We have already noted that the song may be considered under three main headings We will now consider this lengthy passage.
The Character Of The Song - vv.1-3;
The Content Of The Song - vv.4-43;
The Communication Of The Song - vv.44-47.
With regard to the Content of the Song, we suggested that this may be divided as follows:
Remembrance - vv.4-14: "Remember the days of old, consider the years of many generations" v.7;
Rebellion - vv.15-18: "Jeshurun waxed fat, and kicked" v.15;
Retribution - vv.19-33: "I will heap mischiefs upon them" v.23;
Remission - vv.34-43: "He will...be merciful unto His land, and to His people" v.43 or "He ... maketh atonement for His land, for His people' (J.N.D.)
Having already considered the first two of these four divisions, we now come to
Retribution - vv.19-33
These verses announce Divine judgment, although this is tempered with Divine mercy. This section of the chapter may be summarised as follows:
The Unfaithfulness of Israel - vv.19-25. Israel is described as "children in whom is no faithfulness" (v.20, J.N.D.) We should notice:
The provocation - "And when the Lord saw it, He abhorred them, because of the provoking of His sons, and of His daughters v.19 ... they have provoked Me to anger with their vanities" v.21.
The punishment - "I will hide My face from them, I will see what their end shall be" v.20. This signifies the withdrawal of Divine favour: "the Lord make His face to shine upon thee ... The Lord lift up His countenance upon thee" Num.6.25-26, was the highest of all blessings. But sin cancels this: "your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid His face from you" Isa.59.2. "I will move them to jealousy with those which are not a people; I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation" v.21. This evidently refers to the indignation of God's people when they see the prosperity and blessing of other less-favoured nations. The verse is quoted with that meaning in Rom.10.19, and a further reference to it is made in Rom.11.11. Moses then describes inescapable and all-consuming judgment vv.22-25. This is expressed in rhetorical terms, as well as in literal detail: "For a fire is kindled in Mine anger, and shall burn unto the lowest hell, and shall consume the earth with her increase, and set on fire the foundations of the mountains" v.22.
The Unwillingness of God - vv.26-27."I said ... I would make the remembrance of them to cease from among men: were it not that I feared the wrath of the enemy, lest their adversaries should behave themselves strangely, and lest they should say, our hand is high, and the Lord hath not done all this". This reflects God's mercy. He would not leave them to the 'tender mercies' of the heathen, who would utterly eliminate them. The Assyrians are a case in point: Isaiah describes them as "the rod of Mine anger" and continues "the staff in their hand is Mine indignation", but instead of recognising that they were God's instruments in chastening His people, they begin to boast: "By the strength of my hand have I done it, and by my wisdom", leading the Lord to say, "Shall the axe boast itself against him that heweth therewith?" Isa.10.5-15. Compare Zech.1.15. The Lord does not intend to dispense with Israel: "Fear not thou, O Jacob My servant, saith the Lord: for I am with thee; for I will make a full end of all the nations whither I have driven thee: but I will not make a full end of thee, but correct thee in measure; yet will I not leave thee wholly unpunished" Jer.46.28.
The Senselessness of Israel, vv.28-33. "For they are a nation void of counsel, neither is there any understanding in them. O that they were wise, that they understood this, that they would consider their latter end!" As Raymond Brown points out, "It is astonishing that when they had been vanquished by their less able foes, they had not sat down to think seriously about the practical reasons for their defeat ... After such humiliating military encounters, had they never reflected on the possibility that they had lost the battle solely because their Rock had sold them v.30? How could one pagan soldier chase a thousand Israelites unless God had deliberately withdrawn His support from his disloyal people?" God was well able to deliver them - but He did not do so, and they didn't even think about it! Their God was infinitely superior to the gods of the enemies: "For their rock is not as our Rock, even our enemies themselves being judges" v.31. Even their enemies recognised the superiority of Israel's God. See, for example, Josh.2.9-11.
But sin will rob us of Divine power, just as it robbed Israel of their superiority: "And the anger of the Lord was hot against Israel, and He delivered them into the hands of spoilers that spoiled them, and He sold them into the hands of their enemies round about, so that they could no longer stand before their enemies" Judg.2.14. See also Judg.3.8;4.2;10.7. Compare Lev.26.17: "And I will set My face against you, and ye shall be slain before your enemies: they that hate you shall reign over you; and ye shall flee when none pursueth you". The reason follows: "For their vine is the vine of Sodom, and of the fields of Gomorrah ... their wine is the poison of dragons (or 'serpents', Gesenius), and the cruel venom of asps" vv.32-33. This "sharply exposes the sexual profanities at the idolatrous shrines (cf. 29.23). The apostate Israelite people vainly imagine that their loyalty to these fertility gods will increase their grape-harvest, but their vineyards would yield poisonous fruit ... These foolish people had changed the red blood of the grape v.14, for clusters with bitterness v.32" (Raymond Brown).
Remission - vv.34-43
This is conveyed in the words: "He ... maketh atonement for His land, for His people" v.43 (J.N.D.) This section is introduced with the statement (it evidently refers to what follows): "Is not this laid up in store with Me, and sealed up among My treasures?" v.34. The chaos and disorder in the nation is not for ever. Divine judgment on Israel, though inevitable, does not signal the end of the nation. He will ultimately deliver them and bless them v.43. This should be compared with the words, "the secret things belong unto the Lord our God" 29.29. To requote C.H. Mackintosh: "the secret things are what God would do in spite of Israel's sad and shameful failure ... the counsels of Divine grace, the provisions of sovereign mercy to be displayed when Israel shall have thoroughly learnt the lesson of their utter failure under both the Moab and Horeb-covenants." We must now notice:
His Compassion towards Israel - vv.34-38. Divine judgment would be tempered with mercy. Although "vengeance ... recompence ... calamity" lay ahead v.35, for sin must be judged, nevertheless, "the Lord shall ... repent Himself for His servants, when He seeth that their power is gone, and there is none shut up, or left" v.36. There will come a time when Israel will be friendless and alone. This will certainly be the case in Zech.14.1-4. Idols, to which sacrifices and drink-offerings had been offered, will prove powerless: "let them rise up and help you, and be your protection" vv.37-38, but as in the case of Baal, there will be "no voice, nor any that answered" 1 Kgs.18.26.
