ASSEMBLY TESTIMONY BIBLE CLASS
by J. Riddle
THE GOSPEL OF THE GLORY OF CHRIST
by C. F. Hogg
THINK ON THESE THINGS
by D. S. Parrack
THE MISERY AND MYSTERY OF HABAKKUK'S MUSIC
by W. A. Boyd
THE HIGH PRIESTS GARMENTS OF GLORY AND BEAUTY
by W. W. Fereday
THE HOLY SPIRIT AND THE BELIEVER
by J. E. Todd
by C. Jones
THE HANDS OF THE LORD
by B. E. Avery
MY CONVERSION TO GOD
by B. Douglas
by J. Riddle (Cheshunt)
22) “I WILL RAISE THEM UP A PROPHET”
Read Chapter 18.15-22
These verses complete the section of the book dealing with the responsibilities of the men charged with maintaining godly order in the nation. As we have noted, this involved four categories of people: judges and officers, 16.18-17.13; kings 17.4-20; priests, 18.1-8; prophets, 18.9-22.
In our previous study we suggested that Deut.18 could be divided in the following way:
- the Provision for the Priests, v1-8;
- the Prohibition of Paganism, v9-14;
- the Promise of a Prophet, v15-22.
In the last paper we dealt with the first of these and we come now to 2) and 3).
2) THE PROHIBITION OF PAGANISM, v9-14
The godly order in the preceding verses contrasts vividly with the degrading practices of the nations of Canaan. As we have already noticed, whilst Israel's priests presented the “offerings of the Lord made by fire,” v1, the Canaanite nations presented their gods with human sacrifice: they made their children “to pass through the fire,” v10. Although their gods were “dumb idols,” 1Cor.12.2, their devotees were controlled by the powers of darkness who had a vast array of spokesmen (and spokeswomen). The Old Testament prophets “spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost,” 2Pet.1.21, but these men (and women) were energised by Satan. Their occult practices are not only with us today but they are increasing in popularity, and must be regarded with the same abhorrence demanded here: “thou shalt not learn to do after the abominations of these nations … For all that do these things are an abomination unto the Lord,” v9,12. The children of God must have nothing to do with spiritism, with its seances and mediums, and other occult practices such as fortune-telling and astrology. Unregenerate people seek “help” from these sources: the child of God can say “My help cometh from the Lord,” Ps.121.2.
We should notice that God's people were to show no interest in occult practices: “When thou art come into the land which the Lord thy God giveth thou shalt not learn to do after the abominations of those nations,” v1. Compare Deut.12.30. We are to hate what God hates and “be perfect (meaning, according to Gesenius, ‘whole, upright in conduct; blameless’) with the Lord thy God,” v13. These practices are called “an abomination unto the Lord,” and attract divine judgment, v12. But evil, in its many forms, has a ‘curiosity value,’ and this certainly includes the occult. We must not become intrigued, let alone absorbed, by things that are abhorrent to God. We are to give our minds, rather, to the study of God's Word: ‘Occupy thyself, with these things; be wholly in them, that thy progress may be manifest to all,” 1Tim.4.15 JND. Sadly, God's people did not heed the prohibition. See 2Kgs.21.6. But it is encouraging to notice that Josiah cleansed Judah from the occult practices introduced by his grandfather, “that he might perform the words of the law which were written in the book that Hilkiah the priest found in the house of the Lord,” 2Kgs.23.24.
For further reading on this subject, see ‘Spiritism Unmasked’ by W. E. Vine. (Included in Volume 5 of The Collected Writing of W. E. Vine).
3) THE PROMISE OF A PROPHET, v15-22
Once again, the connection between the present and preceding sections is clear. “These nations … hearkened unto observers of times, and unto diviners,” v12, but God's people would listen to the voice of God Himself: “The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet” and “unto him thou shalt hearken,” v15; “I will raise them up a Prophet … and will put My words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him,” v18. God's people are never at a disadvantage. They have something infinitely better, and infinitely more reliable, than the occult!
This section of the chapter describes a) the true prophet, v15-19 and b) the false prophet, v20-22. It is worth remembering that the false prophets in the Old Testament have their counterpart in the false teachers in the New Testament. See 1Pet.2.1, “But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you.”
a) The true prophet, v15-19
Whilst these verses most certainly find their ultimate fulfilment in the Lord Jesus, Jn.6.14; Jn.7.40; Acts 3.22-23, and this must be the reason why the passage speaks of “a prophet” (JND has the ‘lower case’ in v 15,18), there can be no doubt that Moses also refers here to the prophetic ministry generally. We should notice the following:
i) He would be sent by God. “The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a prophet from the midst of thee …” v15. The prophets would not be self-appointed. God faithfully honoured His Word by sending “all my servants the prophets, daily rising up early and sending them,” Jer.7.25. God's spokesmen had no authority other than their divine calling. See, for example, Jer.1.5; Ezek.2.3; Amos 7.14-15. This was not the case with the false prophets of whom God said, “I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran: I have not spoken unto them, yet they prophesied,” Jer.23.21, which serves to remind us that it would be folly to embark on service for God without the strong conviction that we are pursuing His will.
As the final Prophet, the Lord Jesus said, “I proceeded forth and came from God: neither came I of Myself, but He sent Me,” Jn.8.42, and of Him it is written, “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son,” Heb.1.1-2. Although the citizens of Nain were quite right to glorify God, “saying, That a great prophet is risen up among us; and, That God had visited His people,” Lk.7.16, they evidently failed to recognise His true identity.
ii) He would be one of God's people. He would come “from the midst of thee, one of thy brethren …” v15. God uses His own people to convey His Word. Therefore we should not listen to the pronouncements and edicts of unregenerate religious leaders, and steer well clear of all organisations and all affiliations which either deny or ignore the teaching of God's Word.
As the final Prophet, the Lord Jesus fulfilled this qualification. He was an Israelite “of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came,” Rom.9.5. He was born of a Jewish tribe: “it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Judah,” Heb.7.14; He was born in a Jewish city: “But thou Bethlehem-Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall He come forth unto Me that is to be Ruler in Israel,” Mic.5.2; He was born to a Jewish throne: “the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of His father David,” Lk.1.32.
iii) He would be in fellowship with God. The words, “like unto me,” remind us that Moses enjoyed an intimate relationship with God. “With him will I speak mouth to mouth, even apparently, and not in dark speeches; and the similitude of the Lord shall he behold,” Num.12.6-8. See also Ex.33.11. Whilst every servant of God must be in fellowship with Him, Moses had a unique place.
