CHRIST IN THE APOCALYPSE
by John B. D. Page
FOCUS ON FUNDAMENTALS
by J. B. Hewitt
ISAIAH’S PORTRAITS OF CHRIST
by J. Flanlgan
THE DESIRE OF OUR SOUL IS TO THY NAME
by Terry Blackman
THE PROPHECY OF JONAH
by E. R Bower
THE REPROACH OF CHRIST
by R Hull
by E. W. Rogers
HE’S EVERYTHING TO ME
by David Ward
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
by Anthony Orsini
THOUGHTS OF CHRIST
by Eric G. Parmenter
HYMNS AND THEIR WRITERS
by Jack Strahan
by JOHN B. D. PAGE
THE INCOMPARABLE CHRIST (6)
Reading: Revelation 22.20f.
John had already heard the Lord burst forth with the glorious promise, "Behold, I come quickly", not once but twice (22.7,12), which may have prompted him to cast his mind back some sixty years to the upper room when he and the other ten disciples, saddened by learning that their Master was about to leave them, were comforted by His promise, "I will come again" (John 14.3). Soon, and for the last time, the Lord speaks audibly again to him saying, "Surely I come quickly" (v.20). Significantly, in His third utterance, the divine Speaker changes the introductory word of His promise from "Behold" to "Surely" in order to affirm categorically the absolute certainty of His coming again. The centuries have come and gone, and the Lord has not come again, but "one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day" and so "the Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness" (2 Peter 3.8ff). The day will definitely dawn when, in fulfilment of His promise to all believers of this Church age, the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with an audible and commanding shout to gather both the resurrected and the living saints unto Himself.
Voicing the hope of the expectant Church, John responds, "Amen. Even so, come Lord Jesus". Spontaneously, the seer expresses the deep-seated yearning of his soul. Are we longing for the Lord to come again?
A little earlier, John had heard the words "I Jesus …" from the lips of his Lord, whom God had highly exalted and he himself greatly revered. Several decades earlier, Saul of Tarsus, full of murderous hostility towards Christians, was travelling to Damascus when he was overwhelmed by an exceptionally bright light from heaven and he heard a voice saying, "I am Jesus …". This is the only other time when Christ uses His personal name "Jesus" for speaking to some one, and on both occasions He spoke from heaven. What a contrast between the two persons addressed — Saul, a bitter opponent of Christ; John, a devoted disciple of Christ! How did each respond? Trembling and astonished, Saul said, "Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?" (Acts 9.5ff). In his reply, which took the form of a question, he did not use the name "Jesus" as may have been expected, but he addressed the Christ of heaven as "Lord", signifying surely that he was then saved instantly in view of Romans 10.9. Returning to John, being the disciple whom Jesus loved, there would appear a good reason for him, upon hearing those affectionate words, "I Jesus . . .", to answer with the single name "Jesus". But in his plea responding to His Lord’s promise to come quickly, the seer made no attempt to assume a position of equality or to adopt an attitude of familiarity by using the single and personal name "Jesus". Undoubtedly, he remembered the commendatory remark from those divine lips at the last supper in the upper room addressed to the twelve disciples sitting around Him, "Ye call Me Master and Lord: and ye shall say well; for so I am" (John 13.13), meaning that it was right and proper for Him to be so addressed because such titles indicate unmistakably what He is essentially in Person and what the relationship is with His followers.
Sadly, there is a tendency today among some Christians to be familiar with their Saviour by speaking of, and addressing, Him as ‘Jesus’. It denotes a lack of reverence for His Person and a denial of His exaltation as ‘Lord’ (Acts 2.36). There is no record in the Scriptures of His disciples addressing Him by His personal name which demons and His adversaries did (Matthew 8.29; 27; 22; etc.).
"Lord Jesus", said the seer. This last mention of the title, connected with His second coming, causes us to look at its first occurrence, for which we go back to that memorable resurrection morn when some women from Galilee, having prepared spices and ointments for embalming the Lord’s dead body in accordance with Jewish custom, found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre and so they went inside but they "found not the body of the Lord Jesus", says the inspired writer (Luke 24.3). This seemingly insignificant first mention of the title, associated with His resurrection, is the prelude to some forty occurrences, found only in the Acts and the Pauline Epistles including Hebrews. Where the occasion arises for recalling facts of gospel history, such as referring to the Lord’s itinerant ministry, quoting what He actually said, or mentioning His betrayal and death, the apostles were careful to name Him as "Lord Jesus" (see Acts 1.2Iff; 20.35; 1 Corinthians 11.23; 1 Thessalonians 2.14ff). When we speak or write of Him, we should emulate their example.
In considering this last mention and the only ocurrence of "Lord Jesus" in the Apocalypse, it is interesting to go back to man’s first recorded words addressed to God. It was, of course, Adam who, feeling self-condemned and hiding among the trees of Eden, said shamefully to Him, "I heard Thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid" (Genesis 3.10). They were words of a man ruined by sin and fearful of seeing God. Turning the pages of Scripture, which cover many centuries, the divine drama of redemption is gradually unfolded until we come to man’s last recorded words addressed to God in Christ, "Amen. Even so, come Lord Jesus". Oh, the contrast! These are the words of man who, having been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, has remained faithful to his Lord despite the adversity of exile on a storm-swept rugged isle and, still undaunted, he expresses prayerfully and expectantly the hope of his Lord’s return. For him, it was aliving hope, engendering his expectation to see the Lord face to face. As the days become darker, the blessed hope of the Lord’s coming again should become brighter, and we, like John, should be able to say, "Amen. Even so, come Lord Jesus".
LORD JESUS CHRIST
Whilst a threatened curse brings the Old Testament to a close, the New Testament ends with a blessing, "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all". Grace, having its source in the Lord Jesus Christ, will never fail to sustain all the saints until He comes again to receive them unto Himself in the Father’s house.
This benediction is not John’s style for ending his earlier writings. For concluding his Gospel, he expresses the opinion that there would be an infinitude of books that could be written about the other works of the Lord Jesus, and he does not use a benedictory grace for ending his three Epistles. When John wrote the Revelation, Paul’s Epistles, most of which end with this benediction, had been in circulation for thirty or more years, and so the seer may have seen fit to close his book with this pronouncement of divine grace. Although this blessing may seem to be an unusual ending for a prophetic book, it is surely an appropriate conclusion to the canon of Scripture.
This title, "Lord Jesus Christ", occurring only here in the Revelation and not in the Johannine Epistles, is found first in the Acts and features in most of the Pauline Epistles. It is worthy of brief consideration.
Lord: This word kudos (Greek); occuring frequently in the New Testament, had no religious association amongst orientals, except for its adoption in the Septuagint for rendering the three primary Hebrew names of Deity.