His Conquest of Israel's Enemies - vv.39-42. When Israel's "power is gone, and there is none shut up, or left", the Lord will directly intervene in judgment on their enemies ("I kill ... I wound") and in blessing for His people" (I make alive ... I heal"). He will do so without any help from idols v.39, just as He had led them through the wilderness without any help from idols v.12. This has the force of an oath: "For I lift up My hand to heaven, and say, I live for ever. If I whet My glittering sword, and Mine hand take hold on judgment: I will render vengeance on Mine enemies, and will reward them that hate Me" vv.40-41. Compare Rev.10.5-6, "And the angel ... lifted up his hand to heaven, and sware by Him that liveth for ever and ever ... that there should be time (delay) no longer." It is noteworthy that the Lord refers to Israel's enemies as "Mine enemies" and "them that hate Me".
His Cleansing of Israel - v.43. He will "avenge the blood of His servants" and "render vengeance on His adversaries", but more than that, He will "be merciful (this is the language of sacrifice) unto His land, and to His people". Ellicott's Commentary is worth quoting in full here: "Literally, will reconcile or make atonement for His land, the land of His people, or, for the land of His people. He will cleanse, forgive, and be merciful to it. The very last words speak of local restoration of the land to the people, and the people of the land. Of no other land has He said "The land is mine". The God who loves His people will not fail to restore them. When this takes place, Gentile nations will rejoice! Gentiles rejoice already because the gospel is preached to them. Paul quotes this verse in that context in Rom.15.10, but the ultimate fulfilment lies in the millennial reign, when "the receiving of them" (the Jews) will be "life from the dead" (for the Gentiles), see Rom.11.15.
THE COMMUNICATION OF THE SONG - vv.44-47
We should notice that Moses involves Joshua in this: "And Moses came and spake all the words of this song in the ears of the people, he, and Hoshea the son of Nun" v.44. In a short while, Moses would be gone. It was therefore most important that his successor should be thoroughly aware of the need to acquaint God's people with His Word. We should notice two things here - what they were to do vv.45-46; and why they were to do it v.47.
What They Were To Do - vv.45-46
"Set your hearts unto all the words which I testify among you this day, which ye shall command your children to do, all the words of this law". Both the current generation ("set your hearts") and the succeeding generations ("your children") needed the Word of God. The current generation were to convey God's Word to their children with deep personal conviction (from their "hearts"), and were to emphasise that His Word must be obeyed. They were to convey, not options and alternatives, but Divine commands - see 1 Cor.14. 37.
Why They Were To Do This - v.47
"For it is not a vain thing for you; because it is your life: and through this thing ye shall prolong your days in the land, whither ye go to possess it". Three reasons are given:
Because it was sure. "For it is not a vain thing for you". Obedience to the Word of God yields assured results. Disobedience also yields assured results. Samuel reminded Saul that "to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams" 1 Sam.15.22.
Because it was essential. "It is your life." The prosperity and well-being of the nation was bound up with their obedience to God's Word. Joshua was told this on a personal level: "turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest ... then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success" Josh.1.7-8.
Because it would ensure continuity. "Through this thing ye shall prolong your days in the land, whither ye go over Jordan to possess it". The enjoyment of their inheritance depended on obedience to God's Word. This is the uniform message of the entire book. Disobedience robbed Israel of the abundant blessings of Canaan: it still robs believers of their spiritual enjoyment.
Having considered the song of testimony vv.1-47), the chapter concludes with the sight of the land vv.48-52. "And the Lord spake unto Moses that selfsame day, saying, "Get thee up into this mountain Abarim, unto mount Nebo, which is in the land of Moab, that is over against Jericho; and behold the land of Canaan ... thou shalt see the land before thee ..." vv.48-49,52. While Moses was told why he was debarred from entering the land, the Lord Himself gave him a conducted tour - see 34: 1-3. C.H. Mackintosh calls the prohibition "Jehovah's governmental dealing with His beloved servant Moses". But this did not mean that all blessing was withheld. Moses did see the land. He did receive Divine help and encouragement and, centuries later, without crossing the Jordan, Moses set foot in the land. Perhaps, shortly before his death, he saw the very mountain on which he was to stand, with Elijah, in the presence of the Son of God.
Some saints are afflicted with doubts regarding the possession of salvation and this new series is designed to highlight the truth of assurance. These papers are taken from an old (undated) book called “Salvation and How to Possess it,” published by J. Ritchie
"BY GRACE ARE YE SAVED THROUGH FAITH" EPHESIANS 2. 8
By John H McKnight
Is there any thoughtful person in whose mind the question has not at some time arisen. Can one be really sure of salvation in this life? There is nothing about which we should so long for positive certainty; and to show from the Word of God that this certainty may be enjoyed and how, is the object of the present writer. He has himself possessed it for the past twenty-seven years, and his earnest prayer is that the Spirit of God may lead some who read these lines to rest upon the same sure foundation as he did, and so be enabled to "read their title clear to mansions in the skies."
