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The Finger of a Distinct Direction
by F.E. Marsh
The finger is often used as a metaphor of the distinct and definite act of God. The magicians of Egypt recognised that the plagues of Egypt were the act of God when they exclaimed, "This is the Finger of God" (Exodus 8:19). The Law is declared to have been "written with the finger of God" (Exodus 31:18; Deuteronomy 9:10). Christ announced that it was by "the Finger of God" He cast out demons (Luke 11:20). And the Psalmist said to the Lord that "The heavens were the work of Thy fingers" (Psalm 8:3).
With His master-hand the Spirit is constantly arresting our attention by some glowing sentence, startling truth, pointed declaration, soul-stirring exhortation, unequalled revelation, uplifting promise, or apprehending word. One such word with its associates is "Behold." Let us muse upon this golden word of Revelation.
The one Person whom men seem to forget is God. The fact of God throbbing through the universe, the righteousness of God insistent in His law, the truth of God revealed in His Word, the wisdom of God made known in His works, the love of God unfolded in the Cross, the mystery of God speaking in His providence, and the Christ of God made known in the Gospel, is seen if men have eyes to see. The world is walking on its careless way without God.
The same lack is found in those who profess to believe in Christianity. The Editor of The British Weekly has said: "When we meditate on present day Christianity, of which we ourselves form part, we may recognise that it often suffers not so much from a lack of zeal as from an error in emphasis and direction. To put the point quite bluntly, many religious people are being diverted and distracted from the chief end of religion -- which must be nothing short of God Himself." It is sad that ever such a statement should have to be made, for it reveals the very fundamental fact of Christianity is not known, namely, that Christ suffered, the Just for the unjust, to bring us to God (I Peter 3:18); and the vitals of its meaning consist in being "alive unto God" (Romans 6:11).
There is also a grave danger to which believers in Christ are exposed, and that is, lest we be occupied with the things of God, and forget the God of the things.
One has said, "Some men still miss their God in discussing Him and defining Him. They attend more to the process than to the result. They analyse their own faith and trust to their own conviction, instead of forgetting themselves in faith's living Object. Or they rely on some inward experience of redemption in place of adoring their Redeemer. Whereas it is characteristic of the Gospel that it points us to One Who is far above and beyond ourselves, Who does for us all that we ourselves can never do. Salvation comes from without; and the watchword of salvation is not 'Behold your creed, your theology, your experience,' but 'Behold your God.'"
The true aim, and attitude, and acknowledgment of a believer in Christ is expressed in the following lines: "My goal is God Himself, not joy or peace, Not even blessing, but Himself, my God."
The proof of Christianity is Christ Himself. No other evidence is needed. He is the Evidence of all evidence. Let any honest person read the Gospels without prejudice or preconceived notions, and he must be convinced that the Jesus therein revealed is not the product of human thought. The fact of Christ is the fact that is indisputable.
There is one Scripture which is often misquoted. Nine ministers out of ten misquote it. The misquotation is, "The truth as it is in Jesus." The quotation is, "As the truth is in Jesus" (Ephesians 4:21). There is no "it." To put "it" in, is to make the statement to be a comparative one, namely, that truth is to be found somewhere else, as well as in Jesus; whereas to declare, "As the truth is in Jesus," is to make a positive and exclusive claim, and that is, truth is only to be found in Him; and mark, in Him, "as Jesus," that is, in the Man of Nazareth.
Think of a few statements that are made of Him as the Man. "Never man spake like this Man" (John 7:46); "This Man receiveth sinners" (Luke 15:2); "I find no fault in this Man" (Luke 23:4); "Truly this Man was the Son of God" (Mark 15:39); "This Jesus hath God raised . ... hath made ... both Lord and Christ" (Acts 2:32,36); "Through this Man is preached the forgiveness of sins" (Acts 13:38); " This ... Man offered one sacrifice for sins" (Hebrews 10:12); "He hath appointed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness by that Man Whom He hath ordained " (Acts 17:31).
Now what does the Spirit claim for "This Man"? He has spoken a message none other has given; He does what none other does; He is what none other is -- faultless; He evidenced a personality none other can reveal -- He is the Son of God; God has honoured Him, in giving Him the highest place; through Him is offered what no man can bestow -- forgiveness of sins; He has performed a work in His death that no other can accomplish; and through Him God is going to administer a judgment, or rule, that no one could carry out.
