They are they which Testify of Me: The Christ in Future Glory

Written by, A. M. Hodgkin.
Taken from, Christ in All the Scriptures.

Agnus_Dei_with_Vexillum1-717x1024Revelation — Christ the Lamb of God…

The majestic presence of the eternal Son of God fills the last book of the Bible with the glimpse it gives us of His glory throughout the eternal future, Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, and today, and for ever; one with the Father and with the Holy Spirit. Heb 13:8

”Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty,
which was, and is, and is to come.’‘ Rev 4:8; Isa 6:3
“The Lamb is all the glory in Immanuel’s Land.”

Rev 13:8 takes us back to the earliest ages: 
”The Lamb slain (in the purpose of God) from the foundation of the world.”

Rev 5:6. John’s vision of the future shows us till all eternity ”a Lamb as it had been slain.”

Between these two records, lies the progressive teaching of the whole Bible with regard to the Lamb of God.

  • Abel’s lamb;
  • Abraham’s words, ”God will provide Himself a Lamb,”
  • prefigured in the sacrifice of his beloved son;
  • the ram caught in the thicket, sacrificed in his stead.
  • The Passover Lamb;
  • the two goats on the day of the Atonement.
  • The Lamb of Isaiah 53 is seen to prefigure a person, the coming Messiah.
  • The words of John the Baptist, recorded by this same John [who wrote the Revelation] in his Gospel: ”Behold the Lamb of God, which beareth away the sin of the world!” [John 1:29].

God’s eternal purpose for our salvation is seen behind all these Scriptures. 

”It is this book [Revelation] which contains the title of ‘Lamb’ no less than twenty-six times, emphasizing thereby the increasing value of the sacrificial nature of Christ in the last dark times.” [Rev. Charles Fox in The Spiritual Grasp of the Epistles]

  • Rev 5:5,6. The Lamb is one with the Lion of the tribe of Judah. John looked up, expecting to see a Lion, and he saw a Lamb as it had been slain. The same thought is brought out in that remarkable expression ”the wrath of the Lamb” (6:16). In connection with this we may note that the strongest words, relative to future judgment, fell from the lips of Him who was perfect love. [eg. Mat 23:13-33; Joh 8:23,24,44,45]
  • Rev 7:14. Salvation through the blood of the Lamb.
  • Rev 12:11. Victory through the blood of the Lamb.
  • Rev 5:9-13. The new song of eternity will be ”Worthy is the Lamb that was slain.”
  • Rev 5:8. The worship of the Lamb.
  • Rev 7:17. The Lamb identified with the Good Shepherd of John’s Gospel [John 10].
  • Rev 13:8. The Lamb’s book of life (21:27; 22:19).
  • Rev 14:1-4. The faithful followers of the Lamb.
  • Rev 17:14. The victory of the Lamb over all His enemies.
  • Rev 19:13,16. The Lamb is identified with the Word of God of John’s Gospel [John 1:1,2,14].
  • Rev 19:7,9 and 21:1-9. The bride of the Lamb, and the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, identifying Him with the Bridegroom of John’s Gospel [John 3:27-30].
  • Rev 21:22. The Lamb and the Lord God Almighty are the Temple of the New Jerusalem.
  • Rev 21:23. The Lamb is the Light of the heavenly city, identifying Him with the Light of the World in John’s Gospel [John 1:4,5,9; 3:19; 8:12; 9:5].
Genesis Revelation
Paradise Lost Paradise Regained
Creation of heaven and earth. A new heaven and a new earth.
The curse enters–
Sin, Sorrow, Suffering, Death.
No more curse–
No more Sin, Sorrow, Suffering, Death.
Tree of Life guarded. Tree of Life restored.
Four rivers watering the garden. A pure river of water of life.

The last chapter contains Christ’s thrice uttered word, His last recorded word to His Church,

”Behold, I come quickly.”

”Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.”

 

 

They are they which Testify of Me: The Scriptures regarding Christ in Resurrection Power.

Written by, A. M. Hodgkin.
Taken from, Christ in All the Scriptures.

Acts — The Risen Christ

Resurrection-2In the Acts, we see the risen, ascended, glorified Christ, still living and working on by the power of the Holy Spirit through His Church on earth.

The Epistles, likewise, are the continuation of His teaching through the Holy Spirit, according to His promise (John 16:12-14). There is no fundamental truth revealed in the Epistles which is not contained in germ in the Gospels. For instance, the Epistle to the Hebrews is one long commentary upon our Lord’s words: ”This is My blood of the New Covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.”

The teaching of the Epistles is one.

The great theme is salvation through Christ.

Like the Gospels, they have the advantage of giving us different aspects of our Lord’s work, by different writers. There is, moreover, a certain correspondence between the Gospels and the Epistles.

  • James reminds us of Matthew, especially the Sermon on the Mount.
  • The teaching of Peter is grounded mainly on the example of Christ, and reminds us of Mark’s Gospel.
  • There is an affinity between Paul and his companion Luke, whose Gospel is emphatically the Gospel for the sinner.
  • John, in his Gospel, tells us how the Divine life is exhibited in the person of Christ. In his Epistle, he shows how it is imparted, and how it manifests itself” (Moorehead).