In the Scripture which heads this paper are found the two great factors that combine in our salvation, grace and faith — grace on God's part which provides it, and faith on our part which lays hold upon it and makes it an enjoyed possession.
That God's salvation has been brought to all men is abundantly clear in the Word of Truth. "The grace of God hath appeared, bringing salvation to all men", Titus.2.11 (R.V.). "There is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man, Christ Jesus, Who gave Himself a ransom for all," 1Tim.2.5,6. "We see Jesus … crowned with glory and honour; that He by the grace of God should taste death for every man." Heb.2.9. God "willeth that all men should be saved." 1Tim.2.4 (R.V.); and is "not willing that any should perish" 2Pet.3.9. Many more quotations might be given, but these should suffice to prove to anyone who is open to conviction, that the grace of God has placed salvation within the reach of all, and that He desires all without exception to become possessors of it.
This fact clearly established, the question next arising is, How can a person become possessed of that salvation which, he is assured from Scripture, the grace of God has provided for him? Here it is that the second great factor comes into operation, the faith on the sinner's part which appropriates what grace has brought to him, and apart from which the provision made will profit him nothing. The absolute necessity of faith in order to have salvation, is evident from both the Old and the New Testament. It forms the connecting link between the sinner and the Saviour in both past and present dispensations. "Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness" Rom.4.3. In like manner all the other worthies of Hebrews chapter 11 were possessed of this living faith in God, and the worthy deeds ascribed to them were the fruits of it; for it is stated in v.6 that "without faith it is impossible to please Him." Coming then to New Testament times, the gospel commission as given to the apostles is, "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptised shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned" Mk.16.15,16. And we read that, "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. … He that believeth on Him is not condemned; but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God" Jn.3.14-18. And heading that awful list of sinners in Rev.21.8, who shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone, are the "fearful and unbelieving." But again it is needless to multiply quotations. Those given make it abundantly clear that, as the salvation of the sinner flows from sovereign grace on God's part, so it becomes effectual to each individual through the exercise of faith on his part.
Having thus seen that faith is absolutely essential to salvation, let us further observe that it is the only thing on the sinner's part which is essential. Character, works of righteousness, or merits of any description are not required, as the following Scriptures clearly show. "If it is by grace, then it is no more of works; otherwise grace is no more grace" Rom.11.6 (R.V.). "To him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt; but to him that worketh not, but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness" Rom.4.4,5. "Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith, without the deeds of the law" Rom.3.28. "This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him Whom He hath sent" Jn.6.29.
But it must not, of course, be overlooked that the faith which lays hold on Christ and brings salvation to the soul is, in every instance, a "faith which worketh by love" Gal.5.6. The epistle of James definitely teaches that faith which does not produce works is not a saving faith but dead. Hence we look for good works as the outcome of salvation possessed, though never as a means to obtain it. And while we make it clear that salvation is by grace through faith only; on the other hand, let no one persuade himself that he has saving faith, if good works, which are ever its accompaniment, are absent in his life.
Having thus ascertained two important facts, that the great source of our salvation is the grace of God, and that the means by which it is made our own is simple faith; let us now consider what it is we must believe in order to be saved. Some there are who tell us that it matters little what one believes, so long as he is sincere; but the error of this must surely be obvious to all who will but take time to think. It matters greatly what one believes; for if a man's belief is wrong, his sincerity, instead of making up for it, will only drive him farther astray. Saul of Tarsus verily thought that he "ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth" Acts 26.9, and so zealous was he that he persecuted the church of God and wasted it, Gal.1.13. He was thoroughly sincere in his belief, yet he was thoroughly wrong; and his sincerity merely drove him headlong on his wrong course. Thus it is not enough to be sincere; our belief must be rightly grounded, and so the question is of the utmost importance:— In what are we to place our faith so as to be absolutely certain that we have obtained salvation, the pardon of our sins, peace with God, and eternal life?
The answer to it in our Lord's own words is, "believe the gospel," Mk.1.15. But what is this gospel? It is the glad news sent down from heaven, which tells guilty men that a ransom has been found and a Saviour provided; through Whom they may have life and salvation, freedom for ever from the dread penalty of sin, the lake of fire, and a place instead in the eternal glory. It is not merely a promise as to what God will do for men, but the announcement of what He has done for them, the declaration that He has so loved the world as to give His Son to the cross to bear His wrath due to sin; in order that He might righteously spare us. This is the gospel, and this is what we are asked to believe that we might be saved. We are to believe in our heart that God, the eternal God, against Whom we had so grievously sinned, and before Whom we all stood guilty, has so loved us, in spite of our sin and guilt, that to save us from our doom, He gave His Son to the cross to be wounded and bruised in our stead; that He who knew no sin was there made a sin offering for us. As it is written, "He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him," 2Cor.5.21. "Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree," 1Pet.2.24. "Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God," 1Pet.3.18. These are the plain Gospel statements of the Scriptures, and all who put their trust in Him whose work on the cross they set before us, immediately become possessors of eternal salvation.
"Soon as my all I ventured on the atoning blood,
The Holy Spirit entered, and I was born of God."
So wrote Charles Wesley, and such has been the experience of all who in simple faith have rested for salvation upon Christ.
But there are not a few who, whilst giving assent to the doctrine of the gospel, as set forth in the above and kindred verses, yet hesitate to take God at His Word, and shrink back from taking the ground which that Word gives to all true believers. Such people look upon it as "going a little too far" — as presumption in fact — for anyone to say definitely that he is saved, and sure of it. They think that while it is right and proper to look to Christ for salvation, and to entertain a hope that all may be right in the end, it is overstepping the bounds to speak decidedly and positively of being already in possession of eternal life, and certain of heaven.
