The first mention of Christ as STONE is in Genesis, in Jacob’s parting blessing to Joseph, where Moses records that Joseph’s “bow remained firm, and his arms were agile, (How? It was) from the hands of the Mighty One of Jacob. From there is the Shepherd, the Stone of Israel.” (Ge 49:24-note) Notice how aged Jacob “piles up” three great names of God which attest to the strength of the MIGHTY ONE, the sustenance of the SHEPHERD (Jacob’s “Shepherd all his life” Ge 48:15) and the STONE Who gives “grace to help in time of need” (Heb 4:16-note). In Ge 35:9-15 God’s presence and promise of help prompted Jacob to set up a STONE of remembrance, a practice all saints would do well to emulate after experiencing the good hand of the Lord on their life!
STONE OF HELP
In Genesis 49:24 the Hebrew word for STONE is EBEN, which reminds us of the STONE’S help to Israel in His defeat of the Philistines, prompting Samuel to take “a stone (eben) and set it between Mizpah and Shen, and name it EBEN-EZER (STONE OF HELP [ezer = help]), saying, “HITHERTO (up to this time) hath the LORD HELPED (ezer) us.” (1Sa 7:12KJV) The name “Eben-Ezer” recalls the line in the well known hymn “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” in which we sing “Here I raise my EBENEZER,” my Stone of Help. Indeed, His Name is Jesus, the Stone of Israel. Dear saint, can you sing “HITHERTO” regarding your Stone’s help? May the Spirit bring to our minds past times of great deliverance by our Stone of Help, so that we might each raise a memorial to the enduring faithfulness and mercy of our covenant-keeping God, our Stone of Help, Christ Jesus. Amen
(UP TO THIS TIME)
Spurgeon adds that “HITHERTO is like a hand pointing in the direction of the past. Twenty years or seventy, and yet, “hitherto the Lord hath helped!” Through poverty, through wealth, through sickness, through health, at home, abroad, on the land, on the sea, in honor, in dishonor, in perplexity, in joy, in trial, in triumph, in prayer, in temptation, “HITHERTO hath the Lord helped us!” We delight to look down a long avenue of trees. It is delightful to gaze from end to end of the long vista, a sort of verdant temple, with its branching pillars and its arches of leaves. Even so look down the long aisles of your years, at the green boughs of mercy overhead, and the strong pillars of lovingkindness and faithfulness which bear up your joys. Are there no birds in yonder branches singing? Surely there must be many, and they all sing of mercy received “HITHERTO.” But the word also points forward, for when a man gets up to a certain mark and writes “HITHERTO,” he is not yet at the end. There is still a distance to be traversed. More trials, more joys; more temptations, more triumphs; more prayers, more answers; more toils, more strength; more fights, more victories; and then come sickness, old age, disease, death. Is it over now? No! there is more yet-awakening in Jesus’ likeness, thrones, harps, songs, psalms, white raiment, the face of Jesus, the society of saints, the glory of God, the fulness of eternity, the infinity of bliss. O be of good courage, believer, and with grateful confidence raise thy “Ebenezer,” for—He who hath helped thee hitherto, Will help thee all thy journey through.” When read in heaven’s light how glorious and marvelous a prospect will thy “HITHERTO” unfold to thy grateful eye!”
Peter (petros = stone) uses the metaphor of stone in his first letter, addressing believers as those who are “coming to Him (Christ) as to a LIVING STONE, rejected by men, but choice and precious in the sight of God.” (1Peter 2:4-note). Christ, the Living Stone, has “been raised from the dead, never to die again.” (Ro 6:9-note) and so unlike dead stones, He is forever the Source of “LIVING hope” to those who are born again “through the LIVING and abiding Word of God” by which they themselves become “LIVING STONES, who are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” (1Pe 1:3-note, 1Pe 1:23-note, 1Pe 2:5-note). Spurgeon writes that we should “be always coming to Christ as to a Living Stone–we have come to Him (for salvation), and we are coming to Him and we keep on coming to Him, sinking down, settling in, resting on our Living Stone, always pressing closely upon Christ.” In short, drawing near to Christ is not only drawing near for salvation, but drawing near in intimate, abiding, personal fellowship and communion with Christ. Beloved, are you coming to Him day by day, moment by moment, depending solely on your Stone’s strength, reliability, and stability?
A CHOICE STONE
A CORNER STONE
Peter then quotes Isaiah 28:16-note writing “Behold, I lay in Zion a choice STONE, a precious CORNER STONE and he who believes in Him shall never (in Greek this is a double negative!) be PUT TO SHAME.” (1Peter 2:6-note) As Spurgeon writes “Christians will be tested by the flesh. Natural desires will break into vehement lusts and SHAME will seek to throw us down. Will believers then perish? No! There will be losses and crosses, business trials and domestic bereavements. What then? We will not be PUT TO SHAME; our Lord will sustain us under every trial. At last death will come. People will wipe the cold sweat from our brows. We will gasp for breath, but we will not be PUT TO SHAME. We may not be able to shout “Victory,” and we may be too weak to sing triumphant hymns, but with our last breath we will whisper the Precious Name of our Living Stone. They that watch will know by our peace that a Christian does not die but only melts into everlasting life. Beloved, we will never be put to shame, even amid the grandeur of eternity” because we have a CHOICE STONE, A PRECIOUS CORNER STONE!
Finally, in 1Peter 2:7-8-note,, Peter quotes from Psalms and Isaiah writing that “This precious value, then, is for you who believe; but for those who disbelieve, “The STONE which the builders rejected (means they put Him to the test and completely rejected Him as unfit, unqualified, unapproved!), this became the very CORNER STONE” (quoting Ps 118:22-note) and “a STONE of stumbling and Rock of offense (Gk = skandalon literally is that part of a trap on which the bait was laid, when touched caused the trap to close on its prey – see Michael Card’s song below). “They stumble because they disobey the Word and to doom they were appointed.” (quoting Isa 8:14-note) Jesus’ commentary on this passage is “he who falls on this STONE will be broken to pieces, but on whomever it falls, it will scatter him like dust.” (Read Mt 21:42-45) The paradoxical picture is that the perfect Lamb of God, the Creator of the Universe, was rejected by His creation, men who had carefully evaluated the perfect God Man and found Him not “passing their test”! What a striking contrast with the scene John witnessed in heaven “And I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne and the living creatures and the elders; and the number of them was myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing.” (Rev 5:11-12-note)! And all God’s people cry “Amen!”
There is a famous Jewish legend which describes the building of the first Temple. Each stone was shaped at a distant quarry and marked to fit perfectly into place at the temple building site. However one huge stone didn’t seem to fit anywhere, and the builders placed it to the side. After the foundation had been laid, the time came to hoist the corner stone into place. Word was sent to the quarry, but the masons replied that the corner stone had already been delivered. It was the very stone they had rejected! When it was retrieved, it slid perfectly into place, serving to hold all the other stones in their proper position! Spurgeon comments “And so it was with Christ Jesus, the Living Stone. The builders cast Him away. He was a plebeian (commoner). He was of poor extraction. He was a Man acquainted with sinners, Who walked in poverty and meanness; hence the worldly-wise despised Him (Isa 53:3). But when God shall gather together, in one, all things that are in heaven and that are in earth, then Christ shall be the glorious consummation of all things.” (Eph 1:10KJV-note)
In Daniel 2 we read of a great “STONE cut out without hands” which struck the statute representing the Gentile kingdoms, crushing them into oblivion. (Da 2:34-note) Then “the STONE that struck the statue became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.” (Da 2:35-note) Most commentators agree the STONE is Christ, Who will return as the victorious King of kings and Lord of lords (Rev 19:16-note) and establish His everlasting kingdom which will fill the whole earth (Da 2:34, 44-note).
And so from Genesis to Revelation, we see Christ is portrayed as the Saving Stone, the Slighted Stone, the Stumbling Stone, the Smiting Stone, and the soon coming Sovereign Stone. Maranatha (Our Lord, Come!). Hosanna (Save now, we pray). Amen
Here is Fernando Ortega’s beautiful version of Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing-notice that he replaces the original words “Hitherto, I raise my Ebenezer” with “Hitherto, Thy love has blessed me.”
Here is Michael Card’s powerful portrayal of Jesus as “Scandalon“
The seers & the prophets had foretold it long ago
That the long awaited One would make men stumble
But they were looking for a king to conquer & to kill
Who’d have ever thought He’d be so meek & humble.
He will be the Truth that will offend them one & all
A STONE that makes men stumble
A ROCK that makes them fall.
Many will be broken so that He can make them whole
And many will be crushed & lose their own soul.
Along the path of life there lies a stubborn Scandalon
And all who come this way must be offended.
To some He is a barrier, To others He’s the Way
For all should know the scandal of believing.
It seems today the Scandalon offends no one at all
The image we present can be stepped over.
Could it be that we are like the others long ago.
JESUS NAME ABOVE ALL NAMES: THERE IS SOMETHING ABOUT THAT NAME: “His NAME (is) JESUS, for it is He Who will save His people from their sins.” (Mt 1:21) “There is salvation in no one else; for there is no other NAME under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) “God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the NAME which is above every name that at the NAME of Jesus EVERY KNEE SHOULD BOW, of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Php 2:9-11) “These things have been written that you may BELIEVE that JESUS is the Christ (Messiah), the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His NAME.” (Jn 20:31) “Whoever BELIEVES in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (Jn 3:16) “He who BELIEVES in Him is not judged.” (Jn 3:18) “BELIEVE in the NAME of His Son Jesus Christ.” (1Jn 3:23) “As many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who BELIEVE in His NAME.” (Jn 1:12) “Everyone who BELIEVES in Him receives forgiveness of sins.” (Acts 10:43) “He who BELIEVES in Him Who justifies the ungodly, his faith is reckoned as righteousness.” (Ro 4:5) “He who BELIEVES in Him will not be disappointed (or be ashamed).” (Ro 9:33, Ro 10:11, 1Pe 2:6) “Do you BELIEVE in the Son of Man?” (Jn 9:35) “BELIEVE in the Lord Jesus, and you shall be saved, you and your household.” (Acts 16:31) “These things I have written to you who BELIEVE in the NAME of the Son of God, in order that you may know that you have eternal life.” (1Jn 5:13)
Jesus asked “Who do PEOPLE say that the Son of Man is?” (Mt 16:13)
An anonymous author penned this response…
To the artist, He is the One altogether lovely—Song of Solomon 5:15
To the architect, He is the Chief Cornerstone—1 Peter 2:6
To the astronomer, He is the Sun of Righteousness—Malachi 4:2
To the baker, He is the Bread of life—John 6:35
To the banker, He is the Hidden Treasure—Matthew 13:44
To the builder, He is the Sure Foundation—Isaiah 28:16
To the carpenter, He is the Door—John 10:7
To the doctor, He is the Great Physician—Jeremiah 8:22
To the educator, He is the Great Teacher—John 3:2
To the electrician, He is the Light of the world—John 8:12**
To the engineer, He is the New and Living way—Hebrews 10:20
To the farmer, He is the Sower and Lord of harvest—Luke 10:2
To the florist, He is the Rose of Sharon—Song of Solomon 2:1
To the geologist, He is the Rock of Ages—1 Corinthians 10:4
To the horticulturist, He is the True Vine—John 15:1
To the judge, He is the only righteous Judge of man—2 Timothy 4:8
To the juror, He is the Faithful and True Witness—Revelation 3:14
To the jeweler, He is the Pearl of great price—Matthew 13:46
To the lawyer, He is Counselor, Lawgiver, and True Advocate—Isaiah 9:6
To the newspaper man, He is Good News of great joy—Luke 2:10
To the oculist, He is the Light of the eyes—Proverbs 29:13
To the philanthropist, He is the unspeakable Gift—2 Corinthians 9:15
To the philosopher, He is the Wisdom of God—1 Corinthians 1:24
To the preacher, He is the Word of God—Revelation 19:13
To the priest, He is foreshadowed in the Tabernacle—Exodus 25:8**
To the sculptor, He is the Living Stone—1 Peter 2:4
To the servant, He is the Good Master—Matthew 23:8–10
To the statesman, He is the Desire of all nations—Haggai 2:7
To the student, He is the Incarnate Truth—1 John 5:6
To the theologian, He is the Author and Finisher of our faith—Hebrews 12:2
To the toiler, He is the Giver of rest—Matthew 11:28
To the sinner, He is the Lamb of God who takes the sin away—John 1:29
To the Christian, He is the Son of the Living God, the Savior, the Redeemer, and the Loving Lord.”