In everyday life, the word was used widely. It is translated either as "lord" or "sir" when a stranger was addressed (e.g. John 4.11, 15, 19,49; Matthew 8.2, 6), and the disciples were no less courteous when speaking to their divine Master (e.g. Matthew 8.25; 13.51). For expressing a superior relationship, this title was used in an eastern home where the wife addressed her husband as "lord" (1 Peter 3.6), and a son called his father "sir" (Matthew 21.30). Ownership is another shade of its meaning, because the word in its plural form is used for the "owners" of a colt (Luke 19.33).
After Christ had been raised from the dead, Peter gave a higher meaning to the word at the end of his sermon on the day of Pentecost by declaring "God hath made Him — Lord" (Acts 2.36). Therefore, this superior significance of the word rests upon the historical fact of His resurrection.
The connotations from the secular usage of the word may be applied to the One who is now "Lord" in its supreme sense. For us as believers, the title not only denotes His superior relationship and a recognition that we are not our own because "we are the Lord’s", that is, we are His personal possession, having been "bought with a price" (Romans 14.8; 1 Corinthians 6.19ff), but it also demands our acknowledgement of His authority over our lives by setting Him apart as Lord in our hearts (1 Peter 3.15; R.V.).
Jesus: This is the English form of the Greek Iesous, being a transliteration of the Hebrew for Joshua. It was the personal name given to the Incarnate Son of God. By this single name, He is called frequently in the four Gospels, but sparingly elsewhere in the New Testament, and so it is clearly the name connected with His humanity and His life on earth.
The name "Jesus" means ‘Jehovah is salvation’, that is, ‘the Saviour’, which may be illustrated by several Scriptures. With the infant Jesus in his arms, the aged Simeon blessed God and said,". . . mine eyes have seen Thy salvation" (Luke 2.30), alluding to Isaiah 62.11, by which he meant that he saw the Babe as a personification of the salvation of God. Years later, the Lord Jesus Himself personalized the word when He said to Zacchaeus, "This day is salvation come to this house…", whilst it also means that Zacchaeus through faith had become a spiritual son of Abraham (Luke 19.9). Salvation is Christ!
Based upon the promises to Abraham (Genesis 12.3), the Lord Jesus told the Samaritan woman, "salvation is of the Jews" (John 4.22). Of course, this divinely chosen nation was the vehicle for Christ to come into the world (Romans 9.5), and it was "to the Jew first" that the gospel was preached (Romans 1.16). Seemingly, in anticipation that salvation would be not always exclusively for the Jews, many Samaritan converts told the woman that this Man is indeed "the Saviour of the world" (John 4.42). This broad, or rather global, aspect of the Lord’s Saviourhood was affirmed decades later by John, "We have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world" (1 John 4.14).
Christ: The Greek word is Christos for the Hebrew equivalent of "Messiah" (John 1.41), which means ‘the Anointed One’.
The thought behind the word is the anointing with oil of a person to hold the office of priest or king, as practised in Israel (Leviticus 4.3; 1 Samuel 16.12ff, etc.).
In spite of the angel’s announcement to the shepherds that the newly-born Babe was "Christ the Lord", that is, Jehovah’s Anointed One’ (Luke 2.11), the Lord Jesus warned His disciples years later to refrain from making it widely known that He was "the Christ" (Matthew 16.20). The reason appears to be that His Messiahship is related not to His sufferings but primarily to His sovereignty. Consequently, He is referred to as ‘Christ’ only a few times in the Gospels but, when He had been raised from the dead, and exalted, Peter rightly declared that "God hath made Him — Christ" (Acts 2.36), by which He is often called in the Acts and the Epistles.
In Revelation, this official appellation is applied to the Lord Jesus four times, that is, twice as "His Christ" and twice as "Christ". We shall look at the former first.
For the title, "His Christ" or ‘His Anointed’ (lit.), the seer may be alluding to the second Psalm where the psalmist foresaw wicked kings and rulers conspiring against "the LORD" (lit. Jehovah) and "His Anointed" who would one day crush His foes and reign as King in Zion (Psalm 2.2,6,9).
Turning now to Revelation, chapter 11, John heard, as the angel sounded the last of seven trumpets, great voices in heaven declare that the kingdoms of this world are become the kingdom of "our Lord", which refers to none other than Jehovah, and of "His Christ" (11.15). This will be realised by the Messiah after His victory in battle.
The conflict will not be confined to the earth, because John saw war in the atmospheric heaven when the mighty forces under the leadership of Michael, the archangel, fought against, and triumphed over, Satan and his evil angels, which was followed by Satan’s expulson from heaven to the earth. At this, a victorious shout arose in the highest of heavens rejoicing anticipatively in the overthrow of evil and the establishment of the kingdom of God on earth where "His Christ" will exercise His power, and authority (12.10).
This brings us to the other two references in Revelation. After the binding of Satan and his incarceration in the bottomless pit for a thousand years, John was given a brief glimpse of the millennial earth. Martyrs, who had refused to submit to the demands of the Beast, will be raised from the dead at what is said to be the first resurrection, and they will reign with "Christ" for a thousand years (20.4). Therefore, they will function as king-priests in subjection to Christ who, as a priest upon His throne (Zechariah 6.13), will be the one and only King-Priest after the order of Melchisedec (Psalm 110.4).
Interestingly, these four references to the Lord Jesus as "His Christ" and "Christ", His Messiahship is connected with His earthly kingdom and His Kingship, for which He was anointed by God in eternal ages past.
To sum up: "Lord" is the title that sets forth the dignity of His exalted Person, conveying the thought of His authority over believers individually and collectively as a local church during this age of grace and, still future, over all powers and potentates in the coming millennial age of righteousness. "Jesus", which is His personal name as Man, is related to His path of sufferings for righteousness’ sake which believers should share, culminating in His vicarious sufferings at Calvary, which could be borne by Him alone, for sinful man’s redemption. "Christ", His official appellation, refers to His present priestly position in heaven and His future kingly authority on earth whilst, in the age to come, He will be Israel’s King-Priest.
Of our glorious Lord portrayed by the Apocalyptic seer in this last book of the Bible, we may say in conclusion, as the Shulamite maid did of her shepherd-lover to the ladies in Solomon’s court, "He is the chiefest of ten thousand; . . . yea, He is altogether lovely" (Song of Solomon 5.10,16). (concluded)
by J. B. HEWITT, CHESTERFIELD
Well might we ask the question, What is sanctification? The first mention in the O.T. is Gen. 2.3, and means "being set apart"; "to separate from a common, ordinary purpose, to some higher use, or other purpose". It is used of both persons or things. A sanctified day (Gen. 2.3); of people (Exod. 13.2); the altar (Exod. 40.10); of a person (Lev. 8.30); of the Levites (Num. 8.14). The same is true in the N.T.; the unbelieving husband is set apart by a believing wife (1 Cor. 7.14,15). The gold is sanctified by the temple and the gift is sanctified by the altar (Matt. 23.17,19).