This book might be called ”The Acts of the Holy Spirit,” or ”The Acts of the Risen Savior.”

Luke, in his Gospel, told us what Jesus ”began,” and here [in Acts] what He continued both to do and to teach by the Holy Ghost, through the disciples. [cp. v.1]

Our Lord told His disciples that He would send the Spirit, ”And He shall bear witness of Me; and ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with Me from the beginning” (John 15:26, 27). Our Lord fulfilled His promise on the day of Pentecost, and poured forth the Holy Spirit upon His disciples (Acts 2:16,17,33), and from that moment, as they bore witness to the Savior, the Holy Spirit bore witness at the same time in the hearts of the hearers, and multitudes were converted to the Lord.

”We are His witnesses of these things,” said Peter, ”and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey Him” (5:32). Throughout the book of Acts, we see the mighty working of the ascended Savior through this twofold witness. It was He who shed forth the Holy Spirit at Pentecost (2:33). It was He who chose the workers and selected their various fields of service. His last words to His Church before He ascended were, ”Ye shall be witnesses unto Me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (1:8). The infant Church was slow to recognize the breadth of this commission and to lay aside its Jewish prejudices. They confined their preaching to Jerusalem till persecution was allowed to scatter them. The blood of the first martyr, Stephen, proved indeed [to be] the seed of the Church. It was one of the means used in preparing the great Apostle of the Gentiles [8:1-4].

Those that were scattered abroad went everywhere preaching the Word. Philip preached Christ in Samaria, with the result of a great ingathering. Caesarea (8:40), Phenice, Cyprus, Anitioch (11:19), Damascus (9:2), heard the Word. The direct intervention of the risen Savior is seen in the admission of the Gentiles into His Church. He used Peter to open the door of the Gospel to the Jews at Pentecost [Ch. 2], and to the Gentiles in the house of Cornelius [Ch. 10], and so fulfilled His promise concerning the keys (Mat 16:18, 19).

The risen Savior appeared to Saul of Tarsus [Ch. 9], to make him ”a minister and a witness” (26:16), to send him ”far hence unto the Gentiles” (22:21); and at every step of his three great missionary journeys, he made known His will with unmistakable clearness. The record of the book of Acts mainly clusters around these two Apostles: Peter, the Apostle to the dispersed of Israel; Paul, to the Gentiles. It deals chiefly with the devoted labors of the Apostle Paul, the last called, but most honored of the Apostles, and shows us that it is his name, and not that of Matthias [1:15-26], that we must look for among ”the twelve Apostles of the Lamb” (Rev 21:14). The book opens with the preaching of the Gospel in Jerusalem, the great center of the Jewish nation. It closes with its preaching in Rome, the great center of the world-power.

The book of Acts is the best guide-book to missionary enterprise.

It tells us the true motive, the best plans, and the source of power. Guided by their risen Lord, the Early Church pursued a definite program in its extension, always selecting some great radiating center of population for its operation, whence the influence might spread to the surrounding district– Jerusalem, Samaria, Antioch, Cyprus, Iconium, Lystra, Derbe, Philippi, Thessalonica, Berea, Athens, Corinth, Ephesus, Rome. Their methods were simple, straightforward, and successful. They went forth in dependence on the living God, with unquenchable zeal and undaunted courage. Their one aim was to bring men to a saving knowledge of Christ. He was their one theme, and the Word of God their efficient weapon. Christ was always and everywhere the center of their testimony, and the Holy Spirit their power for service. (Moorehead)

Romans — The Gospel of Christ This Epistle, which Luther called ”The perfect Gospel,”

…and Coleridge ”The most profound work in existence,’‘ stands first of all the Epistles as setting forth the great truths of man’s fallen state, and of justification by faith in the person and work of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

By birth a Hebrew, by citizenship a Roman, by culture a Greek, Paul was well fitted naturally to write it; but it was in the grace and apostleship received direct from Jesus Christ (1:5) that he trusted alone for his qualification. ”Thy faith hath saved thee, go in peace,” may be taken as the Gospel germ of the Epistle to the Romans.

The clue to the Epistle is to be found in 1:16: ”I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, the just shall live by faith.” He was not ashamed of the Gospel, for he had proved its power.

The Epistle naturally divides itself into three parts:

  1. Justification;
  2. Sanctification;
  3. Application of the foregoing to daily life. 

Each of [these divisions] are associated with one of the great Apostle’s irresistible ”Therefores.”

Justification by faith for access. Rom 5:1: ”Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Throughout the Epistle, we hear the challenge, ”Where shall righteousness be found?” It is found alone in Christ. It was while we were yet ”without strength,” ”ungodly,” ”sinners,” ”enemies,” that God commended His love toward us and Christ died for us (5:6, 8, 10). We are justified ”by grace,” ”by His blood,” ”by faith.” The results of justification are peace, access, joy in God.