This reluctance or hesitancy to take the ground given to us in God's Word as believers might at first sight be mistaken for excessive modesty, arising from a sense of unworthiness; but we believe it, in many cases, to be rather the fruit of inbred pride, the pride of the human heart, deceitful in this, as in all other things pertaining to God. The real reason why these, although professing to believe the gospel, yet consider it presumptuous for anyone to go the length of saying that he is saved, is that, lurking in their heart, is the thought that, over and above the work of Christ, their own lives will determine to at least some extent how they shall fare at the end. In other words they imagine that though Christ has finished His work, there yet remains something to be done by us.
Now, obviously, if this idea were correct, if our salvation depended in the smallest degree upon our own lives, no one could say on this side of eternity that he was saved and sure of heaven. Such knowledge could not in that case be attained, until the entire life had been lived, the course finished, and God's approval pronounced upon it. But as we have shown, such an idea has no foundation in Scripture, and can only exist in the minds of those who are ignorant of their utter ruin, and of their complete inability to do anything to please God, or merit salvation. They have not learned that "all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags" Isa.64.6, nor that "in me … dwelleth no good thing" Rom.7.18. But let all who desire to be saved and know it, be very clear about this, that in the work of salvation, man is entirely shut out from having any share other than to receive it as a gift from God. It is not the work of Christ with our good deeds added to it that saves, but the work of Christ alone. It is not the work of Christ and baptism; it is not the work of Christ and the Lord's supper, but the work of Christ alone. It is not even the work of Christ and our faith, though, as we have shown, it is through faith we claim the salvation which His work has secured. Let the work of the Saviour stand out alone, in all its grand and solitary dignity, as the only ground contained in the Scriptures whereon a guilty sinner may set his foot, and stand with assured acceptance before God.
To sum up: If God, the designer and author of salvation, has set man aside as utterly incapable of doing ought to please Him, Rom.8.8, and has placed the work of salvation in the hands of One Who was perfectly competent to accomplish it to His satisfaction; if that One to Whom the work was entrusted has finished it, Jn.19.30; if the Word of God assures us that all who believe the gospel and rest on Christ as their Saviour have everlasting life, Jn.3.36; are not the presumptious ones those who refuse to take Him at His word, and to accept the salvation provided? Let the Scriptures themselves answer. "He that believeth not God hath made Him a liar, because he believeth not the record that God gave of His Son. And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in His Son" 1Jn.5.10,11.
Thus our assurance as believers rests not on anything within us, or done by us, but is based entirely upon the Word of God. The saved sinner, looking to the cross, by faith beholds One dying there as his substitute, and like Paul, can call Him, "The Son of God Who loved me, and gave Himself for me." With Isaiah, he can claim it all for himself, and say, "He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities, the chastisement of our peace was upon Him, and with His stripes we are healed." And so, sheltered by the blood of Christ, and knowing from the Word of God that he has eternal life, the happy believer looks onward to that blissful day, when, saved not only from sin's penalty and power, but from its very presence, he shall magnify and adore the One by Whose grace he has been saved through faith.
The Lord Jesus Christ is coming to earth to reign for a thousand years. This truth, the truth of the Millennium, is clearly articulated in the New Testament, and the conditions that will mark that glorious reign are outlined for us with great clarity in the Old. Yet few Biblical truths have had such a varied existence during the history of the Church. At times it has been denied; at others stressed to the extreme. There is nothing new about this. Paul, writing to the Corinthians, had to take them to task because they had confused the prophetic calendar, and thought that millennial conditions could be enjoyed now: "ye have reigned as kings without us: and I would to God ye did reign, that we also might reign with you" 1Cor.4.8. While Paul corrects their faulty understanding of present conditions he does not deny the future hope of a reign that would involve the Corinthians, and the apostles, and you, and me. We have a millennial hope and, while we must hold it in Scriptural proportion, we must hold it nonetheless and not allow it to be eclipsed by any other truth, no matter how precious.
We have already thought about the return of Christ to earth to establish His kingdom. Like that return, His reign will have profound and wide-ranging consequences that will affect all creation.
Christ’s Reign and Creation
For creation, Christ’s reign will be a time of deliverance. Rom.8.22 is stating evident truth when it says "we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now." Adam’s fall was a disaster for mankind, but the ripples of its cataclysmic effects have spread through all creation. Once the pristine product of the hand of God, it is presently "in the bondage of corruption" Rom.8.21. But as Christ sits on the throne that is rightfully His, creation will be delivered from the stunting and deforming effects of sin, to declare, as never since the fall, the glory of God the Creator. Christ’s redeeming work has paid the price for the believer, body, soul, and spirit, but His work goes far beyond that, and the cosmic effects of His redemption will one day be seen as He reigns.
Christ’s Reign and the Nations
For the nations, the Millennium will be a period of righteous rule. Christ Himself will be King, and through His people He will administer this planet in absolute righteousness. The world has never seen this – every system of government is marked by unrighteousness because unrighteous men operate it. That is the sad key to the history of the governments of the human race – they are all undermined by the unrighteousness that is so deeply rooted in our fallen natures. What a difference there will be when "the government shall be upon His shoulder" Isa.9.6? Isaiah chapter 32 outlines for us a golden future for this earth that all takes character from the first verse, "Behold, a king shall reign in righteousness". That righteous Head will impose His righteous rule: "a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of [His] kingdom" Heb.1.8.
