The New Song.

1868 17 All is mischief and disturbance; but all is ripening that revolted and apostate material, through the judgment of which the Lord is to take the kingdom. "The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved, he uttered his voice, the earth melted."

It is as Conqueror the Lord is to take His kingdom by and by, or enter His second sabbath. Of old, the sabbath was the rest of One who had laboured; but the coming sabbath will be the rest of One who has fought a fight and won the day. This "rest that remaineth" will, therefore, be entered by a rougher and more difficult path than the former; for it is to be reached through the afflictions and conflicts which sin has occasioned, and through the judgment of iniquity.

The Lord God of old entered His rest or sabbath as Creator. He had gone through the work of six days, and on the seventh He rested and was refreshed.

The sabbath, we know, has been disturbed and lost through man's sin; but we also know of a coming sabbath, "a rest that remaineth," as we read.*

[*The Creator has rested: His works were finished from the foundation of the world. (Heb. 4.) But I may say, that is all. In other characters of gracious action, God has not yet rested. As the Father, as the Christ in the person of the Holy Ghost, and as the Lord of Israel and of the whole earth, God has still to reach His rest. The rest is one that "remaineth," we may say, as much for Him as for His people. For He still works in love and in power, and they still toil against sin and the world and the enemy. (See John 5:17; Eph. 4.)]

We might ask, then, in what character will it be entered; or by whom? And all scripture replies, by conquerors. David making way for Solomon is the type of this. Solomon was the peaceful — a name which implies not abstract or mere rest, but rest after conflict or war. It bespeaks triumphant rest; something more than cessation of labour.

So the Lord enters the kingdom as "the Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle;" as one fresh in victory, "with dyed garments." (See Ps. 24; Ps. 46; Ps. 47; Ps. 93; Isa. 9; Isa. 63; Rev. 19.)

Christ as Conqueror is, however, known in different scenes and seasons, and in different forms and manners, before He enters the kingdom.

As soon as He gave up the ghost, the victory of His death was owned in heaven, earth, and hell; for the veil of the temple was rent in twain, the rocks were split, and the graves were broken up:

As He entered the heavens, He was received and sat down as Conqueror. He was at once acknowledged there as fresh from His conflict and conquest here. As the One who had overcome, He sat down with the Father on His throne.*

[* We therefore now, in spirit, can sing a new song, or a conqueror's song.]

When His saints rise to meet Him, they will, in their own persons, display His victory, the victory He has achieved for them. Their ascending and responsive shout will utter it — "Thanks be to God who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." (1 Cor. 15.)

In these different seasons and forms the triumph of Christ is celebrated before He enters the kingdom. And animating and happy truth this is — Jesus ascended on high as a Conqueror. But never, till Jesus ascended, had heaven known a Conqueror. A distant report of His victory had reached it, I may say, when the temple-veil was rent. But never had heaven been the place of a conqueror, till the Lord returned there. The Lord God in His glories had been there, the Lord God as Creator and Ruler also, and the angels that excel in strength had waited there. Some who kept not their first estate there may have been cast down, and others have sung at the foundations of the earth being laid; but never had the presence of a conqueror adorned and gladdened it till Jesus ascended. But then it was so. He had then destroyed him that had the power of death. He had led captivity captive. He had made a show of principalities. He had overcome the world. He had, as the true Samson, borne the hostile gates to the top of the hill. The grave-clothes had been left in the empty sepulchre, as the spoils of war and trophies of conquest. And thus, as conqueror, Jesus ascended. Heaven had already known the living God, but never till then the living God in victory. And our ascension after Him will only, in other terms, tell of triumph, and be another display of a host of conquerors. Then, at the end, when the kingdom is entered, it will be entered (as we have already said) by a Conqueror after His day of battle and war of deliverance out of the hand of enemies.*

[*The kingdom thus reared upon the ruin of the enemy will be an immovable one.]

Now, according to all, this is, I believe, the "new song" of which we read in scripture; for the songs there are conquerors' songs, and they are so many rehearsals, so to speak, of the kingdom's song. Such was that of Moses and the congregation on the banks of the Red Sea. Such was Deborah's. Such were the utterances, if they may be called songs, of Hannah and of Mary; and such is to be the song of Revelation 15 in its season — the harpers in heaven standing there in victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name.

This gives a "new" theme for singing or gladness, and hence "the new song." The old song, sung by the morning stars over the foundations of the earth, was not a conqueror's song, a song celebrating a divine victory either for the redemption or avenging of God's chosen. There was no theme of victory then, for no battle had been fought and won. But sin since then has entered. A great counter-force has been in action, and the Lord has had to go forth as "a man of war," the God of battles; and therefore at the end a new song, a song with a new theme or burden, must be awakened to celebrate Him in this new action or character of glory. The song of Moses was a conqueror's song, and so the song of the Lamb. "O sing unto the Lord a new song, for be hath done marvellous things; his right hand and his holy arm hath gotten him the victory." The song over creation must give place in compass and melody to the song over the triumphs of Jesus.*

[*The first "corner-stone" was laid by the Creator, and angels sang (Job 38:6); the second is brought in in victory and Israel shouts. (Psalm 118; Zech. 4)]

What new honours, we may adoringly and thankfully say, are preparing for Him through our history and what new joys for heaven! For His victories have been for us, accomplishing, as I observed, our deliverance and vindication in the face of our enemies. The glory of those victories is His, the fruit of them ours.*

[* Christ does not appear as a Conqueror in what He does with God for us, as our ransom, or re-purchaser by the value of His blood. In all that action He suffers instead of conquers; but He is Conqueror as against the enemy, redeeming us from him or avenging us on him.]

And it is a joyous thought that the Lord is to enter His coming kingdom as a conqueror, taking the throne of Solomon the peaceful after the wars and victories of David. But this joy implies scenes of a tremendous character. Triumph, of itself, is a bright idea, but it is full of recollections of fields of battle and scenes of bloodshed. And so with our Jesus. The joy of seeing Him in triumph and the power of His kingdom is bright and gladdening; but "the winepress" has first to be "trodden."

And still more — though that is solemn — the treading of the winepress, or the execution of divine judgment, speaks of previous corruption or of the ripening of the vine of the earth. If the Lord in judgment have to tread the winepress, the winepress has first to be filled.

And where are we, at this moment, actually standing? Not in the possession of the immovable kingdom; not in the sight of the triumph that is to usher it forth, or in the audience of the new song which is to accompany that triumph; not in the vision of the field of Bozrah, and the garments dyed with blood, the day of divine judgment which leads to the triumph; but in a certain stage of the ripening of the vine of Sodom which is soon to be cast into the wine-press, or to meet the judgment of the Lord.

There we stand, and the moment is solemn. Every day, like the heat of summer, is but maturing and mellowing the grapes of gall, or the clusters of Gomorrah. Our prospects are thus strange, awful, and glorious beyond thought. We look for the increasing growth of evil, for the winepress of the wrath of God to receive and judge it, and then for the triumph and the kingdom of Jesus. For such things we look, as far as our eye is turned, to the earth; but "we stand at the head of two ways." Enoch stood there before. He looked down the way of the earth, and there he saw the maturing of ungodliness, and the Lord with ten thousand of His saints coming to execute judgment; but he himself was borne upward, the way of the heavens. (Jude 14; Heb. 11:5.) The new song was sung by Jesus after His resurrection (Psalm 11:3); it will be sung by the Church after her resurrection or ascension to heaven (Rev. 5:9; Rev. 14:3); and then it will be sung by Israel in the kingdom which is their resurrection. (Psalm 98:1.)