**Additions to the original list
To those who belong to Jesus, He asks “But Who do YOU say that I am?” (Mt 16:15)
FROM SCRIPTURE WE ANSWER…
TO THE SAINT…
…who is doubting, He is the Amen, the Faithful (Trustworthy) and True Witness-Rev 3:14, Rev 19:11
…who is weak, insulted or persecuted for His sake, He is their Power and Strength-2Cor 12:9-10
…who is fragile, He is our Sustainer on Whose everlasting arms we can lean-Ps 3:5, Dt 33:27
…who is straying, He is the Shepherd and Guardian of the soul-1Pe 2:25
…who is experiencing conflict or strife, He is the Prince of peace-Isaiah 9:6
…who is nursing an unforgiving spirit, He is the Forgiver Who has forgiven us-Lk 5:24, Col 3:13, Eph 4:32
…who is in great need, He is the ever ready Helper-Ps 30:10, Ps 54:4
…who is experiencing a dark night in their soul, He is Light in the darkness and the Bright, Morning Star-Jn 12:46, Rev 22:16
…who is experiencing trouble and affliction, He is the safe Hiding Place-Ps 32:7
…who is fearful and feeling attacked, He is the Surrounding Shield-Ps 3:3NIV, Ge 15:1
…who is being tempted, He is the sympathetic High Priest always able to come to our aid when we cry out-Heb 4:15, Heb 2:18
…who has failed, He is the Restorer of the years that the locusts have eaten-Joel 2:25
…who is lonely, He is the Friend Who loves at all times-Jn 15:14, Pr 17:17
…whose soul is in despair, He is their Hope and their Help-Ps 42:5, Ps 71:5
…who is suffering from a wounded spirit, He is the healing Balm of Gilead-Jer 8:22
…who feels tossed to and fro, He is the sure and steadfast Anchor of the soul-Heb 6:19
…whose heart is troubled and fearful, He is their Peace.-Jn 14:27
…who is engaged in spiritual battle, He is the Full Armor of God-Eph 6:11, Ro 13:14
…who feels defenseless against their adversaries, He is the Shepherd Who protects with His rod & staff-Ps 23:4
…whose prayers seem feeble, He is their Constant Intercessor-Ro 8:34, Heb 7:25
…who is burdened by sin, He is the Advocate Who comes alongside to plead our case before His Father-1Jn 2:1
…who is ensnared by sin, He is the Bondage Breaker able to set the captive free-Jn 8:36, Lk 4:18
…who is afraid, He is the Helper Who will never desert or forsake His own-Heb 13:5-6
…who is fearful and feels like they’re drowning, He is the One with an Outstretched Hand-Mt 14:25-31
…who has been wronged, He is the Avenger Who will repay every injustice-Ro 12:17
…who is caught in the midst of a storm, He is the Rock in Whose cleft they can take Refuge-Ps 18:2
…who is distraught by the rising tide of evil, He is the Soon Coming, all Conquering King of kings—Rev 3:11NIV, Rev 19:16
…who has fallen into the miry clay, He is the Stabilizer of their footsteps & Restorer of their joy-Ps 40:2,Ps 51:12
…who fears death, He is the sure Guide until death and thereafter into glory-Ps 48:14, Ps 73:24
…who is unsure of their eternal destiny, He is their unchangeable Rock of Ages & their Eternal Salvation-Is 26:4, Heb 5:9
…who is in diverse dire straits, He is the great I Am…”I Am anything and everything you will ever need!”-Ex 3:14, Jn 8:58
INDEED, JESUS IS OUR ALL IN ALL!
Play the great worship song:
You Are My All in All
“To this end we pray that our God may count us worthy of our calling, and fulfill every desire for goodness and the work of faith with power in order that the NAME OF OUR LORD JESUS may be glorified in us, and us in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Amen (2Th 1:11-12)
IN LIGHT OF THESE GREAT TRUTHS ABOUT THE NAME OF JESUS, MAY OUR PRAYER EVER BE “FATHER”…GIVE ME JESUS (play this great old spiritual by Fernando Ortega)
GIVE ME JESUS (click to play song)
In the morning when rise x3
Give me Jesus
Give me Jesus
Give me Jesus
You can have all this world
And when I am alone x3
Give me Jesus
Give me Jesus
Give me Jesus
You can have all this world
And when I come to die x3
Give me Jesus
Give me Jesus
Give me Jesus
You can have all this world
BELOW ARE THE LYRICS OF AN OLDER SONG YOU MAY NEVER HAVE HEARD. SET ASIDE 7 MINUTES TO LISTEN – I PRAY THERE WILL BE TEARS IN YOUR EYES AND A FULLNESS IN YOUR HEART STIRRED WITH PASSION TO WORSHIP JESUS…
BECAUSE “HE IS…!”
Aaron & Jeoffrey’s song “HE IS…” (titles of Jesus book by book)
In Genesis, He’s the Breath of life
In Exodus, the Passover Lamb
In Leviticus, He’s our High Priest
Numbers, The Fire by night
Deuteronomy, He’s Moses’ voice
In Joshua, He is Salvation’s Choice
Judges, Law Giver
In Ruth, the Kinsmen-Redeemer
First and Second Samuel, our Trusted Prophet
In Kings and Chronicles, He’s Sovereign
Ezra, True and Faithful Scribe
Nehemiah, He’s the Rebuilder of broken walls and lives
In Esther, He’s Mordecai’s Courage
In Job, the timeless Redeemer
In Psalms, He is our Morning Song
In Proverbs, Wisdom’s Cry
Ecclesiastes, the Time and Season
In the Song of Solomon, He is the Lover’s Dream
He is, He is, HE IS!
In Isaiah, He’s Prince of Peace
Jeremiah, the Weeping Prophet
In Lamentations, the Cry for Israel
Ezekiel, He’s the call from sin
In Daniel, the Stranger in the fire
In Hosea, He is Forever Faithful
In Joel, He’s the Spirits power
In Amos, the Arms that carry us
In Obadiah, He’s the Lord our Savior
In Jonah, He’s the Great Missionary
In Micah, the Promise of Peace
In Nahum, He is our Strength and our Shield
In Habakkuk and Zephaniah, He’s pleading for revival
In Haggai, He Restores a lost heritage
In Zechariah, our Fountain
In Malachi, He is the Sun of righteousness rising with healing in His wings
He is, He is, HE IS!
In Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, He is God, Man, Messiah
In the book of Acts, He is Fire from heaven
In Romans, He’s the Grace of God
In Corinthians, the Power of love
In Galatians, He is Freedom from the curse of sin
Ephesians, our Glorious Treasure
Philippians, the Servants heart
In Colossians, He’s the Godhead Trinity
Thessalonians, our Coming King
In Timothy, Titus, Philemon He’s our Mediator and our Faithful Pastor
In Hebrews, the Everlasting Covenant
In James, the One Who heals the sick.
In First and Second Peter, He is our Shepherd
In John and in Jude, He is the Lover coming for His bride
In the Revelation, He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords
He is, He is, HE IS!
The Prince of Peace
The Son of Man
The Lamb of God
The Great I AM
He’s the Alpha and Omega
Our God and our Savior
He is Jesus Christ the Lord
and when time is no more
He is, HE IS!
AMEN AND AMEN!
PLAY THIS MARANATHA CHORUS:
JESUS NAME ABOVE ALL NAMES
CHRIST OUR ROCK OF REFUGE (part 2): This post is a continuation of the study of Christ our Rock of Refuge. Looking at the Names of Jesus is like looking through a kaleidoscope, for with every twist of the tube, the bits of colored glass change position, each twist revealing a beautiful new pattern. In a similar way, studying Jesus’ Names such as Rock (1Cor 10:4-note) is like looking through a “divine kaleidoscope”, wherein we behold His matchless beauty “new every morning,” (Lam 3:22-note), as each day the Spirit illumines some new shade of glory of the Glorious One (Ps 72:19-note), the One Whose “Name (is) Wonderful.” (Isa 9:6KJV-note). “How precious is Your lovingkindness (Your steadfast love), O God! The children of men take REFUGE in the shadow of Your wings.” (Ps 36:7-note) Indeed, “Let all who TAKE REFUGE in Thee rejoice. Let them ever sing for joy. Shelter them, so that those who love Thy NAME may exult in Thee.” (Ps 5:11-note) In light of the truth that Christ is our “place of REFUGE from the stormy wind and tempest” (Ps 55:8-note), prayerfully ponder Isaac Watts’ wonderful words…
Our God, our Help in ages past,
Our Hope for years to come,
Our SHELTER from the stormy blast,
And our eternal Home.
And so we pray…
Our God, our Help in ages past,
Our Hope for years to come,
Be Thou our GUARD while life shall last,
And our eternal Home
CHRIST OUR ROCK OF REFUGE IN THE STORMS OF LIFE: Have you seen the dramatic picture of the lighthouse off the Brittany Coast? The photo was taken during a fierce Atlantic storm which sent huge waves pounding against the mammoth rock structure, seemingly swallowing it up. And yet on the sheltered side, surrounded by the frothing waves, stands the lighthouse keeper, serenely staring at the shore while the enormous waves crash all around! (Click for enlarged picture) In the same way, Jesus is our “Refuge FROM the storm” (Isa 25:4-note), yea, even our Refuge DURING the “storms” of physical affliction, emotional turmoil or spiritual attack. In Christ our Rock of Refuge we can endure any trial with the calm assurance that the Rock of Ages Who shields us cannot be moved. When we rest by faith in this truth, we experience the peace of God which surpasses all human understanding (Php 4:7-note) even when surrounded by the cacophony of “crashing” circumstances. As someone has well said Jesus may calm the storm around us, but more often (and even better!) His Spirit will calm the storm within us. Praise the Lord, that even when all around us seems to be like shifting sand, we are always safe when we run into the Rock of our Refuge, Christ Jesus, the One Who “holds all creation together” (Col 1:17NLT-note) and “sustains everything by the mighty power of His command.” (Heb 1:3NLT-note)!
CHRIST OUR UNSHAKEABLE ROCK OF REFUGE: The story is told of an ocean liner that sank off the southwest coast of England, taking the lives of many of the passengers. A 16 yo galley worker was tossed onto the rugged coast line and survived by clinging to a large rock throughout the long, cold night. When rescued, he was asked “Didn’t you shake during the night while you were clinging to the rock?” The boy replied “Yes, I shook, but the rock never shook once!” The hymn-writer affirms that “Often on the Rock I tremble—faint of heart, and weak of knee; But the mighty Rock of Ages never trembles under me.” Let us pray as did David “Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy, for IN YOU my soul takes REFUGE (“my soul trusteth in Thee” – Spurgeon says this is “the feather on the arrow of prayer that guides straight to the heart of God.”) and in the shadow of Your wings (just as the little chick hides beneath its mother’s wing and knows no fear) I will take REFUGE, until this violent storm is past (afflictions and calamities, like storms come and go).” (Ps 57:1-note). Indeed, Spurgeon reminds us that “calamities will pass over, and that the worst calamity will not last forever. We shall think differently of these rough times by-and-by; we ought not to give up in despair and cast away our confidence while we are in the thick of the fight.” While we will not always experience “fair weather” in this life, neither will it always be foul! In fair or foul, Father, by Thy Spirit enable us to fly to the Rock that is higher than us! (Ps 61:2-note) Amen
CHRIST OUR ROCK OF REFUGE, OUR VERY PRESENT HELP: The psalmist reminds us that “God is our REFUGE and Strength, a very present Help in trouble.” (Ps 46:1-note) Spurgeon comments that “Help which is not PRESENT when we need it is of small value. The anchor which is left at home is of no use to the seaman in the hour of storm; the money which he used to have is of no worth to the debtor when a writ is out against him. Very few earthly helps could be called “VERY PRESENT.” They are usually far in the seeking, far in the using, and farther still when once used. But as for (Christ our Rock of Refuge), He is present when we seek Him, present when we need Him, and present when we have already enjoyed His aid. He is more than “present.” He is VERY PRESENT: more present than the nearest friend can be, for He is in us in our trouble; more present than we are to ourselves, for sometimes we lack presence of mind. He is always present, effectually present, sympathetically present, altogether present. He is present now if this is a gloomy season. Let us rest ourselves upon Him (Ps 37:7-note). He is our REFUGE: Let us hide in Him (Ps 27:5-note). He is our Strength: Let us array ourselves with Him (Ro 13:14-note). He is our Help: Let us lean upon Him (Isa 48:2-note). He is our very present Help; let us repose in Him now (Ps 116:7-note). We need not have a moment’s care or an instant’s fear. “The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our REFUGE. Selah (Pause and Ponder this truth) (Ps 46:7KJV-note)”
Father, grant that just as the young man in the storm discovered a safe haven in the physical sense, the Spirit might enable us to daily experience that when we have nothing else to cling to but Jesus our Rock, we find that He is ever enough! Amen
God is the REFUGE of His saints,
When storms of sharp distress invade;
Ere we can offer our complaints,
Behold Him PRESENT with His aid.