Sanctification by faith in Christ, through the power of the indwelling Spirit (8:1-2, RV): ”There is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.” Chapter 6 shows us our position as having been crucified and raised with Christ, that we should henceforth walk in newness of life. Chapter 7 shows us the religious “self” seeking deliverance from the power of indwelling sin. The personal pronoun ”I” which abounded in chapter 7 disappears in chapter 8, and the word ”Spirit” takes its place, showing Him as the active agent of God, in revealing Christ for our sanctification, making us ”more than conquerors through Him that loved us.”

Application. The dedication of heart and life to God’s service (12:1): ”I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

In this practical and personal appeal, and in his clear words in chapter 6:1, 2, he forever refutes the charge that the doctrine of “justification by faith” countenances laxity in life; and it is a remarkable fact that the Epistle of Faith begins and ends with obedience (1:5; 16:26). See also the frequent repetition of the word ”obedience” throughout the Epistle.

CHRIST IN HIS LIFE ON EARTH. Or, Blinding Glimpses of Christ Through the Illumination of the Gospels.

Written by A. M. Hodgkin
Edited for thought and sense.

18-awesomeThe Sun of Righteousness has arisen with healing on His wings.

As we read through the Bible we watch the unfolding of the dawn of that day which Abraham rejoiced to see, that is, of that Star prophesied by Balaam, of the great Light foretold by Isaiah. We have, as it were, been watching one cloud after another lit up by the coming glory, and now the King of Glory Himself has come. “We have seen His star in the east, and are come to worship Him.” We have “seen the Lord’s Christ.” “Mine eyes have seen Thy salvation which Thou hast prepared before the face of all people, a Light to lighten the Gentiles and the glory of Thy people Israel.”

Wherever the Light of Christ has shone it has brought a higher ideal of human life to the individual, a higher moral law than was known before.

The Gospel of Christ is the only religion which has a ray of hope for the lost, the sinful, the oppressed and the weak, or a message for the woman and the little child.

The Christ who, for nineteen centuries,has won the victory over sin and darkness and moral degradation is the Christ of the New Testament. Except the bare fact of His existence, all we know of Him is from the Bible.

It is vain for men to say to-day, we believe in Christ, but reject the Bible. It is the preaching of Christ as He is revealed in the Bible –“God incarnate, perfect Man, Saviour by the way of the Cross, and Lord by the resurrection” –that has produced this transformation in the hearts and lives of men (Campbell Morgan).

In the Gospel of Christ according to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, we see God’s purpose in giving us a fourfold picture of Him, which brings out the majesty of His person and workA statue has this advantage over a picture, that it enables us to see the one represented from all sides. So this fourfold presentation of Christ exhibits from each point of view some fresh beauty in Him.

The four evangelists have been compared with the four cherubim of Ezekiel and Revelation. Matthew shows us our Lord in His kingly aspect as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah; Mark exhibits Him as the faithful Servant of Jehovah, the ox, ready alike for service or for sacrifice; Luke presents Him as the Son of Man, full of human sympathy, as the emblem of the man suggests; whereas, with John, we see Him as the Son of God, the eagle,soaring into the heavenly blue with a majesty that transcends all our thought and imagination.

Matthew

Christ the King

In this Gospel we see the royal majesty of our heavenly King. The Gospel by Matthew was written for the Jews. It sets forth the Law, and refers constantly to the Old Testament Scriptures, showing how both have been fulfilled by Christ.

This Gospel opens thus: “The book of the generations of Jesus Christ,the Son of David, the Son of Abraham” (1:1). This shows His covenant position as Son of Abraham, and His royal position as Son of David. “David the King,” in ver. 6, emphasizes our Lord’s position as David’s royal Heir.

His wondrous divinity is announced in His birth through the power of the Holy Ghost, in His personality as Savior (Jesus), and in His absolute Godhead as revealed in the name Emmanuel –God with us.

Matthew alone recounts the visit of the Magi. The whole world at this time was expecting the advent of some Great One. “Where is He that is born King of the Jews? ” Their adoration foreshadowed His universal dominion. Matthew alone tells us how Herod, the usurper of David’s sovereignty, sought to slay the heir.

In this Gospel John the Baptist introduces the Lord Jesus as the mighty Judge, Who shall purge His floor with tremendous judgment. Matthew’s account of the temptation, instead of following the chronological order of Luke, gives the account of the temptation on the mountain last, as if to emphasize it. Our Lord is the world’s King. Satan has usurped the dominion; he offers to surrender it on one condition. It means escape from Calvary for the Savior, and escape from centuries of suffering for His Church. But we see the victory of the King.

“From that time Jesus began to preach,and to say. Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” The word Kingdom occurs fifty-five times in Matthew; thirty-five times it is ” the Kingdom of Heaven,” an expression found nowhere else in the Gospels. John uses the word Kingdom only five times.

