John the human writer is our brother -This tribulation,
not the Great Tribulation, distinctions - The Kingdom and Patience - Force of
"In the Spirit" - The "Lord's Day" not the first day of the week - Akin to, but
slightly differing from, The Day of the Lord - What are the differences? - The
Sabbath, its significance and the Christian's relation to it - Opposite error
of confusing "The Lord's Day" absolutely with "The Day of the Lord" - Varying
powers of hearing - Is Heaven near or far? - What John sees on turning - The
Verse 9-19. The Vision.
"I, John, who also am your brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the island that is called Patmos, because of the word of God and of the testimony of Jesus. I became in the Spirit in the Lord's Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice as of a trumpet saying, "What thou seest write in a book and send to the seven assemblies, to Ephesus, and to Smyrna, and to Pergamos, and to Thyatira, and to Sardis, and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea." John, the beloved disciple, first tells us how closely he is related to us and we to him by the bond of a common life. He is our brother. Is it not a precious thing to be one in a family with such an one? John, Peter, Paul, are our brothers. Are we not, through rich grace, "well connected?"
But next he lets us know the present lot of this one family in the world. Not in Kings' Courts, nor indeed in the comforts of earth, were these our brethren found. The earth has sent them along the same path as their Lord, for here is the beloved disciple in close fellowship with His Master, and so he calls himself our "companion in the tribulation of Jesus Christ."
But, beloved, permit me a word of warning here against a line of teaching that would identify this with "the Great Tribulation." There is the widest difference between them. The church's path, and, indeed, we may say, the path of faith through all time, has been and ever is through tribulation. "We must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God." "In the world ye shall have tribulation." No one would for a moment successfully dispute that this is the normal portion of the child of God. From the first moment of new-birth, we find ourselves opposed by the whole course of world.
But there is no element of penalty in all this.. It is the "tribulation of Jesus Christ." It is the path hallowed by His dear feet. It is marked by the footsteps of all the flock through all ages of the past. But "The Great Tribulation" is not only marked off as distinct from this by difference in degree; but there is a radical difference in essence, in kind, in character. It is not "the tribulation of Jesus Christ." It is the nation of Israel, as such, receiving, under the righteous government of God on the earth, the retributive penalty of its rejection of Christ, their true Messiah.
There was not one element of penalty under God's government in John's being a prisoner in Patmos, or Paul at Philippi or Rome, or Peter at Jerusalem. Far, far from that, their hearts were joyous in the sense of their present perfect acceptance with God; but that penal element which is quite lacking in these tribulations, will be the prominent one in "The Great Tribulation ;" and the deepest suffering of that awful time will be in the sense of the Hand of God upon the nation in its sorrows. No comfort of the "fellowship of His sufferings" that cheered John, will it have; whilst man's arch enemy, the devil, confined to earth, will, by his supernatural malignancy, add unspeakable intensity to the persecutions (Rev. xii). It is thus because God's holy Word distinguishes the Great Tribulation, being peculiarly and characteristically (Jer. xxx :7) the time of Jacob's trouble (and Jacob must surely mean rather Jacob's sons than the church) - as peculiarly linked with Jerusalem and Israel's land (Matt. xxiv) - as being different in character from the present afflictions of the church, that the discrimination is necessitated; and that it is only by the rapture of the heavenly people that God is free, as it were, again to take up His dealings with His people on the earth.
Thus when a well-known writer, a strong advocate of the 'Delayed-Coming theory,' says: "Side by side with converted Israel, the church goes through the Great Tribulation to the end," he certainly has not the slightest justification, for it is simple confusion. As long as believers in the Son of God, whether Jew or Gentile, are "of the same body," and, in Him, cease to be either Jew or Gentile, there cannot be the two distinct and opposite operations going on side by side. From the day of Pentecost, as soon as a Jew was "converted" he really ceased to be a Jew (Gal. iii :28), and although God's mercy lingered over Israel, so that offers of restoration were made to the nation, and the doctrine as to church was not at once proclaimed, yet converted Israel and the church have never, as yet, gone on side by side. When will they begin to do so? At what moment will a Jew being "converted," or new-born, be separate and distinct from another Jew; like Paul, for instance, or Adolf Saphir; so that one believing Jew is a member of the Body of Christ; and as such has his mind set on Christ and the things above, whilst side by side with him another believing Jew, not a member of His Body, has his thoughts on God's dwelling on the earth? 'What will cause this strange difference? One "convert," or child of God, turns away from earth and looks for deliverance by being caught up to meet His Lord in the air, and only prays for his enemies, whilst at the same moment and side by side with him another "convert," or child of God, longs only for God's "righteous judgments to be abroad in the earth" (Is. xxvi :8-il), and only looks for deliverance by the destruction of his foes! Surely there are many things "clearer than" this, to use the words of this same writer, in the Bible!
