Tag Archives: Lord Jesus Christ

The Lamb Is My Shepherd

In the following devotional the personal pronoun “I” has been used. Dear reader, if you are one of the sheep of His pasture, you are invited to take this “I” unto yourself. If you are not one of the sheep of His pasture, oh, become one!

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 I have a loving Shepherd of my soul, who, when I had gotten myself very lost (as all we of Adam’s race do) went as far as a hill called Calvary to find me in a valley called Sin and Death.

My Shepherd had to die to come to me where I was—dead in trespasses and sins.

Then, the God of peace brought again from the dead that great Shepherd of the sheep—my Lord Jesus Christ—in the blood of an everlasting covenant.

When He arose He brought me up with Him: He took me up in His arms and carried me in His bosom, and brought me out from that desolate valley into a green pasture called Resurrection Life, a high mountain pasture where, as the Lamb in the midst of the throne of God, He continues to shepherd me, by His Spirit leading me daily to fountains of living waters. I thirst no more. I hunger no more. I walk with Him daily in newness of life—His life. The blazing sun does not beat down upon me, nor any heat, for He who sits on the Throne has spread the shady Tabernacle of Himself over me.

This Lamb who gave Himself for me is my shepherd, the overseer of my soul. He watches over me daily, keeping me, protecting me from marauding lions and bears. He causes me to lie down in His green pastures of living truth. He leads me beside the waters of rest. Daily He restores my soul, provisioning me afresh with all I need to do His will, working in me what is wellpleasing in His sight.

He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His own Names’ sake.  Leads me, I say. For He Himself is ever with me. Yes, even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death with evil about me on every hand, I fear no evil. For, now I am no longer a subject under the shadow, the domain, of King Death. My Lamb-Shepherd has redeemed me from that king, and now, just as the children of Israel lived securely “under the shadow” of their kings, I live under the shadow of the Anointed King Jesus, the breath of my nostrils, whose shadow is the reign of grace, of righteousness and peace, of life and light and liberty.

And so we walk together, my Shepherd and I, He leading, and I following, in the Pathway He has chosen for us through the valley of the shadow of death. No longer a resident here, I am just passing through.

My Shepherd King is with me. So I fear no evil. He has a rod and a staff, and they comfort me—the rod to deal with my enemies, or to correct me when I need it myself, and a staff that sustains me, holds me up.

He prepares a table before me in the very presence of my enemies, who, though they continue to roar and threaten, can no longer torment me with fear.

The head of my Shepherd-king is anointed with oil, and that oil flows down upon my head, making me a king too.

It is all too, too much. His cup, my cup, runs over.

My Shepherd the Lamb of God went as far as Calvary and the grave to seek out and find this lamb. What comfort—to continue to lean on Him and trust Him daily in every circumstance great or small. He—my Lord Jesus, the great Shepherd and Bishop of my soul, “has come into my circumstances with divine and tender love, making Himself acquainted with all the little details of my life; and He has brought me, in the power of the Holy Spirit, in endless life, into His own magnificent circumstances, where I enjoy the light of His countenance… where I am the delight of His heart.” (J.B. Stoney)

Now, instead of my enemies pursuing me relentlessly every day, His goodness and His mercy pursue me all the days of my life.

I shall be dwelling in the House of my Shepherd forever. I know and trust that as I do so, God will, in His time, wipe away each and every tear from my eyes.

(Psalm 23; Hebrews 13:20,21; 1 Peter 2:25; Revelation 7:15-17; Lamentations 4:20)

 

 

 

 

 

The Exegesis Of God–Part Two

Let’s recall from last time Solomon’s proclamation at the inauguration of the temple that God had instructed him to build for Him.

 The LORD hath said that He would dwell in the thick darkness.  But I have built an house of habitation for Thee, and a place for Thy dwelling forever (2 Chr. 6:1,2).

This is what Solomon’s temple was all about.  It was to be the place among men where the God who had formerly dwelt in thick darkness now shone forth.  Solomon’s temple was, however, only a shadow of the true temple not made with hands—the Son of God Himself.  And so last time we also quoted a verse from John.

 No man hath seen God at any time.  The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him (Jn. 1:18).

The word declared is the Greek exegesato, and is related to our word exegesis, which is the biblical science of discovering and explaining what the Scriptures really say and mean.  Patient exegesis of the Bible will yield to the yielded much fruit.  But in John 1:18 we discover that the Son of God when He walked the earth was the exegesis of God Himself.  He was the One who explained, made known, revealed, shone forth, the hard-to-understand, unseen, obscure, unknown God.