As the final Prophet, the Lord Jesus fulfilled and exceeded the words “like unto me” in this respect perfectly: “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him,” Jn.1.18. We should remember that the expression “only begotten Son” means far more than ‘only Son.’ It is a term of deepest endearment. Abraham “offered up his only begotten son,” but there were other sons, including Ishmael, Gen.25.12, and the sons by Keturah, Gen.25.1-2. But only of Isaac is it said, “whom thou lovest,” Gen.22.2. As His “only begotten Son,” God loved Him infinitely and eternally.
iv) He would convey the Word of God. Moses was the ‘pattern prophet.’ Since God's people were unable to bear direct communications from God, as at Horeb, v16, He acceded to their wish, “Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die,” Ex.20.19. Future prophets would act in the same way. “I will raise them up a prophet (as already noted, JND uses the ‘lower case’) … and will put my words in his mouth,” v18. The true prophet was therefore a man who, following in the footsteps of Moses, “stood in the counsel of the Lord, and hath perceived and heard His Word,” Jer.23.18. We will have nothing worthwhile to say to anybody unless we do the same.
As the final Prophet, the Lord Jesus fulfilled this qualification as well: “My doctrine is not Mine, but His that sent Me,” Jn.7.16; “I have given unto them the words which Thou gavest Me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from Thee, and they have believed that Thou didst send Me,” Jn.17.8. He spoke with divine authority. He both possessed God's Word and conveyed it “faithfully”, Jer.23.28.
These verses, v15-19, commence and conclude with the importance of hearkening to the prophet. At the commencement of the section, obedience is commanded: “unto him ye shall hearken,” v15. The nation was to listen to its prophets, and it is noteworthy here that the “voice out of the cloud,” said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye Him,” Matt.17.5. His Word is still binding upon us. He still says, “If ye love Me, keep My commandments,” Jn.14.15. Having “obeyed from the heart” at conversion, Rom.6.17, we are to remain “obedient children,” 1Pet.1.14. At the conclusion of the section, a warning is given against disobedience: “and it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto My words which he shall speak in My name, I will require it of him,” v19. The nation ignored its prophets at its peril, and Peter made it clear that refusal to listen to the Lord Jesus Christ, the final Prophet, would bring dire consequences: “every soul, which will not hear that Prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people,” Acts 3.23.
b) The false prophet, v20-22
The subject of false prophets is dealt with extensively in Deut.13. But there are some additional points to be noted here.
i) The weight of his responsibility. “But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in My name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die,” v20. To speak falsely in the name of the Lord was as culpable as speaking in the name of false gods. This emphasises the solemn consequences of misleading others. In context, it relates to God's people, but it must be said that those who mislead unsaved people are equally culpable. The pronouncements made by clerics at “christenings” and funerals are but two examples of falsehood.
ii) The means of his recognition. “How shall we know the word which the Lord hath not spoken? … if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord hath not spoken,” v21-22. Compare Jer.28.9. On this basis Agabus was a true prophet, Acts 11.28, and people like the Jehovah's Witness, who have presumed to specify more than once the date on which the millennium will commence, are anything but His witnesses! By this rule alone, not to mention others, the Lord Jesus is most certainly an accredited Prophet, and the following examples should be noted: “There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down,” Matt.24.2; “Verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny Me thrice,” Matt.26.34; “Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be delivered unto the chief priests, and unto the scribes, and they shall condemn Him to death, and shall deliver Him to the Gentiles; and they shall mock Him, and shall scourge Him, and shall spit upon Him, and shall kill Him; and the third day He shall rise again,” Mk.10.33-34.
iii) The nature of their response. “Thou shalt not be afraid of him,” v22. We should certainly fear if we fail to hearken to the voice of God, v19, but we have no need to fear the voice of error. We should certainly tremble with indignation, but not with fear. God will ultimately vindicate, and the “folly” of “men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith,” will be “manifest unto all men,” 2Tim.3.8-9.
—to be continued (D.V.)
(Address given by C. F. Hogg in U.S.A. in 1920's)
*Quotations throughout are from the Revised Version
In further evidence of this let me remind you that the morality of the Apostle Paul is not only higher than, it is different from, the morality of any teacher that preceded him. Whence, then, did he obtain the conception of love contained in 1Cor.13? The answer may very well be made that the Holy Spirit revealed it to him. True, but how? The Lord Jesus tells us the method of the Spirit: “When He, the Spirit of truth, is come … He shall take of Mine (the things that pertain to Me) and shall declare it unto you,” Jn.16.14. Thus we perceive that to enable the Apostle to write this account of what love is, made visible in what love does, the Spirit presented Christ to the man’s heart and he wrote down what he saw. Observe how readily the Name of the Lord can be substituted throughout these verses.
The Glory of Christ
“The Lord Jesus suffered long, and was kind; the Lord Jesus envied not; the Lord Jesus did not vaunt Himself, was not puffed up, did not behave Himself unseemly, did not seek His own, was not provoked, did not take account of evil; He did not rejoice in unrighteousness, but He rejoiced with the truth. He bore all things, He believed all things, hoped all things, endured all things. The Lord Jesus never failed.”
So this description of love is just a description of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. In Him God came down from Heaven, to show in human life what love is, and to show us what love may be in our own lives also.
The Secret of the Lord
There are many other passages in the Gospels and in the Epistles that illuminate for us the character of the Lord. In the Epistle to the Galatians, for example, there is described the ninefold fruit of the Spirit. This fruit of the Spirit falls into three triplets; the first of these is borne by the Christian in his relationship with God, the second in his relationship with his fellows, and the third in his personal life. But this fruit of the Spirit was first of all manifested in perfection in the life of the Lord Jesus. Some day when you are looking for an avenue along which you may study the Scriptures, trace the ninefold fruit of the Holy Spirit in His life and you will find, alike in prophecy, in history, and in subsequent Apostolic comment, how abundantly this fruit of the Spirit was manifested in Him. But His secret is described in His own words: “Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart.” That is the spring from which His character flows, He was meek and lowly in heart, Matt.11.28,29.
The Apostle Paul, writing again to the Corinthians, beseeches them “by the meekness and gentleness of Christ.” The word “meekness” has an unfortunate connotation in our ordinary use of it, one that little agrees with the character of our Lord. Meek He was, indeed, but not with the meekness that arises out of weakness. If there is a meekness that can be associated with strength, then that meekness was His. But I take it that what is intended by that word “meekness” is gentleness, and only the strong can be really gentle; the Lord’s gentleness came of His strength, see 2Cor.10.1.
But what of the second word? ‘Forbearance’ is good, but there is a better, ‘I beseech you by the gentleness and the considerations of Christ.’ That, perhaps, is the best word to express the thought. To consider is to think, but when you find a man is thinking about himself, do you call him considerate? No, you call him inconsiderate. The considerate man is one who has a heart “at leisure from itself” to sympathise with other people. So our Lord Jesus is gentle and considerate, and every Christian man has begotten in him by the Holy Spirit of God, an ambition to be gentle and considerate as is his Master.
—to be continued (D.V.)
by D. S. Parrack (England)
PAPER 3 — “WHATSOEVER THINGS ARE JUST”
The set of words which the KJV, as in this passage, translates as just, justifier, justification, are in other places given as righteous, righteousness etc., so giving us a clear understanding of the meaning which the concept as a whole is intended to convey.