Christ, as the Lamb, reveals Him in the eternal fact of His death. He suffered in the body of His humanity. He suffered in the soul of His feelings, and He suffered in the spirit of His personality. The supernaturalness of His death is the essential thing to ponder. God cannot die, and yet there is the eternal fact, that He Who died for us is God. We are exhorted to be "Looking unto Jesus Who endured the Cross." The "unto" might be rendered "into". To be looking "into" that Holy One Who endured the Cross, is something more than a surface look. It means painstaking research, constant meditation, holy gazing, prayerful observation, soul communion, consecrated attention, and spiritual insight. To gaze at a minute form of life in the evolution of its being is to see the hand of a mystic worker, so as we ponder the death-agony, the soul-suffering, and the atoning work of our Lord, we behold more than the actuality of His death, we see there:
Yes, a Deity of Divine Personality acting in the limitations of human nature. In that death of deaths we have a fathomless depth beyond human sounding, a height beyond man's reach, a wealth exceeding the financier's calculation, a sky of stars no astronomer can discover, and a heaven of benefit that none can estimate. Behold the Lamb, and see Him of Calvary's Love -- how, in His death, God is glorified, justice is satisfied, law is magnified, hell is stultified, man is justified, angels are edified, believers are sanctified, service is intensified, creation is beautified, sinners are vivified, covenants are ratified, and Christ Himself is gratified.
"Behold, a King shall reign in righteousness" (Isaiah 32:1). Christ was rejected as King when He came the first time. In derision Pilate said to the Jews, as he pointed to Jesus, "Behold, your King!" (John 19:14). And he placed upon the Cross, "The King of the Jews." Christ, having been rejected as the King, has gone into the "far country to receive unto Himself a kingdom, and to return" (Luke 19:12). When He returns He will be manifested as the King.
- An infinitude in His sacrifice
- An eternal value in His blood
- A holy satisfaction in His offering
- A substitutionary fact in His act
- A God-glorifying work in His death.
No one can imagine that our Lord is acknowledged as King at present. His Kingly rule is flouted, not followed. His beneficent sway is not received in our day. The condition of things as now operating is depicted in Psalm 2, where the nations are said to be raging, and if not openly, yet actually by their ignoring His claims and commandments, setting themselves against the Lord and His Christ.
Men think, in their proud arrogance, that Jehovah takes no notice of their actions; but He that sitteth in the heavens, in the calm of His majestic might and absolute sway, laughs at the pelting peashooters they point at Him, for He hath set His King on His holy hill, and soon He will give to His Son "the nations for His inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for His possession."
Meantime faith, with its insight and long-sight, can see the time when the King shall reign with the hand of righteous grace, with the might of loving power, with the heart of tender pity, with the ear of responsive regard, with the truth of absolute equity, with the peace of calm enactment, and with the special consideration of helpful service. The state of things then -- as described in Psalm 72 -- shall be fulfilled in every detail.
"Behold, thy salvation cometh," or, as it might be translated, "See, thy Saviour cometh" (Isaiah 62:11). The announcement has special reference to the restoration of Israel. If Isaiah 61 and 62 are pondered it will be apprehended what the Lord will do for His people in the frequent "I will" of His promise; and the effect of His operation is summarised in the repeated, "Thou shalt": "Thou shalt be called by a new name," "Thou shalt be a crown of glory," "Thou shalt no more be called Forsaken," "Thou shalt be called Hephzibah," "Thou shalt be called Sought Out."
All the fulfilment of the promises, and the experiences declared, shall come to pass when the Saviour of Israel shall return. When He comes as the Saviour, then a seven-fold salvation shall be known. Jehovah will save Israel from the desolations and disasters of their wandering state, as a scattered nation, for He says, "I will take you from the nations"; He will save Israel to Himself, for He affirms, "I will be your God"; He will save Israel from all their uncleanness, for He declares, "I will save you from all your uncleanness"; He will save them from their unbelief, for He pledges to "take away the stony heart"; He will save Israel from their disobedience, for He assures them, "I will cause you to walk in My statutes"; He will save to the possession and power of the Holy Spirit, for He promises "to put His Spirit" within them; and He will save Israel to be a praise among the nations, whereas before they profaned His holy Name among them (Ezekiel 36:23-29).
The Lion and the Lamb are the notes upon which the Spirit plays, as the music of heaven sounds forth the glory of our Lord. The Lamb in His gentleness, and the Lion in His powerfulness. As the Lion, Christ has prevailed to open the Book of God's purpose, and to unloose the seals thereof, hence, He is worthy because of what He is, and has done, to adjudicate in overthrowing the wrong, and to establishing the right. When men try to get rights, they seek to acquire them by the force of might; but Christ obtained His by the conquest of right.