But we are in the "Kingdom" of Jesus Christ, a kingdom, however, not yet displayed. He has it not in power and actuality yet. He sits not yet on His own Throne; but is still on His Father's; and there, In patience, He awaits His Father's will as to the tune of taking that kingdom. Oh, my dear reader, let us be very careful to make no mistake here, it is vital to our whole view of life. The Corinthians were in grave danger, for they were "reigning as Kings." They had forgotten that we share the patience of the Lord Jesus, and the apostle adds "without us :" he would have nothing of this world without Christ. We are in "the tribulation, and kingdom, and patience of Jesus Christ."
We now come to a verse full of interest. "I was in the Spirit on the Lord's Day and heard, behind me, a great voice as of a trumpet" as the verse reads in our A.V. and R.V. Yet, whilst thus supported there are a few differences that there can be no question are permissible. For instance, there is no article before "Spirit." "On" may be "in" the Lord's Day, and "was" may be equally correctly translated "became." It is not the ordinary, normal, spiritual state of a Christian that is here predicted; it is something abnormal. "I became."
What is the force of the expression "en pneutnati" in Spirit. We have exactly the same form in Matt. xxii. "How doth David in Spirit, etc.," where it is very clearly not his own spirit, but the Holy Spirit, that is referred to; for so Mark xii :36 divinely assures us. In i Cor. vii :34 it is equally clearly the human spirit. There seems an intended indefiniteness about the expression; as if it might include both the human spirit and the divine; the human spirit being caught up and energized by the divine: the body is dropped, no longer is it the medium of communication; the soul too takes a subservient place, and the spirit free, but helpless by its own powers, is transported into other scenes by the Spirit of God, who communicates to that which is now the man, the visions here related. The 4th chapter is evidently in a way a new beginning analogous to this; there, too, the same trumpet-voice speaks; there, too, the Seer becomes in the Spirit and there, too, there is a movement, a change of place in response to the invitation, "Come up higher." There was no movement of the body necessarily, that was still captive in Patmos, but of the divinely-possessed spirit. Compare c. xvii :3 and c. xxi :io.
So here the words "in the Lord's day" are closely connected with "in Spirit." In the power of .the Spirit of God his spirit is carried outside the region of physical sight or sense. He sees with another eye now than with that of the body; he is in quite another surrounding. Patmos with its persecution; man's day with its evil spirit in ascendancy is gone; he is in the Lord's Day, where his Lord is all, where He is even now "judging in the midst of the churches."
This brings us to the next words "in the Lord's day." This must refer either to the first day of the week, or is a practical equivalent to "the day of the Lord." It is, by the great majority of commentators, taken to be the former. So many, and so worthy of respect, are the names that can be marshalled in support of this - so very early in the history of the church was the first day of the week called the Lord's Day, that it is not hastily, or without hesitation, that one ventures to oppose what Is so powerfully accredited. Yet, even if the truth depended on human authorities, names might be given in support of the other interpretation, that would represent neither poor scholarship nor inferior spiritual intelligence.
A foundation truth for scriptural interpretation we have taken to be this, the Spirit of God is here with us "to lead us into all truth," and that thus even the "little children" "need not that any one should teach" them, for "the anointing teaches them all things" (1 John 1:2) Nor is this intended clearly to foster a proud spirit of independence of one another. Far from it; but that we must not submit ourselves blindly to the teaching of any, but cherish humble dependence on the Lord, and His Word, Which is in itself quite able to make the man of God perfect.
And this is important here. If we are dependent on ecclesiastical history, how many of us could fulfil the injunction to "prove all things"? If, however, the Word in our hands, and the Spirit in our hearts, give perfect competency, then indeed may the youngest, or most ignorant, be preserved from mistake. If the "Lord's Day" be the First day of the week, then of course it has little or no connection with the words "in the Spirit." John must have been in the first day of the week, in any event, apart altogether from the Spirit. It is a mere note of the time, or day, on which these events occurred. Whether they suit that day, or not, we will consider directly. Or it is stated as a fact worthy of divine record that the aged saint was in a peculiarly spiritual state of mind on this day!