INTRODUCTION. We are sanctified prospectively by God the Father (Jude 1). Positionally in Christ Jesus (1 Cor. 1.2); positively by the offering of Christ (Heb. 10.10), meritoriously by the blood of Christ (Heb. 13.12). Powerfully by the Holy Spirit, He is the agent (1 Cor. 6.11; 2 Thess. 2.13; 1 Pet. 1.2) and progressively by obedience (2 Tim. 2.21).
SPURIOUS TEACHING. Some holiness movements teach sinless perfection, — the eradication of the old and fallen nature when we are born again. Sin does not die within the believer,- he dies to sin (Rom. 6.11,12). In claiming sinlessness "we deceive ourselves" — but no one else (1 John 1.8). The new nature implanted in the soul is holy; it cannot sin because it is the divine nature of God (1 John 3.9). The old nature will remain with us until death or until the Lord’s return to the air for His saints.
Sanctimoniousness is not sanctification, neither is it a moral virtue or mere religious practice. It is not the condition of our souls. It is a work wrought by the Holy Spirit within our souls’by which we are made partakers of the divine nature and set apart to God. Others teach it is a gradual improvement of the old nature in the believer, bringing him into full harmony with God. The old nature cannot be improved (John 3.7; Rom. 7.14—16), it must be crucified (Rom. 6.6; Gal. 5.24).
POSITIONAL OR PERFECT SANCTIFICATION. This is the divine provision, the act of God in setting us apart for Himself (2 Thess. 2.13; 1 Pet. 1.2). True of Israel in the O.T. of Aaron and his sons (Lev. 8.30), and the nation (Lev. 20.8).
True of every believer in the Lord Jesus (1 Cor. 6.11). It is a once-for-all act on the part of God. This is absolute and complete. Without this we have no standing before God, or relationship with God(Heb. 10.10).
PURPOSED IN THE WILL OF GOD. Heb. 10.10. God of His own sovereign will has sanctified, set apart to Himself through the sacrifice of His Son, every believer in Christ. Believers are called saints and holy, regardless of the their moral or spiritual condition or walk (1 Cor. 1.2; Heb. 3.1). This is an abiding work.
PROCURED BY THE DEATH OF CHRIST. Heb. 9 14; 10.10; 13.12. We are made holy as to our standing before God in Christ. Our standing in holiness is perfect, as perfect as the sacrifice of Christ, as perfect as Christ is, "as He is so are we" (1 John 4.17). Christ is made unto us sanctification (1 Cor. 1.30 R.V,)
We have perfect union with Christ (Heb. 13.10). He died for our sanctification (Titus 2.14).
POWERFUL BY THE SPIRIT OF GOD. 1 Pet. 1.2; Rom. 15.16; 1 Cor. 6.11. This is a supernatural work of which Christ is the MEDIUM and the Holy Spirit is the active AGENT. (2 Thess. 2.13). God chose us in His sovereignty and the Holy Spirit sanctified us and separated us to believe the truth. A divinely provided sanctification covers our whole being (1 Thess. 5.23). This is a permanent work, there can be no improvement or progress (1 Cor. 6.11). It takes place by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
PRACTICAL OR PROGRESSIVE SANCTIFICATION. 1 Thess. 4.3,7. It is the will of God that every believer sanctify himself. This work is taken up by the Spirit, through the Word of God (John 17.17). Our Lord set Himself apart for the work of salvation and prayed that we by the word of God, set ourselves apart from evil. The Scriptures enlighten the mind and cleanse the heart (Ps. 119.9).
The word of God convicts us (Heb. 4.12); converts us (Ps. 19.7); cleanses us (Ps. 119.9); and completes us (2 Tim. 3.16,17). The Scriptures function as a mirror and a laver (Jas. 1.23; 24; Eph. 5.26). We are to cleanse ourselves "from all filthiness of the flesh" (2 Cor. 7.1), and pursue holiness daily in order to be like Christ. (Heb. 12.14). Thus we grow in grace and knowledge and are sanctified unto obedience and holiness (1 Pet. 1.15,16). We must allow the word of God to search us, and give heed to it (Rom. 8.5; Gal. 5.16). Meditate much on the areas of practical sanctification in 1 Thess. 4.1-12. The teaching is solemn and searching and vitally important in these days of lax morals.
Chastening is another means God uses for sanctification, help to fashion us into His image (Heb. 12.7,10). Practical sanctification involves separation from all evil (2 Cor. 6.14-18). There must be separation from false teachers and their doctrines (2 Tim. 2.21). "A great house" is not a local Assembly. It is merely an illustration of the great houses having various vessels for a particular use. The instruction is not dealing with keeping communions pure, but describes the Sovereign Lord making choice of suitable vessels for His service. Both aspects of sanctification are seen in v.19. The vessel to honour is to be separated from un-cleanness and sanctified to God. The stress is on moral purity, for if is character that makes us useful, serviceable and honourable in the Master’s field. The application is to the false teachers with their vain babblings, vessels of dishonour (v. 17,18). We must not only leave sin, but LOATHE it (Ps. 119.104). The fruit of. yielding ourselves wholly to God is practical holiness (Rom. 6.11-13;
We must not interpret the Scriptures by our experience. BUT interpret our experience by the Scriptures.
We must be imitators of the Lord and follow in His footsteps (1 Pet. 2.21).
Obedience to the word of God is the key to practical sanctification (2 Cor. 7.1; 1 Pet. 1.22).
by J. FLANIGAN (Belfast)
10—"THE PRINCE OF PEACE"
We have seen, in our meditations, that Isaiah’s prophecy is indeed as a gallery of portraits of the Messiah. He is portrayed to us in a variety of glories. There are portraits of Christ as the Son, as the Saviour, and as the Shepherd. We have seen Him as the Servant, as the Stone, and as the Suffering Sin-Bearer. He is the Singer, the Scholar, and the Soldier. There are several views of Him as the Sovereign, and in ch.65 it is indeed as Prince of Peace that He is being portrayed.
Here, and in the parallel passage in ch.11, is described something of the bliss of the coming Kingdom. We have arrived at Millennial Glory. It is, as. another has beautifully said, "the harmony of Eden renewed once more, and the wild fierce creatures of the jungle graze in the company of the fearless flocks of the farm". Psalm 24, Isaiah 63, Revelation 19, all synchronise here. The King has returned in triumph. Over the earth that once cast Him out He will how reign in glory.
The basis of that Kingdom is righteousness. The Sun of Righteousness will Usher in that new day, spreading golden wings over the earth in warmth and healing (Malachi 4); The King is the King of Righteousness (Hebrews 7). His Name is Jehovah Tsidkenu, the Lord our Righteousness (Jeremiah 23). Only the Righteous will enter His Kingdom (Matthew 25). Zion, the capital city, is called The City of Righteousness (Isaiah 1). In His days shall the righteous flourish; and the poor will be judged with righteousness and equity (Psalm 72). Righteousness will reign, and the King will hold a sceptre of righteousness (Hebrews 1. Psalm 45). How many of earth’s Kings and Kingdoms have been corrupt, corruptible, and corrupting. This King and Kingdom are all righteousness. It is the basis of His reign.