In the same way as we saw that the word ‘true’ displays an inherent aspect of the character and Person of the Lord Jesus, see Rev.19.11, so the term ‘just’ is personalised in another of the titles ascribed to Him in the Scriptures. Both Stephen and Ananias spoke of Him as “the/that Just One,” see Acts 7.52; 22.14. We find too that once again this title is seen as having been worked out in practice. Those singing “the song of the Lamb” included the words, “Just and true are Thy ways Thou King of saints,” Rev. 15.3.
But it was not only believers such as those two referred to above who recognised the Lord Jesus as being “the Just One.” Pilate's wife had this confirmed to her in a dream, see Matt.27.19, and Pilate himself was made aware of the fact as the result of a quasi-judicial interrogation, see Matt.27.24. Quite separately the centurion supervising the crucifixion “seeing what took place, glorified God saying. In very deed this Man was just,” Lk.23.47, J.N.D.
But of course, we might say, we know that the Lord Jesus was perfectly righteous, totally just. Why spend time stressing such a fundamental tenet of Christian belief? Simply because our entire salvation, the reality of our relationship with God, depends on that being so. When Peter wrote “Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure,” 2Pet.1.10, he was not in any way doubting their salvation, he was sharing with them the way that not only could they be in the good of that salvation, but in the positive enjoyment of it too, and that is how it should be for us.
What do we read then of the putting into practice by the Lord Jesus of His title “the Just One”? How and in what way was that quality evidenced? The Hebrews writer quotes God speaking with regard to His Son in the context of eternity “Unto the Son He (i.e. God) saith. Thy throne O God is for ever and ever, a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of Thy kingdom.” This not only stresses and confirms the deity of the Lord Jesus but emphasises the basis upon which His kingdom is established, i.e. righteousness, the sceptre being the symbol of imperial power and supremacy. But what of when all the outward evidences of that divine power had been voluntarily put to one side?, see e.g. Phil.2.5-8. What did His Father say about that period? “Thou hast loved righteousness and hated iniquity, therefore God, even Thy God, hath anointed Thee with the oil of gladness above Thy fellows,” see Heb.1.8-9. That comparison of the Lord Jesus with “Thy fellows” was with regard to life in this world. There is no way in which He associated Himself with angels as He did with the human race. “He does not indeed take hold of angels by the hand, but He takes hold of the seed of Abraham,” Heb.2.16 J.N.D. Peter was one of the closest to the Lord Jesus during that time, how did he see and bear witness to, that love of righteousness and hatred of iniquity? His testimony was that “He went about doing good” righteousness in practice, “and healing all that were oppressed of the devil,” His hatred of iniquity causing Him to deliver those who were oppressed by the embodiment of iniquity, see Heb.2.14-15. Such a testimony by Peter might seem to us to have been very low-key, not very eloquent, not very exuberant, not interwoven with religious terminology. But in its simplicity it was very much to the point and its effectiveness is seen in that “the Holy Ghost fell on all them that heard the Word” and they were baptised, see Acts 10.38-48.
That working out in practical terms of His right to the title “the Just One,” is not thought to be seen as referring only to His time spent in this world as a Man, as with all His attributes it is ongoing and eternal in nature. Of a coming time in which “the Father — hath given Him to execute judgment,” the Lord Jesus can say, “My judgment is just, because I seek not My own will but the will of the Father, which hath sent Me,” see Jn.5.25-30. This foretelling of a coming righteous judgment was included in the early preaching both of Peter and Paul, showing it as being an integral part of the gospel message, see Acts 10.34-43; 17.22-31.
But what of here and now, how as believers do we benefit from Him being such a person as we have seen Him to be in this context? John, when writing to those who in heart of affection he addresses as “my little children,” having warned them that “if we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves,” can go on to say “If any man sin we have an advocate with the Father.” But who could possibly so represent us before God in spite of our acknowledged sin? John assures us that it is none other than “Jesus Christ the Righteous.” He can so fully pursue such advocacy because “He is the propitiation for our sins” and just to show how total and complete that work of propitiation was, he adds “also for the sins of the whole world,” see 1Jn.1.8;2.2.
To contemplate the Lord Jesus then as being both intrinsically and practically just, the Just One, is to encourage and strengthen our hearts in our own perception and acceptance of the fullness of the gospel message and in the confidence with which we can commend it to others.
But if we should be only too grateful for the benefits accruing to us from what we have considered here regarding the Lord Jesus, we ought also to be prepared to accept the responsibility to respond. The only way that we can do that is by the practical outworking of our profession or faith, for “faith without works is dead,” Jas.2.20. God said to the Israelites, “Just balances, just weights, a just ephah and a just hin shall ye have,” and what did He point them to as the basis of his right to make such a demand? “I am the Lord your God which brought you out of the land of Egypt,” Lev.19.36. If that was the case resulting from the deliverance from slavery in Egypt, how much more applicable is it to those who have been “delivered from the authority of darkness and translated into the kingdom of the Son of His love,” Col.1.13. that such righteousness, such justness, is what God both wants and expects of His people was shown plainly to Titus. “For the grace of God which carries with it salvation for all men has appeared, teaching us that having denied impiety and worldly lusts,” which might be seen as a verbal denying or rejecting, “we should live soberly and justly and piously in the present course of things,” Tit.2.11-12 J.N.D., the practical and evidenced effect. By such a response we are demonstrating our true appreciation of the Person who because of who He is and because of what He has done, can show Himself as being both “a just God and a Saviour,” see Isa.45.21-22.
—to be continued (D.V.)
by James B. Currie (Japan)
The early chapters of the Hebrew epistle having adequately presented the ample qualifications of the Lord Jesus to become High Priest after the order of Melchisedec (chapters seven to ten), the later segment of the main part of the epistle, now are occupied with the lovely details of this priesthood. The three places in our Bibles where the priesthood of this great man is discussed are most interesting. They are linked together, as to their content, in a progressively enlightening way.
- In Gen.14 the Historical Foundation is laid. In the record of God’s actual dealings with Abraham Melchisedec suddenly appears, in a book replete with genealogical details, without indication as to what his family relations might have been. Even so, the few particulars revealed about him are full of meaning especially in view of the teachings of Hebrews. The meaning of his name — king of righteousness. The place of his rule — Salem (possibly the predecessor of Jerusalem). The greatness of his person — Abraham gave him one tenth, the choicest portion, of the spoils of war and was blest by the ‘the priest of the most high God.’
- In Psalm 110 the Prophetical Intimation is given. Many of the fine details concerning his family and background are strangely omitted but in this Psalm the reason is made crystal clear. It was that he might become a typical expression of the Person and Priesthood of an even greater personage, the One of whom God said ‘Sit Thou at My right hand, until I make Thine enemies Thy footstool.’