Thus, if these words mean our Sunday, then they would alter, and I may say alter in a way utterly out of harmony with their unquestioned bearing in chapter iv :5, the being "in the Spirit," which, in this case, would be little more than a spiritual state of mind, instead of a "transport," as is, I am assured, the literal force of the phrase. Nowhere else in the Scriptures does exactly the same term "the Lord's Day" occur, so that we must judge of its bearing from the context. Thus there is really little or no force in the common objection that when "the Day of the Lord" as a dispensational epoch is intended a different form of words is used: not "hee kuriakee hemera" The Lord's Day, but "hee heemera tou kuriou," The Day of the Lord.
A fair and complete answer to this would be that when "the first day of the week" is referred to, not only a slightly different, but a completely distinct form of words is used; it is always called "the first of the week" "tee inia toon Sabbatoon" as Luke xxvi :1, and it is not unworthy of remark that this form occurs exactly seven times, as if completing, in a perfect way, the references to the Resurrection Day, and thus confirming the thoughts that no reference to this day is intended here.
Surely the form of words "The Lord's Day" have, in themselves, and apart from the traditional meaning we have attached to them, greater affinity to "The Day of the Lord" than they have to "The First of the Week."
Indeed it is difficult to see more difference be-tween "the Lord's Day" and the "Day of Lord" than between the "fleshly lusts" of i Pet. ii and "the lusts of our flesh" of Eph. ii :3. or than there would be between "the Lord's Supper" and "the Supper of the Lord." Yet may there not be a reason for the very slight o distinction in the form, even though both expressions refer to the scene of the Lord's judgment. This, when displayed on the earth, is "the Day of the Lord," the emphasis being on "day," as in contrast with the day of the display of man's evil. But even now there is a scene in which the Lord is judging - it is in His own House, where judgment must ever begin (i Peter iv, Ez. ix), and in this scene it is even now the Lord's Day. From man's authority, from man's persecution and injustice, John is transported to a day in which the Lord alone is seen judging, as He soon will on earth. The differences in terms may be intended to suggest these distinctions of scenes, or spheres of judgment. But judgment it most clearly is, in both cases, as the contents of our book evidence, and how perfectly this is in harmony with the meaning given the words need hardly be pointed out.
But is the idea of judgment consonant with the memories of that day in which He arose, the first of the week? That is not a day of judgment in any sense, surely. That is, as it ever was, a day in which He still reminds us of the Peace He has made, ever and again calling our wandering eyes and hearts back to consider the cost of it in wounded hands and feet, and the remembrance of His love for us in death. Not one vestige of this do we see here in this glorious majestic Personage, before whom, he, who had put his head so confidingly and with such holy intimacy, upon His breast, falls as dead.
And, after all, the bearing of the context is always of the first importance as a proof - it is the atmosphere in which the true meaning alone lives. Tradition, and tradition alone, is against this; and for those who reject unsupported tradition as authority; there remains little or nothing to uphold any other interpretation.
But so universally is the term Lord's Day identified with the first day of the week, that whilst for the sake of a correct interpretation, and the bearing this must have on our understanding of this book as a whole, I have given my convictions on the point, yet I would not desire to be understood as contending against the sense in which it is universally understood.
Our blessed Lord has significantly enough marked this first day of the week as His own, in a sense. On its first morning, before its sun had risen on His tomb. He had burst the gates of that tomb, and brought a more joyous light than any natural sun could give on our death-shadowed world, in "Life and Immortality." Ere its close He had appeared again and again to His beloved flock; and He permitted the whole week to pass before He again appeared to them on the next first-day. So the book of the Acts tells us that the disciples were accustomed to come together on the day thus marked off by their Lord, to break bread in the remembrance of Him (Acts xx). Little wonder is it, therefore, if the term "Lord's Day" very early began to be applied to it. Nor do I see any need to quarrel with such a usage.
A more serious matter is the other name by o which it is also known amone Christians, the "Sabbath." This, too, comes to us with its head all hoary with antiquity, and decked with all the venerableness of religious pretension, and on this account, making claim upon our reverence. To such claims we must ever say, the Word of God is older still, and this must govern our every thought with absolute authority. We are quite safe as long as we prefer this to all mere tradition. My dear reader, turn to your Concordance now, and note how many times, and in what way, the Word Sabbath is used in connection with distinctive Christianity; that is, after the coming of the Holy Spirit to abide with us. Just once and in this way. "Let no man therefore urge you in respect of the Sabbath days, which are a shadow of good things to come." Does that look as if the Sabbath were in existence, or a continuation of its enforcement?