It will be a kingdom of unbounded dominion. Even the glorious kingdom of Solomon had its boundaries. North to the Syrian Hills and the Lebanon. South to the Wilderness, the Negev. East to the Desert, and West to the Mediterranean. But Emmanuel shall have dominion from Sea to Sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth. From the Euphrates to the Nile; from the Mediterranean to the Persian Gulf. Kings and Islands; East and West; Nations and Continents all. They of the wilderness, the proud Bedouin, will bow before Him. The Kingdoms of this world will become the Kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ (Revelation 11).
There will be, in that day, unlimited prosperity. An handful of corn on the mountain top! (Psalm 72). Every man will rest securely under his own vine (Zechariah 3). There will be rain in season and no drought. There will be no need anymore for Military Forces, for Police, or for the Judiciary. Therefore there will be no wasting of manpower because of sin, as is necessary today in our sinful world. A rod of iron will suppress sin, and maintain the peace and the security of that millennial day.
What unparalleled bliss will then prevail in every realm of life. In the human kingdom civil harmony, and no more lusting for power. Swords will be beaten into ploughshares and spears into pruning hooks. (Is this reminiscent of Melchisidek’s bread and wine?). The strength of that Kingdom is measured, not by any stockpile of armaments and weaponry, but by the safety of boys and girls playing in the streets (Zechariah 3). In the animal realm too, what bliss is envisaged here in Isaiah 65. The fierce wolf will feed with the gentle lamb. The lion and the oxen will feed together too. There will be no hurt nor injury in all that Holy Mountain. (Though the serpent will still creep in the dust). Man will be at peace with man. The beast will be at peace with the beast. The beast will be at peace with the man.
Even the very solar system will be affected when Jesus reigns. The light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun; and the light of the sun shall be seven-fold, as the light of seven days (Isaiah 30). The glory is unprecedented. It is Eden indeed, on a universal scale.
When this millennial day arrives, it will be the answer to the prayers, and the fulfilment of the desires, of Israel and her prophets and psalmists. David says, "Amen, and Amen" (Psalm 72). The prayers of David the Son of Jesse are ended when Messiah sits upon His throne, and the whole earth is filled with His glory. David has nothing more to ask. It is the realisation of Israel’s hopes and longing. There is nothing more to pray for.
May we, while we wait for Him, be able, even now, to pray intelligently, "Thy Kingdom come".
- Hail to the Lord’s Anointed,
- Great David’s greater Son!
- Hail, in the time appointed,
- His reign on earth begun;
- He comes to break oppression,
- To set the prisoner free;
- To take away transgression
- And rule in equity.
- Kings shall fall down before Him,
- And gold and incense bring;
- All nations shall adore Him,
- His praise all people sing:
- For He shall have dominion
- O’er river, sea, and shore,
- Far as the eagle’s pinion
- Or dove’s light wing can soar.
- —(series concluded).
— Isaiah 26.8.
- Our Father, bless’d before Thee, we call to mind Thy Son,
- His all-exceeding glory, the great things He has done,
- And He who left the splendour — far, far beyond our thought,
- That to earth’s poor and lowly, salvation should be brought
- So holy was His coming, from virgin’s womb brought forth,
- So perfect was His childhood, Thou only knew His worth.
- Baptized of John in Jordan, the Spirit found repose,
- And Thou declaredst Thy pleasure, as from the flood He rose.
- When to the desert driven, by Satan sorely tried,
- Thy sinless Son victorious, on Thy pure word relied.
- O Witness true and faithful! O mercy full and free!
- Both light and love eternal displayed in Him we see.
- Gethsemane! O Father, that holy Son of Thine —
- Prostrate we see Him praying, "Thy will be done not Mine".
- ‘Twould please the LORD to bruise Him, He offered up must be,
- Thy chosen One would suffer for us on Calvary’s tree.
- Golgotha, we remember, "they pierced His hands and feet,"
- But His the shout of victory — His death is death’s defeat!
- "Tis finished," Hallelujah! The grave now has no might,
- "He liveth!," men and angels are gladdened at the sight.
- And Father, as we thank Thee and worship in His name,
- Thy Son’s enthroned beside Thee, all heaven declares His fame.
- And soon He’ll come to rapture the church, for which He died,
- To see and share His glory, forever by His side.
— By Terry Blackman, Brazil.
by E. R. Bower.
No. 3 — CHAPTER 2
Vv.1-2, "And Jonah prayed unto Jehovah HIS God… and said, "I cried out of mine affliction, unto Jehovah, and He gavest heed to me; out of the belly of Sheol cried I and Thou heardest my voice". Cf. Ps.18.4-6, "The sorrow of Sheol compassed me about: the snare of death prevented me. In my distress I called upon Jehovah and cried unto my God. He heard my voice out of His palace, and my cry came before Him, even unto His ears". Cf. also Jon.1.2; Pss.22.21; 116.3-4; 120.1; 130.1; "Sheol" — the grave; the state of death, as distinct from a grave or burial place. Note the ‘cries’ of the book. (1) To cry aloud as in 1.2,6,14; 2.2; 3.2 (preach); 3.4,5 (proclaimed); (2) To cry in prayer (1.5) and (3) To cry for help in distress (2.2).
V.3. "For Thou didst cast me into the deep, in the midst (heart) of the seas; and the floods compassed me about: all Thy billows and Thy waves passed over me". Cf. Ps.42.7, "Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of Thy waterspouts: all Thy waves and Thy billows are gone over me". See also Ps.88.6-7. Cf. the use of ‘casting’ — (1) To cast down (1.4; the wind) 1.5; the wares, and 1.12,15, Jonah into the sea. (2) To cause to fall (1.7, the lots); (3) To cause to go (2.3, Jonah into the sea) and (4) To cast out (2.4).
V.4. "Then I said, I am cast out of Thy sight; yet will I look again toward Thy holy temple". See Ps.31.22; 1 Kin.8.38; Ps.18.6. Jonah is now looking toward the place that he had forsaken (1.3). Cf. Ps.5.7.
V.5. "The waters compassed me about, even to the soul: the depth closed me round about, the weeds were wrapped about my head". Cf. Ps.69.1-2. "Even to my soul" — threaten my life — as inPs.69.1.
V.6. "I went down to the bottoms of the mountains (the ‘cuttings off or ‘roots’) the earth with her bars was about me for even yet hast Thou brought up my life from corruption (pit, or grave), O Jehovah my God". See Ps.16.10.