CHRIST OUR ROCK, THE ONLY SAFE REFUGE FROM OUR ENEMIES: The defenseless rock badger provides a poignant picture of Christ our ROCK OF REFUGE: Pr 30:26-note says “The rock badgers (coneys, hyrax) are not mighty folk, yet they make their houses in the rocks.” Spurgeon writes “Conscious of their own natural defenselessness, the badgers resort to burrows in the rocks and are secure from their enemies. The little badger, when it has once run into the cleft, has the whole strength of the mountain to protect it. Outside the rock it is helpless enough; inside the rock it is perfectly safe. The least suspicion of danger sends the badgers scampering into their holes. So at every sight or sound (or temptation) of evil we should fly at once to the Rock of Ages! Hawks and eagles prey upon the rock badger, so they never venture far from the mouth of their hole. Christ is our Rock: Never venture far from His safe keeping! My heart, be willing to gather a lesson from these feeble folk. We are as weak and as exposed to peril as the timid badgers, so we must be as wise to seek a shelter in the cleft of the Rock. Our best security is within the rampart of an immutable Jehovah, where His unalterable promises stand like giant walls of rock. It will be well with our heart, if we always seek to hide ourselves in the bulwarks of His glorious attributes, all of which are guarantees of safety for those who put their trust in Him (Ps 56:3-4-note). Blessed be the name of the Lord (Job 1:21-note), I have so done, and have found myself like David in the cave of Adullam (1Sa 22:1-note), safe from the cruelty of my enemy; for long ago, when Satan and my sins pursued me, I fled into the cleft of the ROCK Christ Jesus, and in His riven side I found a delightful resting-place. Let your heart run to Him anew today, whatever your present grief may be. Jesus feels for you (Heb 4:15-note). Jesus consoles you. Jesus will help you (Heb 2:18NIV-note). No monarch in his impregnable fortress is more secure than the badger in his rocky burrow. The master of ten thousand chariots is not one whit better protected than the little dweller in the mountain’s cleft. In Jesus the weak are strong (2Cor 12:9-10-note), and the defenseless safe; they could not be more strong if they were giants, or more safe if they were in heaven. Faith gives to men on earth the protection of the God of heaven. More they cannot need, and need not wish. The badgers cannot build a castle, but they avail themselves of what is there already: I cannot make myself a REFUGE, but Jesus has provided it, His Father has given it, His Spirit has revealed it, and lo, again today let us enter it, and be safe from every foe. Abide in the rifts of the Rock of Ages and let nothing tempt you to quit your stronghold. Little children abide in Him (1Jn 2:28-note).”
Indeed, “He who dwells in the SHELTER of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty,” (Ps 91:1-note) “the shadow of a great rock” (Isa 32:3KJV-note), the “Rock of Ages” (Isa 26:4YLT-note), Christ Jesus!
The Lord of Hosts is on our side,
Our safety to secure;
The God of Jacob is for us,
A REFUGE strong and sure!
RUN FOR REFUGE IN CHRIST OUR ROCK: There is a beautiful picture of Christ as our ROCK OF REFUGE in the book of Numbers where God designates “six cities for REFUGE, so that anyone who kills a person unintentionally may flee there” (Nu 35:15-note), and be safe from the blood avenger (Goel) (Nu 35:25-note). Today Jesus Christ is our “City of Refuge,” for in the book of Hebrews we read that all who have been saved by God’s grace through faith in Jesus “have fled for REFUGE in laying hold of the hope (“Jesus Christ our Hope” 1Ti 1:1YLT-note) set before them” (Heb 6:18-note). We “also once were” that “manslayer” (Titus 3:3-note), for “such were some of us” (1Cor 6:11-note), “but now IN Christ Jesus” (Eph 2:13-note), our ROCK OF REFUGE, we who formerly were far off now are eternally safe from the judgment of God and the wages of sin which is death (Ro 6:23-note). As Spurgeon says this is beautiful “picture of the security of those who rest in Jesus, the Refuge of guilty souls.” As long as the manslayer remained in the CITY OF REFUGE, he was safe, but if he decided to leave the city he was not safe from vengeance (Read Nu 35:26-28-note). So too we are safe as long as we abide in the Rock of our Salvation. But we can expose ourselves to temptations by failing to “abide in Christ,” (cp -1Jn 2:18-note), by choosing our will over God’s will. As Warren Wiersbe says “the safest place in the world is in the will of God!” (Eph 5:17-note, Ro 12:2-note) John Trapp adds that “Christ is our asylum, to Whom running for refuge, when pursued by the guilt of an evil conscience, we are safe. If we are in Christ the Rock, temptations, as waves, dash upon us, but break themselves.”
Jesus, Lover of my soul, let me to Thy bosom fly,
While the nearer waters roll, while the tempest still is high.
Hide me, O my Savior, hide, till the storm of life is past;
Safe into the haven guide; O receive my soul at last.
Other REFUGE have I none, hangs my helpless soul on Thee;
Leave, ah! leave me not alone, still support and comfort me.
All my trust on Thee is stayed, all my help from Thee I bring;
Cover my defenseless head with the shadow of Thy wing.
Thou, O Christ, art all I want, more than all in Thee I find;
Raise the fallen, cheer the faint, heal the sick, and lead the blind.
Just and holy is Thy Name, I am all unrighteousness;
False and full of sin I am; Thou art full of truth and grace.
Plenteous grace with Thee is found, grace to cover all my sin;
Let the healing streams abound; make and keep me pure within.
Thou of life the fountain art, freely let me take of Thee;
Spring Thou up within my heart; rise to all eternity.
Christ Our Rock of Refuge (Part 1)
CHRIST OUR ROCK OF REFUGE (Part 1): The word “REFUGE” is from a Latin word meaning to escape and depicts a place which provides shelter or protection from trouble, danger or distress. A REFUGE is a place of safety and security. And so it is fitting for David to invite us: “O taste and see that the LORD is good; How blessed is the man who takes REFUGE IN HIM (the Solid Rock)!” (Ps 34:8-note) In contrast, in his classic Paradise Lost, John Milton writes “Rocks, dens and caves (of this passing world)…in none of these, find place or REFUGE.” In the Revelation, kings, great men, commanders, rich, strong, slave and free, all hide themselves in “the rocks” of this world and say “to the rocks “Fall on us and hide us from the presence of Him Who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb.” (Rev 6:15-16-note, cp Lk 23:30-note, Isa 2:19-note) Spurgeon writes “It will be vain to call to the rocks in the day of judgment, but our ROCK attends to our cries!”
And so we see that every man of every age will chose to hide either in the “rocks” of this passing world or in the “everlasting ROCK” (Isa 26:4-note), a solid, unchanging ROCK (Heb 13:8-note, Mal 3:6-note, Ps 102:26-27-note). Indeed, the believer’s sure REFUGE in this world and the next is not a place but a Person, Christ Jesus, our “ROCK in Whom (we) take REFUGE” (Ps 18:2-note), for “Who is a ROCK, except our God?” (Ps 18:31-note). “It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man.” (Ps 118:8-note) Spurgeon exhorts us “to let the sandy foundations of terrestrial trust be the choice of fools, but we are to be like one who foresees the storm, and builds for ourselves an abiding place upon the Rock of Ages.” Ray Stedman encourages us to “Remember that, when you feel defeated, when you are under attack, when doubts come flooding into your mind. Remember that you are already encircled by the belt of truth. You have found the One who is the solid, unchanging Rock. The words of the hymn express this well: On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand, All other ground is sinking sand.” Moses affirms this faith stabilizing truth declaring “The ROCK! His work is perfect, for all His ways are just. A God of faithfulness and without injustice, righteous and upright is He” (Dt 32:4-note) Moses then reminds us that the world’s “rock is not like our ROCK, as even our enemies concede.” (Dt 32:31-note). Dear Father, we who are so prone to wander (and wonder!) ask that by Your sweet Spirit, you might enable us moment by moment “to fix our eyes on Jesus” (Heb 12:2-note), our “spiritual ROCK” (1Cor 10:4-note), so that we might not be like those of old who so often “neglected the ROCK” (Dt 32:18-note), who quickly forgot “the God of their salvation and who did not remember the ROCK of their REFUGE” (Isa 17:10-note, cp Hos 4:6-note). Amen
OUR ROCK OF REFUGE: THE ROCK OF AGES: In the mysterious, providential working of the Spirit of God (Jn 3:8-note), an uneducated layman named James Morris once preached a simple sermon on Ephesians 2:13-note (“But now IN Christ Jesus [think "safe IN the Rock of Refuge"] you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ”) in a barn in Ireland reaping only one conversion (Jn 4:37-38-note), a highly educated 16 yo boy named Augustus Montague Toplady, who had been stirred to attend by an earthquake that had recently rocked the British Isles. “God moves in a mysterious way, His wonders to perform. He plants His footsteps in the sea, and rides upon the storm.” (Cowper) As an aside may the profound impact of this one otherwise unknown and unlettered man’s words on young Toplady’s heart be an encouraging reminder to all of us that the “the Gospel is the (intrinsic, inherent, “self-contained”) power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (Ro 1:16-note), that the Holy Spirit can speak through anyone (E.g., see Nu 22:28-30-note), and finally that He can make “beautiful (literally “timely in the arrival of”) the feet of those who tell good news, who make the Gospel known.” (Ro 10:15-note, Isa 52:7-note)
Augustus Toplady soon felt God’s call to preach the Gospel himself and this he did for the remainder of his short life of 38 years (1740-1778). During his life he preached thousands of sermons, wrote hundreds of poems, and composed 133 hymns. In 1763 Toplady was walking home, when he was caught in a sudden, violent thunderstorm. At first there seemed to be no hiding place, but he soon spied a cleft in a rock, into which he ran and in which he was able to just barely stand upright. And there he remained for refuge as the thunder roared and the lightning flashed. And as he stood in the cleft of this rock, he redeemed the time (Eph 5:16-note) in a most unique way, for these words welled up in his soul (how fitting that they are in the form of a prayer)
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee;
Let the water and the blood,
From Thy riven side which flowed,
Be of sin the double cure,
Cleanse me from its guilt and pow’r.
Beloved, we have an enduring Rock, Isaiah recording that “The steadfast of mind Thou wilt keep in perfect peace (literally “in shalom, shalom”), because he trusts in Thee. Trust in the LORD forever, for (always pause and ask what is the “for” explaining) in God the LORD (literally “in Yah, Yahweh”), we have an EVERLASTING ROCK (literally “a ROCK OF AGES”)!” (Isa 26:3-4-note) (Choral Version of Rock of Ages) (Rock in Which Toplady Supposedly Hid)
O Everlasting Rock,
Sole Refuge in distress,
My Fort when foes assail and mock,
My Rest in weariness!
HIDDEN IN THE CLEFT OF THE ROCK IN TIME AND ETERNITY: When Moses said “I pray Thee, show me Thy glory!” the LORD responded by telling Moses “Behold, there is a place by Me, and you shall stand there ON THE ROCK” and “while My glory is passing by, I will put you IN THE CLEFT OF THE ROCK and cover you with My hand.” (Ex 33:18, 21, 22-note) ON the rock, IN the rock, even the ROCK OF AGES cleft for me! Spurgeon asks “O my soul, what is the cleft of the rock where thou must stand, if thou wouldst ever see God’s face, and live? Oh, it is the “Rock of ages, cleft for me,” where I must hide! Oh, what a cleaving that was when Jesus died! O my soul, enter into the cleft in Jesus’ side. That is the cleft of the rock where thou must abide, and see God.” In John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress (“Tenth Stage”), Christian and Hopeful come to a river (Bunyan’s portrayal of passing from this world into the next) and “Christian began to sink, and crying out to his good friend Hopeful, he said, I sink in deep waters; the billows go over my head; all his waves go over me. Selah. Then said the other, Be of good cheer, my brother: I feel the bottom, and it is good.” Stand ON the Rock and IN the Rock of Refuge (“IN CHRIST”) in this life and He will give you a firm footing as you walk into the next life, for there is “no condemnation for those who are IN Christ Jesus (our Rock of Refuge),” (Ro 8:1-note) for even death “shall not be able to separate us from the love of God which is IN Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Ro 8:39-note). As Queen Victoria’s beloved husband Prince Albert lay on his death-bed, he again and again sang the Rock of Ages including the words “Nothing in my hand I bring; Simply to Thy Cross I cling” adding “If in this hour I had only my worldly honors and dignities to depend on, I should be poor indeed.” Ira Sankey wrote that “Years ago, when a ship sank in the Bay of Biscay (January 11, 1866), a man who was saved was asked what the passengers were doing when the ship went down. He said that the last he heard was “Rock of Ages,” sung by all who could join in it.”