The Sermon on the Mount (chapters 5-7) gives us the Laws of the Kingdom. We have the seven parables of the Kingdom in chapter 8, each beginning with “The Kingdom of Heaven is like, “except that of the Sower, where we have the word Kingdom in verse IL Almost all our Lord’s parables in Matthew begin thus, whereas in Luke it is nearly always “A certain man.” Compare also the two accounts of the Marriage Supper. It is Matthew who tells us that the host was a King. The parables of the Day of Judgment set forth especially the royal and power of Christ.

In common with Mark and Luke, Matthew tells us of the unveiled glory of the King in the transfiguration. He adds this touch, ” His face did shine as the sun,” and these words, ” in whom I am well pleased,” showing how perfectly our Lord fulfilled God’s Law. In his account of the Resurrection he tells of the great earthquake, the angel whose face was like lightning, for fear of whom the keepers did shake and become as dead men.

Finally, this Gospel gives us, as no other,our Lord’s last royal Commission. “All authority hath been given unto Me in heaven and on earth, go ye therefore and make disciples of all the nations.”

Mark

Christ the Servant

Mark gives us the picture of Christ as the willing Servant, yielding active, prompt obedience at every moment of His life.

This Gospel is believed to have been written in Italy for the Romans, and that Mark received his information from Peter. Peter’s words to Cornelius form a perfect summary of this book: “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost, and with power; who went about doing good,and healing all that were oppressed of the devil: for God was with Him” (Acts. 10:38). Instead of opening with any record of our Lord’s birth or early years, Mark begins at once with His ministry. His introduction again supplies the key to the book: “The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.”The beginning, but not the end,” eternity, it may be, we shall never come to the end of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

One half of this Gospel is occupied with narrative, and only half with our Lord’s utterances; while in Matthew the latter occupy three-fourths, in Luke two-thirds, and in John five-sixths.

The words immediately, forthwith, anon, and straightway meet us constantly. The lesson for us is a like prompt obedience. Matthew and Luke tell us that our Lord was “led” of the Spirit into the wilderness; but Mark’s words are, “The Spirit drives Him into the wilderness.” From him too we learn that the temptation lasted the whole of the forty days, and that the Lord was “with the wild beasts.” The four parables of chapter 4 tell us the working of the Gospel. The parable of the Lord’s return is given only by Mark, and here the Gospel of service is plainly emphasized.

Everywhere Mark gives us the idea of stress of service. Multitudes crowd to hear Christ. The whole city was gathered to the door; so many came and went at times that He could not even eat, or could not enter into the city; men from all the cities ran together on foot to see Him; wherever He went they placed the sick before Him, and as many as touched Him were made whole. Though prompt action ever characterized His ministry He was never hurried in His dealing with those in need. Mark alone tells in two cases of healing, that our Lord took the deaf man and the blind man apart with Himself when He healed them. He alone tells us that He took the little children up in His arms when He blessed them.

These little graphic details are a feature of this Gospel, adding some fresh touch to almost every narrative. Peter’s quick eye had evidently noted them.

In each Gospel we have the record of the great Sacrifice by which sin is put away. But when our Lord rises from the grave and gives His final commission to His disciples, there is a marked contrast here to the record in Matthew; it rings with the urgency of service: not a corner of the world is to be left unvisited, not a soul to be left out.

The book opened with the words “the beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ,the Son of God.” Here we have the continuation. The Lord is still carrying on His work, and we are co-operating with Him. “So then, after the Lord had spoken unto them, He was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God. And they went forth,and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following.”

Luke

Christ the Son of Man, the Savior

This is the Gospel for the sinner. It brings out the compassionate love of Christ in becoming Man to save us. It was probably written for the Greeks. It traces our Lord’s descent back to Adam, and shows Him as the Son of Man and the Son of God, the Savior for the whole human race. The “Son of the Highest,” and the Son of the lowly virgin.

Instead of the visit of the Magi, Luke tells us of the humble shepherds to whom was announced the tidings of peace to all people,”to you is born a Savior,”and there, among the cattle, the Savior’s first guests would feel themselves at home.

“Mine eyes have seen Thy Salvation,”said the aged Simeon, as he took the Holy Child in his arms. And Anna “spake of Him to all that looked for Redemption in Israel.” Here, in His baptism,we see Him taking His place among the multitudes; Luke omits the words with which Matthew proclaimed Him as the coming Judge. Again, instead of the words, ” Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand,” we find Him beginning His ministry by taking His place in the synagogue at Nazareth, and applying to Himself the gracious words of Isaiah which proclaimed His ministry of mercy to the broken-hearted.

Luke records his compassion to the Widow of Nain, and the depths of His mercy to the woman that was a sinner; the story of Zaccheus with the murmuring of the Pharisees because He had gone to be a guest with a man which was a sinner. The parables of this Gospel bring out in the same way His compassion and His saving power. They generally begin “a certain man.” Such are the Good Samaritan, the Pharisee and the Publican, the Importunate Widow, and, above all, the three parables of the central chapter, the fifteenth, the Lost Sheep, the Lost Coin,and the Lost Son, in which His joy over the lost found is so marvelously represented. In the parable of the Great Supper it is Luke who records the Lord’s command to go out into the highways and hedges and compel them to come in. And the words “Yet there is room” has been the Gospel motto through all the ages.

