John 7:45, 46; Luke 2:47-50; John 19:24-30.
F. A. Hughes.
A sense of complete inadequacy presses upon the mind as one seeks to say anything at all of so vast and searching a subject — the blessed God, incomparable in power and majesty, speaking to men! Yet encouragement is found in His first recorded words in Genesis 1:28, 29 where He speaks of blessing and giving, revealing thus the thoughts of His own heart of grace. Alas! another voice, one of untruth and evil interposed, and the voice of God must enquire of man "where art thou?" This important question of where we stand in relation to God must be settled if we are to understand, appreciate and respond to His speaking. Throughout the whole of the Old Testament the voice of God is heard in the expression of His righteous claims; His desires of blessing for all who respond to Him; His patience, His mercy, His full provision for man's every need and the rich reward for those who, like Abraham, obey His call. The Theophanies of Genesis 18 and Judges 13 will yield much regarding Divine Speaking to those who carefully read them. The bringing in of the true Isaac in whom all blessing for men and glory to God is enshrined (see Galatians 3); and the introduction of that name "Wonderful" enlarged upon in Isaiah 9:6, a word so often used of the Person and works of the Lord Jesus in the gospel. Blessed indeed to notice that in spite of man's persistent refusal of God's speaking throughout the Old Testament he so preciously reminds His people in Malachi — "I have loved you, saith Jehovah."
Hebrews 1 commences with those wonderful words — "God having spoken in many parts and in many ways formerly to the fathers in the prophets, at the end of these days has spoken to us in the Person of the Son." Many pages would be needed to express the sayings of God to and of His blessed Son in the gospels, but we desire to call attention to a few of the actual words of Christ Himself, all well-known but ever competent to reveal fresh rays of His glory to our hearts. He is "the Word" -eternally so! "The Word was with God, and the Word was God." Not only did He manifest all that lay in the Divine heart and mind but He Himself was the very substance of it all. He is the embodiment of all that the Scriptures say. Not only the "Alpha and Omega," but the "Aleph and the Tau" (the word "ME" in Zechariah 12:10 is composed of the first and last letters of the Hebrew language). He is the living Word — the written word becomes vibrant, powerful and exceedingly glorious in character and appeal as we see Christ Himself as the "Beginning and the End," "He who is, and who was, and who is to come" (Revelation 1). Kindly not carefully the order of the tenses.
In His holy Manhood, as indeed in all else, His speech was unique. "Never man spake thus, as this Man speaks." Our accent will often reveal our domicile; so with our blessed Lord. His domicile was heaven itself — "the Son of Man who is in heaven" were His words whilst speaking to Nicodemus on earth, to whom He spoke "heavenly things" (John 3:12). His accent was truly heavenly — gracious words and full of authority. To the Jews who, under the influence of Satan, could not "know His speech," and would question who He was in His Person, He replied "Altogether that which I also say unto you" (John 8). "His speech presented Himself, being the truth" (JND). His words are "Spirit and life" (John 6) reaching to the innermost recesses of our being and producing living response to Himself and to the Father whose words He spoke. The voice that calmed the storm; that rent the grave and halted the ravages of corruption (John 11), endears itself by its compassionate tones to the hearts of those who know and love Him. Such desire ever to be within reach of that voice. "My sheep hear My voice and I know them, and they follow Me". To where will that voice lead? Even into the realm of eternal life itself. How precious the portion of those thus drawn to Him! Mary of Bethany sitting at His feet "was listening to His word." How blessed her portion — paramount above all else. Briefly we refer to Samuel who "lay . . where the Ark of God was." Not only did God reveal His mind to him in relation to the evil conditions then obtaining, but we see later the tremendous effect upon Samuel himself — "and Samuel grew, and Jehovah was with him, and let none of His words fall to the ground." "And what Samuel said happened" (1 Samuel 3:4). In 2 Samuel 7 we read "And king David went in and sat before Jehovah." the word "sat" indicates "tarrying" — he remained there and his subsequent words reveal the marvellous impressions he received of the greatness of God and His Name, culminating in his appreciation of that wondrous Name of God — Thou art that God," the "SAME," the unchanging and unchangeable God. Many other such incidents could be cited — but we refrain — earnestly desiring that each of us may say from our hearts "Speak Lord, for Thy servant heareth." Thus may we learn the sure way in which God will deal with all that is contrary to His will, and eventually fill the whole universe with His glory.
In Luke 2 we have the first recorded words spoken by the Lord Jesus — "Wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?" This was His whole occupation — the revelation of the Father. Might we not enquire as to what constitutes the "Father's business"? He is, as Father, the Source of all; His love, His desires, His purpose, His glory, are immeasurable; eternal in their existence and needing an eternity for their ultimate display. Who but the Son could make the greatness of these things known to men, and secure a place and appreciation for them in our hearts? He is the "Father of compassions and God of all encouragement." Preciously do we read those words so often upon the lips of Christ — "He saw and had compassion." He is the "Father of lights, with whom is no variation or shadow of turning," and from Whom "Every good gift and every perfect gift comes down" (James 1); He is the "Father of glory" with Whom is associated the hope of our calling — the riches of His inheritance in the saints, the surpassing greatness of His power, and much more as Ephesians 1 contains; He is the "Father of spirits" having in view our being made "partakers of His holiness" (Hebrews 12). Every ray of love and power and glory finds its source in Him, the full knowledge of which was dependent upon the One of Whom it is written — "Nor does any one know the Father, but the Son, and he to whom the Son may be pleased to reveal Him" (Matthew 11). Beloved brethren, shall we not bow in adoration before Him who eternally dwelt in the Divine bosom, listening to His voice as He speaks of the One He came to make known? The riches of His love, the glory of His power and might, the pure eternal light ever shining from His holy presence.
The final Scripture we mention contains the last recorded words of our precious Lord before He gave up His spirit to the Father — "It is finished." We bow again in worship! The work He came to do was completed, the foundation upon which the revelation of the Father could be made was laid, the Father's will to the bitter end was accomplished, and He could say to the broken-hearted Magdalene — "I ascend to My Father, and your Father, and to My God, and to your God." He has done "all things well;" He has made the deaf to hear His heavenly accents and He has opened mouths to respond to God in praise and worship (Mark 7).
How right it is said that there are but two voices in this world — the voice of the foolish woman whose words of flattering, filled with evil and corruption, are blatant on every hand in Satan's world; and the voice of wisdom. Christ the "Wisdom of God," whose sayings will give life and intelligence, teaching us the way of wisdom itself, leading in paths of righteousness, helping us to run the spiritual course without stumbling, our eyes looking straight on to the glory, our paths well ordered, ears inclined to understanding and lips preserved from every feature of corruption and marked by purity and knowledge (cf. Proverbs 4).
"Sweet it is to sit before Thee,
Sweet to hear Thy blessed voice,
Sweet to worship and adore Thee,
While our hearts in Thee rejoice."
Soon we shall hear that voice in all its attractive power and love, calling us hence away.
"For the Lord Himself, with an assembling shout, with archangel's voice shall descend from heaven; and the dead in Christ shall rise first, then we, the living who remain, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air, and thus we shall be always with the Lord. So encourage one another with these words."