Indeed, Moses affirms that “The eternal God is thy REFUGE, and underneath are the everlasting arms: and He shall thrust out the enemy from before thee” (Dt 33:27-note) and “The last enemy that will be abolished is death.” (1Cor 15:26-note). “Bless the LORD, O my soul. Praise the LORD” (Ps 104:35-note), our everlasting Rock of Refuge. As Spurgeon affirms “I am in a cleft of a ROCK which is so enduring that time can never dissolve it. Precious Christ, may I be found in Thee amidst the concussion of the elements when the world shall melt away (2Pe 3:10-12-note), and the heavens shall be dissolved (Isa 34:4KJV-note)! Oh, may I stand in Thee, Thou precious cleft of the Rock, for Thou art all-in-all to my soul!” Puritan Thomas Watson writes that as “the dove hides ‘in the clefts of the rock, in the secret places of the cliffs’ (Song 2:14-note), Christ’s wounds are the clefts of the rock where the believing soul hides itself!” F B Meyer adds that He “is the Rock of Ages! Time may beat upon Him, but it cannot alter Him or impair Him. Whilst this fleeting breath is drawn, when eyes close in death, when unknown worlds are entered, when the judgment throne is set, always and for ever the soul may shelter in the cleft Rock of the unchanging Redeemer, and Peace, like a double window, intercepts alarm from the heart which is stayed on God and trusting in Him (Isa 26:3KJV-note).”
In fitting tribute to our Rock of Refuge, Fanny Crosby penned these beautiful words: “He hideth my soul in the cleft of the ROCK (click to play hymn) that shadows a dry, thirsty land; He hideth my life in the depths of His love, and covers me there with His hand, and covers me there with His hand.” As Samuel Rutherford rightly said we should “Not Build (our) nest on any tree of earth, seeing God has sold the forest to Death. But rather soar upwards to the sure and immutable REFUGE in the Cleft of the ROCK,” the “ROCK that is higher than” we (Ps 61:2-note). John describes the NT parallel of being hidden in the cleft of the Rock writing “And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding, in order that we might know Him Who is true, and we are IN HIM Who is true, IN His Son Jesus Christ (our Rock of Refuge). This is the true God and eternal life.” (1Jn 5:20-note)
O safe to the Rock that is higher than I
My soul in its conflicts and sorrows would fly;
So sinful, so weary — Thine, Thine would I be;
Thou blest “Rock of Ages,” I’m hiding in Thee.
Are the storm winds raging in your life? Are you hiding in Christ, the Rock of your Refuge? He will “always fill (your) heart with songs of deliverance, whenever (you are) afraid.” Listen to this great song “You are My Hiding Place” (Sung by Selah)
You are my Hiding Place
You always fill my heart
With songs of deliverance
Whenever I am afraid
I will trust in You,
I will trust in You,
Let the weak say
I am strong in the strength of the Lord.
CHRIST OUR ROCK (Part 2): CHRIST THE SMITTEN ROCK. The background for this title of Christ is found in Exodus 17 which describes God’s response to Israel’s second “NO WATER” experience. In Exodus 14 Israel was delivered THROUGH THE WATER. In Exodus 15 they were tested first with NO WATER and then BITTER WATER. Paul reminds us that these Old Testament events “happened to Israel as examples and were written down as warnings for us” (1Cor 10:11-note) “to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures (OT) we might have HOPE (not a “hope so,” but a “hope sure,” an absolute assurance that God will do good to us in the future).” So as we look briefly at these OT events which prefigure Jesus as our Smitten Rock, “may the God of hope fill us with all joy and peace in believing, that we may abound in HOPE by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Ro 15:13-note).
EXODUS 15:22-26: After Israel had experienced the “mountain top” triumph of divine deliverance through the Red Sea, “they traveled for three days in the desert without finding water.” (Ex 15:22-note). Isn’t this so often our experience, that times of great testing so often follow times of great triumph? And so it behooves us to “be as watchful after victory (“Red Sea experiences”) as before the battle!” (A. Bonar) With throats parched, Israel “came to Marah (means “Bitter”), but they not drink its water because it was bitter.” (Ex 15:23-note) Spurgeon writes that “The relief which seemed so near was snatched away: the cup was dashed from their lips” and so they ”grumbled against Moses” (Ex 15:24-note), who recorded that it was “there God TESTED them!” (Ex 15:25-note). Spurgeon adds “what a sudden change from the sound of the timbrel (Ex 15:1-note) to the voice of grumbling! Such are the changes of our OUTWARD conditions and of our INWARD feelings, so fickle and so mutable is man. What is there that can be RESTED upon in this mortal life?” Our only sure REST in this life is Christ, “the Rock of our Refuge” (Ps 94:22-note), “the Rock that is higher” than we are (Ps 61:2-note), the One Who will bring us “up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay, and set (our) feet upon a Rock making (our) footsteps firm.” (Ps 40:2-note). As David rhetorically asked “Who but our God is a SOLID ROCK?” (2Sa 22:32-note) And so when Israel was TESTED they failed to REST on the Solid Rock, refusing to trust in Jehovah’s promise of His presence, His power and His provision. Instead of giving thanks in everything (1Th 5:18-note), they grumbled. They refused to believe the truth that the more an “oak of righteousness” (Isa 61:3-note) is shaken by the winds, the more deeply are its roots driven into the Rock Who is Christ. How often I am like Israel when tested!
Exodus 15 also teaches that God TESTS us, not because He does not know us, but because we don’t know ourselves, for we are prone to forget that our “heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick.” (Jer 17:9-note) Such trials are important to our spiritual growth, for as someone once said, the gem cannot be polished without friction, nor man perfected without trials. As Spurgeon said Israel would not have had need for “wilderness WITHOUT if there had not been ‘wilderness’ WITHIN, nor would there have been a DROUGHT OF WATER for their mouths if the Lord had not seen a DROUGHT OF GRACE in their souls. We are fine birds till our feathers are ruffled and then what a poor figure we cut! We are very apt to talk more about our bitters than our sweets; and that is a serious fault. It were well if we have fewer murmuring words for our sorrows, and more songs of thanksgiving for our blessings (Ps 145:10-note).” Indeed, as Calvin said it is “in the darkness of our miseries, that the grace of God shines most brightly.”
God allows tests to make us better, not bitter. He knows that we always learn more from our TRIALS than from our TRIUMPHS. And so He TESTS us to encourage our spiritual growth and bring out the best in us, while the devil TEMPTS us to bring out the worst in us and to encourage spiritual immaturity. Wiersbe adds that “The attitude that we take toward our difficulties determines which direction life will go, for what life does to us depends on what life finds in us. If we trust God and obey His Word, we’ll pass the test and grow; but if in unbelief we complain and disobey the Lord, we’ll fail the test and remain immature (Jas 1:12-note).” At Marah despite Israel’s grumbling (failing the test, remaining immature), God in His great mercy (not giving them what they deserved) and grace (giving them what they did not deserve) quenched their thirst by “making bitter water sweet” even revealing Himself by a new Name, JEHOVAH RAPHA, the LORD our Healer (Ex 15:25-26-note). “Oh yes, there are many virtues and many blessings in the bitter waters of Marah! Often have we found it true that ‘Sweet are the uses of adversity’ for there are some of our graces which would never be discovered if it were not for our trials.” (CHS)
EXODUS 17: In Exodus 17, as Israel “camped at Rephidim (means “Rest”!), there (again) was NO WATER to drink” (Ex 17:1-note) causing them to quarrel and grumble against Moses, prompting Moses to ask “Why do you TEST the Lord?” (Ex 17:2-3-note) Instead of crying out TO God, they cried out AGAINST God! Do we ever cry out AGAINST rather than TO God? Spurgeon writes that their testing of God “was the proof of their imperfection: they were impatient and unbelieving. Haven’t we too often fallen into the same sin? Brethren, let your conscience answer!” And remember that we TEST the Lord “when we openly and unbelievingly question His ability or defy His authority by what we say or do. We deliberately adopt a disobedient posture and dare God to do anything about it. We never solve our problems by blaming others (Israel blamed Moses and ultimately God). Israel’s real problem was unbelief and a desire to go back to the old life (Ex 16:3-note). REMEMBER! Every OBSTACLE we meet is an OPPORTUNITY for TESTING ourselves and TRUSTING our Lord, for going FORWARD or going BACKWARD.” (Wiersbe) I am convicted…Is that how I view the obstacles God allows in my life?
“Then the LORD said to Moses, “Pass before the people and take with you some of the elders of Israel; and take in your hand your staff (“the staff of God” Ex 17:9-note) with which you struck the Nile (Ex 7:20-21-note), and go. “Behold, I will stand before you (Note: God Himself stood on the Rock! ~ His glory cloud or Shekinah) there on the ROCK at Horeb (means “barren”); and you shall STRIKE THE ROCK, and water will come out of it, that the people may drink.” And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel.” (Ex 17:5-6-note) R C Sproul explains that “Moses lifts the ROD OF JUDGMENT (as evidenced by bringing death to fish in the waters of the Nile, Ex 7:20-21-note, and Pharaoh’s army drowning in the Red Sea, Ex 14:16, 21-28-note) and strikes the ROCK on which GOD STANDS and with which He is symbolically identified. God is not guilty, but He bears the judgment!”
1 CORINTHIANS 10:4: In the NT, Paul explains that the SMITTEN ROCK was “a SPIRITUAL ROCK which followed Israel; and the ROCK WAS CHRIST.” (1Cor 10:4-note) Fanny Crosby pictured this NT fulfillment of the OT picture of Messiah our Rock, writing “Though my weary steps may falter, And my soul a-thirst may be, Gushing from the ROCK before me, Lo! A Spring of joy I see.” Amen!
JOHN 4:10,14: Just as life giving waters flowed from the rock smitten by Moses to quench the thirst of a multitude, the smiting of the rock prefigured the life giving waters that flowed from Christ’s pierced side (Jn 19:34-note), providing “LIVING WATER” to many, the Rock Himself declaring that “whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.” Jn 4:10, 14-note). All who drink of this water may joyfully sing “I’ve got a river of life flowin’ out of me. Makes the lame to walk and the blind to see. Opens prison doors, sets the captives free. I’ve got a river of life flowin’ out of me. Spring up Oh Well. Within my soul. Spring up Oh Well And make me whole. Spring up Oh Well And give to me That life abundantly.” (P. Wickham) Listen to a haunting version of “Spring Up Oh Well”
JOHN 7:37-39: At the termination of the Feast of Tabernacles Jesus cried out saying “If any man is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being shall flow rivers of LIVING WATER.’” But this He spoke of the Spirit, Whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.” (Jn 7:37-39-note) John MacArthur comments that “The impartation of the Holy Spirit is the Source of spiritual and eternal life,” for as Jesus said “It is the Spirit Who gives life; the flesh profits nothing.” (Jn 6:63-note).
Adrian Rogers writes that “Jesus, the Rock of ages, was smitten for us; and, because Jesus was smitten for us, out of His riven side, came forth water. And, that water represents the Holy Spirit, which is the water of life.”
G Campbell Morgan adds the exhortation that “The Church must drink of that Rock-water, flowing clear as the Holy Spirit of Pentecost; for only thereby will she be able to cope with her spiritual foes. DRINK, ye thirsty souls, DRINK, yea, DRINK abundantly and deeply, for Amalek (a picture of our fallen flesh in Ex 17:8-note) will be upon you to-morrow; but he will have no power at all against those who have cleansed themselves in the healing streams of the blood and have learned to drink of the living water.” Let it be so dear Lord. Amen.