- In the chapters now being discussed the Doctrinal Explanation is set forth. The Aaronic priesthood might, in some respects, depict the priestly work of the Lord Jesus but as to its essential character it fell so far short that it could never have portrayed the majesty and singularity of His eternal office. The writer has many things to say concerning this grander priest and he does so with deep spiritual insight in the chapters seven to ten.
Among the ‘many things’ the author would speak of there are four specifics. While it might not be possible to delineate it with exactness, each chapter does have a main point to its teaching. In ch.7 it is the SUPERLATIVE PRIESTHOOD itself which is dealt with. In ch.8 it is the SUPERIOR COVENANT described. Ch.9 it is the SPIRITUAL SANCTUARY spoken of and in ch.10 the SUFFICIENT SACRIFICE once for all offered is the subject. These four things may help us to contemplate, with reverence and awe, a little of the immensity of our subject.
CHAPTER SEVEN: SUPERLATIVE PRIESTHOOD
An Event Recalled — v 1 - 3.
Melchisedec ‘the priest of the most high God’ meets Abraham, Gen.14.17. Abraham’s pilgrim character is noted. In v13 he is called ‘the Hebrew’. This character preserved him from the hostility of the world in contrast to Lot who was taken captive. But it was Melchisedec, the literal, historical priest’s ministry that enabled Abraham to refuse the world’s enticements. He is blest in the name of the One Melchisedec speaks for. The result is that the King of Sodom’s blandishments had no appeal for him. An exceptionally great promise is given him whereupon he lifts his hand in allegiance to ‘the Lord, most high God, the possessor of heaven and earth.’ His assessment of things as they really are was such that ‘he believed in the Lord; and He counted it to him for righteousness,’ 13.22; 14.6. Here, for the first time, the word believe is mentioned in our Bibles. It is noteworthy that such faith resulted from the ministry of this unique priest. The fact that the record here is silent as to Melchisedec’s background and future is not accidental. The Holy Spirit is later able to prompt other writers to speak of One to come as ‘a priest in perpetuity,’ Ps.110. 4; Heb.5.6. If Melchisedec’s priesthood had been, literally, ‘without beginning or ending’ there would have been no need for another priest to arise, Heb.7.11, but, in contrast to the impermanency of Aaron’s the perpetual priesthood is prefigured in Melchisedec and fulfilled in our Lord Jesus Christ.
A Conclusion Demanded — v4 - 11.
The greatness of Melchisedec and, consequently, the order of his priesthood are set forth by way of contrast. First of all he received tithes from Abraham and then blest him. There is no argument to be given that the greater blesses the lesser. Even though Abraham is spoken of as the ‘one who had the promises,’ subsequently becoming the father of the nation. Even more explicit is the fact that, at the time of being thus blest, the family from whom the Levitical priesthood arose still was ‘in the loins’ of Abraham. In spite of the fact that the line of these priests was a glorious one, having been appointed of God, the many contrasts show that this earlier order was far more glorious still. Aaron was appointed to officiate under the law. He whose priesthood is far greater became a priest by the unchanging oath of God. The weakness and unprofitableness of that law under which the sons of Levi fleetingly officiated showed the need for its annulment. As the author here affirms ‘He of whom these things are spoken’ is made a priest ‘after the power of an indissoluble life.’ That is to say, not one that won’t be but one that cannot be destroyed. Still one further contrast is worthy of consideration. In Gen.14 when Abraham gave to Melchisedec one tenth of the spoils, he not only gave the choicest but he did so ‘allotting’ to this priest what appears to have been his by right of his greatness. Note, too, that Abraham gave it voluntarily. Now, the Levites had a right, under law, to receive the tithes of the Lord’s people but they were obligated by Divine command to ‘bring all the tithes into the storehouse.’ The descendents of Abraham had no option but he who was the lesser, having been blest by the recognizably greater, gave to Melchisedec the tithe of all that had been wrested from the rapacious hands of the five confederate kings by Divine power. Thus in this most wonderful way is the believer given a glimpse of the eminence of our great High Priest Who, as to His Person, office and work, remains eternally incomparable.
In passing it is interesting to observe that the verbs ‘have’, ‘receive’ and ‘take’, 7.5, with regards to the Levites and the offering of the tithes, are all in the present tense denoting that the practice was still ongoing at the time of writing.
An Observation Made — v12 - 17.
Only in the verse immediately preceding this section is the word ‘perfection’ to be found in the Hebrew letter. It is meant to convey the successful effect of a process. Elizabeth used the same word when she said ‘there shall be a performance (fulfilment) of those things which were told her from the Lord,’ Lk.1.45. The law, which did not foresee the need for a priest after a different order and certainly not from a different tribe, was unable to bring about the favourable fulfilment. Not that there was anything intrinsically wrong with the law itself but the material with which it had to work was incapable of response to the ‘thus saith the Lord.’ Consequently a change of the law had to be brought about. This must be in accord with the change of priesthood and one that would enable the worshipper to draw nigh to God in boldness. While it is evident that the Levitical law was, from the beginning, temporary in the counsels of God yet the severity of the change is revealed by the fact that the very tribe of Levi was set aside in favour of the royal house of Judah. In such a manner does God bring about the successful conclusion to His eternal purpose of a priest upon His throne. ‘it is perfectly clear,’ we are told, that another priest of a different kind has arisen, v15. The power by which He is inducted is that of the resurrection life which is impervious to both mortality and corruption. To all of this God gives witness when He says ‘Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec,’ v17.
A Comparison Drawn — v18 - 22.
What is called here ‘the former commandment’ has already been referred to as ‘the carnal commandment,’ v16, and alludes to the sum of all the Levitical regulations. This now has been set aside. Its abrogation attests to its inability to bring about the perfection Divinely intended and thus its ‘weakness and unprofitableness.’ The law brought nothing to its appointed goal but the introduction of a better hope enables the people of God to draw nigh in full assurance of faith as is spoken of later in ch.10. It is the oath of God which declares the eternal validity of Christ’s priesthood. Such an oath was not given with regard to Aaron and his family. The point of the oath is not that without it God could lie. That is impossible, 6.18. But the oath is meant to show to us that the Divine promise to the Son is final, eternal and unchangeable. The Melchisedec order of priesthood, is essentially, different to the Aaronic order. By an immeasurable chasm of difference is our Lord Jesus constituted ‘the surety of a better covenant’. Note that it is the humanity of the Lord stressed here. ‘Jesus’ is the surety or guarantor. The ‘guarantor’s’ responsibilities go beyond those of a mediator. The spies in the early chapters of Joshua went pledge for Rahab when they said ‘Our life for yours if ye utter not this our business,’ 2.14. By His death, burial, resurrection and ascension the Lord Jesus became ‘guarantor’ of a better covenant which will never be annulled. Chapter eight deals largely with the ‘new covenant.’
A Reason Given — v18 - 22.
In this last section of the chapter the words ‘because’, ‘therefore’ and ‘for’, v23, 24, 26 & 28, indicate that a reason for what has so far been adduced is being brought forth. In fact it is a five fold reason the author provides.