Luke alone tells us that when our Lord beheld the city He wept over it; of the bloody sweat in Gethsemane; of the Lord showing mercy to the dying thief even in His agony, and gathering from the very Cross the first-fruits of His sufferings.

Luke alone tells of the walk to Emmaus, he himself, very possibly, being one of the two disciples. He tells of our Lord deigning to eat the piece of broiled fish and of the honey-comb, in order to show us His perfect humanity even after His resurrection; of His leading them out as far as to Bethany, and that, as He lifted up His hands and blessed them, He was parted from them.

John

Christ, the Son of God, the Divine friend

John wrote to reveal the Son of God as our Divine Friend. The first chapter shows Him to us as “the only-begotten Son of God, which is in the bosom of the Father,” One of the closing chapters shows us “the disciple whom Jesus loved” “lying on Jesus’ breast.” He came right from the heart of God, right to the heart of man.

“I bare you on eagles’ wings, and brought you to Myself” (Exod.19:4). The object of this Gospel is to bear us as upon the eagle’s wings of our Divine Savior, right into the presence of the Father Himself. ” Father, I will that they also whom Thou hast given Me be with Me where I am; that they may behold My glory,which Thou hast given Me: for Thou lovedst Me before the foundation of the world ” (17:24).

These words in the seventeenth chapter take us back to the introduction to this Gospel, “In the beginning was the Word.” Our thoughts are turned back to the first words of the Bible, and unite the great work of creation with the glorious revelation of the Son of God. “And the Word was God. All things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made.” Jesus is the Creator; He meets the need of all created life; He meets the need of man by giving Himself to be each man’s greatest, nearest Friend (Rev. John Urquhart).

In accordance with this,one of the chief features of John’s Gospel is our Lord’s personal interviews with individuals. The first disciples in chapter 1, Nicodemus, the Woman of Samaria, and others right through the book, to the very end, where He revealed Himself to Thomas, and said to Peter, “Lovest thou Me?” In all these He disclosed Himself as the Friend of the soul. The close union between Christ and the Church is set forth in this Gospel under the figure of the Bridegroom(3:25-29), of the Vine and the branches (15), of partaking of His flesh and blood (6:48-57), and of the living water. We see His friendship with the beloved disciple, and in the home at Bethany. It comes out again in His last discourse with His disciples, which is introduced by the words, “Having loved His own which were in the world. He loved them unto the end.” ” Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are My friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. I have called you friends.” It is revealed in His prayer, where His desire is in all things their oneness with Himself. The love of Christ is limitless to each soul.

The ” I AM ” in this Gospel shows how perfectly He meets the world’s need.
I AM He, the Christ, 4:26, meets our need of a Divine Savior,who is also human.
I AM the Bread of Life, 6:35, meets our soul-hunger.
I AM the Light of the World, 8:12, meets our darkness.
I AM the Door of the Sheep, 10:7, meets our homelessness.
I AM the Good Shepherd, 10:11, meets our helplessness.
I AM the Resurrection and the Life, 11:25, meets our death.
I AM your Master and Lord, 13:13, meets our dependence.
I AM the Way, the Truth,and the Life,xiv. 6, meets our need of salvation.
I AM the True Vine, 15:1, meets our need of union with Himself.
I AM Jesus of Nazareth, 18:5, meets our need of a human Savior, Who is also Divine.

These words I AM (ego eimi) identified our Lord with the covenant name of Jehovah in the Old Testament. The Jews recognized that He claimed deity in applying it thus emphatically to Himself, for it was when He said,” Before Abraham was, I AM,” they took up stones to stone Him, considering it blasphemy, which by the law was punishable by death.

John wrote his Gospel that men “might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing they might have life through His name” (20:31). Accordingly, we find the word ” believe ” occurring nearly a hundred times through this Gospel, and the word ” witness ” nearly fifty times. For, beginning with the Baptist (1:6, 7), John called in one witness after another to give evidence in proving the case. See especially chapter 5:40.

The Description & Testimony of Christ From the Old Testament. They are They Which Testify of Me, Part 2.

Written by A. M. Hodgkin

John_the_Baptist003Looking forward into the future from the earliest ages, God’s servants saw One who was to come, and as the time approached this vision grew so clear that it would be almost possible for us to describe Christ’s life from the Old Testament Scriptures, of which He Himself said,” They testify of Me.” There was one central figure in Israel’s hope. The work of the world’s redemption was to be accomplished by one Man, the promised Messiah. It is He who was to bruise the serpent’s head (Gen.3:15); He was to be descended from Abraham (Gen. 22:18),and from the tribe of Judah (Gen.49:10).