That’s very wonderful, but I wonder if I don’t hear someone thinking, “Well and good that Jesus the Son of God was the exegesis of God the Father back then, but He is not here now.”

I know the regret you’re expressing: if only we could have lived back in Jesus’ day… or if only He were still here today.  Too bad the Devil succeeded in tearing down that living Temple in whom God dwelt and was revealed.

Just a minute.  Remember what Jesus said about that.

 Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up…
But He spake of the Temple of His body (Jn. 2:19,21).

And so the Devil has his own regrets that he and his cohorts conspired to have the Lord of glory crucified, thinking to be done with Him.  For He rose from the dead.  And He ascended into Heaven, where, seated at the right hand of God, He began His more excellent ministry of the New Covenant, and an enlargement of that Temple which would continue to be the same exegesis of God.

How so?  When Christ ascended to the right hand of God, He “received the promise of the Father” (Acts 2:33), on the day of Pentecost sending the Spirit to His waiting disciples, just as He, in turn, had earlier promised them.

 I will not leave you comfortless.  I will come to you (Jn. 14.18).

I will come to you?  This is a mystery.  The coming of the Spirit was such that the same One who was the exegesis of God at the right hand of the Father, while continuing to abide at the right hand of the Father in the Heavens, came to His disciples again, and took up residence in them.  For, those in whom the Spirit dwells, it is Christ Himself who dwells in them, as we read in many places in our New Testament.  (For example, Romans 8: 9,10, and many other places that speak of the indwelling Christ.)  And thus they become part of the same Temple Solomon prophesied of, the same habitation the Son of God fulfilled—the same living Exegesis that reveals God and makes Him known among men.

That is the astonishing implication of the sending of the Spirit.  Those in whom Christ dwells now become part of that same exegesis of God that the Son of God was.

This is what the New Covenant assembly is all about, or ought to be.  The church—which was formed by the coming of the Spirit to individual disciples—is to be the fullness of that same Exegesis of God who walked the earth two thousand years ago, and is now seated at the right hand of God.

 The church, which is His body, the fullness of Him that filleth all in all (Eph. 1:23).

The fullness of Him?  The church is His very body—the fullness of Him?  I am sure this is what Jesus had in mind when He “spake of the temple of His body” which He said He would raise up.  “The church, which is His body…”  The Devil thought to be rid of Him by the cross.  What he did, to his great chagrin, enabled God to lay in Zion the foundation Stone for an enlargement of that temple.  It began with the sending of the Spirit at Pentecost.  He comes for nothing less than to continue the same exegesis of God that the Son of God was when He was here.

That is the nature of Christ’s more excellent ministry of the New Covenant.  It is a ministration of the very knowledge of God, and thus, “all shall know Me from the least to the greatest” (Heb. 8:11) .  This is something more than knowledge as we generally think of the word.  It is New Covenant knowledge: the kind of knowledge—the knowledge of God—whom to know means our being like Him.

How imperative, then, that we in the church, as ministers of the New Covenant (which all Christians are to be) give the Prime Minister of the New Covenant—the Holy Spirit—His lordship and pre-eminence in our individual lives, and in our gatherings.  He comes for nothing less than to reveal, to make known, the same God of love and righteousness that dwelt in the Son… so that the same exegesis of God now dwells in and shines forth from the churches—you and me and our brothers and sisters in the churches.

This is what the New Covenant, and the New Covenant assembly, is all about—or is supposed to be—the exegesis of God to a world in darkness.  Anything short of this… we are sorely missing His mark.

And it has to be said that much of what is called church in our day has in fact done that.  Has fallen short.  Has missed the mark.  Let the broken and repentant heart be encouraged.  Christ is still on the Throne at the right hand of the Father, and the Holy Spirit sent from the Throne is still in the earth.  The temple He inaugurated at Pentecost is still here, though in the midst of much that man has built cannot always readily be seen.  In fact her enemies are gloating these days that they have succeeded in destroying her and treading her down in the dust.  The Lord on the throne has a surprise in store for His enemies.  The power and principle of His resurrection life is still at work.  He continues to raise up this Temple—the One that was torn down on Calvary’s cross—just as He prophesied He would do.  He will beautify her, set living stones in her just like Himself.  He will yet be fully revealed, will yet shine forth in this temple in all His glory in the Heavens and in the earth…

…And all the confusion and debate and doubt and misunderstanding as to who He is—all the thick darkness—will vanish like the morning mist in the light of the sun.