- His Unchangeable Priesthood. The former priests were removed by death. This Man’s priesthood continues eternally because He is beyond death, v24.
- His Unlimited Ability. Because He lives in the power of an indestructible life He is able to save completely all who come to God by Him, v25.
- His Unsullied Character. Holy and free from every taint of evil. In every way He is different to sinful humanity and having carried that perfectly Sinless Humanity to the highest heavens He is a high priest most suited to all our weaknesses.
- His Unrepeatable Sacrifice. In all His holiness He never had to offer any sacrifice on His own behalf but the Lord offered Himself for His people. He did this once for all. His sacrifice never needs to be and never can be repeated.
- His Unimpeachable Consecration. God’s oath, which came after the law, consecrated, or dedicated the Lord Jesus to this priesthood for ever more.
- Never more shall God Jehovah smite the Shepherd with the sword.
Never more shall cruel sinners set at naught our glorious Lord.
—to be continued, (D.V.)
by Walter A. Boyd (N. Ireland)
We have noted that in ch.1 we have the Vexation he Expressed.
Chapter Two shows us the Vision he Expects. He had reasoned himself into silence, words would no longer come. Sometimes in distress we reason with God to the point of spiritual exhaustion; the tears flow silently, the heart throbs painfully, but not a word is uttered in His presence. That’s where we find Habakkuk at the start of ch.2. He has reasoned in ch.1, and here in ch.2 he firmly resolved to sit silently before God. It is then that God began to bring comfort to him. As he sat, he watched to see God’s response. His soul was eager with anticipation and expectancy. Now that he was silent and ready to listen, God spoke, and what took place is instructive for the sensitive soul who wants to wait upon his God.
In v.1 he WATCHED; in v.2 he WROTE; in v.3 he is to WAIT; and in v.4 he is to WALK by faith.
Notice what Habakkuk expected God to say: “… to see what He will say unto me, and what I shall answer when I am reproved,” 2.1. He expected God to speak to him by way of correction, and he resolved to consider carefully what he would answer when God reproved him. Here is a wise man. Perhaps he said too much in ch.1; maybe he protested too loudly? Now he realised that God should be allowed to tell the whole story before he interrupted with his complaint.
The first question Habakkuk had asked was “how long?” 1.1. God now told him that the vision is for an appointed time — that is, God has appointed the time span for these terrible events which He has revealed to Habakkuk. God is in control, He will determine when the events of the vision will commence, and also when they will end. Habakkuk thought that God had lost control of the trials and of the time; but he was shown that God controls both with equal precision. Eventually (“at the end,” 2.3), the vision will testify to the precision of God’s word: it shall “not lie,” 2.3. Events, as they transpired, would prove God’s revelation to be correct. The questions on the tip of Habakkuk’s tongue were “when”, and “how long?” God told him, “though it tarry wait for it.” It might seem to be slow in coming, but “it will surely come.” And as it would come, he could be just as sure that it would come at the right moment, for “it will not tarry.” It would not be behind God’s schedule.
Dear child of God, you may be in deeper trouble than you care to tell anyone about, but be assured that God’s answer will come, and it will be on time! Like Habakkuk, you are asking how anyone could wait in such an extremity. The answer is given in 2.4, “the just shall live by faith.” The righteous one will live with daily trust in his God; he will accept what God reveals, and wait for God to work. Waiting on God cannot be done without faith, it takes trust in God to wait while life around seems to spin hopelessly out of control. Get into the sanctuary and rest silently in God. Trust in Him. Because He is God, He cannot fail! At the end of ch.2, Habakkuk found complete repose for his soul by trusting in His God. Whatever God may allow, whatever the Chaldeans may do, there are two supreme truths that nothing can change: “… the LORD is in His holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before Him,” 2.20. God is still in His sanctuary; evil has not overthrown good. God is still on the throne. Therefore, let all the earth bow in submission before Him. Let there be no further protest or reasoning with God. This attitude of quiet calm in the soul is the product of living by faith, 2.4.
Chapter Three shows us the Victory he Experienced. This chapter is in the form of a psalm, to be sung by the Levitical singers. Notice the musical terms: “Shigionoth”, 3.1, “Selah”, 3.3,9,13, Singers “To the chief singer,” 3.19, “Stringed instruments,” 3.19. In the last three verses of ch.3 we are taken to the peak of his praise for God. Habakkuk said that, even though the Chaldeans ravaged the land and as a result everywhere would be barren — without crops or flocks or herds, he would still rejoice in his God. What faith! God, who is the God of his salvation, is also the God of his strength, 3.19. This saw Habakkuk through the trial, however deep it was, and however long it lasted. God will give the strength for the just to live by faith. This explains how Habakkuk made music in the midst of his trial.
by W. W. Fereday
PAPER 1 — INTRODUCTION
The people of Israel were possessed of a magnificent ritual, every detail of which was ordained by God Himself. This has led some to argue for ritualistic forms in Christianity. If God was pleased with such things in Judaism, surely He will be pleased with them in Christianity. So it is urged. But this is to lose sight of the typical character of the ancient ritual. “The example and shadow of heavenly things,” is God’s account of it all in Heb.8.5. Christ having come, and redemption having been accomplished, the reality is ours; the shadows therefore pass away. Christianity being an essentially heavenly and spiritual system, everything connected with divine worship therein is of the simplest possible character. The contrast is complete between the imposing ritual described in Exodus and Leviticus and the simple order of things found in the Acts and the Epistles. Ritualistic symbols are now a positive insult both to Christ and to the people of God. To Christ, because they practically ignore what He is and what He has accomplished; and to the people of God, because they reduce them to a condition of tutelage. Surely one could not insult a grown person more than to engage him with a picture-book of horses, dogs, etc., as though he knew nothing of the animals portrayed therein.
Because Israel’s ritual pointed to Christ, the smallest details are given. Nothing is too small for notice that in any way speaks of God’s beloved Son. Our present study is Ex.28. This chapter describes the priests’ robes, as the chapter following describes the ceremonies connected with the consecration of Aaron and his sons for the priestly office. The types of Ex.28 have reference to the needs of the people; those in Ex.29 to the claims of God.
Let us clearly understand where priesthood comes in, in the ways of God. When Israel was in Egypt, groaning under the yoke of Pharaoh, God did not provide a priest but a saviour. But when the people were delivered, having come under the blood of the Lamb, and having passed through the Red Sea, then — and not till then — did God say anything about a priest. In like manner today, the Saviour is God’s provision for the burdened sinner, and the Priest is God’s provision for the delivered saint. It is the “holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling,” who are exhorted to consider the Apostle and High Priest of their confession, Heb.3.1. Priesthood is not designed to bring men into relationship with God, but rather to help those who are already in relationship with God.
