The Throne of God and the Son of Man.

1867 322 It is important to distinguish between the ways of God in government on this earth, whilst nations and peoples are living upon it, in all the busy activities of human enterprise; and the judgment after death, which awaits mankind, when "small and great, stand before God, and the books are opened." The difference maintained in the scriptures between a first and second death is marked and bold — at the end of a "threescore years and ten" life, in this world; or in the beginning of that undying life of woe hereafter, when "whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire." There are, further, important distinctions, and varieties in the present ways of God, towards the Jews, the Gentiles, and the Church, some of which it is my object to notice. So real indeed is this difference in the governmental actings of God in time, that a Gentile can never with propriety take on himself the responsibility of a Jew — nor a Jew charge himself with the responsibilities of a Gentile — nor a Christian with either. Moreover when Christ was on the earth, and standing in His own peculiar relation to each of these classes, who has not loved to trace Him in the perfectness of His own paths, and intercourse with each, as He enters into the narrower circle of the nation of Israel, at one time; or passes into the broader one as a man, in the midst of mankind; or at last in that new group of men and women, who were the nucleus of Christianity, and of a new-born Christian people? He weeps over his own city Jerusalem before He leaves the world. He sends the Holy Ghost down from the heavens, when He is gone up there, "to gather out from the Gentiles," a people for His name; and He is coming a second time to call away the Church from this earth, when "the marriage of the Lamb is come." Who does not see these differences in result, as "the Jews, and the Gentiles, and the Church of God" in their various relations to Christ are viewed now in the light or shade of their respective histories; or when each is glorified in the glory of the coming Lord and of the approaching King and His kingdom?

What will be manifestly true in outward form and fact then, when "the oil of joy" and "the garment of praise" take their place and do their work, had an equal reality, but a very opposite one, when dispensationally and "in the days of his flesh" that blessed Jesus, who will fill all hearts with gladness, "offered up prayers and supplications, with strong crying and tears," as He entered into the afflictions of His people, or took His place as "the Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief." It is to this part of the wondrous life of Christ, in these varied trials of man and of Israel, when He went His weary way through this earth, that the following remarks will be confined — the past; and with this part of that engrossing past! Before the great mystery of godliness, "God manifest in the flesh," had appeared, Isaiah had been called forth in that magnificent outburst of prophecy, to measure the nation and its worship, by nothing less than "the throne and the temple" of the sixth chapter, and "the holy, holy, holy Lord of hosts." What less than this standard could the Jehovah of that day apply to "the Commonwealth?" Indeed we shall see that whenever God introduces any fresh manifestations of Himself in power and grace, these necessarily form in righteous government the new responsibilities of the people. And Isaiah will say, "Woe is me, for I am undone," as he weighs himself in these balances, "because I am a man of unclean lips;" or, as he applies this standard of the throne and the temple and the Holy One to the state and condition of all around, he will add "for I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips," and assign as the groundwork of the whole action "for mine eyes have seen the King the Lord of hosts!" The theocracy of Israel was maintained in their midst by the throne and by the temple, and Isaiah must first, as the testifying witness from Jehovah to His people, judge himself in the presence of the Holy One, as we have seen, and then go forth with the balances of the sanctuary, and declare everything according to truth and to God, as he does throughout his prophecy, with the reserves of Jehovah's grace and the resources of the people either for present faith, or else for a future day in sovereign power.

The throne and the temple had not only distinguished Israel, but likewise the glory had travelled along with them in their journeyings, and accompanied them to the last; and had in temple days of rest made its abode in their midst. What a people are they under Solomon their king!