And so when Christ our Rock was smitten on Calvary, living water was made freely available. All who are thirsty and drink from the Rock of our Salvation receive eternal life and “rivers of living water” which pictures the indwelling Holy Spirit and the supernatural life He enables. How fitting that Paul describes the Holy Spirit as the One Whom the Father “POURED OUT upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior.” (Titus 3:6-note, cp Isa 44:3-note, Joel 2:28-29-note)
In sum we see that there could be no Pentecost without Calvary, no living, gushing waters without the smiting of our Rock Christ Jesus. And so in both the Old and the New Testament we see God’s great and gracious invitation to drink from Christ the Smitten Rock. Isaiah writes “Ho! Every one who thirsts, come to the waters.” (Isa 55:1-note) John closes with a similar invitation “The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost.” (Rev 22:17-note)
Are you thirsty?
The words of Horatius Bonar’s old hymn beautifully describe the invitation of Christ the Smitten Rock (Michael Card’s version)…
I HEARD THE VOICE OF JESUS SAY
“Behold, I freely give
The living water; thirsty one
Stoop down and drink and live.”
I came to Jesus and I drank
Of that life-giving stream;
My thirst was quenched, my soul revived,
And now I live in Him.
MEDITATION ON “IT IS FINISHED” (John 19:20-note) which can also be translated “PAID IN FULL!” THREE words in English, ONE word in Greek – TETELESTAI! The GREATEST WORD from the GREATEST MAN on the GREATEST DAY in all eternity! One word, but no word ever uttered has so changed the history and destiny of mankind. In Latin tetelestai is rendered with two words “Consummatum est” (It is consummated!) Jesus spoke 7 times on the Cross (Lk 23:34-note; Jn 19:36-note; Lk 23:43-note; Mt 27:46-note; Jn 29:28, 30-note, Lk 23:46-note). TETELESTAI was Jesus’ next to last word and was followed by “Father, INTO THY HANDS I COMMIT MY SPIRIT.” (Lk 23:46-note). “IT IS FINISHED!” “Yes, indeed/Finished, ev’ry jot/Sinner, this is all you need/Tell me, is it not?” (Ira Sankey)
As Spurgeon says TETELESTAI conveys “an ocean of meaning in a drop of language, a mere drop. It would need all the other words that ever were spoken, or ever can be spoken, to explain this one word. It is altogether immeasurable. It is high; I cannot attain to it. It is deep; I cannot fathom it. IT IS FINISHED is the most charming note in all of Calvary’s music. The fire has passed upon the Lamb. He has borne the whole of the wrath that was due to His people. This is the royal dish of the feast of love.” J C Ryle wrote that “It is surely not too much to say, that of all the seven famous sayings of Christ on the cross, none is more remarkable than TETELESTAI.” A C Gaebelein adds “Never before and never after was ever spoken ONE WORD which contains and means so much. It is the shout of the mighty Victor. And who can measure the depths of this ONE WORD!” A W Pink writes that “Eternity will be needed to make manifest all that TETELESTAI contains.” Matthew Henry described TETELESTAI as a “comprehensive word and a comfortable one.” Charles Simeon adds that ‘since the foundation of the world there never was a single word uttered, in which such diversified and important matter was contained. Every word indeed that proceeded from our Saviour’s lips deserves the most attentive consideration: but TETELESTAI eclipses all. To do justice to it, is beyond the ability of men or angels: its height, and depth, and length, and breadth, are absolutely unsearchable.”
Clearly to contemplate TETELESTAI is to come to the realization that “the place whereon we stand is holy ground.” May the Holy Spirit help us to comprehend and to handle rightly “this text which is at once so small and yet so great!”
It has been well said that Christ’s RESURRECTION is the Father’s “AMEN” to His Son’s declaration “IT IS FINISHED.” Looking at the Cross we see the work of redemption completed. Looking at the open tomb we see Jesus’ finished work fully accepted by the Father. The payment required for sin is death (cf Ge 2:17-note, Ro 5:12-note, Ro 6:23-note) and when Christ said TETELESTAI, He was saying that the sin debt was “PAID IN FULL!” If you believe that dear reader, His righteousness has been credited to your account (Ro 4:3-note, Ro 4:24-note, Gal 3:6-7-note). We owed a debt we could never pay. Jesus paid a debt He did not owe! Tony Evans says “All the funds necessary to pay for our total redemption were put up by Jesus Christ on the Cross.” Or as Warren Wiersbe put it “He took my bankruptcy and covered it with His solvency.” He didn’t just make a down payment and then expect me to keep up the installments. “But now he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of Himself” (Heb 9:26-note). His empty tomb and His resurrection are indisputable testimony to the fact that the Father accepted His Son’s payment for sin on our behalf, as our Substitute. Thus TETELESTAI is not a cry of defeat of a dying Man, but a cry of triumph of a Living, Life Giving Redeemer, a divine proclamation that the WORK OF REDEMPTION had been fully, finally and forever accomplished (cf Jn 4:34-note, Jn 17:4-note).
Spurgeon adds “What a grand utterance (is “Tetelestai”)! Now are we safe, for salvation is complete. The (sin) debt was now, to the last farthing, all discharged. The atonement and propitiation were made once and for all and forever, by the one offering made in Jesus’ body on the Tree. There was the cup; Hell was in it; the Savior drank it—not a sip and then a pause—not a draught (a single act of drinking) and then a ceasing. He drained it till there is not a dreg left for any of His people. The great ten-thronged whip of the Law was worn out upon His back. There is no lash left with which to smite one for whom Jesus died. The great cannonade (“continuous heavy gunfire”) of God’s justice has exhausted all its ammunition—there is nothing left to be hurled against a child of God (Beloved, do you believe these great benefits are yours in Christ?). Sheathed is thy sword, O Justice! Silenced is thy thunder, O Law! There remains nothing now of all the griefs and pains and agonies which chosen sinners ought to have suffered for their sins, for Christ has endured all for His own beloved (1Th 1:4-note) and IT IS FINISHED. Christ has paid the debt which all the torments of eternity could not have paid. Once again—when He said, “IT IS FINISHED,” Jesus had totally destroyed the power of Satan, of sin and of death. The Champion accepted the challenge to do battle for our soul’s redemption against all our foes. He met Sin. Horrible, terrible, all-but omnipotent Sin nailed Him to the Cross. But in that deed, Christ nailed Sin also to the tree. There they both did hang together—Sin and Sin’s Destroyer. Sin destroyed Christ and by that destruction Christ destroyed Sin.”
TETELESTAI is the perfect tense (see below) of the verb teleo which is derived from telos (a goal achieved, a consummation, a result attained) and means to bring something to a successful end to or to its intended or destined goal. It does not mean just to complete a task but to carry it out fully, to bring it to the finish or to perfection. It follows that Jesus’ cry of TETELESTAI is a word of finality. The idea is “It is finished, it stands finished, and it always will be finished!” His work of redemption is complete and nothing needs to be or can be added to it. Sin is atoned for (Heb 9:12-note, Heb 10:12-note), Satan is defeated and rendered powerless (1Jn 2:22:14-15-note, 1Jn 3:8), every requirement of the Law has been satisfied and God’s holy wrath against sin has been satisfied (or propitiated) (Ro 3:25-note, Heb 2:17-note, 1Jn 2:2-note, 1Jn 4:10). Redemption is eternally secured. We are reconciled in Christ’s “fleshly body through death” that we might be presented before God “holy and blameless and beyond reproach.” (Col 1:22-note). Speaking of Christ’s cry of TETELESTAI, Frank Boreham makes the interesting observation that “This divine self-satisfaction appears only twice, once in each Testament. When He completed the work of Creation, He looked upon it and said that it was “very good,” (Ge 1:31-note) when He completed the Work of Redemption, He cried with a loud voice TETELESTAI! (Jn 19:30) It means (in essence) the same thing.”
THE PERFECT TENSE: TETELESTAI is in the perfect tense which describes a PAST completed act with PRESENT effect, emphasizing that the past completed event of Christ’s death on the Cross has ongoing, even permanent effects. Jesus’ sacrifice may have occurred in time and space, but its results will last for eternity! In other words, when Jesus declared “IT IS FINISHED”, He was saying that His mission to redeem sinners had reached its intended goal and that the benefits to the redeemed would last throughout eternity. Erwin Lutzer adds that “This means that my sins are on Jesus, not on me. Yes, there is sin within me but not on me. My sinful nature keeps luring me toward sin, and even in my best moments my works are tainted with selfish motives. But legally, I am accepted on the basis of the merit of Jesus. Figuratively speaking, I have a new set of clothes and a clear record in heaven. The righteousness of Jesus has been (forever) credited to my account.” All that truth in one Greek tense! Beloved our Redeemer’s ransom payment is sufficient for this life and the life to come! May God enable us by His Spirit, to live victoriously in light of the truth of this “Word of the Cross” (especially the great word “tetelestai”) which is the “power of God” to us “who are being saved (daily by the Spirit)” (1Cor 1:18-note).
Observe how the word TETELESTAI was commonly used in the ancient world:
(1) SERVANTS: Servant used TETELESTAI when reporting to their master, “I have COMPLETED (TETELESTAI) the work assigned to me”. In another ancient secular Greek text we read of the example of a father sending his son on a mission. The son was not to return until he had performed the last act of the mission. When he did return from a successful mission, he used the word TETELESTAI to report to his father that he had accomplished the goal. As Jesus Himself testified “I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many. My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to ACCOMPLISH (teleioo – also derived from telos = goal) His work. I glorified Thee on the earth, having ACCOMPLISHED (teleioo) the work which Thou hast given Me to do. (And so He laid) down His life for His friends.” (Jn 6:38-note, Mk 10:45, Jn 4:34-note, Jn 17:4-note, Jn 15:13-note)
(2) PRIESTS: Priests would examine animals for blemishes before they were sacrificed. If the lamb was faultless, perfect, and acceptable, the priest would say, “TETELESTAI!” Jesus is the Lamb of God Who alone was “without sin” (Heb 4:15-note, cf Jn 1:29-note, 1Cor 5:7-note). As Peter testifies we “were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.” (1Pe 1:18-19-note)
(3) ARTISTS: Frank Boreham writes that “When the painter or the sculptor had put the last finishing touches to the vivid landscape or the marble bust, he would stand back a few feet to admire his masterpiece, and, seeing in it nothing that called for correction or improvement, would murmur fondly, ‘Tetelestai!’ ‘Tetelestai!’” “IT IS FINISHED!” All the Old Testament “pictures” (types) of Messiah were fulfilled in Christ and were only a “shadow of what is to come; but the substance (reality) belongs to Christ.” (Col 2:17-note). The death of Jesus on the Cross “finished the picture” of redemption, a masterpiece which had been in the Father’s heart “from before the foundation of the world” (1Pe 1:20-note, 2Ti 1:9-note).
(4) MERCHANTS: In ancient times when a promissory note was paid, the one holding the note wrote “TETELESTAI” across it. A deed to property was not in effect until it was dated and signed, and when this was accomplished, the clerk wrote “TETELESTAI” across the deed. When someone had a debt and it was paid off, the creditor would write “TETELESTAI” on the certificate of debt signifying that it was “PAID IN FULL”. Several years ago, archaeologists digging in Egypt uncovered the “office” of an ancient “CPA.” In this office they found a stack of bills, with the Greek word “tetelestai” inscribed across each bill – “Paid in full”! When Christ gave Himself on the Cross, He fulfilled all the righteous demands of the law and our “sin debt” was PAID IN FULL. The OT sacrifices covered sin but could never take sin away. Jesus accomplished what all of the old covenant sacrifices could not do. “In eternity the Son gave the Father a “promissory note” that He would pay the price for humanity’s redemption (see Heb 10:5-7-note). On Calvary the note was PAID IN FULL. TETELESTAI!” (H H Hobbs) As Spurgeon said “There is no mortgage on the saints.” Wayne Grudem adds that “If Christ had not paid the full penalty, there would still be condemnation left for us. But since he has paid the full penalty that is due to us, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Ro 8:1-note).