Mind Not High Things

Christians everywhere this time of year are thinking of the birth of the King of kings. Don’t tell anybody, but even in summer I sometimes find myself singing (to myself) The First Noel, or, O Little Town of Bethlehem.

O little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie;
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep the silent stars go by.
Yet in thy dark streets shineth the everlasting light:
The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.

What cause for rejoicing!  We live in a terribly dark world, yet into this world of darkness—I am so thankful—a Light has come!  Into this world of darkness He came, the everlasting light!

And when I think of the way this happened—the way the God of glory came down into a world of darkness and revealed Himself among men—I am awestruck.  It is true that He is the high and lofty One who inhabiteth eternity; there is none greater nor higher than He.  But at the same time, there is none more lowly than He.

There was great expectation in those days that their Messiah-king was about to appear.  Would it not be natural to assume that the Great King, the Deliverer of David’s line, would be born in a palace?  This in fact is what the Magi assumed when they first saw His star in the east.  They made their long journey to Jerusalem, and inquired in the palace of Herod.  Where else would such a potentate be born?

But no, He is born to a penniless teenage girl and her betrothed husband who have just had to make a very difficult trip at a very inconvenient time.  She is great with child, and just as they arrive at their destination, suddenly her pains come upon her.  The inn has no room for them, and so the King of kings is born in, of all places… a stable?  He is laid in a manger… a feed trough for cattle?  There is no pomp, no ceremony to which the great ones of the earth have been invited.  In fact His first visitors are shepherds who are keeping night watch over their flocks while most men sleep.

It is this, all this, that is so moving about the birth of Jesus Christ.  Here is all this lowliness—the cattle shed, the manger, the nameless shepherds… Yet we know we are touching grandeur, majesty of the highest order.  The open heart cannot help but be on its knees.

Do you long to be involved in great things?  So do I.  But do we recognize that God’s greatness is always couched in this kind of lowliness?  Many in our day are not so sure of that anymore.  There is as much a celebrity culture in the church as in the world these days.  Hollywood has its stars, but so now does Christendom.

Bearing this in mind, here’s another poem I love.

That Holy Thing

They all were looking for a king
To slay their foes and lift them high:
Thou cam’st a little baby thing
That made a woman cry.

O Son of man, to right my lot
Nought but Thy Presence can avail;
Yet on the road Thy wheels are not,
Nor on the sea Thy sail!

My fancied ways why shouldest Thou heed?
Thou com’st down Thine own secret stair;
Coms’t down to answer all my need,
Yea, every bygone prayer!

George Macdonald (1824-1905)

I love those lines.  “Thou com’st down Thine own secret stair…”  How deeply we need our Lord Jesus.  Only His Presence—He Himself—will avail to right our lot, that situation in our lives we so desperately need an answer for.  He comes to answer all my need—my present need, and not mine only: all the prayers of ages past as well.  But how does He come?  I look at the way He appeared back then when people looked for Him among the important of the day.  And I look at what is happening these days in the Church among the fame seekers and big-name entertainers and performers.  All too often I am seeing the red carpet being rolled out for “another Jesus” these days, one far different from the lowly One who made His debut into this world in a cattle shed.  He came down His own secret staircase, came down Jacob’s ladder from the top to the bottom, and was born in a cattle shed.  You mean the High God took upon Him human flesh in that manner?  It sends shivers down my spine.

We live in days of such grievous and heart-rending things; there are those who try to tell us that the human family is just an accident of evolution gone terribly wrong, and the sooner it’s all scrapped, the better.  I am not among the cynics.  God has things in store for the family of man beyond our wildest fancies.  He has chosen man, of all creatures, for His own Dwelling Place.  When Jacob saw that ladder in a dream at Bethel one night, it was the Man Christ Jesus that He was seeing.  It is the Son of man, Jesus Christ Himself, who is Bethel—the house of God (Gen. 28.17, Jn. 1.51).

And wonder of wonders, there are others among men who are part of this same House! But  who?  The high?  The lofty?  The praise seekers?  The great among men?  Beloved, if we want to be part of this Dwelling Place we will be companying with the lowly in “the secret place of the stairs.”

This is my great desire and prayer for those who read this little blog A Mending Feast.  Let us not be minding high things, beloved.  Let us be among the lowly… anticipating a precious visitation in the Spirit.

…Maybe you would join with me in singing another verse of O Little Town of Bethlehem.

How silently, how silently, the wondrous gift is given;
So God imparts to human hearts the blessings of His heaven.
No ear may hear His coming, but in this world of sin
Where meek souls will receive Him still the dear Christ enters in.