Another prophet from "the river of Chebar" must in his turn be called forth to estimate morally the condition of Jerusalem according to "the vision of the glory!" And who has not mourned, as chapter after chapter shows us the reasons why the glory is first grieved, and then seen lingering over God's centre of earthly blessing — hovering upon the city and the people till, hopelessly grieved, it departed! The principle is a very simple, but very important one, whether viewed in the light of Isaiah's "throne and temple," or Ezekiel's "vision of the glory;" and the principle is this — whatever God bestows, if rightly used, becomes the sure guarantee and measure of the people's blessing; and if not held for Jehovah's honour, He cannot accredit His people in their disobedience, and will "profane His throne by casting it down to the ground," and by recalling the outward and visible glory, as in Ezekiel's time. It is not my intention to go into the touching details of these two prophecies, but only to seize the characteristics which mark each in its way; and which especially bear on the subject of this paper. I might add that Jeremiah is as perfect as these two prophets: only he of course will not be charged to view the state of the nation, and its responsibilities, by "the royal throne," or "the visible glory," but will report all according to the two covenants of Hagar and Sarah, or of Mount Sinai or Mount Zion. Hence, he will say in the depth of his Lamentations, "How doth the city sit solitary that was full of people! how is she become as a widow! she that was great among the nations and princess among the provinces, how is she become tributary!" And now that prophecy has brought to light present delinquency and the threatened forfeiture of all that Jehovah had given, except they nationally repented, what greater prophet than Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel, is yet to follow? what greater person than these, or any of their predecessors, is yet to come in upon the scene, and vindicate the offended rights of the throne of Majesty, and of the grieved and departed glory, and of the broken covenants? Should there be any such One in reserve, as there surely is, upon the pages of each of these three prophecies, yet how shall He "when the fulness of the time is come" vindicate these to the full, without also going down into the righteous consequences of the nation's disobedience in this earth? Inflictions had come upon them on account of what Isaiah, and Jeremiah, and Ezekiel had respectively been commissioned to bring to light, and upon what righteous plea are these to cease and be changed, save upon the fact that He, who in due time would vindicate and secure by Himself the offended rights and claims of Jehovah, would also by entering into the sorrows and afflictions of His own people, and suffering with them, cry out from their very depths to Jehovah, and be heard because of His own perfections and obedience, and in this way discharge all preceding liabilities, and even found a new claim before God as a man, and an Israelite, on the double title of His own glorious person and of having glorified God upon the earth! What a pathway was marked out for the blessed Lord, if we call to mind the Levitical types and ask ourselves, who is to take them all up and fulfil them, but He to whom they point?

Again, when the prophecies come before the mind in their double character of present consequences governmentally, as well as of future recovery and blessings, who is there that can clear away all the existing obstructions and charge himself with the formation of new, and abiding, and permanent positions upon this earth, whether for man or for Israel, but He whose meat and drink it was to do the will of the Father who sent Him, and to finish His work? Who could magnify the law and make it honourable, but that very Jesus whom the law could not measure? As regards all besides, whether under Isaiah, Jeremiah, or Ezekiel, the law disclosed the fact "that the bed is shorter than that a man can stretch himself on it, and the covering narrower than that he can wrap himself in it." Jesus alone has found "meat out of the eater, and honey out of the strong." The line of the promises and of covenanted blessings from the first to the last, whether as centred in Adam, Abraham, Noah, or David, are all "made yea and amen in Christ," and will as surely be "to the glory of God by us" in their respective times and seasons. Do we think of ancient prophecies? the Lord Himself will tell us, "All the prophets and the law prophesied until John." Do we think of the whole of the Old Testament, as to its applications and fulfilments in its long line of shadows, and types, and fingerposts? that same Jesus will say, "These are the words that I spake unto you while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled which are written in the law of Moses and in the prophets and in the Psalms concerning me."

The place which John the Baptist held is remarkable in every way. All previous testimony gave place to him, and as "the prophet of the Highest," in the song of Zacharias, or as "the voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God," in the older strains of Isaiah; or in the more modern narrative of Matthew, "The same John had his raiment of camel's hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey" — all these witnesses serve to tell us that the greatest of those "who are born of women" will readily give way to the alone Lord, whose paths he was making straight. Who does not love to hear John himself say, "Ye yourselves bear me witness that I said, I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before him;" and again, "He must increase, but I must decrease." "He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom's voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled." The prison in a later day, and its voice by John's disciples, "Art thou he that should come or look we for another?" will tell us how this "friend of the bridegroom" would readily precede his Jesus Messiah as a suffering witness, and change his joy into present sorrow if "the way of the Lord and the highway of our God" took that course. Still later, "John the Baptist's head in a charger" will declare how worthily in all respects, both in life and in death, he would "make straight in the desert" at one time, or in "the rough valley neither eared nor sown" at another time, the ordered goings of "the desire of all nations." Precious thus to anticipate the ordained path and the appointed steps which Jehovah-Jesus would tread; a path as truly ordered in the counsels of eternity as ever they were taken in time: or as when the body "thou hast prepared me" was necessary, in which every purpose from everlasting to everlasting was to be carried out in the veiling manhood below! Promises and types, prophecies and testimonies, the throne and the temple, the long line of anointed kings and the longer line of consecrated priests, have all done their work and served their purpose: and what a work and purpose was theirs! Refreshing as every soul has found it, to view the incarnate and suffering One in the lights and shadows of the past, with what joy do we bid adieu to testifiers and prophets, yea, to the very last and greatest of them, and feel our relief as we rest our eyes and hearts on "One" object, and only "One," in the whole universe around us — "Jesus, the Lamb of God," and He "dwelling amongst us."