Let us next observe the point at which the priesthood is introduced in the book of Exodus. Ex.25-30 are occupied with the Tabernacle, but there is an evident break in these instructions at Ex.27.19. Down to this verse we have God’s manifestation of Himself to man; in that which follows we have man’s approach to God. Accordingly, the first part begins with the ark, and ends with the court; the second part begins with the priesthood, and includes the incense altar and the laver, these article of furniture having to do with man’s approach to God, rather than with God’s manifestation of Himself to man.
Now observe another thing. The instructions concerning the priesthood are prefaced by the oil for the light, Ex.27.20,21. This looks irrelevant at first sight, but is it so in reality? Is it not to remind us that the God with whom we have to do, dwells in the light? The time had not come in Moses’ day for the blessed revelation that “God is light” and “God is love.” Christ alone could bring this to us, 1Jn.1.5; 4.8. But the type teaches us what is suitable for the divine presence. All works of darkness must be put off by those who would be before Him in the joy of His presence. “Always” means that the lamps were to burn with regularity.
Aaron and his sons typify Christ and Christians. The priesthood of Aaron’s sons depended upon the priesthood of their father as ours depends upon that of the Lord Jesus. They were priests by divine call, Heb.5.4. Christ’s call is found in Ps.110.4; ours in 1Pet.2.5. Aaron’s sons are divided into two pairs, the shadow beforehand of the great separation so soon to come, Lev.10. Nadab and Abihu typify all false worshippers, as Eleazer and Ithamar the true. For the making of their garments “the Spirit of wisdom” from God was necessary. Similarly “men full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom” were required to attend to the money matters of the early Christians, Acts 6. Nothing, either great or small, can be efficiently wrought for God by unspiritual hands.
—to be continued (D.V.)
By J. E. Todd (England)
In the New Testament there are thirteen phrases which describe the relationship of the Holy Spirit of God to the Christian believer. Between them the phrases inform the believer of everything he or she needs to know concerning the work of the Holy Spirit in their own experience of the Christian life.
1. THE PROMISE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
The Lord Jesus Christ promised, “I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you for ever; even the Spirit of truth,” Jn.14.16-17. “The Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in My name,” v26. “When the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth,” 15.26. “The Comforter … I will send Him unto you,” 16.7.
It is greatly emphasised in Scripture that the Holy Spirit was promised. Jesus said, “Behold, I send the promise of My Father upon you,” Lk.24.49. “Wait for the promise of the Father, which, said He, ye have heard of Me … ye shall be baptised with the Holy Ghost not many days hence,” Acts 1.4-5. Peter said, “Ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off,” Acts 2.38-39. Paul said, “That we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith,” Gal.3.14. “In whom (Christ) also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise,” Eph.1.13.
This great emphasis upon the word ‘promise’ is because it is a fulfilled promise. This promise was initially fulfilled at Pentecost, “They were all filled with the Holy Ghost,” Acts 2.4. Then the promise was and is continually fulfilled in the experience of the believer. “In whom (Christ) ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise,” Eph.1.13. “Hereby we know that He abideth in us, by the Spirit which He hath given us,” 1Jn.3.24. “Hereby know we that we dwell in Him, and He in us, because He hath given us of His Spirit,” 1Jn.4.13.
The promise of the gift of the Holy Spirit is a fulfilled promise for every Christian.
2. THE GIFT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
Often in Scripture the fulfilled promise of the Holy Spirit is described as a gift. “Ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost,” Acts 2.38. “On the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost,” Acts 10.45.
A gift is not a commodity to be bought, “Because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money,” Acts 8.20. A gift is not wages for work done, “Now to one who works, his wages are not reckoned as a gift but as his due,” Rom.4.4, RSV. A gift is not a reward for meritorious behaviour, “The free gift is of many offences unto justification,” Rom.5.16. The gift of the Holy Spirit is graciously given to meet the need of new life, not to reward our merit. The New Covenant was promised to replace the Old Covenant. Scripture says, “I will make a new covenant,” Jer.31.31-34. The basis of this New Covenant has been laid in the work of the Lord Jesus at Calvary and so we read, “In that He saith, a New Covenant, He hath made the first old … ready to vanish away,” Heb.8.6-13. Ezekiel prophesying of this New Covenant said, “I cleanse you … and I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes,” 36.25-27. “The Spirit which He hath given us,” 1Jn.3.24. “He hath given us of His spirit,” 1Jn.4.13.
A gift is the result of grace, it is unearned, unmerited and undeserved. “And if it is by grace, then it is no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace,” Rom.11.6.
—to be continued (D.V.)
By C. Jones (Wales)
Ps.51 might well be read and quoted more frequently than any of the other Penitential Psalms. The Penitential Psalms bring out the sadness, misery and penitence that a child of God experiences when he has sinned against God. They stress the need such an unhappy, repentant person feels for God's mercy and forgiveness. Ps.6, 32, 38, 106, 130 and 143 are also Penitential Psalms and of these Ps.32 is probably more generally known than the others.
Ps.51, like Ps.32, was written by David after he had committed adultery with Bathsheba and had arranged for the death of her husband, Uriah, 2Sam.11.1-27. God sent the prophet Nathan to bring David's sin before him, whereupon David confessed immediately that he had sinned against the Lord, 2Sam.12.7,13. In Ps.51, we see the guilty David confessing his sin and wanting to be forgiven, reconciled to God and restored to His service. Ps.32 describes the blessedness and happiness of the man who knows he has been forgiven and is enjoying the blessing of God.
Confession and plea for forgiveness
The unhappy, penitent David freely acknowledged his transgressions, iniquity and sin against God and prayed for mercy and forgiveness, v1-4. David prayed in the light of his knowledge of God. He knew the holiness, steadfast love, compassion, pity, mercy, grace and kindness of God, Ps.103.1-17, and he prayed that he might be the blessed recipient of God's mercy, v1. David wanted to experience the blessed relief that would come from having his transgressions blotted out, v1, his iniquity washed and his sin cleansed by God, v2.
David acknowledged his sin and was experiencing the sadness that leads to repentance. He could get no relief, for he said “my sin is ever before me,” v3. He knew that, no matter who may be hurt and affected by our sin, all sin is primarily and ultimately against God, v4; Gen.39.9; 1Cor.8.12. David confessed to God saying, “Against Thee, Thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Thy sight.” He knew that God is omniscient and omnipresent, Ps.139.1-12. David, with his knowledge of God, His ways and His holiness, knew that he had broken the Law of God. He had broken the sixth, seventh and tenth commandments, Ex.20.13,14,17, and was conscious that God could justly judge, condemn and punish him, v4.
David had sinned and was well aware of his defilement before God. He knew that he, like all men, was a sinner, having been born with a sinful nature, v5; Rom.3.23. The human “heart is deceitful … and desperately wicked,” Jer.17.9. David would certainly admit this, and he knew that God's holiness is uncompromising. God cannot overlook sin and desires truth and purity in the inner being, v6. David had been guilty of folly, hypocrisy and sin and was aware of his need to “know wisdom,” v6. The “fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,” Prov.9.10, and the wisdom God gives is pure, peaceable, gentle, merciful, impartial and without hypocrisy, Jas.3.17. David needed true wisdom and he wanted God, in His love and mercy, to forgive him.