Amen. Blessings to you all at this time, and all through the coming year.

What World Do You Walk In?

Habakkuk the prophet spoke of a time when he could find nothing but desolation all around him.  The fig tree had not blossomed, nor seemed likely to blossom.  There was no fruit in the vine.  The labour of the olive had failed.  The fields had yielded no food.  The flock was cut off from the fold, and there was no herd in the stalls (Hab. 3.17).

This was a spiritual scene Habakkuk was prophesying about—signs of a frightening spiritual crop failure, and therefore severe famine at the door.  Yet what was Habakkuk’s reaction?

Yet will I rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation.
The LORD God is my strength, and He will make my feet like hinds’ feet, and He will make me to walk upon my high places (Hab. 3.19).

Joy?  Rejoicing?  How can it be possible to be in the midst of such grievous circumstance and yet tap into a source of joy?

Let me tell you of one high place higher than all others—the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, who is seated at the right hand of God in heavenly places “far above all principality and power and might and dominion and every name that is named not only in this age but also in that which is to come” (Eph. 1.21).

And we are called to walk in Him there.

As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him, rooted and built up in Him, and established in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving (Col. 1.7).

Fellow Christian with the hinds’ feet of the Holy Spirit, though we live in an evil world of trouble and great darkness, it is our heritage to be living and walking in the high places of an entirely different world.  In Christ we have the opportunity—and the provision by the Holy Spirit—to walk no longer dependent on this world for our peace and wellbeing and happiness and security.  Those who walk in this world, when evil circumstance—trouble or affliction—comes upon them, their peace and wellbeing evaporates like the morning cloud in the heat of the sun.

I know this happens to you and me too at times.  But it need not.  There is another realm in which we can walk.  Those who have received Christ Jesus the Lord, we can walk in Him.  Regardless of present evil circumstance or affliction, JESUS CHRIST IS LORD, and so, rooted and built up in Him, and established in the faith, we can be living and walking in One who is seated upon the Throne of God in a kingdom and dominion that transcends and rules over all.

Let us consider this earnestly, and meditate upon it, and sow to it.  It is quite the thing that there are people on this troubled planet who are actually rooted and living in a different world.  They are not subject to the vagaries and transience of earthly things. There may be some deeply galling circumstance in our life, or deep affliction, something from which, like a prison, there seems no escape.  But right there we can be living in another realm.

Consider the apostle Paul when he was a prisoner (Phil. 1.13)… and not quite sure how things would go for him (2.23).  How long would he be in this prison?  Perhaps he might even be executed?  And yet he is filled to overflowing with joy.  Read his letter to the Philippians remembering he is in prison while he writes this.  Yet he is filled with joy, so much so that his joy just spills over to those he is writing to.  You have to read the whole letter in one sweep to get the feel of it, but here are two or three verses.

…Christ is preached, and therein do I rejoice, yea, and will rejoice (Phil. 1.18).

Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all.
For the same cause also do ye joy, and rejoice with me (Phil. 2.17,18).

Paul expects it could well be that his days here on earth are over, but he is filled with joy, and seeks to infect his friends and brethren with the same joy.  Like Habakkuk, he is rejoicing in the midst of the worst possible circumstances.

Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord (Phil. 3.1).

These are Habakkuk’s words, aren’t they.  And it appears Paul is about to sign off.  “Finally, my brethren…”  But the joy continues to well up, and now something else comes on his heart,  and it is not till he has given us one of the most precious chapters in the whole of the Bible (Philippians Ch. 3) that he picks up his benediction again:

Rejoice in the Lord alway, and again I say, rejoice (Ch. 4.4).

How can he be so full of joy considering his circumstances?  It’s simply because he is rooted in a heavenly Ground that transcends his present evil circumstance.  He knows that the Gospel of Christ in him is a power that rules over all; whatever comes it is not possible for him to be disappointed.

…According to my earnest expectation and my hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life or by death.
For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain (Ch. 1.20).

We find this same confidence in Paul’s second letter to Timothy written when he is again in prison.  This time he is chained like a common criminal—and this time he knows for certain his end is at hand.  (He was executed under the Roman emperor Nero, likely in 67 AD just after writing this letter.)