Christ’s Reign and the Church
What will be the role of the Church in all of this? Is it her lot, as some have suggested, to sit in isolation from all of these events on earth, so happy in our heavenly security as to have no interest in the reign of Christ on earth? Scripture refutes this by teaching that the hope of the Millennium is a hope of the Church and of the believer no less than the Rapture, and we will have our part to play in it.
Firstly, for the Church, it will be a time of revelation. In Rom.8.18 Paul weighs present and future, and declares "that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us." In the next verse, he links the deliverance of creation with the "manifestation of the sons of God". The Millennium, then, will be a time when the glorified Church, redeemed and cleansed by Christ’s precious blood, will be revealed to Creation as the crowning glory of God’s great master plan. It has ever been His purpose that "in the ages to come He might shew the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus" Eph.2.7. We will declare not only His grace, but His glory: "when He shall come to be glorified in His saints, and to be admired in all them that believe ... in that day" 2Thess.2.10. As believers, it is our great and constant desire to bring glory to our Saviour. This should be the aim of our lives now, but we all know too well the bitterness of failing to do so. However, in the Millennium we will do so, without any of the limitations that we presently know. What an honour and what a joy it will be to be the perfect revelation of His grace and His glory in His Millennial kingdom.
For the Church, the Millennium will also be a time of reigning. The details of the Church’s involvement in the millennial reign of Christ are the subject of much debate, but we should not allow the legitimate discussion of details to distract us from the glorious fact of our involvement. The very verse that promises that Christ will reign associates His people with that rule: "Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years" Rev.20.6. Likewise, those gathered around the freshly-slain Lamb sing, as the very high-point and apotheosis of their worship, of the One Who "hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth" Rev.5.10. The Lord Jesus will not require our assistance to administer this world; He is capable of bearing all of its government, in all of its complexity on a single shoulder, but in grace, His purpose for His Church is that they should share in His righteous reign.
The reign of Christ will also be a time of recompense for the believer. In particular, the Millennium is consistently presented in the New Testament as a time when Christians will be compensated for the sufferings that they have experienced. So, 2Tim.2.12 promises us that "if we suffer, we shall also reign with Him". 1Pet.4.13 likewise links suffering now with joy then: "But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when His glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy". This hope is one of the vital threads linking our present to our future for, it has been truly said, our present life is "training for reigning".
But, above all else, the Millennium will be a time of rejoicing. Creation will rejoice to hail the Messiah: "the mountains and the hills shall break forth … into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree: and it shall be to the LORD for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off" Isa.55.12-13. The joy of Christ’s reign will touch the nations. Psalm 97 opens with the exhortation that covers the entire globe: "The Lord reigneth; let the earth rejoice; let the multitude of isles be glad thereof". Israel too will rejoice; the sorrow of tribulation transformed into joy, her "mourning" turned to "dancing" Ps.30.11.
But the greatest rejoicing in that glorious millennial day will be ours. We will be "glad also with exceeding joy" 1Pet.4.13. How uniquely sweet will be the joy of the Bride, united with the Beloved, transformed to His likeness, displayed as the fruit par excellence of His suffering, and manifesting His grace and glory to a wondering world. This will be the achievement of the believer’s every hope, the culmination and the climax of the work of God’s grace in our lives.
Would, then, that we might be moved afresh to contemplate what grace has done. To think of whence we came, and what we were, and of where we are bound and our place in the purpose of God for His Son should both humble and ennoble us, and should make us bright beacons of hope in a hopeless world. With God’s help let us seek to live the "here and now" in the light of the "then and there" with the confidence and assurance that "He must reign" 1Cor.15.25.
Paper 5 – Moses’ Revelation, Remembrance and Reality
A REVELATION – v.27b, "For he endured [persevered, never flinched but held staunchly and tenaciously to his purpose] as seeing Him Who is invisible."
What a revelation it must have been for Moses to behold with the eye of faith, with unblurred focus and undimmed vision, somewhat of the glory of the infinite, immortal, invisible God! On one occasion Moses said, "I beseech Thee, shew me Thy glory" and Jehovah replied, "Thou canst not see My face: for there shall no man see Me, and live … Behold, there is a place by Me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock: And it shall come to pass, while My glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a clift of the rock, and will cover thee with My hand while I pass by: And I will take away Mine hand, and thou shalt see My back parts [the afterglow]: but My face shall not be seen" Ex.33.18, 21-23. The rock, of course, spoke of Christ Who is the physical, visible image [exact representation] of the infinite, invisible God! John clearly states, "No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him" [brought Him out in full-orbed revelation]" Jn.1.18. Paul exults in 1Tim.6.15-16, "Which in His times He shall shew, Who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords: Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; Whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to Whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen." Praise God, "the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, Who is the image of God" 2Cor.4.4, beamed into the darkened recesses of our unregenerate hearts and dispelled the blackness of spiritual darkness forever, "to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ" 2Cor.4.6. What a revelation, and one day, soon, faith is going to give place to sight and we shall see Him Whom our souls adore and worship and serve Him throughout the countless, unending ages of a never-ending eternity!
Face to face, O blissful moment,
Face to face, what will it be?
When with rapture I behold Him,
Jesus Christ who died for me!
(C. E. Breck)
A REMEMBRANCE – v.28, "Through faith he kept [instituted and carried out] the Passover and the sprinkling of blood."
There was that mighty deliverance wrought by Jehovah who delivered His people from Egyptian bondage through the application of the blood of the slain Passover lamb on the lintel and two side posts of the door to each Israelite’s house. The Passover [paschal] lamb, and every other lamb slain on Jewish altars in Old Testiment times, spoke of the Lamb of God Who was to come, even the Lord Jesus Christ, and His glorious redemptive work accomplished at Calvary. Paul reminded the Corinthians in 1Cor.5.7, "… for even Christ our passover [passover Lamb] is [has been] sacrificed for us".