The Sabbath speaks of rest from work, and is certainly of true value when it can be enjoyed with God i e., when He, too, can rest. But He can only rest when "everything is very good." Thus He saw everything after the six days' work; everything was exactly as it should be; there was nothing that needed to be put right; no sin, no death, no sorrow, no pain, no groan, no tear anywhere. He could rest. Thus He sanctified and blessed the seventh day, i. e., Saturday, so called, but not for long did He rest. Man's sin and sorrow broke rudely into God's Sabbath, and He, in a tenderness we so little appreciate, has never, from that moment up to the present, enjoyed any rest, any Sabbath. On the contrary, as the Lord said when He had done some mighty work of kindness on the Sabbath day, "My Father worketh hitherto, and I work," and as long as there is a groan heard, or a tear-drop to be seen in any eye, God will not, can not rest; or He would not be the God of love He is.
This has ever been the contention between God and religious man, who would maintain his own righteousness: man ever claiming that he could keep the Sabbath; the Lord ever insisting that on all sides were proofs that this was impossible. Man claiming everything to be "very good ;" the Lord pointing to sin and its consequences. Aye, in order that the Sabbath might be maintained in its integrity, they begged that the legs of the crucified be broken and their bodies taken from the cross. It was thus that the last Sabbath was ushered in by man, religious man, whilst God look-ing down on the earth to see if "everything was very good," so that He might rest; saw His Son slain and His holy body lying in Joseph's tomb! Was that "very good"? Can we, dare we, beloved reader, claim the Sabbath, in any scriptural sense, now? Nay, nay, we look for one yet to come.
"There remaineth a Sabbath-keeping for the people of God ;" but it is not here nor now. "Let us therefore labour to enter into that rest" (Heb. iv). And yet as one so beautifully speaks, "In the work finished by the Lord Jesus Christ God again rests, as in His works of old, with fullest complacency. This finished work is altogether according to His mind. By the resurrection of Christ the Father has said of it, "Behold, it is very good." It is His rest forever; He has an abiding delight in it; His eyes and His heart are on it continually. The work of Christ, accomplished for sinners has given God a rest." Through mercy, the first day of the week has been given us when we may be in freedom from earth's cares and occupations, and this privilege no spiritual mind would undervalue for itself, or seek to diminish for others; nor, whilst maintaining o the liberty from legal observances wherewith Christ has made us free, would Christian love ever throw a stumbling-block before saints who, in this day of confusion, are still bound by a conscience which lacks light, to consider the first-day a Sabbath.
To return to our Book. John the apostle, thus in the Spirit in the Lord's day, heard behind him a loud voice, as of a trumpet; which speaks of majestic authority, expressed with unmistakable clearness, every word understood instantly. Have you noticed how moral or spiritual condition affects the hearing? The bodily ears of a company of men may all be in the same condition exactly, yet when God speaks, some men will hear nothing, some will hear a mere sound, yet not giving an intelligible idea, whilst to others, every word will be simple and clear. In John xii the Lord sent up a prayer to His Father, "Glorify Thy name ;" the response was in a "voice from heaven," and some of the people "said it thundered ;" they could distinguish no words at all: others caught something more intelligible, and said "an angel spoke to Him," but to His ear every word was simple and clear. Again, when He Himself, exalted to the highest glory, struck down by that glory, Saul of Tarsus upon his way to Damascus, the men travelling with Saul heard a voice, but not a single word did they catch. Yet had' they the same ears, and were in the same external position, as he to whom every word was so clear.
Aye, my brethren, heaven is near or far, within speaking distance, or beyond the power of any voice to reach, or eye to pierce, as our spirits are awake or asleep, alive or dead. Stephen, about to die, filled with the Holy Ghost, needed no help to look into it as if it were beyond the farthest star. To him the sight of heaven was very near and clear, but to no one else in all that throng, nor would the most powerful telescope man ever made have brought it one inch nearer to them. So when this glorious voice shall be heard awakening the dead, not all the dead shall hear it, but those only who are Christ's, and have become more or less familiar with it in life; nor shall all the living see that wondrous sight of the rapture of His own to Himself; it is a secret rapture.