And note what we glean from this letter; it’s enough to sink anyone in despair.  All in the province of Asia where Paul has laboured so earnestly have now deserted him (2 Tim. 1.15).  That in itself is enough to take the heart out of anyone—to see their life’s work disintegrate before their very eyes.  The flock, it seems, has been cut off from the fold; Paul’s labour of the olive has failed… or so it seemed.  And it appears it’s a rare thing that anyone comes to visit lonely Paul in prison; he makes special mention of a certain Onesiphorus who came from Ephesus and searched hard to find him and came often and refreshed him, “and was not ashamed of my chain” (2 Tim. 1.16).

What is more, Paul tells Timothy that the first time he stood before Nero no one showed up to stand by him and defend him (2 Tim. 4.16).  My.  One would think the Lord Himself had abandoned Paul… until we continue reading.

Nevertheless the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me… and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion.
And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto His heavenly kingdom, to whom be glory forever and ever, Amen (2 Tim. 4.18).

And so we see in Paul an unshakable faith and confidence that springs from a source other than this present evil world.  Paul is rooted in another world, a heavenly world—actually in Christ Himself, who never ever forsakes him.  He is being built up in Him, for he is established, grounded, in the faith, abounding therein with thanksgiving.  His letter is filled with words of encouragement for Timothy, whom he knows to be somewhat timid of nature, and vulnerable to fear and anxiety.  Paul reminds him it is for the Gospel that he is suffering these things, and regardless of the present scene, he is confident in the triumph of the Gospel—to be revealed in a certain Day.  And so he rejoices in the Lord, in the God of his salvation.

For which cause I suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed to Him against that Day (2 Tim. 1.12).

Beloved Christian, there is a Day coming.  There is coming a Day.  But this does not mean that the Gospel is not triumphant even now in our present troubles—for the one who with hinds’ feet walks in Christ in the high places of a different world… while we confidently await the Day when that triumph will be openly manifested.

The Sea And The Waves Roaring

I don’t know if you are feeling the same way I am about things in the news these days. It seems to me things have “morphed” into a frightening ugliness.  My news source is the Google news page, and I don’t make a habit of going through it all.  A lot of it I dare not read; it’s unclean.  Much of it I can’t read; it’s too painful to read it.  So I skim the headlines.

The other day as I considered it all, these words came on my heart again and again.  “…The sea and the waves roaring… The sea and the waves roaring…” (Lk. 21.25).  That’s what Jesus prophesied things would be like just prior to the coming of the kingdom of God.

Upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring…

That’s a perfect description of the sea just now—the sea of nations, the sea of humanity.  There is so much distress, and perplexity, and unrest.

In fact I wonder if I don’t see a new beast rising up out of the sea, something along the lines of Daniel’s vision, “and behold, the four winds of the heaven strove upon the great sea.  And four beasts came up from the sea…” (Dan. 7.3).  John the Revelator saw something similar—a beast having seven heads and ten horns rising out of the sea.

Now, I’m not trying to invent a new eschatology of what that is all about, and I’m not saying I’ve had a divine revelation; it’s just a feeling I have; I’m just surmising.

What I’m thinking of is the “waves” of influence that have arisen as masses of ordinary people in various nations have gathered together—multitudes in the streets banding together in a common cause.  They just came up “out of the sea.”  They discovered that massed together, rising up together, they had power.  Is this a new political force in the earth– a new beast rising out ot the sea?

Some of these waves have been extremely violent.  Add to that the frightening riots in our so-called orderly democratic societies.  Anarchy right before our eyes.

Now add in this– the influence of social media these days.  The little people who had no voice now have a megaphone that has turned their puny voice into a shout that gets political attention.

Whereunto shall all this grow?  Truly the waves of the sea are becoming very restless.  Very boisterous.  I believe they are going to grow even more boisterous.

A storm is gathering strength.

I take courage in knowing this—the One who stilled the waves on Galilee will in His timing speak again and still the waves of this great sea.

Thou rulest the raging of the sea: when the waves thereof arise, Thou stillest them.  (Ps. 89.9).

What I mean is… consider this verse in the light of the one just before it.

O LORD God of hosts, who is a strong LORD like unto Thee? Or to Thy faithfulness round about thee?
Thou rulest the raging of the sea: when the waves thereof arise Thou stillest them.

Thou rulest the raging of the sea.  Who is that?  The LORD God of hosts.

Fast forward to a stormy night on Galilee centuries after this psalm was written.  Who was it that stilled the raging waves of the sea that stormy night on Galilee?  It was a Man whom to see was to see the LORD God of hosts, a Man who did only what He saw His Father the LORD God of hosts doing.  The things this Man did, it was God the Father who dwelt in Him who did the works (Jn. 14.10).

