one who became my wife and after our marriage we moved to the east end of the city and were warmly received by the Birchcliff assembly.
In the year 1951 a missionary couple called William and Doris McBride, on furlough from Chile, paid us a visit in our home, during which Bill said he was interested in getting an "Egypt to Canaan" chart painted so I offered to do it for him. The lettering on it, of course, was all to be done in Spanish, about which language we knew nothing. While working on this, my wife Gladys, and I, fully aware of the great need in that land, became interested in the Lord's work there. To go there would mean a big change in our life-style, but with deep exercise before God we committed our future to Him. (Psalm 37.4,5).
Shortly after I was saved I bought a little card at a Missionary meeting that cost me a penny, on which was printed the motto of a man called C. R. Studd, whom God used mightily in His service. I long since have lost that card but its words were indelibly impressed on my mind and became the language of my heart, and they were these: "If Jesus Christ be God, and died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for Him". Conscious of God's call to further service, and thankful for His guidance, we discussed the matter with the elders of the Birchcliff and Pape Avenue assemblies and they most willingly commended us to the grace of God, giving us a letter of commendation to the Lord's work in Chile, South America, dated February, 1952. Before leaving for Chile we made a visit to my family in Ireland, and while there made known our exercise to die Lurgan assembly. Without asking for it, the elders added their commendation on the back of the Toronto assemblies' letter, and the Waringstown assembly did likewise, and that was in July, 1952. It was most encouraging to have their approval and fellowship, and as we look back, at the time of writing this, nineteen of the twenty-one dear brethren who signed that letter are now with the Lord.
We returned to Canada, packed up, travelled by train to New York and from that port we sailed to Valparaiso, Chile, with two small children, both of whom are now serving the Lord. Much has happened since then, but through almost 42 years we have proved again and again God's divine GUIDANCE Isaiah 58.11; His great GOODNESS Psalm 145.7; and His abounding GRACE 2 Cor. 9.8. From experience we can sing truthfully the words of the poem written by Annie Johnson
When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When strength has declined ere the day is half done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources,
Our Father's full giving has only begun.
His love has no limit,
His grace knows no measure,
His power, no boundary known unto men,
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus,
He giveth and giveth and giveth again.
We thank God for all that HE has accomplished in this far-off land, and praising Him for all that is past, we trust Him for all that's to come.
Being the only assembly missionary from the British Isles in Chile, a land wide open for the gospel, we would solicit the fervent prayers of God's people for the work here, and for the workers, that we may be found faithful, good stewards of the manifold grace of God. (ICor. 4.2; 1 Pet. 4.10).