July 2: The True Temple Restored

“O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!” Romans 11:33

Behold this wisdom, as it shines in the recovery of lost and ruined man by Christ. Here is a manifestation infinitely transcending in greatness and glory the first creation of man in holiness. In the first creation, God had nothing to undo; no dilapidated temple to take down, no occupant to dispossess, no ruin to repair, no rubbish to remove, no enemy to oppose. But in the re-creation of man, how vastly different! The beautiful temple is a ruin—dilapidated and fallen. God is ejected; another and an antagonist occupant dwells in it, and enmity to its Creator is written in letters of darkness upon every part and over every inlet. In rebuilding this structure, all things were to be created anew. “Behold,” says God, “I create a new thing in the earth.”

It was a new and profounder thought of infinite wisdom, unheard, unseen before. Fallen man was to be raised—lost man was to be recovered—sin was to be pardoned—the sinner saved, and God eternally glorified. Now were the treasures of wisdom, which for ages had been hid in Christ, brought forth. Infinite wisdom had never developed such vast wealth, had never appeared clothed in such glory, had never shone forth so majestic, so peerless, and Divine. Oh, how must angels and archangels have wondered, admired, and loved, as this brighter discovery of God burst in glory upon their astonished vision—as this new temple of man rose in loveliness before their view!

The greatest display of infinite wisdom was in the construction of the model upon which the new temple, regenerated man, was to be formed. This model was nothing less than the mysteriously constituted person of the Son of God. In this, its highest sense, is “Christ the wisdom of God.” Here it shone forth in full-orbed majesty. Gaze upon the living picture! Look at Immanuel, God with us—God in our nature—God in our accursed nature—God in our tried nature—God in our sorrowful nature—God in our suffering nature—God in our tempted nature—yet untouched, untainted by sin. Is not this a fathomless depth of Divine wisdom? To have transcended it, would seem to have transcended Deity itself.

The next step in the unfolding of this Divine wisdom is the spiritual restoration of man to a state corresponding in its moral lineaments to this Divine and perfect model. This is accomplished solely by “Christ crucified, the wisdom of God.” And here, again, does the glory of God’s wisdom shine in the person and work of Jesus. Every step in the development of this grand expedient establishes His character as the “only wise God,” whose “understanding is infinite;” while it augments our knowledge, and exalts our views of the Lord Jesus, as making known the Father. Here was a way of salvation for perishing sinners, harmonizing with every perfection of Jehovah, sustaining the highest honor of His government; bringing to Him the richest glory, and securing to its subjects, as the rich bequest of grace, happiness eternal, and inconceivably great.

Oh, how truly did God here “work all things after the counsel of His own will”! How has He “abounded towards us in all wisdom and prudence”! In Jesus’ sacrificial obedience and death we see sin fully punished, and the sinner fully saved—we see the law perfectly honored, and the transgressor completely justified—we see justice entirely satisfied, and mercy glorified to its highest extent—we see death inflicted according to the extreme tenor of the curse, and so vindicating to the utmost the truth and holiness of God; and yet life, present and eternal life, given to all whom it is the purpose and grace of the Father to save. Tell us, is not Jesus the great glory of the Divine wisdom?

June 28: Jesus Wept

“Jesus wept.” John 11:35

PERHAPS to some whose tearful eye may glance on these pages, the most touching and endearing chapter in our Lord’s life of varied and affecting incident is that which portrays Him in Bethany’s house of mourning, and bending over the grave of Lazarus—thus illustrating His peculiar sympathy with the bereaved. It would seem as if Jesus loved to visit the haunts of human woe. “Lord, if You had been here, my brother had not died,” were words bursting from the lips of the two bereaved sisters, which seemed to chide the delay of an interposition, which might have averted their sad calamity. And why that delay? Would it not seem as if one reason was, that the cup of woe was not yet brimmed, and thus the time for the richest display of His human sympathy and Divine power had not yet come? But when death had invaded that happy circle, had cast its shadow over the sunny home, and the sorrow of bereavement was now bursting each heart—lo! Jesus appears, gently lifts the latch, and enters. And who has passed within that dark abode of grief? The Creator of all worlds, the Lord of angels and of men, robed in a real, a suffering, and a sympathizing humanity, to mingle with the daughters of sorrow.