And so it was the LORD God of hosts who calmed the sea of Galilee that night, fulfilling an ancient prophecy of the psalms.

I believe we shall yet see an even greater fulfillment of that prophecy.  I anticipate that this same One shall speak again and still the raging waves of the restless sea of humanity.  How shall He do so?  Through that same Man again—and those who are in union with Him because of the Holy Spirit dwelling in them.

That will indeed be a very powerful word going forth from the mouth of the Lord—in the body of Christ.

High sounding words?  Do you think it’s even possible for this kind of word to go forth from the body of Christ?  I do—when it is Christ Himself speaking.

Which means you and I must seek very earnestly to abide in Christ and hear His Voice and speak what He is speaking.  Be sure that it’s only those who are abiding in Christ— only those who are walking in the yoke and lowliness of Christ, who are going to be entrusted with this kind of word and authority.

But it’s the only answer for this increasingly lawless and violent and godless world.  We are already seeing anarchy in many places.  So far men have always felt they could solve their problems and bring things under control.  I believe God is going to convince man that this is no longer true.  The problems are becoming too great, too complex.  Things are spinning out of control.

The sea is getting very stormy indeed.

It frightens me… and I’m glad to read the disciples of old were scared too that night on Galilee.  They were sure they were about to perish.  I can identify.

…But didn’t they know who was with them in their little ark?  And don’t I know too?

Jesus—He was asleep on a pillow through it all—awoke to their cries.

And He arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still.  And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. (Mk. 4.39).

Notice that.  “He rebuked the wind…”  That’s where the real problem is—those “four winds of the heavens” that are always stirring up the great sea.  These are the real instigators behind all the turmoil—evil principalities and powers in the heavenly realm.

“…And He said unto the sea, Peace, be still.”  He rebukes the wind and speaks to the sea—to the peoples in turmoil and unrest.

And there was a great calm.

The disciples were overawed at this.

And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, what manner of man is this, that even the wind and the waves obey Him?

They weren’t even sure He was a man, as the original Greek implies.

Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?

Who?  What manner of Man?  A Man who is one with God.

Likewise shall many be overawed when this same Man speaks peace and brings order out of chaos again.

This Ark Can Go Through Fire

We’ve been talking about the great flood of Noah’s day and the ark he built, and how that is a figure of the atonement of Christ on Calvary.  We saw that Peter likened the flood to a great baptism, and the ark to God’s salvation in that baptism.  Peter said that the Christian’s baptism in water is “a like figure” (1 Pt. 4.21).  Water baptism is itself a figure that cannot accomplish what the real baptism can—the cleansing of the conscience.

This does not mean we should not be baptized in water, as some have taught (the early Quakers and the Salvation Army, for instance).  The early Quakers taught that as a mere outward ordinance water baptism wasn’t necessary.  I can understand their stand on this; the church of their day had become totally seized up with the formalism of outward ordinances.  But Paul, after that experience on the Damascus Road, was baptized in water.  And in other places in The Acts we find that the apostles who baptized people in the Holy Spirit also baptized them in water.  And so we do this also. It’s a step of obedience that shows our commitment to submit to the true baptism—baptism into Christ—all our days.

And we are yet going to discover that baptism into Christ, the baptism of the cross, the baptism of the Holy Spirit and fire—all this along with water baptism is really only “one baptism”—is going to make us invulnerable to the fires of the Day of the Lord.  This is our “ark.”

Peter has much to say about Noah and the flood as something that foreshadows the present dispensation and what is before us now—the fires of the Day of the Lord.  And he says that in the last days there would be scoffers walking after their own lusts and saying:

Where is the promise of His coming?  For since the fathers fell asleep all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation (2 Pt. 3.4).

George Warnock points out in one of his writings (Chain Reaction in Realms of the Spirit) that we are well past that time now.  Men are no longer saying that all things continue the same.  How could they?  Things have accelerated dramatically the last few decades.  What with the AIDS epidemic, and 9/11, and devastating earthquakes and tsunamis, and peace and order disintegrating on every hand… no one says any more that things continue the same.  More and more the words of the scoffers are hollow in their mouths when they ridicule the words of the Lord.

Peter reminds them (and us) that it was the word of the Lord that sustained the old world (the world before the flood, 2 Pt. 3.5).  It was the word of the Lord that had created the heavens of old, and the earth.  It was the word of the Lord that on the third day had caused the dry land to appear out of the water (Gen. 1.9).  Even during the time when the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah while the ark was being prepared, the word of the Lord continued to sustain that world.