What a privilege and joy is ours as the Lord’s people to remember our blessed Saviour on the first day of the week, the Lord’s day, at the Lord’s Supper, to commemorate the Lord’s death, until He [the Lord] comes again, 1Cor.11.23-34. No believer should want to stay away from the remembrance feast, unless prevented from doing so by circumstances beyond the ambit of our control. Our Lord’s request was, "This do in remembrance of Me", and every Lord’s day at the Lord’s Supper we partake of a loaf reminding us of His body given, and we partake of the contents of a cup, reminding us of His blood outpoured. Thus we remember Christ in every aspect of His Person, His birth, life, His sufferings and death, His burial, His resurrection, His ascension, His glorious exaltation and the bright prospect of His imminent return! Very often believers allow circumstances, within the area of their control, to keep them away from remembering the Lord at the Breaking of Bread. Unconfessed sin, worldly pursuits, occupation with personal hang-ups could be among the reasons. The Lord does not want any to stay away. He desires that we remember Him on the first day of the week. He has made every provision in His Word for confession and forgiveness of sin where this is needed, and for restoration and recovery to Himself. This is, of course, with respect to our personal communion and does not negate assembly discipline for immorality etc. "If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous [One] …" and again, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" 1Jn2.1, 1Jn1.9.
Moses kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood with the children of Israel as a constant reminder of the mighty deliverance Jehovah had wrought for them. "He brought them out that He might bring them in" Deut.6.23. The Lord has brought us out of the systems and spirit of the world and has brought us into the spiritual blessings and secrets of His own divine purpose of grace!
A REALITY – v.29, "By faith they [Moses included] passed through the Red Sea as by dry land: which the Egyptians assaying to do were drowned."
Moses’ faith and the faith of the Israelites, gave place to sight as they beheld the miraculous workings of Jehovah in paving a way through the Red Sea for them, allowing them to pass victoriously on dry land through that sea which is a picture of the fierceness and the force of satanic power as represented in Pharaoh and his pursuing hosts. But the power of Pharaoh and his hosts were overthrown and drowned in that sea! Satan is a conquered foe! At first Israel’s faith failed them when they saw the Red Sea before them, the mountains beside them and the pursuing Egyptians behind them! Moses had said unto the children of Israel in their paralysing fear, "Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord" Ex.14.13, but Jehovah’s word to Moses was, "Speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward" Ex.14.15. Very often we find ourselves like those Israelites in a "Catch-22" situation, when because of prevailing circumstances, there seems to be no way out. Out of fear and foreboding, we come to a complete "stand still". Yes, we stand still because we acknowledge our own insufficiency, our own inadequacy to get us out of the trouble or the trial and we cry to the Lord for help, for His deliverance! But as with the Israelites, the "stand still" must be accompanied with the "go forward". Faith is never bogged down by the paranoia and the paralysis of fear. Faith responds unquestioningly and unreservedly to the life-giving, liberating Word of the Eternal God, and faith moves forward in total trust and delightful dependence upon the Divine Word of our God, because "He faileth not!" When we move forward with unwavering faith in God, we will undoubtedly experience the unshakeable ‘feel’ of the "dry ground" of Divine deliverance beneath our faltering feet as we walk through the ‘Red Sea’ of testing and trial in our lives, faced with the formidable foe, "your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour" 1Pet.5.8.
Moses has reached the point of reality in all that Jehovah had promised. Jehovah had brought them out of the bondage of Egypt. He had brought them to the brink of the Red Sea. He had brought them through the sea against the blast of the pursuing Egyptian hosts, their feet resting safely and securely on the dry ground of Divine deliverance! "By faith they passed through the Red Sea." They had faith in the power of God to divide the Red Sea, to deliver them from the pursuing enemy and to destroy the Egyptians in the sea where they were drowned.
Dear Christian believer, God will always bring His people through no matter what the difficulty. He is greater than the greatest foe, more powerful than the most powerful force! "Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is He that is in you [the Holy Spirit] than he that is in the world [the devil and his hosts]" 1Jn.4.4.
May we learn in the school of God something of the faith of Moses in a refusal, a resolution, a respect, a renunciation, a rejection, a revelation, a remembrance and a reality!
In Nehemiah chapter 3 we read a detailed account of the building and repairing of the walls of Jerusalem by some who had returned from captivity. They were encouraged by God’s servant, Nehemiah, in "doing a great work" 6.3, "a good work" 2.18, a work "wrought of God" 6.10.
In the thirty-two verses in chapter 3, there are many very practical lessons that could be applied to Christian living in the present day but it is the writer's intention to point out five unique exceptions brought before us here. Some worked alone, some in pairs and others in groups. Some repaired larger portions than others, but all were involved in the work. The exceptions concerned both groups and individuals.
The first group of which we read is in v.5 and involved the Tekoite nobles who "put not their necks to the work of their Lord". Were they encumbered by their "position"? Were they "too advanced" to get "too involved"? There is always a danger of pride spoiling our work for the Lord, perhaps especially so when we have attained some "position" among the saints, whether locally, or in a wider sphere. It can be easy to trust in knowledge and experience in the things of God that come through age. Satan is only too aware of the weaknesses of various age groups; indeed, "there is no discharge in the time of war" Eccl.8.8.
Before we leave the Tekoites it is interesting to note that this group were the only ones who became involved in repairing "another piece" as well as one they had repaired already! One other man also repaired an additional piece, namely Merimoth, vv.4,21. So now there are two more exceptions, one man and one group. Yet what an obvious excuse this group had to "take things easy" in view of this example their nobles had set in v.5! We need to look to the Lord as our example and not always to those near to us! How refreshing it is to observe saints who are enthusiastic in their service for their Lord!