The ways of Jehovah in government and in grace will all centre in this delight of the Father's bosom. Nothing less than what is personal, and personally perfect, is now between God Himself, in the supremacy of His own holiness, and men on the earth, "publicans and sinners," with whom this "child, born into the world," will grow up; and as He grows form a new foundation for His joys and sorrows, His delights and His sympathies. No longer with "the morning stars," who shouted for joy when, as the Creator, day after day, He gave them their fresh occasions of praises and of songs, till "the seven days' work" was finished; but in a ruined world, where all was wrong, and sinners in their sins around Him; where all was one universal groan to God in felt misery, and in a yet more fearful looking for of judgment, and fiery indignation hereafter. He, He Himself, is come into our midst in grace; these groans and tears, these sighs and sorrows, and their deep, deep causes, measured in their infinite extent as towards God, and Satan, and man, upon this earth in time, and in hell eternally, have gone up to the bosom of the Father, and brought out "the Son of his own love," as when in typical times the unconsumed bush, and the fire, and the voice called out a Moses as the deliverer of a captive people. Then "the Lord said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry, by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows; and am come down to deliver them . . . and to bring them up out of that land," etc. Now all eyes are upon this Jesus-Emmanuel, the Son of the Highest, in the place of the lowest; come "not to be ministered unto, but to minister," and, in due season, "to give his life a ransom for many." The heavens, and the earth, and hell, are each and all, for these varying reasons, moved at His coming. Anointed of the Spirit, and led of the Spirit, according to every declared thought and purpose of God, and every manifested act and deed in righteous government amongst men and Israel, He will measure the whole claims and calls upon His own person; and, single-handed, for He has no fellow, stoop down to greatness and victory; and stoop He will to vindicate and justify God in the very place where man by independence and pride had lost himself and ruined all that had been munificently put under his lordship. Man, in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ, has now embodied and charged and taken all upon Himself that concerns the glory of God in His ways upon earth — and, as a stranger in the earth, He will nevertheless be at home with "a sinful man" in a boat, or with "a woman at the well," or with "a master in Israel." If He leaves the place of the stranger, and takes that of "the man of sorrows and acquainted with grief," it will be to learn in spirit, with a widow of Nain, how to descend into the depths of her troubled heart, as His own sympathies entitle Him to do. Will He leave Nain for Bethany? it will be with Mary and Martha to enter into their sorrows and sufferings, and make Himself master of the whole scene, as He mingles His tears with theirs, and surpasses them all in His own perfectness, as He groans to God and according to God. He will take up the whole range of sin, and death, and the grave, and corruption in the depths of genuine human feelings; as great in the tears He shed as in the groan He uttered, or as in the voice which cried "Lazarus, come forth!"

If we narrow the circle of our observation, and see Him in the midst of "his own" after the flesh, in more strict Israelitish associations and goings, who does not love to view the Messiah with a repentant remnant, "confessing their sins" in the swellings of Jordan? Will He join them there and identify Himself with them in those depths, for other reasons, and be to the broken heart and troubled conscience a nobler guarantee of a safe passage to blessing than ever Joshua and the typical "ark of the covenant" witnessed in (externally) a more triumphant period of their history? He will do this, and if a "Jesus baptized" goes outside and beyond the scope of John's thoughts and ministry, He will give the key to His prophet and forerunner by saying, "thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness," and all will be well between them. Sorrows and their reliefs met together at Nain; tears, and groans, and their resources met together at Bethany: just as a repentant people in their sins and "the fulfiller of all righteousness" begin to settle these matters with the heavens and with Jehovah in the waters of Jordan.