God, who is love, 1Jn.4.8, is “rich in mercy,” Eph.2.4, and He sent His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, who could not sin, 2Cor.5.21; 1Pet.2.22; 1Jn.3.5; Heb.4.15, to suffer, bleed and die for our sins, Jn.3.16; Rom.8.32, so that we might be cleansed and saved by grace through faith in Him, Eph.2.8; 1Jn.1.7. Now God can justly forgive our sins, Rom.3.26; 1Pet.3.18. If we confess our sins, including those we commit after being saved, He will forgive our sins, 1Jn.1.9.
Plea for cleansing and restoration
David wanted God to purge him “with hyssop.” Hyssop, a small, wild, aromatic herb, was used in the ceremonial cleansing of a leper, Lev.14.1-4. Leprosy is a type of sin. A leper was unclean and miserable and needed to be healed and cleansed. David wanted God to cleanse him and wash him so that he would be “whiter than snow,” v7. The suffering, repentant David longed to be forgiven and he longed for the joy and gladness he had known when, in former times, he had enjoyed the peace of God and fellowship with Him, with no unconfessed sin to intrude and spoil their communion. He longed for God's chastisement, which had brought him to repentance, Heb.12.11, to cease, v8. David was continuously conscious of his sin, v3: it was always before him and he wanted God to forgive and put that sin out of His sight and to blot out his iniquities, v9.
Evil thoughts precede all sinful deeds, and David asked God to create a new, clean heart within him, v10. We read that “whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart,” Matt.5.28, and “out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies,” Matt.15.19. David pleaded for inner cleansing and renewal, and that his spirit might steadfastly seek to do the will of God, v10.
David asked God not to cast him away, and said, “take not Thy holy Spirit from me,” v11. In the Old Testament we read of the Holy Spirit in connection with creation, Gen.1.2; that He empowered men for special service, Jud.3.10;14.16, and that He departed from men, 1Sam.16.14. Today, when a believer sins he grieves, and can quench, the Holy Spirit, Eph.4.30; 1Thess.5.19, but now the Holy Spirit dwells permanently in each believer from the moment of salvation and will not leave him, 1Cor.6.19; Jn.14.16,17.
Sadness, sorrow and suffering are the inevitable consequences of sin, and the unhappy, repentant David asks that the joy associated with salvation might be restored to him by God, and that he might be upheld and strengthened by the Holy Spirit, v12. As believers, we cannot lose our salvation, Jn.3.36; 10.28,29, but if we do not repent and confess sin which we have committed then we will lose the joy of our salvation, the peace of God and fellowship with Him.
Anticipation of future service
David looked forward in anticipation of being forgiven and restored. As a result of his experience of the remorse, contrition and sadness caused by sin, and the blessings and happiness which resulted from repentance, confession and assurance of forgiveness, he would be able to “teach transgressors” the gracious ways of God, v13. He did this when he wrote Ps.32. He undertook to bring sinners to God. A sinner saved by grace can testify, from experience, of the salvation to be found in and through the Lord Jesus Christ.
When David would be assured that he was no longer guilty of “bloodguiltiness”, that is, when he had been forgiven for murdering Uriah, he would then proclaim God's righteousness. David had spoken of “my transgressions … mine iniquity … my sin,” v1,2, but in v14 he could speak of “my salvation.” God could, in anticipation of the substitutionary suffering and death of the Lord Jesus Christ, righteously and justly forgive the sin David had confessed, Rom.3.26. David would rejoice and be filled with gladness and joy in the assurance of God's forgiveness. He would sing and praise God, and others would hear of God's mercy and grace, v15.
David could have made sacrifices and offerings to God, but this was not what God wanted. He wanted “a broken spirit: a broken and contrite heart,” and these God will not despise, v 16,17. God will accept the worship, and guide and empower the service, of a believer who has confessed his sin and has been forgiven and restored.
David prayed that his sin might not cause God to prevent the completion of the building of the walls around Jerusalem, v18. When the building of the walls and the temple was completed then “sacrifices of righteousness” would be made, “burnt offering and whole burnt offering,” v19, for the blessing of the people and the pleasure and glory of God.
by B. E. Avery (England)
The last part of Ps.143.5 records David's words: “I muse on the work of Thy hands.” How good it is, with God's Word now complete before us, to follow David's example in remembering that which we are taught with regard to the Divine Hand as revealed in the Scriptures. What weakness and loss are ours should we be deprived of the use of our hands, and what loss is ours too if we fail to appreciate that which our God has and can accomplish with His.
Firstly, His hand is THE HAND OF CREATION.
This is taught in Ps.19.1 and Ps.102.25, and the evidence of His mighty skill and power is all around us. When we make our “first effort,” whether as infants or adults, they are often characterised by weakness and error, but not so our God, who, let us remember, made all from nothing, Heb.11.3.
Secondly, His hand is THE FASHIONING HAND.
Job 10.8, “Thine hands have made me … Far from being lost in the vastness of the creation of which we as individuals form such a small part, we, ‘fearfully and wonderfully made,’ are products of the very hand of God Himself,” Ps.139.14-16.
Thirdly, God's hand is THE HAND OF PROVIDENCE.
Ps.145.16, The products of God's wonderful wisdom, we are not forgotten or left to chance but provided for in a marvellous way. Not only our food, but the atmosphere, temperature and even gravitational pull, combine to enable us to live healthy and comfortable lives. This applies not only to mankind, but also to the rest of creation. Do we recognise and remember these things as we should? How conscious are we of our dependence on God and how much gratitude fills our hearts from day to day?
Fourthly, the hand of God is THE HAND OF HEALING AND BLESSING.
This is particularly evident as we study the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ during His sojourn here.
Note the use of His hands in connection with:—
- A Leper … from vileness to cleansing, Matt.8.3
- Simon's wife's mother … from high fever to holy ministry, Matt 8.15.
- Jairus' daughter … from death to life, Matt.9.25.
- Peter … from danger to safety, Matt.14.31.
- A Blind Man … from darkness to sight, Mk. 8.23,25.
- A Child … from madness to sanity, Mk.9.27.
- The Little Children … from rebuff to reception, Matt.19.15.
How much the Lord's people know something of this in a spiritual sense.
Here we see:
- The sinner in his uncleanness;
- The sinner in his restlessness;
- The sinner in his deadness;
- The sinner in his precariousness;
- The sinner in his darkness;
- The sinner in his madness;
- The sinner in his helplessness.
Yet those hands were THE HANDS OF SUBMISSION to the will of God, Ps.22.16, reminding us as the hymn writer has so aptly written, “And those kind hands that did such good, they nailed them to a cross of wood.” What grace, what mercy shewn there at Calvary. As a result, His hand is now THE HAND OF SALVATION, Is.59.1. Praise Him!
