God Speaking

God at sundry times and in diverse manners spake in times past to the fathers by the prophets, but all His speaking seemed to be in vain. "I spake to you," said He to His people, "rising up early and speaking, but ye heard not; and I called you, but ye answered not" (Jer. 7:13). And again it is written, "The Lord God of their fathers sent to them by His messengers, rising up betimes, and sending; because He had compassion on His people, and on His dwelling place; but they mocked the messengers of God, and despised His words, and misused His prophets, until the wrath of the Lord rose against His people, till there was no remedy" (2 Chr. 36:15-16). While God never left Himself without a witness in the earth, Israel's sad history of backsliding proved beyond a question that if He was to secure men for Himself, something other than the prophetic word, or even the ministry of angels was needed. God knew what was needed from the beginning and gleams of light as to it broke out here and there in those former ineffectual days, as when in His lament over Israel's continual treachery, He asks, "How shall I put thee among the children, and give thee a pleasant land, a goodly heritage of the hosts of the nations? And I said, Thou shalt call me, my Father; and shalt not depart from me" (Jer. 3:19). It was this that God held in reserve until the fullness of the times should come. He would reveal Himself as Father, and by this revelation secure a true and steadfast response in the hearts of men. But no man is a father without a child, and if God was to be revealed as Father, there must of necessity be a Son. One standing in this intimate relationship to Himself in whom and by whom what God is as Father could be revealed to men, and it is of this that we read in Hebrews 1, He "Has in these last days spoken to us in His Son."

But we must not make the mistake of supposing that this full and final revelation of God in His Son would change the nature of men and overthrow and subdue the enmity of their hearts against Him. The Lord's own parable of the vineyard shows plainly that this was not so. It is a sad story that that parable tells. He had sent His servants to the most favoured nation and they had beaten, stoned, wounded, shamefully handled and killed them. Then "having yet one Son, His well-beloved, He sent Him also last to them saying, They will reverence My Son. But those husbandmen said among themselves, This is the Heir, Come, let us kill Him, and the inheritance shall be ours. And they took Him and killed Him, and cast Him out of the vineyard" (Mark 12). This last move on God's part which brought into fullest manifestation His great love wherewith He loved us, also laid bare the incorrigible wickedness of the heart of man, and stripped him of every cloak for his sin. "If I had not done among them the works which none other man did,"' said the Lord, "they had not had sin, but now have they both seen and hated both Me and My Father. But this comes to pass, that the word might be fulfilled which is written in their law, They hated Me without a cause" (John 15:14-15).

But if men showed themselves to be so insensible to God's great love, and with wicked hands crucified, and slew His well beloved Son; if this final test brought out the worst that was in them, what hope could there be for them? None, either in time or eternity if God had no other ground upon which to deal with them than that of what they were. Everything had depended upon what they were under the law. The man that did those things lived by them, but "cursed is everyone that continueth not in all the things which are written in the book of the law to do them." "But when the fullness of time was come God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law" not to make demands upon men, but to give; not to command them to love Him, but to show the greatness of His love to them; not to condemn the guilty to a just and everlasting bondage and curse, "but to redeem them that were under the law" from the curse of it: He sent His own Son, in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, to meet all the terrible liabilities that men had incurred, and by His unspeakable gift to show His love for sinners and His abhorrence of their sins, and to save them at His own cost; and their crowning crime, the slaying of His Son, gave Him the opportunity.

"The very spear that pierced His side
  Drew forth the blood to save."

Now the whole basis of man's blessing is shifted. It is no longer what man is but what God is; no longer is it a question of what man can do for God, but what God can do for man. The offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all, when He offered Himself through the eternal Spirit, without spot to God, has set God righteously free to act according to His own heart's deep desires; and in the riches of His mercy for His great love wherewith He loves us, even when we were dead in sins He quickens us; by grace are ye saved. This is the grace of God, the exceeding riches of His grace in kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. And this is the way that God is dealing with men today. He has no other way of dealing with them in this day of grace, and it is thus that the revelation of Himself in His Son has become effective. He has not spoken in Him in vain.