Jesus-Emmanuel is making everything His own concern, in living obedience to His Father, or in loving sympathies with all around Him; and in the midst of His own sorrows and sufferings going down in moral perfectness, where none but He could make a path for Himself, and out of that new place, where devotedness to God, and obedience as a servant, and sympathy as a man, and sufferings in grace, had led him to cry to God out of such trials and sorrows, and only cried to be heard and answered. The Gospel by Luke will take us along the lonely paths of this sometimes solitary Man, though never an isolated One. How could this be with Him, who had come down into the whole range of God's dishonour, and of Satan's triumph, and of man's disgrace and defeat? No, never withdrawn from "the Father's business," though often withdrawn from surrounding things about that business, we find Him throughout Luke as the dependent but confident One. "He withdrew himself into the wilderness and prayed;" and if we quit this wilderness, Luke will tell us, "It came to pass in those days that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God." What a night was this! — the Son of man upon this earth, taking on Himself all the failures and liabilities of men in their relation to the powers of God in righteousness, and justifying the Judge of the whole earth by accepting the consequences of their disobedience, and making that the very starting-point of His own walk with God and men below. Where could He look but to heaven? with whom could He speak on matters like these, but with the Jehovah of Israel? and to whom could He pray but to Him who accredited this Son of man at the outset by the voice from the opened heavens, "This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased?" Our blessed Lord will not only take all these accumulated liabilities on Himself and glorify God by their means, but, whilst doing this in righteous obedience and suffering, He will carry all their weight and pressure to God, and in "the night seasons" not be silent; yea, "meditate on thee in their night watches." At this point we may connect the offended holiness of Isaiah's day, in its separation from backsliding Israel, with the re-establishment of the Holy One, not as yet with the nation, but with the true Israelite, the Messiah and Head of that people, as "the Spirit of God, like a dove descending, lighted upon him;" or as the annunciation by the angel declared to Mary, "that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God."

Precious fruits are these in their seasons! Likewise the broken covenant of "the Lord our righteousness," as proclaimed in the time of Jeremiah, will no longer be estranged from "the wilderness of Judea." The Messiah is in the baptism of Jordan, as the "fulfiller of all righteousness," and the heavens are opened to Him. In like manner the grieved and departed glory of Ezekiel's day will await Him, till He in righteous title walks up the mount of transfiguration, and when "as he prayed the fashion of his countenance was altered, and his raiment was white and glistering." The voice from the excellent glory, "this is my beloved Son," will find its resting-place once more, and neither the glory, nor "the Lord our righteousness," nor "the Holy One of Israel," will ever be grieved again; but "holiness upon the bells of the horses" in a coming day shall be the "ribbon of blue," and "thy people shall be all righteous" will be their millennial name under "the new covenant" and their Mediator; and Ezekiel's "vision of glory," with the Spirit and the wheels in all their activities, shall be the new characteristics of the relations of Jehovah with His beloved people, when Jerusalem shall shake herself from the dust at "Arise and shine, for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee."

In His own person, the Messiah, Jehovah-Jesus, has secured the old relationships between the Lord and that nation, and will make them good for the people by His work upon the cross, where (having vindicated the righteous government of God in the earth by His living perfectness) He will glorify His Father still further, by means of sin, and death, and the grave, and will charge Himself with our personal transgressions and judgment, and, as the sacrifice and substitute, suffer — "the just for the unjust to bring US to God." Positions, and new ones, as regards their foundations and stability, are won for Israel, and through Israel for the Gentiles upon the earth, in the coming dispensation. Redemption by blood, and resurrection in life and power, in the ascended and glorified Lord and Head, must have their place and get their hold in every future position, and how securely will all feet stand upon this Rock of Ages! — the stone which the builders once refused, become now and for ever "the head of the corner." In the title and ways by which He has thus won back and secured all that was out of place and out of position, both for man and for Israel, by His own personal righteousness and obedience — by the descending steps which He took and which led Him into the consequences of His people's rebellion, when living in their midst, that in all their afflictions He might participate and be afflicted and take all their sufferings up according to God. A new footing was found for Him who did all this, and a call made on "the throne of the Majesty in the heavens" from the righteous Sufferer below! Another and a new link is thus formed between God and this "Son of man" — between Jehovah and this true Israelite. And He who has secured all by going down into their sorrows and trials is become the procurer of reliefs and mercies and blessings for them on the way. Their Messiah, who will be the leader of their praises, in the future time, when the great congregation shall once more shout and fall upon their faces, in the consciousness of full and everlasting deliverance, is now the leader of this same people in their present condition, and the foremost in their midst, as "the minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers." The Jerusalem over which her Messiah wept, when her sons and daughters "would not be gathered," the city of the great king, which could not penetrate the veiled majesty and glory, when He rode into her very centre as the meek and lowly One, sitting on a colt, the foal of an ass — the nation under its Caiaphas, which condemned Him as a blasphemer, when He at last lifted the veil and confessed Himself to them — the people who mocked Him, and denied Him in all His rights and titles, will yet be pardoned for these added enormities on the person of the Jesus-Emmanuel, according to that prayer, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." Nevertheless, in righteous government Jerusalem shall receive "at the Lord's hands double for all her sins," till "her warfare is accomplished" and her iniquity and blood-guiltiness forgiven. "How is the faithful city become an harlot: it was full of judgment, righteousness lodged in it, but now murderers . . . therefore saith the Lord of Hosts, the Mighty One of Israel, Ah, I will ease me of mine adversaries, and avenge me of mine enemies."