But then the day… and the hour… and the minute came… and by the same word of the Lord the windows of heaven were opened and all the fountains of the great deep were broken up, and the world was deluged with water, and perished (2 Pt. 3.6).

It is only the word of God that continues to sustain our present world (Heb. 1.3, 11.3).  Only the word of the Lord.  Not yet, He says.  Not yet.  Not yet.  The longsuffering God who waited in the days of Noah is waiting again in our day.  He is longsuffering toward us not willing that any should perish but that all come to repentance (2 Pt. 3.9).  And so we account that His longsuffering is with a view to salvation (2 Pt. 3.15).  It’s not because He is slack on the job and doesn’t care about this sin-torn world.  He hates iniquity far deeper than we.  But the work of the Holy Spirit in God’s people is not finished yet.  The Ark is not quite ready yet.

But when it is finally ready?  He will speak.  There will be fire.

But the heavens and the earth which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition (destruction) of ungodly men” (2 Pt. 3.7).

What the ark was in prophetic type back in the days of Noah it is in reality now.  Back then those in the ark became the beginnings of a new creation.  All else was destroyed.  Noah was the “eighth person” (2 Pt. 2.5).  “Eight souls were saved by water” (1 Pt. 3.20).  Eight in Scripture is the number that signifies a new beginning.  It is the same now.  God has a new beginning in mind—a new creation.  Its beginnings are already in the Ark.  For “if any man be in Christ he is a new creature…” (2 Cor. 5.17).

And only what is in the Ark Christ Jesus is going to survive the fires of the day of the Lord.

All else will not make it through.  “The earth and all the works that are therein shall be burned up” (2 Pt. 3.10).  Wickedness shall not rise up the second time.  We will all be glad.  For out of it will come a new creation, a new heaven and a new earth in which dwelleth righteousness—that is, in which righteousness is not an unwelcome unwanted stranger, but is at home (2 Pt. 3.13).

I long for that Day.  Surely we understand that this is not about some kind of vengeful God wreaking wrath on innocent victims.  It’s about a God of love who is pained more deeply than we can comprehend with the evil that has engulfed His world.  That’s what motivated Him back in Noah’s day.  He hated the iniquity.  He hated the violence.  He put a stop to it.

What He has in mind as a result of the fires of the day of the Lord is a world in which righteousness is at home.  He is a God who loves righteousness, and hates iniquity.  Do you and I also love righteousness and hate iniquity?  Are we like Him ourselves?  Just as Noah built the ark and in doing so condemned the world, we can hasten the coming of the Day of Fire by our own “ark building”—our holy and godly lives—as we mentioned last time.

Therefore, since all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness,
Looking for and hastening the coming of the Day of God… (2 Pt. 3.11, 12, NKJV).

We can hasten that day!

And we can be found in Christ in that day—in the Ark, that is, when everything around us is going up in smoke.

Wherefore, beloved, seeing ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of Him in peace, without spot, and blameless (2 Pt. 3.14).

There is only one Place in this universe where anyone can be found of Him in peace, without spot, and blameless.  That is in Christ.  In the Ark.

Beloved, there are many who mock these Bible stories, and scoff at them– at the word of the Lord.  Let us see to it that we ourselves are not mockers and scoffers.  Let us take these things seriously.  Let us get out of Sodom.  Let us get into the Ark.  I remember as a young man how I myself used to heap scorn upon such fairy tales, and the naive people who believed them.  But I remember the night I was converted.  It still stands out in my memory how I suddenly saw that the story of Noah and the ark was actually true.  It was not a fairy tale.  It was true!  It actually happened!  What a change had taken place in this I-know-better mind of mine!

And so I say… let us take God seriously, just as Noah did, who being “warned of God of things not seen as yet,” by faith built that ark and entered it.  Let us give diligence to do the same.  God means business.  Judgment is at the door.  This has been so impressed upon my spirit of late.  How little we understand God—that He is a God who exercises not only lovingkindness, but also “justice and righteousness in the earth” (Jer. 9.24).  How terribly people have presumed upon His goodness and lovingkindness and longsuffering and patience and grace.  But when His hour comes He is going to show His undiluted hatred for unrighteousness and iniquity.  It has caused Him such deep pain to see what iniquity has caused in His earth.

He is going to deal with it all.  The Day of Fire is dawning.  And just as the ark was the only way through “the stormy waters,” the Cross of Calvary is the only way through the fire—the fires of judgment of the Great Day of the Lord.  It is the mystery of the Cross.  What to some is certain destruction becomes for others their salvation—because of the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Jesus Prays For Thee

Does it not fill you with awe, and humble you—to realize that the Lord Jesus Christ prays for you?

