Friday, 27 January 2012

Some thoughts on "all things"

Dear fellow believers, I had been thinking a few weeks ago at the beginning of a New Year about the phrase "all things new". This phrase comes from Revelation 21 as the Lord announces the new heavens and the new earth after all prophecy has been fulfilled and the Lord brings in a new heavens and a new earth fit for the eternal state.

As we look around at the world around us, we can't help but contrast this wonderful prospect with the sin and misery that we see around us! Surely we can echo the words of the apostle: "For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now."

This sparked my interest in a short study of other mentions of "all things" and I found it most profitable.

Where to start then? I often find myself thinking this and end up starting at the beginning, common sense I suppose!

"All things were made by him" John 1:3

There are other scriptures as well which would testify to the creatorial power of our Lord Jesus Christ (Colossians 1 for example) and of course this would point us into the past, showing us that the Lord Jesus was there at the beginning, displaying his power and deity bringing all things into being. This would surely reinforce to us his eternal sonship, there was never a time when Christ was not there!

"They wondered every one at all things which Jesus did" Luke 9:43

This scripture would direct us not now into eternity past but to the time when he walked upon this earth and his earthly ministry. An alternative rendering would read as follows; "they were marvelling at everything he was doing" what a lovely thought this is! We remind our hearts that everything our Saviour did was incredible and amazing! He was so different to the men of the day, in fact he is unique, his actions, words and motives marked him out as special. He was the sinless, spotless Son of God, and  because this so evidently flowed out into his daily ministry, men were constantly marvelling at him. Here was God walking amongst them!

"He hath done all things well" Mark 7:37

Here is another statement regarding the Lord's earthly ministry, and really it means "commendably and nobly". How unlike men! How pure and refreshing it must have been to see the Lord at work, to witness his great love and compassion for the people of his day. As you read the gospel records you become acutely aware that the Saviour continually reached out and touched people's lives and made a life-changing impact! Of course this he still does today, through his so great salvation which is freely offered to all and has the power to change lives for all eternity.

"Behold we go up to Jerusalem and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of Man shall be accomplished" Luke 18:31

It never ceases to amaze me when I remind myself that the Saviour knew "all things". He knew all that the prophets had written concerning his life and death, for he was the very Word that was made flesh. He knew the evil and wickedness in mens hearts and all that they were capable of and exactly their intentions toward him, and yet he came and allowed himself to be taken. Philippians 2 really brings this out:

"But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross."

We praise God that the Saviour was willing to go to that cross and endure all things and fulfil all things, despite knowing all that this would entail and mean for him. Because he did, we are saved!

"Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt" Mark 14:36

It is sobering and humbling to think again that all things were possible for God, but he spared not his own Son! That was one thing he would not do, as Romans tells us. He made the heavens and the earth, he is all-powerful, all-knowing and all-present, he cannot fail, he cannot lie but he would not spare his only beloved Son who was daily his delight the shame and suffering of Calvary. He bore the judgement for our sin, in his own body on the tree:

"Death and the curse were in our cup;
O Christ 'twas full for thee!
But thou hast drained the last dark drop;
'Tis empty now for me;
That bitter cup, love drank it up - 
Now blessings draught for me"

"He hath given all things into his hand" John 3:35, "He hath put all things under his feet" Ephesians 1:22

I realise that these statements were ever true of the Saviour, and in particular the Lord's words from John's Gospel were before the cross, but it is refreshing and encouraging to think about these in the present and future contexts. Today he sits at his Father's right hand and he is over and above all things, and he has been given all things into his hand. He who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death is now exalted higher than the heavens and is over all things! Hebrews reminds us that at present we don't yet see all things under him, so although God has given him this position we do not yet see him fully exercising it. But one day soon he will - God has decreed it and it is as certain as if it were a present reality! We have quoted from Philippians 2 already and it is good to read on in that chapter which tell us so much about the lowly place he took:

"Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."

"That in all things He might have the pre-eminence" Colossians 1:18

The Amplified version is good to refer to here: "so that he alone in everything and in every respect might occupy the chief place..." What powerful and challenging words! We have learned that he is over everything in terms of creation but now we are learning that he is over all the Church, and should be at the centre of everything we do.

Of course it is very easy for Christ to fall from pre-eminence, just take a look at wider Christendom where men have replaced Christ as the focal point. How sad should that be the case for us whether in our private lives or as a collective in our local churches. On the flip side it is probably very easy to give him the pre-eminence on a Sunday morning or even throughout the whole day, but may God help us to give him that rightful place all the time! I found this very challenging and readily acknowledge my own failing and weakness in this fundamental aspect of Christian living.

May God help us to ensure he is at the centre of our lives both privately and collectively and may he be the focus of all our activities for Him. May our testimonies and service be strengthened by this resolve!