Another group of people brought before us in verse twelve. The son of the ruler of the half part of Jerusalem was involved – together with his daughters! Unique indeed – who would expect women to be involved in such a work? Whatever would other workers think? It is easy to say "we have not done it like this before" and just forget it. However, there is always room to evaluate the Lord’s work and workers and ensure that no Scriptural principle is being violated. This was indeed an exceptional case!
Finally in v.20 we read of the only individual who repaired earnestly. Just one among more than twenty- five others! Alas, how few of us are found willing to do that "extra" for our Lord. Notice too where he worked – right up to Eliashib’s front door! What an example for the high priest who did not bother to put bolts and bars on the sheep gate he had built and sanctified with fellow priests in v.1! He also was to be found in disgrace in the last chapter, vv.4,5.
May God give us grace to be "unique" believers in the right way that glorifies His name and brings blessing to others.
In BC 590 Jerusalem, "the city of the great King", Ps.48.2, the place where God chose to place His name on earth, Deut.14.23, was cruelly besieged for 18 months by the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar, 2 Kgs.25.1-4; Jer.32.1,2. This final siege was so severe that people killed and ate their own children, Deut.28.53-57; Jer.19.9; Lam.2.20; 4.10.
Jeremiah, God’s faithful prophet, hated and falsely accused of treachery had been imprisoned, Jer.32.2-5; 33.1; 37.11-15. Feeling the full brunt of his people’s resentment, seeing his beloved city surrounded by enemies, and knowing the certainty of its defeat, Jer.33.4,5, Jeremiah saw beyond the present darkness to a glorious and certain future for His nation – a nation which, though severely disciplined by God for breaking the Law of Moses, Jer.32.23-35, could not perish, Jer.30.11; 31.35-37.
The revelations given to Jeremiah during his imprisonment were tremendous in their proportions, far "beyond the grasp of human knowledge" 1 Jer.33.3. Though Judah was at that time comparable to a sick wounded man, bereft of all lovers, Jer.30.12-15, God promised to heal them and "reveal unto them abundance of peace and truth" Jer.30.17; 33.6. Lands, fields, vineyards and homes would again be owned, bought and sold in Judah, Jer.32.15,43,44, and wild beasts removed from the land, Ezek.34.25, 28. Jerusalem, besieged and broken, would be rebuilt, expanded and permanently inhabited, Jer.30.18; 31.4,38-40; Ezek.36.33-36. The nation would be multiplied, Jer.30.19; Ezek.36.37,38, exalted, Jer.33.9, and prosperous, Jer.31.5,12,14,24,25,27; 33.12,13; Ezek.34.26,27; 36.29,30. In their dark hour Jeremiah encouraged his people with the words, "fear thou not … I am with thee, saith the Lord, to save thee" Jer.30.10,11. Confident that they would return to their beloved homeland, Jeremiah exhorted Judah, when deported, to set up markers along the way by which they could return. Jer.31.21. And in an amazing practical act of faith that Judah would surely return Jeremiah bought real estate on the battlefield, Jer.32.6-15. These wonderful promises not only anticipated restoration for Judah’s exiles after seventy years of captivity in Babylon, but beyond that to a re-gathering of the nation to their land in the millennial kingdom, Jer.30.3,10,18; 31.8-11,16,17,21,23; 32.37,41,44; 33.7,11,26; Ezek.36.24. This final restoration will include deliverance for the nation, not just from Babylon’s yoke, but from all Gentile oppressors, Jer.30.4-9,16,20,23,24, allowing God’s people to rest quietly and securely in their land, Jer.30.10; 32.37; 33.16. It will be linked to national repentance, Jer.31.9,18,19; Ezek.36,31,32, which will in turn be linked to a new heart, Jer.32.39,40, "the foundation of all her blessings." 2 God’s Word will be written on their hearts, the Holy Spirit received, Isa.59.21; Jer.31.33; Ezek.36.26,27, sins forgiven, Jer.31.34; 33.8; Ezek.36.25, and God known by all, Jer.31.34.
2 Pentecost, J.D. "Things to Come." Grand Rapids, Michigan: Academie Books, 1964, p116.
Spiritually restored to Jehovah, Jer.30.22; 31.1,31-34; 32.38-42; 33.8; Ezek.36.28, the city of Jerusalem will be known as Jehovah Tsidkenu – "the LORD our righteousness" Jer.33.16, the land of Judah "O habitation of justice, and mountain of holiness" Jer.31.23; even "the valley of the son of Hinnom", where they had sacrificed their children to Moloch, "holy unto the Lord" Jer.7.31; 31,40; 32.35. True to God’s irrevocable covenant with David – as sure as creation itself,
2 Sam.7.1-17; 2 Chr.13.5; Isa.55.3; Jer.33.17-26 – a Davidic Priest-King, "a Branch of righteousness" and "a plant of renown" will sit on the throne executing righteous judgment, Jer.30.9,21; 33.15; Ezek.34.29. Israel and Judah, united once more, will serve together, Jer.30.9. The nation will rejoice, praise, worship, and sacrifice in a rebuilt temple, Jer.30.19; 31.4,7,12,13; 33.10,11,17-26; Ezek.40.5-42.20, its priesthood satisfied, Jer.31.14. Although the Levitical priesthood was superseded by Christ's Melchisedec priesthood, His atoning death rendering the entire sacrificial system obsolete, it has not been completely annulled. Animal sacrifices will again be offered during the millennium kingdom, then to commemorate Christ’s perfect sacrifice in the past, Heb.10.12. God will rejoice over His people, plant them with His whole heart and soul, and bring upon them the good things He had promised, Jer.32.41,42.
