Last Updated on : Friday, August 15, 2014
SUNDAY MORNING No. 4.
We come together again as thirsty travellers on a journey, to find refreshment at the inexhaustible well of living water provided for the pilgrims of God. And we come together not in vain. The water is cold and of a crystal clearness, cooling the parched mouth and restoring vigour to the failing limbs; and partaking thereof, the pilgrims renew their journey with revived strength, hope and courage. We need these periodical refreshments. The journey is long and toilsome; the way is hard and our strength is small. Waiting for the promises of God in a day like ours, when there is no open vision, and when the Divine economy is in the dust and the power of the Gentile triumphs over all, is a trying situation for flesh and blood. We walk by faith and not by sight. This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith, and faith cometh by hearing the Word of God. Whatever strengthens faith helps the victory. We have nothing in our day to strengthen faith except the written Word and the communion with God in prayer which that Word engenders. We are here to-day to attend on both in that appointed assembly of the saints in which both have their highest power developed.
Let us look at what we have brought forward in the portions read this morning-Psalm lxxii. and Luke xxiv. There is a certain connection between both, though so far apart as regards their place in the Bible and the time at which they were written. The conversation recorded in the latter tells us by the mouth of Jesus, that all things that are written in the Psalms concerning him must be accomplished. Hence there are things in the Psalms
This idea of a double application at first sight seems bewildering; but the embarrassment disappears as we grow acquainted with the Divine scheme and understand the principles upon which it is founded. One of these, particularly useful in this matter, is the duality that runs through the whole of it, that is, a first and a second - the one as a preparation for the other. At the very beginning, we see the accepted burnt offering of Abel to be followed by the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world. We see the first covenant made with Israel; and we read, "The days come that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel." As Paul says, "He taketh away the first that He may establish the second." There is the first deliverance of Israel from Egypt but a pre-figuring of their restoration from "all the lands" whither they have been driven. There is the establishment of the nation under Moses, and the coming establishment under Christ. Now, we are instructed by the Spirit in the apostles that the first and imperfect in all these arrangements was a shadow, type, or prefigurement of the second and perfect. Hence it is that even the literal history of the house of Israel is a type or foreshadowing of that which is to come. Who would have supposed, had not Paul told us, that the dismissal of Hagar and her son from the household of Abraham was an "allegory"? (Gal. iv. 24). Many other types besides that are to be found in Israel's history, and among others, the reign of Solomon, pointing to the greater than Solomon, who though having appeared, is yet to come. Hence it is that the 72nd Psalm,
But independently of this reason for applying the Psalm to Christ, there are statements in the Psalm that were not realised in Solomon, such as men "shall be blessed in him." Israel, doubtless, experienced benefit from the earlier part of his reign, but not in the form or to the extent that will be realised when "all the families of the earth" will be blessed in Abraham and his seed, the Christ. It was not the result of Solomon's reign to bring about the state of things described in the following words: "They shall fear Thee as long as the sun and moon endure, throughout all generations." "In his days shall the righteous flourish, and abundance of peace as long as the moon endureth." In no sense could the following have been prophetically affirmed of Solomon: his name shall endure for ever; his name shall be continued as the sun. Men shall be blessed in him, and all nations shall call him blessed."
To Christ, doubtless, in the fullest sense the Psalm applies; to him for whom we wait this morning, who having been in the earth once is withdrawn for a time till the appointed season of his re-appearance (now at hand) to develop the glorious scene depicted in this sunlit Psalm. With this confidence let us look at it and be comforted. What do we see? A king who, in the possession of universal dominion and power, "saves the children of the needy and break in pieces the oppressor"; a king, who, though surrounded with all the circumstances of regal splendour, and receiving the homage of "all kings falling down before and all nations serving him," looks after the poor and attends to the cry of the needy. "He shall deliver the needy when he crieth; the poor also and him that hath no helper." Such a king as this the world has never seen before. The poor have no chance under any form of government. If they can obtain the good offices of some influential personage - if they can enlist the mediation of a Member of Parliament, or some official person near head-quarters, possibly they may receive attention, but "the poor that hath no helper" is in a helpless case indeed. This is the inevitable result of the fact that man reigns. Many things make it impossible for a mortal ruler to dispense a full and merciful justice to all. Being fallible, he is liable to be deceived by the cunning misrepresentations of the sinister. Therefore he is obliged to adopt a system which, while it keeps off the impostor, keeps the true also at a distance. His physical energy is not equal to the demands of a full administration of justice in the multitude of cases that arise. Therefore, he has to depute the work to representatives, who, mortal, like himself, have to administer the law by roundabout rules, which unprincipled cleverness can manipulate to the advantage of the evil and the hurt of the innocent. The result is, "justice" is a clumsy and blundering machine worked without sympathy or discrimination, mangling the innocent both in what it does and what it prevents being done, and leaving wickedness to flourish in society like a green bay tree.