Yours in Christ, Mark





Friday, 13 January 2012

"Great David's Greater Son"

Sometimes we can enjoy looking at types and shadows of Christ in the scriptures, but recently I've been enjoying looking at the contrast between David's son Absalom and as the hymn writer puts it "great David's greater Son" our Lord Jesus Christ. What can we learn then?

Absalom's outward appearance:

"but in all Israel there was none to be so much praised as Absalom for his beauty: from the sole of his foot even to the crown of his head there was no blemish in him"

Clearly Absalom was a very good-looking man, the best in fact! However inside it was a very different story. Inside there was sin: hatred, malice, pride, ambition, ruthlessness and arrogance to name but a few!

How different from our Saviour! Here was one who had no outward beauty:

"he hath no form nor comeliness, when we shall see him there is no beauty that we should desire him"

However inwardly of course we know that like Absalom on the outside, there was no blemish at all! The scripture records that he knew no sin, he did no sin, and in him is no sin.

What about the character of Absalom?

Certainly he was a man characterised by pride and vanity, hatred and malice, and bitterness as well! His behaviour with his half-brother Amnon in 2 Sam 13 certainly bears this out, no matter what you think about Amnon. He was also a proud and arrogant man. Just look at his obsession with his appearance and growing and cutting his hair (2 Sam 14:25,26); his entourage that travelled with him (2 Sam 15:1); and his clamour for position and power (2 Sam 15:4). He was a man with mis-placed ambition, he wanted a position that was not his to claim!

What a contrast with our Lord Jesus Christ. Philippians 2 says that "he humbled himself" and that "he made himself of no reputation" and that he "thought it not robbery to be equal with God" and prophetically it was said of him "I am meek and lowly". Here was one who knew nothing of pride or self-promotion.

In contrast to Absalom our Saviour was kind, gentle, gracious and compassionate. "When he was reviled he reviled not again, and when he suffered he threatened not."

What about his relationship with his father?

The record shows that Absalom usurped his father's authority and rebelled against him, scheming for the kingdom and stealing the hearts of the people away. He also took glory from David and brought shame on him instead. Remember that following the incident with Amnon he fled from his father to Geshur to his grandfather, such was the severity of his behaviour! Furthermore he fulfilled the prophetic judgement of Nathan when he defiled his father's concubines in view of the whole nation.

With the Lord Jesus we can immediately see the contrast as he did "always those things that please the Father" he was "daily thy delight" and the Father was delighted and well pleased with his Son. He  did not seek a position that was not his to have, the position he has at the Father's right hand over and above everything else is his by right, given to him by his Father! In addition the Lord Jesus ever brought glory to his Father: "I have glorified thee on the earth". What a contrast to the rebel Absalom!

[caption id="attachment_216" align="alignright" width="230" caption=""And Absalom rode upon a mule, and the mule went under the thick boughs of a great oak, and his head caught hold of the oak, and he was taken up between the heaven and the earth; and the mule that was under him went away.""]Absalom caught up in the oak[/caption]

What can we learn about Absalom's death?

This very interesting, as it records in 2 Sam 18 that Absalom was "taken up between the  heaven and the earth"  as he rode upon his ass away from the battle in the woods of Ephraim. So like the Saviour he died on a tree, however there the similarities end. Absalom was there against his will, held there by his hair - that symbol of his fleshly pride and arrogance!

The Lord Jesus also hung on a tree between heaven and earth but of course he was there voluntarily as a willing victim. He was there according to the Father's will. The prophet records that "they pierced my hands and my feet" Unlike Absalom this is what held him to the tree at Calvary! His hands - symbols of his gracious works and acts of compassion! His feet - symbols of that perfect pathway and righteous walk whilst down here.

The epilogue that followed the death of Absalom:

Remember the abject grief of David? "O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son!" There can be no doubt that David was grief-stricken and would have done anything to save his son from death, to the extent he would have died in his place! It is with profound thanks and praise that we read in Romans 8 "He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all" God would not spare his Son, but delivered him up to die for us all!

Finally there is a further interesting point concerning Absalom. He was very concerned about his legacy: "Now Absalom in his lifetime had taken and reared up for himself a pillar, which is in the king's dale: for he said, I have no son to keep my name in remembrance" We read in 2 Sam 14 that Absalom did have 3 sons born to him but they must have died in early life and so here was a man who was paranoid about having sons to remember him and a legacy left behind!

How lovely to compare this to the Lord Jesus. Unlike Absalom he has many sons who remember his name! "bringing many sons to glory" Heb 2:10 We have been made "by grace sons of God" We are His sons! We are in this blessed and privileged position through his grace and we gather together to keep his name in remembrance:

"this do in remembrance of me"

"for as often as ye take this bread and drink this cup ye do show forth the Lords death until he come"

How wonderful it is to return as grateful and blessed sons and offer up our praise and worship to our father God for our Lord Jesus Christ!

We trust that these simple thoughts will be enjoyed and bring benefit to our souls and much worship to God. As always, all comments are welcome.

Yours in Christ, Mark


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