(5) PRISONERS: When a Roman citizen was convicted of a crime, he was thrown into prison. A “Certificate of Debt” listing all his crimes was nailed to his cell door so that anyone passing by could know what he had been accused of and the penalty assessed. When the prisoner had served his sentence and was released from bondage, the indictment was taken down from the door and the judge who had put him in prison would sign the indictment and write across it the word TETELESTAI. The freed prisoner was then given this document and if questioned as to why he was out of jail, he could point to the indictment across which the judge had written TETELESTAI. He could rest in safety and security because the word TETELESTAI guaranteed his deliverance and his liberty. The charges for those crimes could never again be brought against him. He would never be a victim of “double jeopardy” (having to pay for the same crime twice). When Jesus cried “TETELESTAI” on the cross, He was saying that anyone who places his trust in His sacrificial death on their behalf, receives in essence a “certificate of debt” with the inscription of “tetelestai”, indicating that all their “crimes” (past, present and future) against God have been PAID FOR IN FULL! In light of this truth, Paul could write that because our debt was PAID IN FULL by Jesus, God “has forgiven you all your sins: Christ has utterly wiped out (Greek = completely obliterated) the condemning evidence of broken laws and commandments which always hung over our heads, and has completely annulled it by nailing it over His own head on the Cross. And then having drawn the sting of all the powers ranged against us, He exposed them, shattered, empty and defeated, in His final glorious triumphant act!” (Col 2:14-15-Phillips -note) Erwin Lutzer adds that “On the cross, the justice of God was fully satisfied when our heavenly Substitute paid the great price of ransom. As Spurgeon put it, we can stand with confidence despite the thunder of the law and the lightening flash of justice, “for we are safe beneath the cross.” He paid the very last cent of the wages of our sin.”
Beloved, Satan may accuse us of “high treason” against God (read Rev 12:10-note), but now and forever “we have an Advocate (paraclete) with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous” (1Jn 2:1-2-note) Who cries “I object” to every accusation of the Adversary, to which the Father says “Objection Sustained!” Yes, when we sin, we need to confess and repent in order to enjoy fellowship with God (1Jn 1:9-note), but our our eternal salvation is never in doubt or subject to “double jeopardy” because Christ has once and for all time cried “TETELESTAI!” Beloved child of God, if you have a sin regarding which you find it difficult to accept the Father’s full forgiveness, let your mind dwell on the truth of “TETELESTAI,” and then put that sin on God’s ledger and write “Paid in Full” next to it! The truth inherent in the word TETELESTAI should give every believer great assurance, comfort and peace that all of our sin debt, past, present and future, is PAID IN FULL and there remains no sacrifice to be paid! There is nothing we must or even could contribute to the remission of our debt, except receive the “free gift of eternal life” by faith (Ro 6:23-note). Jesus “having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God.” (Heb 10:12-note). As the hymn writer E M Hall put it “Jesus paid it all, All to Him I owe; Sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow.”
Andrew Murray writes that “every day that our confidence grows fuller in Christ’s FINISHED WORK must see our heart more entirely yielding itself like Him, a whole burnt offering in the service of God and His love.”
Spurgeon says that “The general religion of mankind is “DO,” but the religion of a true Christian is “DONE.” IT IS FINISHED is the believer’s conquering word. INCARNATE LOVE has fulfilled His self-imposed task. Jesus, as the Substitute for sinners, was condemned to die, and He died that He might finish the work of our redemption. Your sins have sustained their death-blow, the robe of your righteousness has received its last thread (cf 1Cor 1:30-note, 2Cor 5:21-note). It is done, complete, perfect. It needs no addition; it can NEVER suffer any diminution. Oh, Christian, do lay hold of this precious thought. I may not be able to state it except in weak terms, but let not my weakness prevent your apprehending its glory and its preciousness. This thought is enough to make a man leap, though his legs were chained with irons, and to make him sing, though his mouth were gagged. We are PERFECTLY ACCEPTED in Christ, and our justification is not partial (cf Ro 5:1-note, Ro 5:9-note, Ro 8:30-note). It does not go to a limited extent, but goes the whole way. Our unrighteousness is covered. From condemnation we are entirely and irrevocably free. ‘Consummatum est. The work is done, redemption is accomplished; the salvation of My people is forever secured. Sin will never be mentioned against them anymore, forever. Oh, wondrous deed of Deity! Oh, mighty feat of love accomplished once for all!”
J C Ryle encourages us to REST our souls on the finished work of Christ (Heb 4:10-11-note) noting that “We need not fear that either sin or Satan or law shall condemn us at the last day. We may lean back on the thought, that we have a Savior Who has done all, paid all, accomplished all, performed all that is necessary for our salvation. We may take up the challenge of the Apostle, “Who is the one who condemns? (cf Ro 8:1-note) Christ Jesus is He Who died, yes, rather Who was raised, Who is at the right hand of God; Who also (continually) intercedes for us.” (Ro 8:34-note). When we look at our own works, we may well feel ashamed of their imperfections. But when we look at the FINISHED WORK of Christ, we may feel peace (cf Heb 12:2-note).” Hallelujah!
Spurgeon “Christ has said, “IT IS FINISHED!” and we must cease to work too (Ro 4:3-note), not only with our hands but with our souls—working no more for life, for that is given; working no more for justification, for that is concluded; but to-day RESTING in Christ (cp Ro 4:5-6-note, Mt 11:28-30-note) for “It is finished!” There is nothing for God to do. “IT IS FINISHED.” There is nothing for you to do. “IT IS FINISHED.” Christ need not bleed. “IT IS FINISHED.” You need not weep. “IT IS FINISHED.” God the Holy Spirit need not delay because of your unworthiness, nor need you delay because of your helplessness. “IT IS FINISHED.” Every stumbling block is rolled out of the road; every gate is opened. The bars of brass are broken, the gates of iron are burst asunder. “IT IS FINISHED.” Come and welcome; come and welcome!.” This is exactly what the great missionary Hudson Taylor, founder of China Inland Mission, did as he meditated on “IT IS FINISHED” writing that “There dawned upon me the joyous conviction that since the whole work was finished and the whole debt was paid upon the Cross there was nothing for me to do but to fall upon my knees, accept the Savior and praise Him forevermore.” Amen!
The evangelist Alexander Wooten was approached by a young man who asked, “What must I DO to be saved?” Wooten replied “It’s too late!” The young man became alarmed asking “Do you mean that it’s too late for me to be saved? Is there nothing I can DO?” Wooten replied “Too late! It’s already been DONE! (IT IS FINISHED!) The only thing you can DO is BELIEVE.”
It is done. Tetelestai. Finished!
Lifted up was He to die,
“It is finished,” was His cry;
Now in heaven exalted high;
Hallelujah! what a Saviour.
GENESIS: In the OT, the question is “WHERE IS THE LAMB?” In Genesis 22 God commanded Abraham “Take now your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah; and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell you.” (Ge 22:2-note) On the way to the mountain, Isaac asked his father “Where is the LAMB for the burnt offering?” (Ge 22:7-note) to which Abraham replied “God will provide for Himself the LAMB for the burnt offering, my son.” (Ge 22:8-note). As Abraham prepared to sacrifice Isaac whom he loved, he “raised his eyes and looked and behold, behind him a ram caught in the thicket by his horns; and Abraham went and took the ram and offered him up for a burnt offering in the place of (as a “substitute” for) his son.” (Ge 22:13-note) “Abraham called the name of that place the LORD WILL PROVIDE, (JEHOVAH JIREH) (see discussion) as it is said to this day, “In the mount of the LORD it will be provided.” (Ge 22:14-note) JEHOVAH JIREH is more literally “Jehovah will see,” which conveys the idea that Jehovah sees the need before it arises and provides for the need! The Omniscient One sees your need beloved. The amazing God of all grace (1Peter 5:10-note) not only foresaw Abraham’s need for ”A” lamb, but even more amazing, foresaw our need for “THE” LAMB OF GOD to be our Substitute. And so Paul could testify that “God saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works (not because of any “merit” or because we deserved it), but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus from all eternity (Jehovah saw our need for the LAMB OF GOD, even before time began!)” (2Ti 1:9-note) Spurgeon writes that we “admire Abraham’s giving up his son to God. Much more admire Jehovah’s giving up His Son for sinners. Jehovah is the great Provider, and He provides the offering, not only for us, but for Himself, for the sacrifice was necessary to God as well as to man. And it is a burnt offering, not only a sin-offering but an offering of a sweet savor unto Himself.”
EXODUS: In Exodus Israel was groaning because of enslavement by Egypt and in great need, a need which Jehovah saw, declaring “I will DELIVER you from bondage. I will REDEEM you with an outstretched arm (In light of the Cross, ponder God’s redemption by His “outstretched arm!”) and with great judgments.” (Exodus 6:6-note) God redeemed Israel from slavery in Egypt with the blood of a LAMB, instructing Moses “your LAMB shall be an unblemished male a year old…You shall keep it until the 14th day of (Nisan–Jewish Passover 2013 falls on March 25), then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel is to kill it at twilight. Take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts (vertical motion) and on the lintel (horizontal part of the door frame) (ponder the application of blood vertically and horizontally – could this foreshadow the Cross?) of the houses in which they eat it. And they shall eat the flesh that same night….it is the LORD’S Passover….For the LORD will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when He sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the LORD will pass over the door and will not allow the destroyer to come in to your houses to smite you.” (Ex 12:5-8, 11-note) Clearly Christ’s death on the Cross was foreshadowed in Exodus 12-note by the sacrifice of an unblemished lamb whose blood was applied to the entry door, for centuries later Paul recorded the inspired words that “Christ our PASSOVER [LAMB] has been sacrificed.” (1Cor 5:7Amplified-note) Paul adds that “now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” (Eph 2:13-note) Beloved, may God grant each of us the Spirit’s power to “conduct ourselves in (reverent) fear during the time of our (relatively short) stay upon earth, knowing that we were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile (useless in light of eternity) way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with PRECIOUS BLOOD, AS OF A LAMB unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ” (1Pe 1:17-19-note)
Spurgeon comments on the precious blood of the Lamb of God: “Standing at the foot of the Cross, we see hands, and feet, and side, all distilling crimson streams of precious blood. It is “PRECIOUS” because of its redeeming and atoning efficacy. By it the sins of Christ’s people are atoned for; they are redeemed from under the law; they are reconciled to God, made one with Him. Christ’s blood is also “PRECIOUS” in its cleansing power; it “cleanses us from all sin.” (1Jn 1:7-note) “Though your sins are as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow.” (Isaiah 1:18-note) Through Jesus’ blood there is not a spot left upon any believer, no wrinkle nor any such thing remains. O precious blood, which makes us clean, removing the stains of abundant iniquity, and permitting us to stand “accepted in the Beloved” (Eph 1:6KJV-note), notwithstanding the many ways in which we have rebelled against our God. The blood of Christ is likewise “PRECIOUS” in its preserving power. We are safe from the destroying angel under the sprinkled blood. Remember it is God’s seeing the blood which is the true reason for our being spared. Here is comfort for us when the eye of faith is dim, for God’s eye is still the same. The blood of Christ is “PRECIOUS” also in its sanctifying influence. The same blood which justifies by taking away sin, does in its after-action, quicken the new nature and lead it onward to subdue sin and to follow out the commands of God. There is no motive for holiness so great as that which streams from the veins of Jesus. And “PRECIOUS,” unspeakably precious, is this blood, because it has an overcoming power. It is written, “They overcame through the BLOOD OF THE LAMB.” (Rev 12:11-note, cf 1Jn 5:4-5-note) How could they do otherwise? He who fights with the precious blood of Jesus, fights with a weapon which cannot know defeat. The blood of Jesus! sin dies at its presence, death ceases to be death: heaven’s gates are opened. The blood of Jesus! we shall march on, conquering and to conquer, so long as we can trust its power!”
ISAIAH: “All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way, but the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him (literally “laid on Him with a death-dealing blow”). He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth. Like a LAMB that is led to slaughter, and like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, so He did not open His mouth.” (Isaiah 53:6-7-note) Centuries later when the Ethiopian Eunuch ask Phillip “of Whom does the prophet Isaiah speak?” “Philip opened his mouth and beginning from (Isaiah 53:7-note) he preached Jesus to him.” (Acts 8:32-35-note)
THE GOSPEL OF JOHN: John the Baptist answers the Old Testament question, declaring “Behold the LAMB OF GOD Who takes away the sin of the world.” (Jn 1:29-note). The renowned preacher C H Spurgeon once tested an auditorium in which he was to speak that evening. Stepping into the pulpit, Spurgeon loudly proclaimed, “Behold the lamb of God, Who takes away the sin of the world.” Satisfied with the acoustics, he left and went his way. Unknown to him, there were two men working in the rafters of that large auditorium, neither one a Christian. One of the men was pricked in his conscience by the verse Spurgeon quoted and became a believer later that day! May Spurgeon’s experience encourage all of us to boldly, unashamedly proclaim the Gospel of the Lamb, which is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes (Ro 1:16-note).