V.7. "When my soul (life) fainted within me, I remembered the Lord (Jehovah): and my prayer came in unto Thee, into Thine holy temple", (as v.4). See Ps.77.3. "My prayer came in unto Thee". Cf. 1.2, "Their wickedness is come before Me". See Ps.18.6. Cf. Pss.16.10; 30.3.
V.8. "They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy (or, do not heed their chastisement" or "forfeit their own share of covenant grace"). See Ps.31.6.
V.9. "But I will sacrifice unto Thee with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay that that I have vowed. Salvation is (belongs to) of Jehovah". SeePs.3.8.
V.10. "And the Lord spake unto the fish, and it vomitted out Jonah upon the dry land". A difference between the fish and Jonah — the fish obeyed!
It is obvious that the prayer of Jonah consists of a series of quotations from the psalms (some writers say that some of the psalms quoted — and there are more possible quotations that shown above — are of a later date than Jonah) which under the circumstances is perfectly natural for someone who knows the Scriptures. We hear very much the same thing in our own day. It will also be noticed that the quotations appear to be from the Messianic psalms and thus in keeping with the sign, not perhaps for Jonah’s day, but for the day which was to come when there would be those who would search the Scriptures. The prayer of Jonah is in the past tense. Jonah prayed. The Lord spoke. The period of time spent in the fish must have been one of extreme mental and intensive spiritual agony, as well as of great physical suffering. Was Jonah ever aware that as he was "three days and three nights in the whale’s belly, so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth?" (Matt 12.40)? Did he ever have an inkling as he prayed and quoted (knowingly or unknowingly) from some of the Messianic psalms that he was expressing not only his own soul’s experience, but the soul experience of Him who was to come, the Obedient Servant of Jehovah? Was he aware that he was a sign of the Man of Sorrows, (not a ‘type’, but a ‘sign’)? Did those who heard our Lord’s words concerning the sign go home and read Jonah’s little book? Did they search the Scriptures, as did the noble Bereans? Did they seek out for themselves the reference to the psalms which even in those days were considered to be Messianic? As they, at the Cross, took up our Lord’s own cry of "My God, my God, why has Thou forsaken Me?" (Ps.22.1) did they connect the sufferings and the resurrection promise spoken of by the psalmist, with the One whom they now saw upon the Cross?
"Let Him deliver Him now, if He will have Him: for He said, ‘I am the Son of God.’" (Matt.27.43). "I cried … He heard me … cried I, and Thou heardest my voice". God’s answer to His Anointed is seen in the psalms that Jonah quoted. Each psalm is a cry from the heart and born out of deepest suffering; suffering caused by others; suffering for others; suffering by reason of the overwhelming thought that God had forgotten. Yet over all is the comforting knowledge — born of faith — that God is there as the ever present Help; that ultimate salvation belongs to Him and is in His hands. Cf. Jacob (Gen.49.18).
All the powers of darkness on earth are about the afflicted; all the forces of hell confront him. This is how Jonah records his experience during the three days and three nights. Read this chapter again; turn to the psalms; then read 1 Pet.1.7-12.
Into the hearts of the earth — the kingdom of death, as one writer puts it — to lead captivity captive. (Ps.68.18; Ephes.4.8).
(to be continued).
- The priviledge of each pilgrim here below,
- Outside the camp from Babylonish show,
- Outside the camp in Christ’s rejection share,
- The stigma of the Cross with Him to bear.
- A priviledge we shall never have on high,
- When to this Godless world we say ‘good-bye’,
- Up there, reproach for Christ is wiped away,
- May we not shun it in this evil day.
- Reproach for Christ has been the treasured lot,
- By those who could have earthly honours got,
- Egyptian palace and its fame was spurned,
- When Moses from his foster mother turned.
- Think of the Saviour who from Heaven came,
- Stooping to earth; stooping to Calvary’s shame
- The true example; He the God sent One,
- Refusing honours from a world undone.
- Think of a Paul who could have made a name
- Who could have climbed the ladder of earth’s fame,
- Counting all his achievements dung and dross,
- And finding all his glory in the Cross.
- Did Peter or th’ Apostles make such claims?
- As adding Reverend to their earthly names!
- What would they think if they were today
- To see professors such high claims display?
- Reproach of Christ to them was richer far,
- Than man’s applause, and titles that would mar
- Christ’s likeness in their mortal bodies here,
- One reverend Name alone they did revere.
- Such God sent ones, one object kept in view,
- Their aim to set forth Christ in language true,
- No worldly innovations; just the Word
- Was used to bring lost sinners to the Lord.
- No entertainment then for guilty men,
- The Gospel was the power by tongue or pen,
- God’s dynamite to blast the rocky heart,
- A labour in which lightness played no part.
- God’s sent ones are entirely cast on God,
- They seek the way their lonely Master trod,
- Trusting the Spirit’s power to bring forth fruit,
- Resorting not to any substitute.
- Can man improve on God’s appointed way?
- Does modern means produce real fruit today?
- Sent labourers still will work to God’s own plan,
- Not catering to the taste of fallen man.
- Then as the day is drawing to a close,
- Reproach then ever gone, no frown from foes,
- Sweet will it be to hear our Lord’s well done,
- And sweeter far to see God’s lovely Son.
—R. Hull (Belfast)
The Inspiration of Scripture— Part 2
EXTENT OF INSPIRATION
To what extent are they inspired! As was said earlier, nothing short of verbal inspiration will satisfy the case. Inspiration of ideas but not of words will never give assurance to a reader that the book is accurate. Doubtless there was divine wisdom in using languages which are now dead in the composition of the Scriptures. Being dead they are static; the meaning of their words does not change with the passing of time. The Lord Jesus declared that not one jot or one title (peculiarities of Hebrew letters) will pass away, by which we may infer that He taught the inspiration of the words, which, of course, are made up of letters. He pointed out that the Scriptures spake of God thus: ‘I am the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob’ and, emphasizing the present tense, He drew from it the conclusion that ‘God is not the God of the dead but of the living: for all live unto Him!’ So that He taught that the tenses also are inspired.
Let the reader examine the citations from the Old Testament in the New and especially the emphasis which the writer of the Hebrews lays on particular words (e.g. the words ‘once more’ (12.27) and the word ‘new’ (8.13)) and also the quotation in Rom.10.6-12, and he will find that he cannot escape the conclusion that the Scriptures are verbally inspired. Observe, too, that Paul extracts an important doctrine from the word ‘seed’ used in Genesis, noting the fact that the word is singular not plural, and refers to Christ (Gal.3.16).
The New Testament is in no way inferior to the Old. It was to be read publicly in the churches (1 Thess.5.27 and Col.4.16) as the Old Testament had been in the synagogues. Paul’s writings are ranked with ‘other scripture’ (2 Peter 3.16) and the words of the gospel of Luke are cited as Scripture by Paul in 1 Tim.5.18.