So John is told to write what he sees in a book, and to send it to the seven assemblies now named specifically. But John has to "turn" in order to see what he is to record. He is not naturally facing in the right direction. The voice is "behind" him. He has been looking on a scene where the shades of declension and degeneracy were fast falling on the churches as God's witnesses on the earth. He has been looking at the constant triumph of evil; the strength of all that was of Satan, the apparent weakness of all that is of God. Depressing enough is such a view of things, and he must "turn" to see another sight, and it is this he is told to record, in order that he may not alone have the comfort of it, but that even you and I, dear reader, if grace opens our eyes, may see what he saw. But we must be, in some measure, by the side of suffering John. He that is very near the world, basking in its sunshine, will always be too far off to see these precious visions. Alas, beloved, that our eyes are so world-filmed, and our ears so heavy; that is, if I may be permitted to speak for any but myself.
Verse 12: "And I turned to see the voice that spoke to me. And having turned, I saw seven golden lamps, and in the midst of the lampstands one like (the) Son of man." What a change from the earth he had been contemplating from the mines of Patmos. It was long since one had mourned because "all they that are of Asia are turned away from me," and had told the young Thessalonians that the "mystery of iniquity was already working." Here, when turned, John looks on a scene of perfect order and beauty, and the assemblies are all golden lampstands. But evidently the lampstands are only referred to in order to give the surroundings, as it were, of that wondrous personage who is "in the midst," i.e., the place of importance none must have but One who is seen like unto the Son of Man." And this title "Son of Man" is the first of ten dignities that John here sees upon Him. Yet it marks Him out not merely man, but like unto the Son of Man. He has marks that no mere man ever had, as we shall see. It is only in the guise in which He has suffered rejection and humiliation that the Father has decreed He shall receive the highest honour and glory, for it is written "The Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son, that all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father." "And hath given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is (the) Son of Man" (John v:22-23, 27).
That title Son of Man so often taken by that blessed One is filled with significance. It speaks of the grace whereby He became a little lower than the angels, and it speaks too of His claim to take that kingdom which the first man lost and which none of his sons has been able to regain. He is the One who is heir to all that was given to man. As heir, He takes the name "Son of Man." He, as such, has once more stood on the battlefield in which the first man was defeated, and conquering, He binds the strong man, and spoils his goods. Yet that we may have part with Him in that victory, He must suffer, and that suffering has its double character, of an atoning work towards God for men, and persecution and rejection from them. Thus it is, as Son of Man that He shall yet be seen in His glory, and as Son of Man it is we see Him here with that glory commencing in the judgment of His own house, which shall spread in ever widening circles, till the universe is cleared of all that is opposed to God.
Second: "Covered with a garment reaching to the feet." The nature of this garment is not given; nor indeed is there any word for garment. It is, literally, "enclothed to the feet." The one idea to be brought before our minds is the complete en-veloping of His body. This is His dignity. Now His work is done. Not, as once, is He now seen with garments "laid aside," John xiii. No longer are His loins girt for active service. That is past; His robe drops in easy dignity to His feet. He is here now, not to work, but to judge.
Third: "Girt about the breasts with a golden girdle." Why at the breasts is He girt? Many years before this had that same John seen that same beloved Person and also "girded"; but not with a golden girdle for He had work to do; and then He girded Himself with a towel; symbol of lowly ministry of the love that put Him even at the defiled feet of His people. What a striking contrast now! A contrast upon which we may meditate to our profit. Then love flowed out "to the end" following His poor saints in all their needs, and meeting those needs; but now, His breasts are girt and with gold. Here in every detail it is the dignity of His person that is expressed. As the girding of the loins spoke of toil and work to be done, the breasts are expressive of tenderness - affection - hence these seats of affections are now encircled - held in by that which speaks to us of God's own holy nature. His affections are there indeed, but they must only move now in the circle of divine holiness, of which gold speaks. It is as Judge He appears, and not as ministering grace, but seeing how the churches fulfill their ministry and calling them to account for it. It is as if the priest were walking with the golden snuffers in the sanctuary of old, and tending the lamp therein.
Fourth: "His head and His hair white, as white -as wool - as snow." No priestly mitre, nor diadem of sovereignty, now adorn His head, yet is He crowned with a mysterious dignity, that another o seer had earlier seen on Him and recorded. If you will turn to 7th chapter of Daniel, you will find "the Ancient of Days with the hair of His head like the pure wool." Our Lord Jesus is then here the Ancient of Days, i.e., with all the dignity of Age and that of an immeasurable Eternity. Not years or days of time whiten His glorious Head, or are the measure of his wisdom or experience. Far less is there a gray hair to speak of impaired powers through the sapping of time. No, indeed, no. It is the glory of perfect holiness (white) only; and the wisdom of Eternity that crowns Him! He is "the Word who was in the beginning with God, and God." Can any question be too difficult - any problem too intricate - for that glorious Head to answer or to solve?