The Testimony of the Scriptures to Christ

Isaiah looked forward and saw first a great Light shining upon the people that walked in darkness (Isa.9:2). And as he gazed he saw that a child was to be born, a Son was to be given (ver. 6), and with growing amazement there dawned upon him these names, as describing the nature of the child. “Wonderful.” Wonderful, indeed, in His birth, for the advent of no other child had ever been heralded by the hosts of heaven. His birth of a virgin (Isa.7:14), and the appearance of the star (Num. 24:17), were alike wonderful.

Increasingly wonderful was He in His manhood, and most wonderful of all in His perfect sinlessness. “Counselor.” “Christ, in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col.2:3). “The Mighty God, the Everlasting Father.” There dawned upon Isaiah the consciousness that this promised One was none other than God manifest in the flesh,“Immanuel, God with us” (Isa.7:14). As Jesus Himself said, “I and my Father are One” (John 10:30). The next name, ”The Prince of Peace” specially belongs to Jesus, for “He is our Peace.” His birth brought Peace on earth, and leaving it He bequeathed Peace to His disciples, “having made Peace through the blood of His Cross.” Then the prophet sees the child that was to be born seated on the throne of His father David, and he sees the glorious spread of His kingdom. Though born of a royal house, it was to be in the time of its humiliation. “There shall come forth a shoot out of the stock of Jesse, and a branch out of his roots shall bear fruit” (Isa. 11:1,R.V.). We have in this a glimpse of His lowliness and poverty.

And now the prophets,one by one, fill in the picture, each adding a fresh, vivid touch.

The prophet Micah sees the little town where Jesus was to be born, and tells us it is Bethlehem (Micah 5:2 ; Matt. 2:6); Isaiah sees the adoration of the Magi (Isa.60: 3; Matt. 2:11); Jeremiah pictures the death of the innocents (Jer. 31:15; Matt. 2:17-18); and Hosea foreshadows the flight into Egypt (Hos. 11:1; Matt. 2:15); Isaiah portrays His meekness and gentleness(chap.42:2; Matt, 11:29),and the wisdom and knowledge which Jesus manifested all through His life from the time of His talking with the doctors in the Temple. Again, when He cleansed the Temple, the words of the Psalmist came at once to the memory of the disciples, ” The zeal of Thine house hath eaten me up” (Ps. 69:9 ; John 2:7). Isaiah pictured Him preaching good tidings to the meek, binding up the broken-hearted, proclaiming liberty to the captives, and giving the oil of joy for mourning, and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness (Isa.61:1-3; Luke 4:16-21). Mourning was turned into joy when Jesus came into the presence of death. The poor woman whom Satan had bound, lo, these eighteen years, was loosed at His word.

His gospel was indeed the message of good tidings.

Isaiah pictured even that sweetest scene of all, the Good Shepherd blessing the little children, for “He shall gather the lambs in His arms, and carry them in His bosom” (chap.40:11; Mark 10:16). Then Zechariah sings,”Rejoice greatly, 0 daughter of Zion,” for he sees her lowly King entering Jerusalem, riding on an ass’s colt; another Psalm adds the Hosannahs of the children, “Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings hast Thou ordained strength because of Thine enemies, that Thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger” (Zech. 9:9; Ps. 8:2 ; Matt. 21:4).

The prophets foresaw something of the character and extent of the Savior’s work.

The light that was to shine forth from Zion was to be for all the world,Jew and Gentile alike were to be blessed. The Spirit of God was to be poured out upon all flesh (Joel 2:28). “All the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God” (Isa.52:10). The picture of a victorious, triumphant Messiah was a familiar one to the Jews of our Savior’s time. So engrossed were they with this side of the picture that they did not recognize Him when He came, and John the Baptist said, “There standeth One among you whom ye know not.” “Had they known it they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.” But they ought to have known it, for the prophets who foretold His glory had spoken in no less certain tones of His lowliness. His rejection,and His sufferings.“Behold,” says Isaiah, “my Servant shall deal prudently. He shall be exalted and extolled and be very high” (chap.52:13) when suddenly, what does he see in the next verse 1 “As many were astonished at Thee, His visage was so marred more than any man, and His form more than the sons of men.” And how shall we picture the astonishment of the prophet as the vision of the fifty-third chapter dawns upon him with all the majesty of the suffering Messiah? From the root of Jesse was to spring up a tender plant who was to be rejected by Israel. “He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief” (Isa.53:3).

As the prophet’s steadfast gaze is fixed upon the future, he sees this Holy One led “as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep dumb before her shearers, so He openeth not His mouth” (ver. 7 ; see Matt, 27:12, 14). He sees Him dying a death by violence,for “He was cut off out of the land of the living” (ver.8). Daniel takes up the same thought and tells us, “Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself” (Dan. 9:26).

And now once more a chorus of the prophets unite their voices to tell us the manner of His death.

