Notes of an address by J S. Bertram.
In our everyday language we speak of spring, summer, autumn and winter, which is perfectly in accord with man's order, but in God's economy there is a very different order of things. Relative to man he was set up in Eden in the bloom of youth, the freshness of spring and knew something of the summer of God's beneficent goodness, but on account of sin he reaped a bad harvest, and his day ended in death; a winter scene indeed! What was true in connection with man was also true of Israel. Freshness, the expression of life, was in the early days of Solomon, but alas, he too reaped a sad harvest, and bitter winter moral conditions ensued. In John 10:22-23, our blessed Lord was in the temple in Solomon's porch. Despite its magnificent structure with all its show of religious service and the feast of dedication in progress "it was winter." True as to the season of the year, but it was also a perfect description of the nation's condition, where there was no life spiritually there was not a movement toward God with all its fair show; but there is something else to notice, "Jesus walked." What a delight to the Father to look down upon His beloved Son in that winter scene and find in Him alone something for Himself. There was One who walked for His glory, where every step emitted a sweet fragrance in contrast to the corruption.
In 2 Samuel 23:20, we have another winter scene; again there is a conspicuous man. Benaiah (the name means "whom God has made strong for Himself"). He went down into a pit to slay a lion; surely a lovely type of the One who descended into the lower parts of the earth, having gone down into death. How blessed that in death's domain (man's unhappy lot, the result of his sin), the blessed God commences to work with the Man of His choice. In the scene where man is helpless God's man comes into view. When Benaiah went down into the pit it was "the time of snow," everything was in the grip of winter, there was not a vestige of life to be seen. So with the blessed Lord Jesus when He went down unto death to slay him who had the power of death, there was not a breath for God in the whole universe, everything lay in death, in the grip of winter. The hopes of the disciples were buried with Him. Marvellous are God's ways. The way of life lay through death. That condition of things which sin had brought in must be brought to an end in death. In the domain of death (man's dread enemy), the infinite love of God has been declared, and the power of God's man seen. So as Benaiah emerged from the pit victorious, having slain the lion; so the blessed Lord arose out of death having burst its iron portals and destroyed forever its power. In His resurrection there is the dawn of a new day, life from the dead. The winter is past and gone, the time of the singing of birds is come (Cant. 2:11-12). In life out of death, spring time had come indeed! He communicated His risen life to His own; the time of singing had come. What joy and gladness filled their hearts as they were brought into the new association with Him risen as He manifested Himself to them during those forty days! But these conditions were preparatory for the introduction of the summer of God's rich grace. The One who went down into death, and rose again has been carried up on high and acclaimed by all heaven as the worthy victorious One God's glory now shines in His blessed face, and as the sun in summer rises in noonday splendour, shedding its beneficent rays over creation, so the Son of Man has gone to the highest glory. From His place of supremacy and acceptance God's rich grace shines for all. We are now living in the summer of God's grace; what a favourable accepted time is the present. There never was a day like the present, when God's rich grace and love in superabundance are free for all. From Jer. 8:20, we learn that the summer of God's grace will end; i.e., a very solemn thought for those who have not availed themselves of His grace, and they are not saved, let these solemn searching words sink into every heart. Oh, that men would avail themselves of God's grace in the day of salvation, the summer of His grace. There is going to be a rich harvest for God, whatever man may derive from His goodness, and it seems as if that rich harvest will soon be reaped. God's patient goodness and the sunshine of His love will terminate suddenly in the Lord's coming for His own, the first fruits of the harvest have already been reaped, afterwards they that are Christ's at His coming! What a harvest that will be for God; fruit of His love! That will also be a harvest for Christ; fruit of His grief and travail, when myriads are caught up in His likeness. He will rest in His love, He will joy over thee with singing (Zeph 3:12). When the harvest is gathered home God will be satisfied, Christ glorified in are redeemed and glorified company; His body and bride resplendent with His glory!