Scripture Notes



Psalm 40:12.

Far as this Psalm goes, we cannot think that it includes atonement. The Lord is seen in this verse identifying Himself with His people's sins, and so fully that He can say, "Mine iniquities have taken hold upon Me"; He has thus the sins of His people on Him, as it were; but this is the furthest point, we judge, that the Psalm reaches. It does not go forward to expiation. The reason for this conclusion is found in verse 14, where He prays for the confusion of His enemies. In Psalm 22, where atonement is so strikingly presented, there is no imprecation of judgment upon His adversaries; but, on resurrection, grace flows out in ever-widening circles until the ends of the world are embraced, and they "remember and turn unto the Lord." In Psalm 69, on the other hand, where the sufferings the Lord passes through are exclusively from the hands of men (and, therefore, not atoning), there is no indication of grace, but rather unsparing judgment for His enemies. These familiar distinctions need to be borne in mind in reading the Psalms, as they are absolutely necessary for a right estimate of the death of Christ. It is not only in the Old Testament that the death of Christ is presented under different aspects. In the New, likewise, there may be seen that devotedness in His life to the will and glory of God, reaching up to His death, which is especially the teaching of the meat-offering; His devotedness to the glory of God at all cost in death itself, which is foreshadowed by the burnt-offering; or, again, His suffering as the sin-offering. Moreover, He is also described as dying as a martyr - a martyr because of His perfect fidelity to God. It is a wonderful subject for study and meditation.


John 14:1, 27.

Attention to the connection of the two exhortations will show their force and application. At the close of chap. 13 we find that, after the Lord had spoken of His being glorified as Son of Man in virtue of His glorifying God on the cross, He revealed to His disciples that He was about to depart from them. It was in view of their being thus left in the world that He sought to bind their hearts together in the imperishable bonds of divine love, and to teach them that the exhibition of mutual love would be their most efficacious testimony. (vv. 34, 35.) Lastly, He set aside all that man is in himself by declaring the impending denial of Himself by Peter. Truly everything was lost here for the disciples, and they might well be depressed and sorrowful at the prospect. The Lord knew their state of soul, and the first verse of chap. 14 is addressed to it. Their heart was troubled, but He supplied the antidote in presenting Himself as the object of faith in the Father's house after He should have departed. Nothing was left for them here, and this enabled Him to disclose to them the Father's house, and Himself as preparing a place for them, and waiting to return to fetch them, and to have them there with Himself for ever. Having demonstrated the character of the world by His presence in it, He opens out to their view the new world, the Father's house, in which He Himself would be the centre of all the glory, as the place to which they henceforward belonged. In verse 27 He announces that He leaves peace with them, peace in their relationships with God, which would be established in virtue of His death and resurrection. (See John 20:19.) Still further, He adds, "My peace I give unto you," opening out the possibility of their entering upon the possession of that perfect peace which He Himself ever enjoyed, while here, in His unclouded communion with the Father. It is this which forms the basis of the exhortation - "Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." In the enjoyment of this peace (compare Colossians 3:15, reading, "the peace of Christ") there would be no room for inward anxiety or apprehension, for heart sorrows, for fear of outward dangers or hostility. Provision is thus made both for the inner and the outer life, but all in connection with Himself, and with what He gives.


Revelation 14:4-5.

It is really the moral characteristics of the 144,000 that are given in these verses. It should be carefully observed that this is an entirely different company from the 144,000 in chapter 7. There it is the sealed remnant from all the tribes; here it is those that have been brought through the unparalleled sorrows of the period of Antichrist's sway in Jerusalem, immediately before the appearing of Christ. They belong, therefore, only to the two tribes, Judah and Benjamin, inasmuch as it was only these (although there might have been individuals from other tribes) that were brought back from the captivity in Babylon. In both cases the number is symbolical rather than actual - twelve times twelve - and, as the reader may recollect, twelve is the number of perfection in administrative government. This remnant have, as it should be read, "His (that is, the Lamb's) name and His Father's name written on their foreheads." This was their distinctive honour, marking them out as belonging to the Lamb and His Father, inasmuch as by their open confession of God and the Lamb they had been faithful witnesses, and had suffered rejection in the same way, if not in the same degree, as Christ Himself had suffered it from His confession of the name of His Father. They receive the special recompense of being associated with the Lamb on mount Sion, the centre and seat of His government after He has established His kingdom, and they "follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth." (v. 4). They have, moreover, a certain connection with heaven; for none but themselves could learn the song, "as it were a new song," which was sung "before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders." Then follow their moral features. They had preserved themselves from the unholy and defiling contaminations with which they had been surrounded: they were virgins, that is, they were virgin in character, chaste and undefiled through their fidelity to God and the Lamb. In their mouth, too, was found no guile - no deceit; they were true in word and holy in walk; "for they are without fault," the same word as is translated "unblamable" in Col. 1:22," "without blemish" in Eph. 5:27, "without spot" in Hebrews 9:14, etc. It is possible, therefore, that this "redeemed" company may be in a resurrection condition through being "changed" by the resurrection power of the Lamb. They are termed the firstfruits unto God and the Lamb, because they will be, in fact, the first to be brought into blessing in connection with the kingdom. But if the firstfruits, they are "bought" with the precious blood of Christ.