The Psalmist sees that He is to be betrayed by one of His own disciples, “Yea, Mine own familiar friend in whom I trusted,which did eat My bread,hath lifted up his heel against Me” (Ps. 41:9). Zechariah tells us of the thirty pieces of silver that were weighed for His price,and adds that the money was cast to the potter (Zech.11:12, 13, Jer. 19, Matt, 27:3-10). He also sees the sheep scattered when the Shepherd was smitten (chap.13:7; Matt. 26:31,56). Isaiah sees Him taken from one tribunal to another (chap.53:8 ; John 18: 24, 28). The Psalmist foretells the false witnesses called in to bear witness against Him (Ps.27:12; Matt. 26:59, 60). Isaiah sees Him scourged and spit upon (chap.1.6; Matt. 26:67, and 27:26-30).

The Psalmist sees the actual manner of His death, that it was by crucifixion, “They pierced My hands and My feet” (Ps.22:16). His being reckoned with criminals and making intercession for His murderers were alike foretold (Isa.53:12; Mark 15:27; Luke 23:34). So clear did the vision of the Psalmist become that he sees Him mocked by the passers-by(Ps. 22:6-8; Matt, 27:39-44). He sees the soldiers parting His garments among them, and casting lots for His vesture (Ps. 22:18; John 19:23, 24),and giving Him vinegar to drink in His thirst (Ps. 69:21; John 19:28, 29). With quickened ear he hears His cry in the hour of His anguish,“My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” (Ps.22:1 ; Matt. 27:46),and His dying words, “Father, into Thy hands I commit My spirit” (Ps.31:5; Luke 23:46). And, taught by the Holy Ghost, the Psalmist writes the words, “Reproach hath broken My heart” (Ps.69:20). John tells us that though the soldiers brake the legs of the two thieves to hasten their death, “when they came to Jesus, and saw that He was dead already, they brake not His legs: but one of the soldiers pierced His side, and forthwith came there out blood and water. . . . For these things were done, that the Scriptures might be fulfilled, not a bone of Him shall be broken. And again. They shall look on Him whom they pierced” (John xix.32-37; Exod. 12:46; Ps. 34:20; Zech. 12:10). Isaiah tells us that “though they had made His grave with the wicked ” “that is, intended to bury Him in the place where they buried malefactors” yet it was ordered otherwise,and He was actually buried “with the rich in His death.” ” For there came a rich man of Arimathaea named Joseph . . .and begged the body of Jesus . . . and laid it in his own new tomb” (Isa. 53:9; Matt, 27:57-60).

But the vision of the prophets stretched beyond the Cross and the tomb, and embraced the resurrection and ascension and final triumph of the Savior.

David sings: “Thou wilt not leave My soul in hell; neither wilt Thou suffer Thine Holy One to see corruption. Thou wilt show Me the path of life: in Thy presence is fulness of joy; at Thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore” (Ps.16:10, 11). And Isaiah, after he has prophesied the humiliation and death of the Messiah, closes the same prophecy with these remarkable words: “When Thou shalt make His soul an offering for sin. He shall see His seed. He shall prolong His days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand. He shall see of the travail of His soul, and shall be satisfied” (Isa.53:10, 11).

From the remotest past the saints looked forward to events which still lie before us in the future.

“Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying. “Behold, the Lord Cometh with ten thousands of His saints,to execute judgment upon all” (Jude 14). The patriarch Job said: “I know that my Redeemer liveth,and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth . . . whom I shall see for myself” (Job 19:25, 26). Zechariah had a vision of the Mount of Olives with the Lord standing there. King over all the earth, and all the saints with Him (Zech.14:4-9).

And as the prophecies of the past have been fulfilled so, certainly shall also the prophecies of the future.

“Now we see not yet all things put under Him, but we see Jesus, crowned with glory and honor” (Heb. 2:8, 9). And He says, ” Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.”

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About the author and part of your Christian heritage: A. M. Hodgkin (1860-1955) I have been able to discover nothing about the author, except that he was the editor of Friends Magazine, and lived East Sussex, England.  Any information about him would be greatly appreciated.

They are They Which Testify of Me… The Testimony of Christ to the Scriptures

Written by A. M. Hodgkin

Open_Bible_2aOn the glorious resurrection morning Mary went to seek for Jesus. She sought Him in the tomb, but He stood beside her. She thought He was the gardener, but the one word, “Mary,” revealed to her her Savior.

As we read some passage in the Old Testament how often our eyes are halfway open, and we see only the earthly form: we see Aaron the priest, or David the shepherd, or Solomon the king; but if, like Mary, we are really seeking the Lord Jesus, He manifests Himself to us through the outward type, and we turn in glad surprise, and, looking up, say, “Rabboni” (lit. my great One).

As we continue to seek, we find Him in the least expected places of the Old Testament, until the whole grows luminous with the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. “In the volume of the book, it is written of Me.” All the lines of history and type, of Psalm and prophecy, converge towards one center –Jesus Christ, and to one supreme event. His death on the Cross for our salvation. And from that center again all the lines of history in the book of Acts, of experience in the Epistles, and of prophecy in Revelation radiate out once more to testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world.

After His resurrection our Lord not only “opened the Scriptures” to His disciples, but also “opened their understanding that they might understand the Scriptures.”