All of these future blessings for Israel – physical and spiritual – are bound up in the New Covenant, Jer.31.31-34, which will come into full effect when the Redeemer comes to Zion, turning away ungodliness from Jacob, Isa.59.20,21; Rom.11.26,27. Ezekiel’s apocalyptic vision of dry bones, representing the whole house of Israel, visually illustrated this forthcoming restoration of a united Israel under the New Covenant, Ezek.37.1-14. With its promise of a new heart the New Covenant explains how Israel can be successfully restored to the promised land, remaining true to the Lord. As an everlasting covenant it cannot be broken, Jer.32.40. As a New Covenant, it made the first old and found fault with it, Heb.8.6-13. That Old Covenant, a "ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not stedfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away" 2 Cor.3.7. How much more, therefore, shall "the ministration of the Spirit [through the New Covenant] be rather glorious" 2 Cor.3.8? Whereas the first covenant was dedicated with the blood of calves and goats, Heb.9.18-20, this New Covenant is sealed in the precious blood of Christ, 1 Cor.11.25. Although this New Covenant was promised to Israel by God "as the instrument that would govern the nation’s spiritual and political life during the future messianic kingdom, by God’s grace the Church has become a participant in some aspects of this covenant following its ratification on the cross, although the full realisation of the covenant remains future." 3 The church does not displace Israel from its future promised blessings. Nor is the church excluded from them. Rather, all "believers in Christ are by virtue of this covenant grafted into the stock of Abraham, Rom.11.16-24." 4 Christians experience regeneration, Titus.3.5, remission of sins, Eph.1.7; 4.32; Col.1.14, and receive the Holy Spirit, 1 Cor.6.19. And because the Church will co-reign with Christ during the millennial kingdom it will enjoy many of the physical benefits of the New Covenant.
3. Couch, M. "Dictionary of PREMILLENNIAL THEOLOGY." Grand Rapids, Michigan: Fregel Publications, 1996, p.278
We come to AD 33 – the Last Supper, which was a pivotal meeting, exuding a sense of finality: "the hour was come" Lk.22.14. In "a large upper room furnished and prepared" Mk.14.15, in Jerusalem, the city of Christ’s suffering and future glory, light and darkness sat side by side. The omniscient Christ predicted Judas’ treachery two days before the Passover, Matt.26.1,2, and here again at the Last Supper, Matt.26.21; Lk.22.21. With the sensitivity and authority of the future Judge, Christ exposed Judas, balancing perfectly God’s sovereign purpose with man’s responsibility: "the Son of Man goeth as it is written of Him: but woe unto that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! It had been good for that man if he had not been born" Matt.26.24; Lk.22.22. Having already covenanted with Israel’s leaders to deliver Christ over for thirty pieces of silver, Matt.26.15, – the price of a gored slave in Israel, Ex.21.32, – Judas had with determination kept seeking "opportunity to betray Him unto them in the absence of the multitude" Lk.22.6. The disciples, while bickering about "which of them should be accounted the greatest" Lk.22.24, to their credit doubted each other capable of betraying Christ, Jn.13.22, but suspected themselves: "Lord, is it I" Matt.26.22. Judas’ "is it I" was probably but a whispered query to ensure he had not been detected, Matt.26.25. To boastful disciples the Lord Jesus defined true greatness as "he that serveth" Lk.22.27, and practically exemplified it by washing His disciple's feet, Jn.13.3-17.
Different arms of God’s programme for the ages converged. The Last Supper was both Jewish and Christian.
It was Jewish as in obedience to Mosaic Law, and according to Christ’s deep desire, they commemorated the Passover before He suffered, Lk.22.15. His disciples, who had faithfully continued with Him in His temptations, were assured positions of administrative authority during Christ’s millennial rule, Matt.26.29; Mk.14.25; Lk.22.28-30. His words, "I will not any more eat thereof (the Passover), until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God" Lk.22.16, hinted that during His reign the sacrificial system will be reactivated, Ezek.45.21.
The Last Supper was also Christian: Christ unfolded seminal Christian truths to His apostles as foundation members of the Church. He instituted the Lord’s Supper as a memorial feast for His saints to keep the memory of Him fresh in their hearts till He returns. And although these symbols spoke of His great suffering; for them He gave thanks Matt.26.27. The bread represents His body, given on our account, Lk.22.19; 1 Cor.11.24. The cup symbolises His precious blood, "shed for many, for the remission of sins" Matt.26.28, and through which the New Covenant – significant for both Jews and Christian believers – has been ratified. As a public testimony to Christ’s death, the Lord’s Supper became an integral component of local church practice, being kept every Lord’s Day – the day of His resurrection, Act.2.42; 20.7; 1 Cor.11.17-34. The Passover Feast was kept without leaven (a Biblical symbol of wickedness); so purity must govern the Lord’s Supper. The church at Corinth was rebuked for divisive behaviour at the Lord’s Supper. A common meal that they shared at the same time degenerated into a deplorable display of carnality: the wealthy gorged themselves and drank excessively while the poor went hungry, 1 Cor.11.20-22. And due to un-judged sin God moved in judgment through illness and even death, 1 Cor.11.27-32. Their coming together was "not for the better, but for the worse" 1 Cor.11.17. God help us to judge all personal sin, endeavour "to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" Eph.4.3, and to come together with hearts full of Christ, to remember Him, till He come. Neither let us lose sight of the expansive nature of the Lord’s Supper and its massive implications for a certain future restoration of Israel under the New Covenant.