It has, however, been seriously asserted by some that mistakes are to be found, in the Scriptures. This, assertion emanates not merely from those who are hostile to the book but also from those who read it devoutly and more than superficially. Whatsoever admissions may be made concerning the few apparent .discrepancies which exist, they do no affect the general teaching of verbal inspiration, or the reliability of the book as a whole
Mistakes in translations there have been, of course. Inspiration is not claimed for translations, though translators have in many cases been given divine help in their, work. Inspiration is claimed for the original writings only.
Mistakes of copyists do not adversely effect it: they are so very few and unimportant that only the most obstinate would make capital out of them. The remarkable thing is that they are not more numerous. Why, it may be asked, has God been pleased to preserve the book as a whole and yet failed to preserve the original writings so that the matter of copyists’ errors could not have arisen? ‘His ways are past finding out,’ but is it not more than likely that man would have done with the originals what he did with the Brazen Serpent? Would he not have been likely to make them an object of worship, or superstition, or what not?
Alleged scientific mistakes have been dealt with by competent scientific men, He who is not versed in scientific matters is not well advised to attempt to deal with the alleged scientific inaccuracies. Let all such objectors be sure, however, that they discriminate carefully between theory and fact; and let them see that they do not base their objections on manners of speech and commonly understood phrases which actually define phenomena although they do not define scientific process.
Most alleged historical errors vanish on closer investigation. Matthew Henry was correct when, dealing with the alleged discrepancies in the records of the miracles of the Lord Jesus, he observed that "if there were two men there must have been one." No one quarrels with the photographer who produces a profile photograph showing one eye and a full-faced view showing two. Which is correct? Moreover, the inspired evangelists wrote on a principle of selection. They mentioned, things which were pertinent to their aim. The Spirit of God through Moses omitted certain details concerning the person of Melchizedek to make his recorded history an apt type of the Lord Jesus, as to Whom the omissions were actual matters of fact (Heb. 7.1-4). Adolph Saphir has said that "The silences of Scripture are like the music: they add to its harmony." What destruction of harmony is effected by attempting to harmonize the four gospels! How much sweet music is lost if the blanks are filled up by careless hands! He whose heart is opposed to God, looks for mistakes; he will find plenty of what he regards as such; but such supposed errors are, in many cases, evidences to the illumined mind of the superintending control of God which adds lustre to the written text.
AVOID RASH CONCLUSIONS
As to the small residue of unresolved alleged errors we may safely await more information. In the absence of all the data rash conclusions should be avoided. The writer arrived home early recently though the train was late! Here is an apparent contradiction, but the facts of the case were that he was able to catch an earlier train which itself was late instead of the one after it. Consequently coming by the train that was late he arrived home earlier than he would have done had he caught his usual train which was on time. But the statement "The train was late, although I am home early" seems, in the absence of more details to be contradictory and stupid.
Capital has been made out of the fact that the New Testament passages quote citations differently from the original text. But the objection is ill-founded. The word of God is so full that often the quotation in the New Testament brings into prominence a hidden meaning latent in the passage but not apparent in its Old Testament setting. Sometimes God puts His seal of approval on a Greek mistranslation of the Hebrew text with which the Septuagint abounds, and uses such erroneous reading to good purpose (cf. e.g. Gen. 5.22 and Heb. 11.5). (Also Psa. 40.6-8 and Heb. 10.5-8).
Moreover, it is the moral right of any author to cite his own former writings in a subsequent writing; he does no wrong if he misquotes, amplifies or uses to another purpose what he has hitherto written. It is his own writing; he may do what he will. But may Paul so use what Isaiah wrote? When it is apprehended that all scripture is that of the Holy Spirit and not of mere human origin, it will become plain that the Holy Spirit infringes no moral right when He cites differently one of His own earlier writings. It is the Spirit Who wrote: it is the Spirit who cites. It is not the blunder of a subsequent human writer.
A COMPLETED BOOK
The matter of the Canon of Scripture is far too large a subject to be dealt with adequately in this paper. At this late date’ we may rest content that in our Bible we have all the word of God: no volume outside of that book can seriously claim a place within it.
The Lord Jesus in His day had the Old Testament as we have it today: its divisions then into the Law, the Psalms and the Prophets, being the divisions which are found current among the Jews today. Deut 31.24 gives assurance as to the, completeness of the Pentateuch. Col. 1.25 gives assurance as to the completeness of Paul’s revelation and Rev. 22.6 forms a most suitable conclusion of the whole volume. The word of God is ‘faithful’—it can be relied upon. It is ‘true’ in all material matters of facts. It is authoritative for the "Lord God of the Holy Prophets’ is the speaker; and its foreshadowings are inevitable—they ‘must come to pass.’ Woe to him who adds to them or who takes from them! They are not deficient; they are not in any part redundant. They are ‘perfect and entire, wanting nothing.’
Though written by men it is free from human infirmity. John in his advanced years was not hindered by the common infirmities of old age, viz. mental feebleness and defective memory. The Spirit of God, in accordance with the promise of the Lord Jesus, brought all things to remembrance’ and, as with all others, assured to us an accurate written statement of God’s revelation of the past, operations in the present and purposes for the future.
It behoves us all to "give attendance to reading" (1 Tim. 4.13), to "search the scriptures" (John 5.39) and to "give the more earr nest heed to the things which we have heard lest we should slip by them." (Heb. 2.1).
Suggested Hymn Tune : Newcastle.
- There is a story, old but true
- Of boundless love outpoured
- To sinners all, not just a few,
- By Jesus Christ, my gracious Lord:
- He’s everything to me!
- Because the world He loved so much
- He couldn’t stand idly by
- Sinners to watch in Satan’s clutch
- Go on their way in sin to die :
- He’s everything to me!
- Lonely the hill that distant day
- He gave Himself, His all,
- And shed His blood to wash away
- My sins, each one, beyond recall:
- He’s everything to me!
- I’ll never know just what it cost,
- The pain that bowed His head.
- Sin He became, for I was lost,
- To save me stood He in my stead:
- He’s everything to me!
- Beyond all measure was His love
- For He held nothing back.
- His gift I’ll treasure all above
- For no good thing I e’er will lack:
- He’s everything to me!
- He’ll give me strength to serve Him well
- If I would faithful be.
- He’ll lead me forth, where I can’t tell—
- But He’ll be there ahead of me!
- He’s everything to me!
—David Ward (Southsea)
by JOHN HEADING, Aberystwyth
In the previous article, we explained the antitypes of the meat (meal) offering and the drink offering as associated with the continual burnt offering. To God, they referred to the forthcoming life and death of the Lord Jesus; to believers today they recall this precious life and death. But in Joel’s day, the corn had wasted in the field, and ! the vine had dried up, with the result that "the meat (meal) offering and the drink offering is cut off from the house of the Lord" (Joel 1.9-12). In other words, the sweet savour of Christ, foretold by these ingredients, could not and did not rise up to God.