THE REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST: Keep in mind that the most common Name for Jesus in the Revelation is “THE LAMB.” (Lamb -29X-see these uses, Jesus-14x!) After our Lord Jesus Christ had been raised from the dead on the third day according to the Scriptures (1Cor 15:4-note), He came into the room in the presence of the 11 disciples, and encouraged Thomas (who was doubting the truth of His resurrection) to “Reach here your finger and see My hands and reach here your hand, and put it into My side and be not unbelieving, but believing.” Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” (Jn 20:27-28-note) Those same nail-scarred hands John saw in that room on earth, were the very scars he saw in his glorified Lord’s hands in heaven when he testified “I saw between the throne and the elders a LAMB standing, as if SLAIN (The same Greek verb [sphazo] was used to describe the slaughter of the Passover lamb in Ex 12:6!)” (Rev 5:6-note). Spurgeon asks “Why should our exalted Lord appear in His wounds in glory? The wounds of Jesus are His glories, His jewels, His sacred ornaments. Jesus wears the appearance of a SLAIN LAMB as His court dress in which He wooed our souls, and redeemed them by His complete atonement. Nor are these only the ornaments of Christ: they are the trophies of His love and of His victory. He has divided the spoil with the strong. He has redeemed for Himself a great multitude whom no man can number, and these SCARS are the memorials of the fight. Ah! if Christ thus loves to retain the thought of His sufferings for His people, how precious should His wounds be to us!”
In Isaiah Jehovah declared “Behold, I have inscribed (engraved) you on the palms of My hands.” (Isa 49:16-note) Spurgeon asks “What are these wounds in Thy hands, these sacred stigmata, these ensigns of suffering? The graver’s tool was the nail, backed by the hammer. He must be fastened to the Cross, that His people might be truly graven on the palms of His hands. There is much consolation here. We know that what a man has won with great pain he will keep with great tenacity. Child of God, you cost Christ too much for Him to forget you.” Spurgeon goes on to add “It does not say, “Thy name.” Yes, the name is there, but that is not all: “I have graven THEE.” See the fullness of this! I have graven thy person, thine image, thy case, thy circumstances, thy sins, thy temptations, thy weaknesses, thy wants, thy works; I have graven thee, everything about thee, all that concerns thee; I have put thee altogether there. Wilt thou ever say again that thy God hath forsaken thee when he has graven thee upon His own palms?” In the face of such amazing love, how could God ever forget His people? Do you ever feel like He has forgotten you or your difficult circumstances? Then take heart, for He Himself has declared “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you.” (Heb 13:5-note) and the scars on the Lamb that was slain seal His promise forever! Augustus Toplady spoke of this great truth writing “My name from the palms of His hands eternity will not erase; Impressed on His heart it remains, in marks of indelible grace. Yes, I to the end shall endure, as sure as the earnest is giv’n; More happy, but not more secure, then even the glorified spirits in Heav’n.” (Hymn: A Debtor to Mercy Alone) As Spurgeon remarks “How loving, then, how full of superlative, super-excellent affection is God toward you and toward me in so recording our names.” In view of so great a sacrifice procured by the meek and gentle Lamb of God, let us join now with that heavenly throng singing with a loud voice “Worthy is the LAMB that was SLAIN to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing…To Him who sits on the throne, and to the LAMB, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever.” (Revelation 5:12-13-note)
TO SUMMARIZE: The question in the OT was “WHERE IS THE LAMB?” The answer in the NT is “BEHOLD THE LAMB!” Our cry throughout eternity will be “WORTHY IS THE LAMB!“” And all God’s children said “Hallelujah! Amen!”
In the mysterious working of God, the LAMB Who died to redeem us and give us new life in Himself is now our SHEPHERD (cf Rev 7:17-note) Who ever lives to make us, His SHEEP, lie down in green pastures, to lead us beside still waters, to restore our soul, to guide us in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake, to walk with us through the valley of the shadow of death, to prepare a table before us in the presence of our enemies, to anoint our head with oil, to cause our cup to overflow. “Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow (us) all the days of (our) life, and (we) will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.” (Ps 23:1-6-note)
Father, as we BEHOLD THE LAMB “slain from the foundation of the world” (Rev 13:8KJV-note) and ponder with wonder and awe the REDEMPTION wrought by our REDEEMER’S precious blood, may Your Spirit use this eternal Word of Truth to enable us to daily die to self and lovingly follow the Good Shepherd all the days of our life. Amen
Worship the Lamb singing “My Redeemer Lives” by Nicolle Mullen
ROMANS 12:12 – THOUGHTS ON JOY & HOPE & PERSEVERANCE & PRAYER: Are you going through tribulations and crushing circumstances (Gk for tribulation= crushed beneath a weight)? Then Paul has a Word of Truth for you regarding the relationship of HOPE and PERSEVERANCE and PRAYER. As Martyn Lloyd-Jones says “Tribulation, hope and prayer always go together in the NT and it is a very good way of testing ourselves to ask whether they always go together in our experience. They should.”
In Ro 12:12-note Paul calls for all saints (not a special class but all who by the glorious Gospel have forever been set apart from the world and unto God as His permanent, prized, possession) to continually be: “REJOICING in HOPE, PERSEVERING in TRIBULATION, DEVOTED to PRAYER.”
Paul says we are to be “REJOICING in the sphere of HOPE.” The idea is in the “atmosphere” of HOPE. So like a fish needs water to thrive, joy needs hope to be alive. In other words when our hope is fresh and full and focused on “Christ Jesus our Hope” (1Ti 1:1-note), our hope will be like “rain” falling on a barren heart, bringing forth the fragrant flower of joy. Indeed, HOPE fixed on the good that God will do to us in the future is a sure foundation for Christian joy and PERSEVERANCE in present TRIBULATIONS. This joy is independent of circumstances (which may be cheery or dreary), for it is a supernatural joy, a joy that can still survive in the dark night of a believer’s soul. Such glorious joy is a product not of our feelings, but an integral component of the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-note). Such joy is also the fruit of PRAYER, so if your HOPE is at low ebb, pray that “the GOD OF HOPE (Who inspires and energizes our hope might) fill you with all JOY and peace in believing (our responsibility = trust His promises), so that you may abound (overflow, be filled to the brim) in HOPE by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Ro 15:13-note)
As John Piper says ABOUNDING HOPE pushes “out all contrary emotions-discouragement, depression, fear, anxiety, grumbling, bitterness. Hope does not coexist well with these things. And when hope is abounding and overflowing, it pushes out these contrary emotions!” Supernatural, Spirit-given Biblically-based Hope is a mighty power to promote personal PERSEVERANCE IN TRIBULATION! As Spurgeon once quipped it was “by PERSEVERANCE (that) the snail reached the ark!” As an aside Jerry Bridges makes an interesting distinction: “ENDURANCE is the ability to stand up under adversity; PERSEVERANCE is the ability to progress in spite of it. These two English words are translations of the same Greek word and simply represent two different views of the same quality: a godly response to adversity.” And meditating on the Biblical truth about HOPE serves to energize this godly response.
C H Spurgeon adds that “The old physicians tell us of two antidotes against poison, the hot and the cold, and they expand upon the special excellence of each of these; in like manner the Apostle Paul gives us first the warm antidote, “rejoicing in hope,” and then he gives us the cool antidote, “patient in tribulation.” Either of these, or both together, will work wonderfully for the sustaining of the spirit; but it is to be observed that neither of these remedies can be taken into the soul unless it is mixed with a draught of prayer. Joy and patience are curative essences, but they must be dropped into a glass full of supplication, and then they will be wonderfully efficient.”
Paul writes that “with PERSEVERANCE we wait eagerly” for our HOPE (Ro 8:25-note), knowing that it is not a dead hope but a “LIVING HOPE” for it is firmly founded on “the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1Pet 1:3-note). We now possess “the first fruits of the Spirit”, Who enables us to “wait eagerly for our adoption as sons and the redemption of our body (OUR HOPE).” (Ro 8:23-note) Enabled by the self-same “Spirit of Grace,” (Heb 10:29-note), we can continually choose to “set our minds on the things above (OUR HOPE), and NOT ON the things that are on earth” (Col 3:2-note). Again, Paul reminds us that “our citizenship is in heaven from which we eagerly await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, Who will transform our humble, lowly body to be like the body of His glory (OUR HOPE),” and this will happen “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet, (when) the dead will be raised incorruptible and we shall all be changed (OUR HOPE)” (1Cor 15:52-note) for “it has not appeared as yet what we shall be. We know that, when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this HOPE fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” (1Jn 3:2-3-note) Indeed, when our HOPE (GLORIFIED BODIES IN PRESENCE OF THE GLORIOUS ONE) becomes sight (Ro 8:24-note), in that great and glorious day “when every crutch will be carved up and every wheelchair melted down into medallions of redemption” (Piper), our Lord Himself “will wipe away every tear from our eyes and there shall no longer be any death; there shall no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away (OUR HOPE REALIZED).” (Rev 21:4-note)
Alexander Maclaren writes that “True joy is not a matter of temperament, so much as a matter of faith. It is not a matter of circumstances. All the surface ground may be dry, but there is a well in the courtyard deep and cool and full and exhaustless, and a Christian who rightly understands and cherishes the Christian HOPE is lifted above temperament, and is not dependent upon conditions for his joys. You must choose what you THINK ABOUT (BIBLICAL HOPE) and FEELINGS will follow THOUGHTS. One great source of the weakness of average Christianity amongst us today is the dimness into which so many of us have let the HOPE OF THE GLORY OF GOD pass from our hearts.” Indeed, God has given His children a new and better way to navigate the rough seas of suffering and affliction in this world. Paul says one way is by having our mind and heart renewed by thoughts of HOPE which focus on the COMING ONE and the COMING WORLD, enabling us to PERSEVERE IN TRIBULATIONS in this present world.
As John Piper says we must “Hope in Jesus Christ, the ground of all our hope. Bank your hope on Him. Not yourself, not your intelligence, not your health, not your money, not your job, not your reputation. None of these can sustain your hope (nor enable perseverance). They can collapse in a moment. God means for our hope to be firm and unshakable and so He put underneath it His Own Son. At every turn in your life, say ‘Jesus, You are My Hope.’” Or as Edward Mote (note) so eloquently said it: “My HOPE is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame, But wholly trust in Jesus’ Name. When darkness seems to hide His face, I rest on His unchanging grace. In every high and stormy gale, My anchor holds within the veil (Heb 6:18-20-note). On Christ the solid Rock I stand, All other ground is sinking sand; All other ground is sinking sand.”
Writing to the saints in Thessalonica who had received the Gospel “in much TRIBULATIONI with the joy of the Holy Spirit” (1Th 1:6-note, 1Th 2:14-note), Paul reminds them of their “PERSEVERANCE OF HOPE in our Lord Jesus Christ” (1Th 1:3-note). In other words, their perseverance was characterized by hope, inspired by hope and sustained by hope in spite of set-backs and difficulties. This hope includes the assurance that one day we will be saved from even the presence of sin and receive perfect glorified bodies enabling us to have eternal unbroken fellowship with our Lord and all of His children. This is the hope that supernaturally inspires the believer to not just HOLD ON but to PRESS ON assured that the victory has already been won at Calvary. This perseverance is not characterized by a GRIM WAITING but a JOYFUL HOPING. The Greek word for perseverance (hupomone) does not simply accept and endure but always has a forward look in it. For example Jesus “for the joy that was set before Him, ENDURED the Cross, despising the shame.” (Heb 12:2-note). That is Christian perseverance motivated by a confident, sure hope which functions like an anchor for our souls (Heb 6:19-note). It is the courageous acceptance of everything that life can throw at us or do to us, for we know that the best is yet to come!
In Romans 5 Paul writes that we “exult in HOPE OF THE GLORY OF GOD.” (Ro 5:2-note) As Piper says “The chief cause of joy in the Christian life is the eager expectation that we will see and share in the glory of God. Hope for God’s glory is the heart of our gladness.” Paul then encourages us to “exult (boast) in our TRIBULATIONS” knowing that our tribulations accomplish PERSEVERANCE which enables us to endure the winds of affliction, which ultimately produces even more HOPE (Ro 5:3-5-note). Piper explains that “the reason we exult in tribulations is not because we like pain or misery or discomfort or trouble (we are not masochists), but because tribulations produce what we do like, namely, a stronger and stronger sense of hope which comes through the experience of patient perseverance and a sense of being approved…. The people who know God best are the people who suffer with Christ. The people who are most unwavering in their hope are those who have been tested most deeply. The people who look most earnestly and steadfastly and eagerly to the hope of glory are those who have had the comforts of this life stripped away through tribulations.”
