“Thou remainest” (Psalm 102:26, and Hebrews 1:11).
Two wonderful words indeed, and worthy of the deepest appreciation. They refer to One who is placed in connection with creation in its widest extent, the heavens and the earth, but which, while transitory and perishable, leaves Him unaffected by their removal. He “continues still,” and this is the signification of the word “remainest.” It is not exactly His essential and eternal existence, but it is that, while associated with that which passes away, He abides. The truth is that while His hands had made these things, that He was their Creator, and, by and by, He will “fold them up and they shall be changed,” He is “the same.” His years fail not.
But he is no distant Deity, no disinterested spectator of anything His hands have made. He regulates as truly as He created. If, for some good reason He sees fit to dissolve His handiwork, He has most certainly the perfect right, as well as the power, to do so. Yet He Himself remains! And, if so, shall not His continuance be the guarantee of something greater and better—of a new heaven and a new earth wherein dwells righteousness? That He remains is the hope of that creation of God of which He is “the beginning” (Rev. 3:14).
Hence His all-sufficiency. He can both build and destroy and then build again. He can occupy every moral sphere and fill every spiritual vacuum. In Him all fullness dwells. He who was in the form of God and thought it no robbery to be equal with God, assumed, in wondrous grace, the form of a servant and the fashion of a man. Such was the extent of His incarnation. He was an actual man, like ourselves in all things except sin, leading a true and perfect human life—a man amongst men, in order to present God to us He, the Son eternal, only could, and win our confidence toward God if such a thing could be done, but going down to death, so as to annul its power, remove its sting and gain a glorious victory over it—“death, even the death of the cross!”
Mark the stages in His condescension. From Godhead to manhood, thence to servitude, thence to death, and that (oh grace inconceivable!) the death of the cross—the most ignominious, agonizing, shameful death of all! Well may we sing:
“We love Thee for the glorious worth
Which in Thyself we see
We love Thee for that shameful cross
Endured so patiently.”
But He is risen from the dead and highly exalted. We can sing, “Thou remainest.” He “remains” in view of a ruined creation, and He remains in view of a disintegrated church. He is the hope of both and “the bright and morning star” of His assembly. He is her all-sufficiency—her resource, her centre today, as at all times. He “the same” in days Laodicean as He was in those of Ephesus. He is God’s “Amen” today, maintaining, in undiminished power, all the counsel and purpose of God, spite of the fearful drop from the bright apostolic period to the present nauseous condition of the church’s faithless testimony. He is on the wrong side of the door of the profession of His name; so that He urges the purchasing of gold and clothing and eye salve, to expel its dross, and cover its nakedness, and enlighten its blindness. Outside He knocks, and seeks admission to the willing heart; for spite of the church’s palpable degradation, He “remains” as “the Same.”
Conditions may possibly change outwardly, and “difficult times” characterize these closing days, but He changes not. And hence the Second Epistle to Timothy, foretelling as it does these very days, presents to us, not so much the House of God as a well-ordered system, but Christ Himself as the foundation which stands steady, be the collapse of Christendom what it is. “Remember,” it tells us, “Jesus Christ . . . raised from the dead.” He remains as the HEAD; let us hold it fast; as LORD, let us obey His word; as the only CENTRE of gathering, let us gather to His all-sufficient name; as the still REJECTED CHRIST, let us humbly cleave to Him and His cross; as the soon-coming BRIDEGROOM, let our hearts, in all the glowing affections of a faithful bride cry: “Even so, come, Lord Jesus.”
He “remains” as THE HOPE OF ISRAEL—the nation of His choice and favour—but long driven out of its land, scattered, peeled, persecuted because of its sins, but never forgotten of Him, but rather “beloved for the fathers’ sakes,” to whom the promise of earthly blessing was made. The Deliverer will yet “come out of Zion and turn away ungodliness from Jacob,” and reinstate the nation in the Land promised it of old, for “the gifts and calling of God are without repentance” (see Rom. 11).
Then, finally, if we descend to the necessities and cares of the individual Christian, can we not say that when all else is gone, the hopes dashed, the chair vacant, the poor feeble heart crushed, the eye dimmed with tears, and the soul desolated by waves of sorrow, He remains the Comforter, the resource, the peace-giver, the abiding Friend, who Himself proved, in deep and true experience, all the sorrows of our pilgrim path, so that He is able to succour and sympathize with us.
That He remains “the same yesterday, today, and forever,” may not be the highest of His many glories, but it is not the smallest of those great dignities which make His sacred name precious to His saints in all generations—as their dwelling place, their hope, their refuge, their power and their victory.
As such, how worthy He is of all our gratitude, thanksgiving and praise. That pen is made of gold which writes of Him; the ministry which has the all-sufficiency of the Lord Jesus Christ, whether as Saviour, Lord, or Head of His body, for its primary theme is assuredly the ministry of the Spirit of God. His own closing command was, “Believe also in Me”—given just ere He went to the Father, suggesting, as it does, all that is contained in the fact that He remains.
If that be true no change of passing conditions need agitate the spirit of His people, or affect the steady labour of His servants. His grace will not fail.