Today, some local assemblies may be in this tragic state. Nothing of spiritual depth regarding Christ is offered to God. Truth that had once been known and appreciated may have been eaten by the worms and locusts (Joel 1.4). The fowls of the air may have come to devour what seed had been sown (Matt. 13.4). Other things may enter the lives of believers that take the place of the knowledge of Christ, causing John to write, "Little children, keep yourselves from idols" (1 John 5.21). Much activity cannot hide this loss, and the true and fundamental business of the assembly may tend to be regarded as of no real importance. At least in Joel’s day there were priests who mourned the lack of the meal and drink offerings (Joel 1.9), corresponding to the spiritual grief in the hearts of elderly brethren and sisters who have known better days in the past. If the sweet savour of Christ in worship and in the knowledge of the Word is lacking, then this loss is not supplied by all the secondary activity that may be taking place.
However, we can be thankful that restoration is found in the book of Joel. There was to be humility and repentance in the house of God. The priests and ministers of the altar had to come and lie all . night in sackcloth (1.13) in order to own the loss in the house. The people had to come to the house of the Lord in order to cry unto Him (v. 14). Today, no local assembly is perfect, so it is good to cry unto the Lord that He would reveal the weaknesses, as in Rev. chs.2—3. Too many prayer meetings may never touch upon the more intimate matters of assembly weaknesses. Individuals may say in their hearts like David, "Search me, 0 God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there by any wicked way in me" (Psa. 139.23—24). But there should be an assembly side to this confession as well.
This subject is continued in Joel 2.12—17. "Rend your heart, and not your garments" (v. 13) implies that there had to be a reality about their fasting and weeping. In Old Testament times, it was so easy to adopt spurious outward manifestations rather than inward reality, and the Lord Jesus condemned such a practice (Matt. 6.16—18). Today, it is easy to talk about weakness, but this is not repentance; the Lord requires assemblies to repent and do the first works (Rev. 2.5). Paul wrote that he would "bewail many which have sinned already, and have not repented" (2 Cor. 12.21). A restored spiritual prosperity will come only upon repentance, for He gives grace to the humble, whom He will lift up (James 4.6,10). Certainly repentance and humility before God will bring anticipation of blessing, for "Who knoweth if he will return and repent, and leave a blessing behind him; even a meat (meal) offering and a drink offering unto the Lord?" (Joel 2.14). The abundance of Christ in the hearts of the saints is brought to the assembly by the Holy Spirit using the living freshness of the Word of God appreciated and taken in under these conditions of restoration.
Joel 2.19 goes further: "I will send you corn, and wine, and oil, and ye shall be satisfied therewith". It is the same today. Christ is given as the Bread of life, and the Lord’s people should be satisfied with Him. Some need unspiritual activity to satisfy them, as if they are bored with truly spiritual things. This may occur when an assembly is clearly subdivided into younger ones and older ones; elders should ensure that younger ones are satisfied when Christ, as the meal and drink offering, can be presented unto God.
The reason for all the trouble in Joel’s day was the incursion of "the northern army" (2.20). They caused the people to transgress, bringing the judgment of the locusts upon them. But now these were driven out, ensuring the supply of corn and wine once again. In other words, men’s ideas must be driven out of an assembly, for these can give no satisfaction when Christ fills the heart. As for Paul, he would cast down "imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ" (2 Cor. 10.5).
The promise of God went even further: "the floors shall be full of wheat, and… with wine and oil. And I will retore to you the years that the locust hath eaten" (Joel 2.24—25). It is God who gives the increase(l Cor. 3.6—7), and it was He who restored the Corinthians from their deep unspiritual state, enabling Paul to rejoice (2 Cor. 7.9—10).
Not only would there be corn and wine for the offerings, but the people in Jerusalem "shall eat in plenty, and be satisfied" (Joel 2.26). Here is Christ being brought into an assembly that has lost its first love. Those in Jerusalem would "praise the name of the Lord"; He has His portion in any restoration, and this is the same today.
It is not surprising that there was given the promise of the pouring out of the Spirit in Joel 2.28. For the Spirit is the One who makes Christ real as the meal and drink offerings. For both by life and by life, the restored saints are guided by the Spirit into all truth.
It is not therefore remarkable that there will be another famine of corn and wine in Rev. 6.6 when the third seal is broken. This shows that there will be largely nothing for God from this earth after the rapture, except from the suffering remnant, who will worship God independently of any ritual. He will make a distinction in that future time of judgment when "the harvest is ripe… the press is full" (Joel 3.13), for the harvest of the earth will be ripe for the sickle (Rev. 14.15—16) (the remnant for God in that future day), and the vine of the earth will come under the wrath of God (vv.18—20) (referring to the ungodly in that day). We can be thankful that the church will not pass through these testing times of the future. So in the meantime prior to the return of the Lord Jesus, believers must assess themselves to see how much of this typical teaching fits their own case, individually and collectively, seeking either God’s way of restoration, or the means of grace to continue in service as He would desire.
- We are saved by God’s mercy — not by our merit; by Christ’s dying — not by our doing.
- We really live when we live to give.
- Those who truly fear God need not fear death.
- God’s resources are always equal to our requirements.
—Anthony Orsini, U.S.A.
(for the busy Housewife) No. 10
by Eric G. Parmenter, Basingstoke
The quiet contemplation of Christ on the cross, outside the city, stripped of those sacred garments which had brought instant healing to the reverent touch of faith. His nail pierced hands that freely handled the leper in Galilee and anointed the eyes of the blind. That compassionate heart going out to His mother in her deep grief as the sword pierced her soul. The mysterious, supernatural darkness shrouding the last hours of Jesus ere He died: His orphan cry, "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken me?" As He was made sin for us, bows the believing heart in worship before Him.
What delight to have the Lord filling our souls vision — lifted up in shame, yet forgiving His enemies: Providing a safe refuge for. His mother: Opening Paradise to the dying thief: Sacrificing His own sinless life in order that He might associate us with Himself in the joy of His love.
Raised up in power and now gone up in glory to be a hiding place from the hosts of spiritual enemies which surround us; and from that throne to hear Him say, when perplexity and confusion marks our pathway here and we are at a loss as to which way — "I will guide thee with mine eye" and our path becomes clear and safe. How precious to recall, the conversation of God-fearing hearts is heard in Heaven, and a book of remembrance is kept by Him upon the throne. Praise His name.
by Jack Strahan, Enniskillen
"HOW GOOD IS THE GOD WE ADORE"
JOSEPH HART (1712—1768))
- How good is the God we adore,
- Our faithful unchangeable Friend!
- His love is as great as His power,
- And knows neither measure nor end!
- Tis Jesus, the First and Last,
- Whose Spirit shall guide us safe home;
- We’ll praise Him for all that is past,
- And trust Him for all that’s to come.