Prov.1.24 is a solemn verse calling our attention to the fact that God's hands today, are, as far as the sinner is concerned THE HANDS OF INTREATY. See also Rom.10.21. For them now is the day of Salvation, but if ignored, Ps.88.5 reminds such that a day will come when those same hands will be WITHDRAWN HANDS. Hands then to be of JUDGMENT, Dan.5.5 and DESTRUCTION, Mic.9.5.
But for the saint, the hands of God have a part to play in his life also.
We see His hand as:
- In Jn.10,28 THE HAND OF SECURITY for the FEEBLE.
- In. Ps.119.173 THE HAND OF HELP for the FALLEN.
- In Ps.78.72 THE HAND OF GUIDANCE for the FALTERING.
- In Ps.31.5,15 THE HAND OF TRUST for the FEARFUL.
- In Ps.38.2 THE HAND OF CHASTISEMENT for the FORWARD.
How often we go through these experiences, yet how wonderful and gracious the provision God has for us in His hands! May we indeed know what it is to experience that MIGHTY HAND of 1Pet.5.6 humbling us as He sees we need.
Ps.78.42, reminds us of THE FORGOTTEN HAND. What a contrast to THE REMEMBERED HAND of which we thought at the commencement of this study! What are we doing? Remembering or forgetting? It must be one or the other. May the Lord help us not to lose sight of those pierced hands until we see Him face to face.
by the late Bertie Douglas (Venezuela)
(The following account of the conversion of Bertie Douglas was obtained from an old tract, printed during World War I. Our brother eventually went to Venezuela to serve the Lord.).
Many tales of bravery are coming from various parts of the battle front. Tales of brave men risking their lives for their comrades in the trenches or their fellows lying wounded in “no man's land,” as the narrow strip separating the two fighting forces is called. Tales of men actually giving their lives in order to save others. Who does not admire such bravery?
But there is another kind of bravery which receives no Victoria Cross, no Military Medal. The hero who reads his Bible and kneels upon his knees in prayer to God, as a hero named Daniel did in the days of long ago.
Yet there is still a third class whom we think of as brave, very brave; in fact, they are so brave that they receive a Cross just now and a Crown at the end of the Battle. Perhaps the best way to explain this noble person is to ask you to read a genuine letter from such a one.
“Somewhere in France,” 10th January, 1916.
“I am living and well, and in the best of spirits. Travelling in the train yesterday I took my place as a lost sinner on the way to Hell, so I am sure you will be pleased to see by this I am saved. I left England very much unconcerned, although I had some thoughts as to how I stood. The night was very rough coming across the Channel, and it made me start to think, for I knew well if anything was to happen me I had no chance. Well, the thoughts came on me ever since.
“I have a little book of St. John's Gospel which I had given me at Guildford on my way to Southampton. I read it every time I get the chance. Yesterday I came across a verse, John 5.14, it made me start to think seriously. So reading last night in the train I came to chapter 7, verses 33 and 34, so I knew it lay with me as with the miner, NOW or NEVER. Pray for me that I may have the faith and strength to continue.
“Your loving son, Bertie.”
Bertie, perhaps like yourself had been brought up in the Sunday School, with the knowledge about sin entering by the Garden of Eden, and being manifest in the acts of man through all the ages. He had heard the wondrous story of the Lord Jesus appearing “to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself,” Heb.9.26. How all who believe are saved for ever, and all who reject Christ will be lost for ever.
Crossing the English Channel he was brought face to face with death and Eternity, which every one of us MUST do, either now or when crossing a greater channel — between Time and Eternity. After he had seen himself in God's sight, it kept his heart burning to get deliverance. Then the precious Gospel of Jn.5.14 reminded him, “Behold thou art made whole; sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee.” If he rejected the light and remained unconcerned “a worse thing” to be rejected himself for ever might come upon him. Then he came to ch.7.33,34, where Jesus says, “Ye shall seek Me and shall not find me.” He remembered the story of the miner who said, “Now or never,” he felt he must be saved there and then, or perhaps “never”. He believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, and was “saved”.
Will you do likewise just now? With you it may be now or never!
ARE YOU A CHRISTIAN?
“Yes, of course I am!’
“No, and I don’t want to be!”
But are you sure what a Christian is? Perhaps if you had a clear definition of a Christian, you would not be so sure that you are one; or not quite so sure that you do not want to become one.
The Bible tells us that the name Christian was first given to the disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ in the city of Antioch, Acts 11.19-26. What had they done to receive the name Christian? They heard about the Lord Jesus Christ and believed what they heard, v20,21. So then a Christian is one who hears and believes the message about the Lord Jesus Christ.
But what did they hear about Him? The earlier chapters of the book of Acts leave us in no doubt as to the message preached about the Lord Jesus. The previous chapter records the sermon preached by the apostle Peter in the house of Cornelius, 10.34-48. Peter said that the Lord Jesus had died on a cross, v39, but had been raised from the dead by God, v40. Also that every one who believed in Him, as the One who had died for their sins, would be forgiven, v43. Those who put their trust in Christ received from God the gift of the Holy Spirit, v44.
Thus a Christian is a person who has acknowledged that he or she is a sinner and that the Lord Jesus Christ has died for his or her sins. Having trusted Christ as his or her Sin-bearer, the Christian knows that his or her sins are forgiven. Also that the Lord Jesus having now risen from the dead, has responded to the Christian’s faith by sending the Holy Spirit to live within them.
So if you say, “Of course I am a Christian,” just think a moment, are you relying on your own good works to make you a Christian? These will never obtain forgiveness for your sins, ‘Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us,’ Titus 3.5.
Are you relying on religious ceremonies to make you a Christian? Saul of Tarsus had all the religious ceremonies, but he did not become a Christian until he accepted Christ. Read of his experience in Philippians 3.3-9.
You are not a Christian until you repent of your sins and accept Jesus Christ as the One who died for your sins and rose again to be your Saviour.
If you say, “I do not want to become a Christian,” think again. Do you want to escape from the judgment for your sins, which is eternal separation from God in hell? ‘And these shall go away into everlasting punishment,’ Matthew 25.46. Do you not want your sins forgiven and the power to live free from sinning and in accord with Christ’s teaching? Do you not want eternal life, so that even death itself is but the gateway to eternal happiness?
If you want the blessings of the Christian life, then turn to the Lord Jesus Christ and accept Him as your personal Saviour.
Our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory
- A little while to serve
- And suffer for Him here;
- A little while mid trials keen,
- Then see His face so dear.
- Take courage then, my soul,
- A little while, soon o'er;
- This light affliction soon will pass;
- Midst trials serve Him more.
- We need wisdom that will enable us to ALTER that which can be changed.
- We need grace that will enable us to ACCEPT that which cannot be changed.
— J. Burnett