"An acceptable time."

Isaiah 49:8.

All things which the Lord doeth are known from eternity. (See Acts 15. R.V.) He is the Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. If He unfolds to us His way, of which He is the Beginning, in Genesis; He also is shown to be the End of it in Revelation. Moreover, one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. One is led to the remembrance of these scriptures in meditating on such a passage as the one before us. In the first three verses of the chapter, Christ, by the Spirit of prophecy, takes His place as in the midst of Israel, and states what Jehovah's purpose was as to them: "Thou art my servant, O Israel, in whom I will be glorified." But by the same Spirit He declares, "I have laboured in vain, I have spent my strength for nought, and in vain." This was the result of His seeking fruit on the fig tree of Israel during the three years of His ministry. Nor did the further digging about it and dunging it avail (Luke 13:7-8); for Israel was not gathered, as His words in verse 34 testify: "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem … how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not!" Still He could say, "Yet surely my judgment is with the Lord, and my reward" (margin, see also Revised Version) "with my God." And what a reward it was! He will yet, as Jehovah's Servant, raise up the tribes of Jacob, and restore the preserved of Israel; but that alone were a light thing. He is given for a light to the Gentiles, that He may be Jehovah's salvation unto the end of the earth.

Here we may pause to consider what had to take place ere this could be accomplished. He, the One whom man despiseth, whom the nation abhorreth, must take the place of rejection and death. We learn this from His reply to Philip, when the Greeks came and "desired him, saying, Sir, we would see Jesus." Then the truth is announced: "Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone; but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit." Jesus must die and rise again. In the days of His flesh, He offered up prayers and supplications, with strong crying and tears, unto Him that was able to save Him from death, and was heard in that He feared. But there was a moment when He was not only despised and rejected of men, but forsaken of God; when He could not say, "As for me, my prayer is unto thee, O Lord, in an acceptable time" (Psalm 69:13); when His utterance was, "I cry, but thou hearest not." This moment of unutterable woe must be passed through, and it was passed through in atonement for our sins; and then He was heard from the horns of the unicorns. He who in grace gave Himself up to die, and in dying bore the holy judgment of God, could not be delivered from all the sorrow and evil that pressed upon Him until, transfixed upon the cross, that judgment had been endured; then He who was crucified in weakness was raised by the power of God. Hence Jehovah can now say to Him in resurrection, "In an acceptable time have I heard thee, and in a day of salvation have I helped thee." Jesus has Himself been heard out of the depths, and succoured on the ground of full atonement made. But there is yet more; for Jehovah adds, "I will preserve thee, and give Thee for a covenant of the people, to establish the earth" (or the land), "and to cause to inherit the desolate heritages." Thus a flood-tide of blessing will be poured out to the nation that rejected Him. Jesus is preserved, treasured up in the heavens now, awaiting the moment of the ingathering of Israel.

But let me ask the reader, What is it that comes in between the paragraphs of verse 8 - between Christ's being heard in an acceptable time, and then given for a covenant of the people (Israel)? Cannot we tell of the deep purposes of love which lay hidden in the close of the first paragraph, and now which are unfolded in Him who is preserved in the heavens? 2 Cor. 6:2 tells us that "now is the accepted time, now is the day of salvation." Who among Old Testament saints, that read of Messiah's being personally heard in an accepted time and succoured in a day of salvation, and dimly saw that Israel's coming forth from the north and west, and from the land of Sinim, depended upon it, could have known that there would be a people who would be accepted in His acceptance, who would be saved in His own salvation from out of death and judgment, who would be able to say that by His resurrection they were risen with Him? And not only so; but now that He is treasured in the heavens, they too are kept as in Him. "Because I live, ye shall live also." And again, "Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me." None could have told what was bound up in the first half of this precious verse, had not the Spirit of God, by Paul, made it known to us in beseeching us not to receive the grace of God in vain. "I have heard thee in a time of acceptance" was addressed by Jehovah to Christ personally. The Spirit of God has made us acquainted that we, through grace, are now included in "Thee." The reason is given in chap. 5:21: "For He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." May we heed the exhortation to the Corinthians, not to receive the grace of God in vain.

T. H. Reynolds.

The sinner is first converted, then purified by the blood of Christ, and finally sealed by the Holy Ghost. Through Him we are fully assured of sharing in an accomplished redemption by virtue of our blessed relationship to God and to Christ, as He is the earnest of "the future" glory. But all flows from the sprinkling of the blood of Christ.