Returning from the house of mourning, we follow Him to the grave. Groaning in spirit, He asks, “Where have you laid him?” And then it is written—and oh, never were words more full of meaning—”Jesus wept!” The incarnate God in tears! Oh marvelous sympathy! such as earth never before saw, and such as heaven in astonishment looked down to see. But why did Jesus weep? Was such an expression of sensibility in keeping with the occasion? Was He not about to recall His friend to life again? And did He not know, that before the sun had declined an hour, He should have robbed death of his victim, and the grave of its prey, restoring gladness to those bereaved sisters, and the sunshine of joy to that desolate home? Most assuredly. And yet “Jesus wept!”

Oh, it was sympathy! Those tears were the outgushing of a sensibility He could not repress, nor wished to conceal. Moved by His own loss, He was yet more deeply moved with the loss of Martha and Mary. He stood at that grave, as though He were the chief mourner, upon whom the brunt of the calamity had fallen; and there were no tears flowing at that moment like His. He wept, because He was human—He wept, because He was bereaved—He wept, because others wept. It was a sympathetic emotion, that now agitated to its center his whole soul. Behold Him who makes His people’s sorrows all His own!

Bereaved one! that speaking, weeping Brother was born for your adversity! Though now in glory, where no tears are shed, He still sympathizes with the sorrows of the bereaved on earth—yes, sympathizes with yours. Into all the circumstances of your present calamity—the irreparable loss it has entailed, the deep void it has created, the profound grief it has awakened, the painful changes it involves, the sable gloom with which, to your bedimmed eye, it enshrouds all the future of life—He fully enters. And though, when the storm-cloud of Divine vengeance was darkling above His head, Gethsemane and Calvary full in view, not a nerve quivered, nor a tear fell—yet, lo! He comes and weeps with you, and breathes the soothing balmy influence, of a human sympathy over the scene and the sadness of your sorrow. Christian mourner! the weeping One of Bethany is near you! Christ is with you, Christ is in your sorrow.

October 31: One Greater Than Moses

“And 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 I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey.” Exodus 3:7, 8

But a greater work, a mightier and more glorious deliverance, did our Almighty Redeemer come down to effect. To this the Spirit of Christ which was in the prophet Isaiah testified: “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord has anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; He has sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound.” The Lord saw from heaven the affliction of His chosen people which were in Egypt—the land of spiritual darkness, bondage, and oppression: He heard their cry by reason of their hard task-masters; He knew their sorrows, and He came down to deliver and to bring them out of that land into a good land—a large place—a land truly flowing with milk and honey.

Oh, from what a land of gloom, from what an iron furnace, and from what a hard oppressor, has Jesus delivered His people! He has rescued them from a state of nature, and brought them into a state of grace—from ignorance of God, of Christ, and of themselves, in which the fall had involved them—from the guilt of sin, and the condemnation of the law—from the captivity and tyranny of Satan, and from their hard and oppressive servitude. And, oh, into what a land of rest, blessedness, and plenty has He brought them! Into covenant relationship with God, as His adopted children—into a state of pardon and acceptance—into the enjoyment of His love and presence; to know God as their reconciled Father—to know their oneness with Jesus their exalted Head, and their union with the body as its members—to a state of most holy and blessed liberty, as chosen, called, and adopted saints.

Into the experience of all these blessings has a greater than Moses brought us. “When the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.” Let us then, “give thanks unto the Father, which has made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: who has delivered us from the power of darkness, and has translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son,” “even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.”

And how shall we set forth the love of our Redeemer—the deep and precious love of Christ? Persuasion did not induce Him to undertake our redemption. Compulsion did not bring Him to the cross. His own love constrained Him. Love for His church, His bride, bore Him on its soft wings, from the highest throne in glory to the deepest abasement on earth. How forcibly and touchingly was His love depicted in His bearing, when on the eve of suffering!—”Jesus, therefore, knowing all things that should come upon Him, went forth.”

He not only knew that death awaited Him, but with equal prescience He knew all the circumstances of ignominy with which that death would be attended. The storm, the outskirts of which had already touched Him, was now thickening and darkening, each moment concentrating its elements of destruction, and preparing for the tremendous outburst. Yet He went forth, as if eager to meet its central horrors, not with the fame-panting spirit of Achilles, when he hastened to the Trojan war, knowing that he should fall there; but with the irresistible power and constraint of His own love, which would have nerved Him for a thousand deaths, had His Father’s law demanded, and the salvation of His church required it. “Christ also has loved us, and has given Himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God, of a sweet-smelling savor.” Truly is Jesus, our Great Deliverer, “counted worthy of more glory than Moses.”