Not without meaning are the Lion and the Lamb found together in Revelation 5:5,6. One of the elders told John the Lion had "prevailed to open the books," and yet, in response to the elder's direction to "Behold," he saw not a "Lion" but a "Lamb," and "a Lamb as it had been slain" in all the livingness of His death. The slain Lamb becomes the slaying Lion. The Bruised One becomes the Bruising One. The record of the Revelation of Christ's future is that He goes forth conquering and to conquer. The word "prevailed" is translated "overcome" and "conquering" (Revelation 3:21; 6:2), and in the afterwards it is said when the confederated kings act under the leadership of the beast against the Lamb, that 'the Lamb shall over come them," and the reason given is, "He is Lord of lords, and King of kings."
So again we find the combination of the Lamb in His sacrifice, and the Lord in His sovereignty. The cross and the crown are the crest of heaven. By His sacrifice He sways the sceptre. Well did Dr. Denney say: "It is on the ground of His death, and the redemption effected by it, that all praise is ascribed to the Lamb, and the knowledge and control of all put into His hands."
Enoch long ago prophesied: "Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousand of His saints to execute judgment" (Jude 14,15).
Three things are of moment in the prophecy of Enoch. First, the Person Who is coming -- "The Lord." "Kurios" speaks of ownership, authority, and power. The Lord as Owner has a right to exact an account from His creatures; as Lord He has authority to demand a statement, and also has the power to see it is given. Second, the purpose of His coming is to execute judgment upon those who have misused His gifts, and who have sinned against Him; and, third, the partners who are said to come with Him are His "saints." God's holy ones, made so by His grace in Christ, and by His Spirit in His truth, will exercise judgment with Him.
We must distinguish between the Lord's coming for His saints in grace, and His coming with them in judgment. We are "looking for the Blessed Hope, and the glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour" (Titus 2:13). Mark the "kai" ("and"), for it points to something in addition to the "Blessed Hope." It connects it with "the glorious appearing." Christ's coming for His saints is described in I Thessalonians 4:13-18, and His coming with them in II Thessalonians 1. There is all the difference in the world in the scene in the upper room, when Christ promised to come and receive His own to Himself, and the scene depicted in Revelation 19:11-16, where the white horse riders are seen accompanying the white horse Rider.
When we look out on the world it is like a cauldron of boiling metal! The fire of hell beneath it is being stirred by the devil with the poker of hate. There is only One Who can remedy matters, and that One is the One Who says, "Behold, I make all things new." The nailed Hand of Calvary is the only Hand that can arrest the hard hand of might. The love of Christ is the only power that can fuse the mass of mankind into the common interest of brotherhood. The selfless Lord, Who emptied Himself, is the only One Who can give the disinterestedness of mutual good.
When He begins to remake, the iron hand of anarchy will be broken, the wilful mind of lawlessness will be ended, the lusting heart of greed will be suppressed, the harmful fist of cruelty will be crushed, the covetous eyes of selfishness will be put out, the stinging tongue of blasphemy will be rebuked, and the order of get-all-you-can-for-yourself will give place to give-all-you have-for-others'-benefit.
This is no delusive hope, but a promise of Divine Revelation. Three times in Revelation 21:5,6 we have the declaration of "He said." His promise: "He said ... I make all things new." His assurance: "He said ... these words are faithful and true"; and His accomplishment: "He said, It is done."
Three times in the Revelation He makes this announcement, and once, "Surely I come quickly," and in each case with a different association. First, with the exhortation to "hold fast," lest the crown of reward should be lost; second, with the promise of blessing to those who keep the sayings of the Book; and third, with the promise of reward for work done; and fourth, with the assurance, "Surely I come quickly" (Revelation 3:11; 22:7,12,20).
"Quickly" may be taken in three ways:
"Quickly" does not seem to mean "at once " from the time Christ gave the word (unless the faithlessness of the Church has hindered His starting); therefore, the suggestion is, when He rises to come, He will do it suddenly, and His method in coming will be with speed.
- Meaning at once, as when the servants were told to go on their Master's mission "quickly," and as Mary rose up "hastily" (Luke 14:21; John 11:31). Hastily and quickly are the same word.
- "Quickly" also means "suddenly," as the word is given in I Timothy 5:22.
- The word also describes the way a person does a thing, as the women who "departed quickly" to tell that Christ was risen (Matthew 28:8), that is, with speed.
The Bible text in this publication, except where otherwise indicated, is from the King James Version. This article appears on the site: http://www.peterwade.com/.
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