These lines were written by Joseph Hart. They are, in fact, but a single stanza taken from a lengthy poem, "No prophet, nor dreamer of dreams", based on the opening verses of Deut. 13. The form of the first line, as originally written by Hart was, "This God is the God we adore"; in some collections it is found as, "This, this is the God we adore".
Joseph Hart lived in the 18th century. He was "born of believing parents" in the city of London in 1712. Educationally he received a good start in life and later became a teacher of "the learned languages". Spiritually, however, things were very different, Julian describing his early life as, "a curious mixture of loose conduct, serious conviction of sin and endeavourings after amendment of life". For many years his experience appears to have alternated between periods of conviction of sin and periods of gross indulgences. But let Hart himself tell of his spiritual experience in his own words.
"On entering manhood, I advanced to dreadful heights of libertinism, and ran to such dangerous lengths of carnal and spiritual wickedness that I even outwent professed infidels and shocked the irreligious and profane with my blasphemies … In this abominable state I continued a bold-faced rebel for nine years, not only committing acts of lewdness myself, but infecting others with all the poison of my delusions . . . After a time I fell into a deep despondency of mind, and, shunning all company, I went about bewailing my sad and dark condition".
"In this sad state I went moping about till Whit Sunday, 1757, when I happened to go in the afternoon to the Moravian Chapel in Fetter Lane. The minister preached from Rev. 3.10. I was much impressed".
"I was hardly got home, when I felt myself melting away into a strange softness of affection which made me fling myself on my knees before God. My horrors were immediately expelled, and such comfort flowed into my heart as no words can paint… I cried out, ‘What, me, Lord?" His Spirit answered in me, ‘Yes, thee!’ I objected, ‘But I have been so unspeakably evil and wicked!’ The answer was, ‘I pardon thee freely and fully!’ The alteration I then felt in my soul was as sudden and palpable as that which is experienced by a person staggering and almost sinking under a burden, when it is immediately taken from his shoulders. Tears ran in streams from my eyes for a considerable while, and I was so swallowed up in joy and thankfulness that I hardly knew where I was. I threw myself willingly into my Saviour’s hands, lay weeping at His feet…" Hart at that time was forty-five years of age.
Conversion’s experience brought tremendous changes. Though there were many temptations, Hart walked humbly with God and applied himself in earnest to the preaching of the gospel and to the writing of hymns and poems. These were published in 1759 as, "Hymns composed on Various Subjects"; in the preface of this volume there is a brief account of the author’s spiritual experience.
In 1760, Hart became minister of an Independant Chapel in London, the "Old Wooden Meeting-House in Jewin Street" built nearly a century before by William Jenkyn. There he ministered regularly, faithfully and fruitfully to a large congregation who looked on him as an "earnest, eloquent and much-loved" minister of the gospel.
Hart’s ministry in Jewin Street continued for eight years, right up to the close of his life. He died on May 24th, 1768, at the early age of fifty-six and was buried in Bunhill Fields. There, a large crowd of some twenty thousand people gathered to pay their last respects to a much-loved minister of the gospel and at his funeral service it was said, "He was like the laborious ox that dies with the yoke on his neck; so died he with the yoke of Christ on* his neck; neither would he suffer it to be taken off; for ye are his witnesses that he preached Christ to you, with the arrows of death sticking in him". So revered was the memory of Joseph Hart that more than a century later (in 1875) an obelisk was erected over his grave in Bunhill Fields.
In the few years from conversion to the close of life, Joseph Hart wrote a considerable number of hymns but apart from a very few, most of these have now disappeared from common usage. His hymns have a spiritual quality of their own and most are based on his own experience, "all the emotions of a soul ‘ready to halt’, but knowing where to look for strength, are plentifully and feelingly represented".
Hart’s hymns, "Come, ye sinners, poor and wretched" is well known to many; it is much used in gospel work and its lines have often brought timely help to troubled souls.
- Let not conscience make you linger,
- Nor of fitness fondly dream;
- All the fitness He requireth
- Is to feel your need of Him:
- This He gives you;
- ‘Tis the Spirit’s rising beam.
His hymn on Gethsemane, "Come, all ye chosen saints of God", was born out of an unforgettable personal spiritual experience — a contemplation of the agony of the Saviour in the Garden. It was written in two parts and contained twenty-four stanzas. Two of its lines, full of mystery, majesty and meaning still live on,
- Gethsemane, the Olive-Press!
- And why so call’d, let angels* guess.
* (‘Christians’ in original)
Hart’s poem on the word of God is worthy of mention, though not so widely known. Its lines are pithy and penetrating.
- Revere the sacred page,
- To injure any part
- Betrays, with blind and feeble rage,
- A hard and haughty heart.
- The Scriptures and the Lord
- Bear one tremendous Name:
- The written, and th’ Incarnate Word
- In all things are the same.
"How good is the God we adore" is, however, the best known of all Hart’s compositions and through the years has often been sung at gatherings of the Lord’s people as a fitting expression of deep gratitude to God.
Its words depict the pilgrim on the pathway of pilgrimage. He halts and reflects, "God has been good and faithful; love has ever been the expression of His heart, constancy the hallmark of His friendship. In addition the Lord Jesus in the plenitude of His person and the gracious guiding Spirit of God have been unfailing escorts "through all the way". He feels that he has been truly blessed. He raises his "Ebenezer", then steps out into the unknown future, assured that what his Divine Companions have been in the past, so They will be to the end of the road — enough for all the journey.
THE REPROACH OF CHRIST
Tune : Abide with Me —10.10.10.10
- How shall we love thee LORD, how show Thy worth,
For that tremendous stoop from heaven to earth?
- Rank after rank of angels passing by,
- Down, down to dwell with sinners, down to die.
- We stand in awe at what Thy love has planned
- Who takes not hold of angels by the hand,
- But, oh! the marvels of Thy matchless grace,
- Thou art the hope of Adam’s helpless race.
- O what an advent, in a manger born,
- Lowly we see Thee in a servant’s form.
- Thou, whom the Heaven of Heavens could not contain,
- Taken by wicked hands, and mocked and slain.
- But faith’s bright eye still rests upon Thee now,
- Beholds that crown of glory on Thy brow
- And hope with ardent longing lifts her head
- To yonder glorious Man, out from the dead.
- O Blessed Hope, how sweet the prospect lies
- Within each heart and points us to the skies,
- For Thou shalt yet descend in triumph where
- Thy ransomed Ones shall meet Thee in the air.
- How shall we love Thee LORD, how show Thy worth?
- Our brightest praise is dim with dust of earth,
- But when around Thy radiant Throne we meet,
- Untarnished crowns we’ll cast before Thy feet.
—JM. Jones (Toowoomba)
There is no more important office; none that bears greater responsibility, involves more love, demands more understanding of scripture or a deeper spiritual vision: –and yet, with faithful fulfilment, anticipates a more glorious reward, than that of an elder in the local church.