How really Jesus made all their sorrows His own, and how truly He took all up with them, according to God, when in their midst, is not only witnessed by His tears over Jerusalem, but at the close of His varied ministries, and when He had been rejected in them all, and He is forced into the place of the "Prophet," as the witness from Jehovah against them! He will even then say "for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened." If He sees nothing but their passing through the time of tribulation "spoken of by Daniel the prophet," He will precede them in the thoughts of His own loving heart, and say, "then let them which be in Judea flee to the mountains, and let him which is on the house top not come down to take anything out of his house." His considerate pity will direct "him which is in the field," and awaken afresh His companions, as He says, "Woe unto them that are with child, and to them which give suck in those days." Moreover, He will guide them in that distressing hour of their yet future punishment, as well as associate Himself with them in John the Baptist's days, and say, "pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day." He will enter with them into the very dangers of that hour, and leave a word of caution for His elect, "then if any man shall say unto you, Lo here is Christ, or there, believe it not; for there shall come false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders." Precious it is to hear Him add "inasmuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect;" and then close up these last words of parting sorrow with "behold I have told you before" — perfect in everything, as He alone could be! The foremost in our sorrows and griefs and sufferings in the governmental ways of God on the earth is viewed also in the light of the future by Isaiah, where He says, "Behold my servant whom I uphold, mine elect in whom my soul delighteth. I have put my Spirit upon him. He shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles . . . . He shall not fail nor be discouraged till he have set judgment in the earth, and the isles shall wait for his law." This Spirit on Christ below, or as the Spirit of prophecy on Isaiah, or as the Spirit in the Psalmist of Israel, or as the descended Spirit in Paul, will associate each in his varied relations and in his respective seasons, with the marvellous history, past, present, and future, of Jehovah's favoured nation! Like the Moses of their earliest days when, in intercession for the sin of the people, he said, "If not, I pray thee blot me out of thy book which thou hast written," so will Paul take up the accumulated sins and heavier condemnation on account of a rejected Messiah and a crucified Christ and Lord, in Romans 9: "I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost that I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart, for I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ, for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh, who are Israelites," etc. The apostle who "travailed in birth" a second time (for the Galatians bewitched), till Christ was formed in them, will turn his aching heart back upon his" kinsmen" in the flesh, and even say in deeper tones, "I could wish that I myself were separated from Christ, for my brethren." The Paul, who with a broken spirit said "Many walk of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things," will exceed himself, and go into depths where tears and travail in birth cannot be the measure of his heaviness and continual sorrow of heart, as he declares, "I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost." We may well ask, in the surprise which such language creates in our souls, what character of sorrows and sufferings are these, in behalf (not of the Church, but) of a people "to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises, whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen?"

How little we even know of such sympathies, and sorrows, and heavinesses, and their effects, whether in an apostle or in a Messiah as He bore all upon the perfectness of His own heart, with this very race of people, during the three and thirty years of His exercised soul according to the holiness of God! Can a Moses in ancient days outshine in the depth of his feelings their own Messiah-Jesus? Will the apostle of the Gentiles go beyond his Lord and Master in this dispensation, in this "continual sorrow of heart," in this "truth in Christ" to which "the Holy Ghost is witness?" Who among us will not rather confess that there are ranges of sorrows and sufferings in the scriptures with which we are but little acquainted — classes of experience in the Psalms, the prophets, and Moses, which we may do well to learn unshod; and in this, as in all other respects, sit at Jesus' feet and be taught by Him? Shall our selfishness as Christians only lead us to know our blessed Lord as easily touched with our infirmities, now that He is in the heavens, feeling what every member feels? or shall we know Him also as entering into the state and condition in which any of the members of His earthly people suffer, that He may be as perfect in sympathy with them below as He is with the Church now that He is on high? No, rather let us bow down in worship and adoration as we see Him doing the Father's will from first to last, and marvel as we are taught; "for it became (God) to make the captain of our salvation perfect through sufferings." "He suffered, being tempted." "In all their afflictions, He was afflicted." Precious Jesus, Emmanuel, Messiah, the Christ, and Lord! Son of man, Son of God, the Son! J. E. Batten. (On the testimony of T. B. Baines.)