Finally, we see HOPE and PERSEVERANCE in Ro 15:4-note where Paul explains that “whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, that through PERSEVERANCE and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have HOPE.” In other words the OT stories of Abraham, Joseph, Job, etc were written so that we might see how God worked in their lives, controlling their circumstances for their good and His glory. These real events in the lives of real people happened to give us real encouragement to continue to REJOICE IN HOPE, PERSEVERE IN TRIBULATION, BE DEVOTED TO PRAYER! Let it be so Lord.
“Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus” (Ro 15:5-note) and may you “be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you may walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all STEADFASTNESS and PATIENCE; joyously giving thanks to the Father, Who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in light, having transferred us to the Kingdom of His beloved Son.” Amen (Col 1:9-13-note).
IMMANUEL, EMMANUEL (GOD WITH US): Have you ever wondered if you should spell Immanuel with an “I” or an “E?” The answer is that both are correct! Immanuel with an “I” is a transliteration of the original Hebrew word composed of ‘Immanu (with us) and El (God), while Emmanuel with an “E” is a transliteration of the Greek “Emmanouel.” The NET Bible is one of the few translations that maintains this distinction, translating Isa 7:14-note as Immanuel and Mt 1:23-note as Emmanuel. Inherent in the name IMMANUEL is the great mystery of godliness of the One Who “was revealed in the flesh” (1Ti 3:16-note), of the INFINITE becoming FINITE, of the promised Messiah Who is both Divine and Human, fully God and fully Man, Majesty (2Pe 1:16-note) veiled in Meekness (Mt 11:29KJV-note). He was God FOR us before He became God WITH us, and it was because He was FOR us that He became God WITH us. And so the King of glory became the servant of men (Php 2:7-8-note, Mk 10:45).
The Name IMMANUEL emphasizes the nearness of God. Christ’s birth brought the infinite, holy God within reach of finite, sinful man. God came to live with us so we could live with Him. The Son of God became the Son of Man that He might change the sons of men into sons of God (1Jn 3:1KJV-note), sons and daughters who can “now draw near with confidence (boldness) to the Throne of grace” through our Immanuel (Heb 4:16-note, Heb 10:19-22-note). And so Immanuel speaks of the incarnation of Christ, God in the flesh. John describes the revelation of Immanuel writing that “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us and we beheld His (Shekinah) glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (Jn 1:14-note) Spurgeon says in this great Name IMMANUEL “is eternity’s sonnet, heaven’s hallelujah, the shout of the glorified, the song of the redeemed, the chorus of angels, the everlasting oratorio of the great orchestra of the sky.” He adds that “John Wesley died with the words “The best of all is GOD IS WITH US” on his tongue. May God’s Spirit enable us to live with those very words ever on our hearts!” “Veiled in flesh the Godhead see; Hail the incarnate Deity, Pleased as Man with men to dwell, Jesus, our Emmanuel.” (John Wesley) Let us praise the One Who is both transcendent and yet approachable, God Most High and yet God With Us, Immanuel!
While there are only 3 occurrences of Immanuel in Scripture (Isa 7:14-note, Isa 8:8-note, Mt 1:23-note), there are many passages that speak of the truth of God’s presence with His people. The Gospel of Matthew opens with “Behold!…IMMANUEL….GOD WITH US” (Mt 1:23-note) and closes with “Lo! I AM WITH YOU ALWAYS, even to the end of the age! (Mt 28:20-note) J C Ryle writes that Immanuel promises to be “with us daily to pardon and forgive; with us daily to sanctify and strengthen; with us daily to defend and keep; with us daily to lead and to guide; with us in sorrow, and with us in joy; with us in sickness, and with us in health; with us in life, and with us in death; with us in time, and with us in eternity.” Wiersbe adds “What a tremendous assurance. “I am with you always!” In Mt 1:23, He was called “Immanuel,” God with us, and in Mt 28:20 He reaffirms that Name. He is with us through His Spirit, in His Word, by His providential care, and with His divine presence. This is the promise that carried Livingstone into the heart of darkest Africa and that encouraged and enabled messengers of Christ down through the years.” May the Truth of IMMANUEL, be an anchor to your soul when winds of trial blow.
As Matthew Henry said “By the light of nature we see God as a God above us (Ps 19:1-2-note); by the light of the law we see him as a God against us (Ro 3:19-20-note, Jas 2:10-note, Col 2:14-note); but by the light of the Gospel we see Him as EMMANUEL, GOD WITH US.” Let us meditate on His Name Immanuel. Indeed, His “Name…is wonderful.” (Jdg 13:18-note) “O LORD our Lord, how majestic is YOUR NAME in all the earth.” (Ps 8:1-note) “Sing praise to the LORD, you His godly ones, and give thanks to His holy NAME.” (Ps 30:4-note) “I will sing praise to the NAME of the LORD Most High.” (Ps 7:17-note) “And those who know (experientially, intimately) Your NAME (IMMANUEL) will put their trust in You, for You, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek Thee.” (Ps 9:10) “O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt His NAME together.” (Ps 34:3-note) “Blessed be His glorious NAME (IMMANUEL) forever; and may the whole earth be filled with His glory. Amen, and Amen.” (Ps 72:19-note)
He is our IMMANUEL, GOD WITH US, at every stage of our spiritual life, for He has promised to never (Greek has 5 negatives emphasizing the impossibility that He will ever) desert us or forsake us (Heb 13:5-note). Even in the OT prior to the full revelation of Immanuel in Mt 1:23, we see that the heart of God is to be WITH His people. And so the phrase “I WILL BE WITH YOU” occurs 9x in the OT (Ge 26:3-note, Ge 31:3-note, Dt 31:23, Josh 1:5-note, Josh 3:7-note, Jdg 6:16-note, 1Ki 11:38, Isa 43:2). For example, in Isaiah 43, God gives a great promise of His presence to Israel (and applicable to all His children) declaring that “When (not “if”) you go through deep waters, I WILL BE WITH YOU (“I will be Immanuel to you”). When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.” (Isaiah 43:2NLT) Because you belong to Him, Immanuel will preserve you in the midst of the trials by His presence and power! Believe it for it is the Word of Truth! Let us recall the three Hebrew boys who were thrown into the fiery furnace because they would rather burn rather bow (Da 3:17-18-note). Their courageous stand resulted in Nebuchadnezzar’s description of a “fourth (Man in the fire who) is like the Son of God” (Da 3:25KJV-note)! It is not some quality given to enable us to endure the trial nor is it a dramatic change of circumstances that makes victory possible, but it is the unfailing presence of a PERSON, the “fourth Man in the fiery trial,” Jesus Christ, our IMMANUEL! In Genesis, we see the same pattern of GOD’S PRESENCE WITH Joseph in his trials! (Read Ge 39:2,3,5,21-note) Paul when faced with his imminent death, could still confidently declare in some of his very last words that “the LORD STOOD WITH ME and strengthened me.” (2Ti 4:16-note) So yes, beloved, Jesus, our IMMANUEL will be WITH US in every trial until the very end (cf Mt 28:20)! Jehovah is not a distant God but is IMMANUEL “a very present help in trouble” (Ps 46:1-note)!
Spurgeon comments on Isaiah 43:2: “Bridge there is none: we must go through the waters and feel the rush of the rivers. The PRESENCE OF GOD in the flood is better than a ferry-boat. TRIED we must be, but TRIUMPHANT we shall be; for JEHOVAH HIMSELF, Who is mightier than many waters, shall BE WITH US (IMMANUEL!). Whenever else He may be away from His people, the Lord will SURELY BE WITH THEM in difficulties and dangers. The sorrows of life may rise to an extraordinary height, but the Lord is equal to every occasion. The enemies of God can put in our way dangers of their own making, namely, persecutions and cruel mockings, which are like a burning fiery furnace. What then? We shall walk through the fires. GOD BEING WITH US, we shall not be burned; nay, not even the smell of fire shall remain upon us! Oh, the wonderful security of the heaven-born and heaven-bound pilgrim! Floods cannot drown him, nor fires burn him. THY PRESENCE, O Lord, is the protection of Thy saints from the varied perils of the road. Behold, in faith I commit myself unto Thee, and my spirit enters into rest.” AMEN! Indeed, Immanuel is a powerful, practical Name which is like “a strong tower that the righteous man or woman runs into and is safe, protected (literally “set on high’)” (Pr 18:10-note)
In your daily experience, do you know Jesus as IMMANUEL, GOD WITH YOU? How was “God with you” today? Many of us are like the children of Israel asking “Is the LORD among us or not?” (Ex 17:7-note) We need to remind ourselves of the truth that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today, yes and forever.” (Heb 13:8-note) What we need even more than deliverance from trouble is the sure knowledge that God is our IMMANUEL in the midst of trouble. The secret of peace is not a plan or program but a Person, Immanuel, God with us (Read Ps 20:7-note). Indeed, the wonderful Name Immanuel is an antidote for our fear, even as Moses reminded Israel declaring that “the LORD is WITH US; do not FEAR” (Nu 14:9-note) When danger threatens or calamity strikes, we can be assured of Immanuel’s personal presence to comfort and calm us. And so when we experience fearful thoughts, we recall to mind David’s affirmation “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I FEAR no evil, (Why?) for YOU ARE WITH ME, Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me.” (Ps 23:4-note). As Spurgeon affirms, Jesus Christ is “Immanuel, God with us in our nature, in our sorrow, in our lifework, in our punishment, in our grave, and now with us, or rather we with Him, in resurrection, ascension, triumph, and Second Advent splendour.”
Who is Immanuel today? Spurgeon answers that “Jesus came, and the ever-blessed Son in His own proper Person, was the delight of His people’s eyes. At the time of the Redeemer’s ascension, the Holy Spirit became the Head of the present church age (Jn 16:7-note, Lk 24:49, Acts 2:33-note), and His power (Acts 1:8-note) was gloriously manifested in (Acts 2:4-note) and after Pentecost (Acts 16:7). He remains at this hour the PRESENT IMMANUEL—GOD WITH US, (Read Ro 8:9-note, Php 1:19-note, Gal 4:6-note) dwelling in (1Cor 6:19-note, 1Cor 3:16, 2Co 6:16) and with His people, making alive (Ro 8:2-note, 2Cor 3:5-6-note), guiding (Jn 16:13-note), and ruling in their midst (1Cor 12:11, Acts 13:2,4-note, Acts 10:19-note, Acts 11:12-note, Acts 16:6-note, Acts 20:28-note). Is the Spirit’s presence recognized as it ought to be? Are we sufficiently anxious to obtain the Spirit’s enabling power (Acts 1:8-note, Eph 3:16-note) or sufficiently watchful lest we provoke Him to withdraw His aid? (Eph 4:29-30-note, 1Th 5:18-19-note) Without Him we can do NOTHING (Jn 6:63-note, Jn 15:5-note), but by His almighty energy the most extraordinary results can be produced (Eph 3:20-note): everything depends upon His manifesting or concealing His power (Ro 15:19-note, Acts 1:8-note). Do we always look up to the Spirit both for our inner life and our outward service with the respectful dependence which is fitting? Do we not too often run before His call and act independently of His aid (Ro 7:6-note, 1Cor 15:10-note)? Condescending and tender, He does not weary of us, but awaits to be gracious still.”
Spurgeon leaves us with a good prayer to pray: “Blessed Immanuel, we gladly obey Thee! In Thee our darkness ends and from the shadow of death we rise to the Light of life. It is salvation to be obedient to Thee. It is the end of gloom to her that was in anguish to bow herself before Thee. May God the Holy Spirit take of the things of Christ and show them unto us, and then we shall all cry— “Go worship at Immanuel’s feet! See in His face what wonders meet! Earth is too narrow to express; His worth, His grace, His righteousness.” to which we add “O Come, O Come Emmanuel.”
A sign shall be given, A virgin will conceive
A human baby bearing undiminished Deity
The Glory of the nations, a Light for all to see
And Hope for all who will embrace His warm reality.
IMMANUEL, OUR GOD IS WITH US
And if GOD IS WITH US, who could stand against us?
Our GOD IS WITH US, IMMANUEL.
For all those who live in the shadow of death
A Glorious Light has dawned
For all those who stumble in the darkness
Behold, your Light has come.
So what will be your answer? Will you hear the call
Of Him Who did not spare His Son but gave Him for us all
On earth there is no power, there is no depth nor height
That could ever separate us from the love of God in Christ.