Fifth: "His eyes as a flame of fire." How thoroughly judicial is this figure. Those eyes that had been dimmed with human tears, how different now! They are piercing, searching, all-devouring, unmerciful towards everything that will not bear them as fire. They burn up "wood, hay, stubble." They spare nothing opposed to holiness, light, truth. It is not time nor place, again it is evident, for pity or compassion towards sin or sinner. He maintains, in other character, the position of His true saints through all their weakness, failure, and errors, but it is not mercy or love to allow those errors. He will not. His eyes, as a flame of fire, insure the holiness of His people. No darkness covers, no secret thought is hidden, from them.
Sixth: "His feet like white-hot brass, as if in a furnace they glowed." Whilst the word translated "Fine brass" (in A. V.) is difficult as occurring nowhere else in literature, one may at least safely see in it, in connection with the explanatory words that follow, "as if they glowed in a furnace," a bright glowing metal instinct in itself with life - that inherent: principle, that so emphatically ever characterizes the glorious Person of the Lord. He is never dependent on anything outside of Himself. He is in Himself the Source of Light and Love. As in the transfiguration, His very raiment not only doos not hide His glory, but itself glitters effulgent, flashing forth light, justifying the touch of need and faith, which ever discerned that His garments were affected by His Person. He gave them honour; they gave Him none, as they do to us.
Brass,- or more properly copper, to which His feet are like, is, as the hardest of metals, the symbol of endurance. It resembles closely in appearance Gold, and said in one case to be of equal value (Ezra viii :27) ; therefore, I judge, that it also figures His divinity. The altar of Burnt-Offering was made of this metal, and so shadowed forth that Him which alone enabled Him so endure the judgment of God. But here it is not passive, but active, and therefore must speak of unyielding, unflinching, irresistible judgment, alive and instinct with the essential glory of His divine Person; and this further intensified by the accompanying idea of the glowing furnace. Who or what can resist the treading down of such feet?
Seventh: "His voice as the voice of many waters." All must be in harmony with His majesty, and so that voice that has been sung by Davids harp in the 29th Psalm, Jehovahs voice, is here heard outbalancing the murmurs of the seas, and all waters. It is thus Ezekiel has told us of Him, "And behold the glory of the God of Israel came from the way of the East, and His voice was like the voice of many waters" (chap. 19 xliii :2). Surely all this tells us that it is no mere man here, but Jehovah, like unto the Son of Man.
Eighth: "In His right hand seven stars." We will not permit any diversion by asking what the stars mean; that will come up later. Now it is solely the glory of Him who has this dignity, that we see; He holds in His right hand all that gives light to the earth through the dark night. They are supported alone by Him and are in His complete control. What strength, what glory!
Ninth: "Out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword." This shows how purely and intensely figurative is every feature. He speaks, and that speech is the Word of God. Not as the scribes does He teach, but with an Authority that is alone possible to One who is Divine, and Himself the source of all authority. That Word is sharp and cuts between soul and spirit. It explores the innermost recesses of mans complex being, and throws its light into the central chambers of the heart. It is a divine glory!
Tenth: "His countenance as the Sun shining in its power." Transfigured once again, but not now temporarily, as on the holy mount, but forever in glory transcendent. What a contrast with the day when that Face was blindfolded, smitten, mocked, and spit upon!
Beloved, may I venture to ask if you have thought much of this aspect of the Lord Jesus? We so naturally linger about what speaks of His grace, His tenderness; suiting our present needs so well; but here it is not the needs of the individual paint that are in view, and which He, in a never-failing grace, meets; but the testimony of His churches in the world that is before Him, and how different the character He bears. It does not contradict the other, but balances it, as God is not only Love but Light (and this needs equally to be taken to our hearts and consciences), so is He who is the exact expression of God. He is not here in that tender character so fully in harmony with the "first day of the week ;" but in all the glorious, holy, judicial dignity that conforms to "the Lords Day." May we behold Him thus, for the Name of the "Son born," the "Child given," is "Wonderful, Counsellor, The Mighty God, The Father of Eternity, The Prince of Peace."
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