He prays for you.  And prays for me.

I know how you feel—this seems backward; isn’t it you and I who do the praying to Him?

But remember, Jesus told Peter He had prayed for him, that his faith fail not.  We are not told just when this happened, but it appears Jesus often prayed for His disciples while He was here on earth.  I think of the time when His disciples were struggling to cross the sea of Galilee against contrary winds in the darkness of night.  Jesus, we are told, had had gone “into a mountain apart to pray” (Mt. 14.23).  No doubt it was His disciples He was praying for.  “He saw them toiling in rowing” (Mk. 6.48).  That’s pretty good vision Jesus had, isn’t it, to be able to see His disciples in the darkness of the night across the stormy waters.  And in the fourth watch of the night He came to them “walking on the sea” (Mt. 14.25).

He still has the same good sight.  He sees us even now in our toils and struggles.  Even now He continues praying for us from the heavenly Mountain He has ascended into.  He makes intercession for us, as He did those disciples of old.   He tells us as much in John 17, which is the record of a prayer Jesus prayed during the Last Supper, praying as though He were already ascended to the right hand of His Father in Heaven.

I pray for them (Jn. 17.9).

He is speaking of His disciples back then.  But He adds:

Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on Me through their word… (Jn. 17.20).

And the writer of Hebrews tells us:

Wherefore He is able to save to the uttermost them that come unto God by Him seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them (Heb. 7.25).

And in Romans we read:

Who is he that condemneth?  (Since) it is Christ that died, yea rather, is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us (Rom. 8.34).

And so it’s very encouraging—that the main ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ at the right hand of the throne of the Father in Heaven is as our great and powerful Intercessor.

It could be said that there are two main ministries in this universe.  One is the ministry of the Accuser of the brethren.  The other is the ministry of the Intercessor of the brethren.

Beloved, one of these two ministries we want no part of—either on the giving or the receiving end.  But when we do find ourselves on the receiving end of the Accuser of the brethren, oh, how wonderful to know that we have One who ever liveth to make intercession for us.

It’s very encouraging the way Paul brings in the fact that Christ’s intercession for us is as One who is seated at the right hand of God—the place of the greatest power in the universe.  In other words, He is not making intercession for us as One who pleads with great love and desire, but has no power.  He intercedes as One whose intercession is filled with the power of the Throne of God, and is therefore effectual.

It is a wonderful thing to know that Our Lord Jesus Christ at the right hand of power is there as our great high priest and intercessor.  He is my great High Priest—who laid down His life for me on the Altar of the Cross of Calvary.  But my great High Priest is also the great King.  He is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.  He has all power in Heaven and earth.  He is able to “save to the uttermost them that come unto God by Him.”  How so?  His intercession on our behalf—on your behalf, and mine—has the power of the throne of God in it.

Now… maybe you already see where this truth is going to take us… which I will get into next time.

…But wait a minute.  How can I resist closing here with the wonderful words of one of my favourite hymns?  I’m singing it right now as I listen to it on Cyberhymnal.

http://www.hymntime.com/tch/htm/a/r/i/arisemys.htm

And I’m rejoicing!  How can we not rejoice, brother, sister, to have so great a Salvation, and so loving a Saviour and Intercessor before the Throne of Grace!  Let us rejoice!

Here is the hymn, one of Charles Wesley’s finest:

Arise, my soul, arise,
Shake off thy guilty fears;
The bleeding sacrifice
In my behalf appears;
Before the throne my Surety stands,
Before the throne my Surety stands,
My name is written on His hands.

He ever lives above,
For me to intercede;
His all redeeming love,
His precious blood, to plead;
His blood atoned for all our race,
His blood atoned for all our race,
And sprinkles now the throne of grace.

Five bleeding wounds He bears;
Received on Calvary;
They pour effectual prayers;
they strongly plead for me:
“Forgive him, O forgive,” they cry,
“Forgive him, O forgive,” they cry,
“Nor let that ransomed sinner die!”

The Father hears Him pray,
His dear anointed One;
He cannot turn away
the presence of His Son;
The Spirit answers to the blood,
The Spirit answers to the blood
And tells me I am born of God.

My God is reconciled;
His pardoning voice I hear;
He owns me for His child;
I can no longer fear.
With confidence I now draw nigh,
With confidence I now draw nigh,
And “Father, Abba, Father,” cry.