But this king will be hampered by none of these difficulties. "He shall not judge after the sight of his eyes nor reprove after the hearing of his ears" (Isaiah xi. 4). The Spirit of Jehovah [Yahweh] resting upon him, he discerns the secrets of the heart, and goes straight to
There is another reason why the government of this Son of David is able to deal thoroughly and minutely with the wants of mankind. The reason is not apparent in the Psalm, but we learn it from many other portions of the writings of the Spirit; he is assisted in the work of ruling the world by a body of kings like himself - immortal and infallible. His brethren having "suffered with him," "reign with him." They are "kings and priests unto God and reign with him a thousand years." The beauty and necessity of this arrangement will be seen on a moment's reflection. A single king, however endowed, could not deal with the teeming millions of the earth. A single king is wanted as the common head -the director and controller of universal power, but for the administration of his authority in detail, many co- operators are required. But if this co-operation were entrusted to the hands of sinners, the beneficence of Christ's government would be as effectually frustrated as the good designs of good rulers always have been in the hands of evil instruments. The government of an immortal and infallible king must needs be in the hands of immortal and infallible associates. Herein lies the perfection of the kingdom of God. Christ will be represented in every part of the globe by a fellow-heir as free from error and weakness as himself, and as compassionate of the people as the Great Head, from whose judgment there will be no appeal.
It is the preparation of this body of fellow kings and priests that explains the present "delay," as we inaccurately call it, in the consummation of the Divine purpose. But for this, the kingdom of God might have been set up 1,800 years ago. "My wedding must be furnished with guests," is the parabolic announcement by which the Lord taught the necessity for sending an invitation to the Gentiles after the Jews had rejected it. But not only had the invitation to go forth; the people responding to the invitation had to be trained and fitted for the position to which they were called. This is Christ's present work; he is "priest over his own house" - bringing his house to God. It was this that made his departure necessary, as he told his disciples: "I go to prepare a place for you." His present absence and his present work are necessary to the glorious consummation of "his appearing and his kingdom." He is not idle or passive though unseen. He is at work in the preparation of his people. His messages to the seven ecclesias in Asia represent him as watchfuI and vigilant in the superintendence of the affairs of his house. His priesthood involves this; for mediation between God and men requires that he should know the affairs of men. Paul tells us that having suffered, being tempted, he (Jesus) is able to succour them that are tempted. This indicates the active superintendence referred to. He is still the shepherd of his sheep. From behind the vail, he tends them invisibly, but not the less really. "As many as I love," he says,
It may sometimes be as it was with the children of Israel when Moses first demanded of Pharaoh to let them go. Their burdens were increased, and their afflictions at the hand of the taskmaster were so intensified as the result of Moses' interference, that when he comforted them with the prospect of release, "they hearkened not unto him for anguish of spirit." The prospect of the Lord's coming has so long been a matter of faith and hope, and has yet done nothing for us so far as material results are concerned but embarrass our temporal relations, that we may, in anguish of spirit, refuse the comfort of the promise, and say with Israel, "Let us alone that we may serve the Egyptians." Let us beware of this propensity. "Though the vision tarry," saith the Spirit, "wait for it. It will surely come. At the end it will speak and not lie." He that endureth to the end the same shall be saved. Blessed are those servants whom their Lord, when he cometh, shall find watching. The moment will come when our watching will be over, and when the announcement will ring through all ecclesias, penetrating even to the sleeping dust and waking a multitude of the dead, " Christ has come at last."