October 14: A Kept People

“Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.” 1 Peter 1:5

This salvation takes in all the circumstances of a child of God. It is not only a salvation from wrath to come—that were an immeasurable act of grace—but it is a present salvation, anticipating and providing for every exigency of the life that now is, including deliverance from all evil, help in all trouble; comfort in all sorrow, the supply of all want, and through all conflicts, assaults, and difficulties, perfect safety and final triumph. The present and certain security of the believer is provided for in the covenant of grace, made sure in Jesus the covenant Head, and revealed in the glorious covenant plan of salvation. May the Holy Spirit unfold to us this great and consoling truth, that in the midst of all their weakness, waywardness, and tendency to wander, the Lord is the keeper of His people, and that they whom He keeps are well and eternally kept.

The Lord could not in truth be said to be the keeper of His people, if there were anything of self-power in the believer, any ability to keep himself—if he were not weakness, all weakness, and nothing but weakness. Of this the believer needs to be perpetually put in remembrance. The principle of self-confidence is the natural product of the human heart; the great characteristic of our apostate race is a desire to live, and think, and act independently of God. What is the great citadel, to the overthrow of which Divine grace first directs its power? what is the first step it takes in the subjection of the sinner to God? what, but the breaking down of this lofty, towering, independent conceit of himself, so natural to man, and so abhorrent to God?

Now, let it be remembered, that Divine and sovereign grace undertakes not the extraction of the root of this depraved principle from the heart of its subjects. The root remains to the very close of life’s pilgrimage; though in a measure weakened, subdued, mortified, still it remains; demanding the most rigid watchfulness, connected with ceaseless prayer, lest it should spring upward, to the destruction of his soul’s prosperity, the grieving of the Spirit, and the dishonoring of God. Oh how much the tender, faithful discipline of a covenant God may have the subjection and mortification of this hateful principle for its blessed end, who can tell? We shall never fully know until we reach our Father’s house, where the dark and, to us, mysterious dealings of that loving Father with us here below shall unfold themselves in light and glory, elevating the soul in love and praise!

What an affecting confirmation do the histories of some of the most eminent of God’s saints afford to this most important truth, that the creature, left to itself, is perfect weakness! If the angels in their purity, if Adam in his state of innocence, fell in consequence of being left, in the sovereign will of God, to their own keeping, what may we expect from a fallen, sinful, imperfect creature, even though renewed? Do we look into God’s blessed word, and read what is there declared, touching the power of a renewed creature to keep itself? How affecting, and at the same time conclusive, these declarations are: “Having no might;” “Without strength;” “Weak through the flesh;” “Out of weakness were made strong”! Could language more forcibly set forth the utter weakness of a child of God? And what are their own acknowledgments? “The Lord is the strength of my life;” “Hold You me up, and I shall be safe;” “Hold up my goings in Your paths, that my footsteps slip not;” “Yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me;” “By the grace of God I am what I am.”

And what are the examples? Look at the intemperance of Noah, the unbelief of Abraham, the adultery and murder of David, the idolatry of Solomon, the self-righteousness of Job, the impatience of Moses, the self-confidence and trimming, temporizing policy of Peter. Solemn are these lessons of the creature’s nothingness; affecting these examples of his perfect weakness!

But why speak of others? Let the reader, if he is a professing child of God, pause and survey the past of his own life. What marks of perfect weakness may he discover, what evidences of his own fickleness, folly, immature judgment, may he trace, what outbreakings of deep iniquity, what disclosures of hidden corruption, what startling symptoms of the most awful departure and apostasy from God, does the review present! And, this, too, let it be remembered, is the history of a believer in Jesus, a renewed child of God, a partaker of the Divine nature, an expectant of eternal glory! Holy and blessed are they who, relinquishing all their fond conceit of self-power and self-keeping, shall pray, and cease not to pray, “Lord, hold You me up, and I shall be safe!” “Let him that thinks he stands, take heed lest he fall.”