…And He is ready to do the same for us.

The same Holy Spirit who moved holy men of old to write the Scriptures, is close at hand to make the words life to our souls, by taking of the things of Christ and revealing them unto us.

The Testimony of Christ to the Scriptures

“Abraham rejoiced to see My day.” “Moses wrote of Me.” “David called [Me] Lord” (John 8:56, v. 46; Matt. 22: 45). We have in these words of our Savior abundant authority for seeking Him in the Old Testament, and also a confirmation of the truth of the Scriptures themselves. To those of us who believe in Christ as truly God, as well as truly Man, His word on these matters is authoritative. He would not have said, “Abraham rejoiced to see My day,” if Abraham had been a mythological character; He would not have said, “Moses wrote of Me,” if the Books of Moses had been written hundreds of years later; nor would He have quoted from the 110th Psalm to prove that David called Him Lord, if that Psalm had not been written till the time of the Maccabees.

With regard to our Lord’s reference to the Books of Moses, the testimony is peculiarly emphatic. It was no mere passing reference to them. The whole force of the argument again and again lies in the fact that He regarded Moses, not as a mere title by which certain books were known, but as personally the actor in the history which they record and the author of the legislation which they contain. “Did not Moses give you the law, and yet none of you keepeth the law?” (John 7: 19). “Had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed Me; for he wrote of Me. But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe My words?” (John 5:46, 47). He condemned the traditions with which the Pharisees overlaid the laws and teaching of Moses as “making the word of God of none effect” (Mark 7:13). To the leper He said, “Go thy way, show thyself to the priest,and offer the gift that Moses commanded” (Matt. 8:4). That command of Moses is found in the very heart of the priestly code which some would have us believe was framed centuries after the days of Moses.

From a careful study of the Gospels we cannot fail to see that the Old Testament Scriptures were continually upon Christ’s lips because always hidden in His heart. In the temptation in the wilderness He defeated the devil,not with any manifestation of His Divine glory, not by a power which we cannot wield, not even by His own words; but He fell back upon written words which had strengthened the saints of many ages, thus showing us how we also may meet and foil our great adversary. It is specially helpful to note that it is out of Deuteronomy that our Lord selects,”as pebbles from the clear brook,” His three conclusive answers to the tempter (Deut. 8:3, 13, 14,16). [this is important and interesting] For we have been told that this Book of Deuteronomy is a pious forgery of the time of Josiah, purporting to be written by Moses to give it greater weight in bringing about the much-needed reforms.

Would our Lord “who is Himself the Truth” have thus countenanced a book full of untruths, and have used it in the critical moment of His conflict with the devil?

And would not ” the father of lies” have known perfectly well if the book had been a forgery? When Christ commenced His public ministry in the synagogue at Nazareth with the words of Isaiah, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He hath anointed Me to preach the Gospel to the poor,” He said, “This day is this Scripture fulfilled in your ears” (Luke 9: 17-21). In the Sermon on the Mount our Lord said, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law and the prophets: I am not come to destroy,but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you. Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled” (Matt. 5:17-19).

In these days we have many books about the Bible, but very little searching of the Scriptures themselves. A careful study of what Jesus Himself says about the Old Testament Scriptures, asking for the light of the Holy Spirit upon the pages, would well repay the Bible student. Very few realize how abundant are our Lord’s quotations from the Old Testament. He refers to twenty Old Testament characters. He quotes from nineteen different books. He refers to the creation of man, to the institution of marriage,to the history of Noah, of Abraham, of Lot, and to the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah as described in Genesis; to the appearing of God to Moses in the bush, to the manna, to the ten commandments, to the tribute money as mentioned in Exodus. He refers to the ceremonial law for the purification of lepers, and to the great moral law, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself,” both contained in Leviticus. To the brazen serpent,and the law regarding vows, in Numbers.

We have already dwelt upon His threefold quotation from Deuteronomy. He refers to David’s flight to the high priest at Nob, to the glory of Solomon and the visit of the Queen of Sheba, to Elijah’s sojourn with the widow of Sarepta, to the healing of Naaman, and to the killing of Zechariah –from various historical books. And as regards the Psalms and the Prophetical writings, if possible the Divine authority of our Lord is yet more deeply stamped on them than on the rest of the Old Testament. “Have ye not read?” or “It is written,” is the ground of Christ’s constant appeal; “The Scripture cannot be broken,” “The Scriptures testify of Me,” “The Scripture must be fulfilled,” His constant assertion. Questioned concerning the resurrection, Jesus answered, “Ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures. Have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God,saying,I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac,and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead,but of the living.” Our Lord here attributes the skepticism of the Sadducees partly to their not understanding the Scriptures, He proves from the Bible the fact of the resurrection, and He asserts that the very words uttered by God are contained therein (Matt.22:29-32).

As He drew near to the Cross, our Savior’s testimony to the Scriptures has a still more sacred import. “Behold we go up to Jerusalem,and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of Man shall be accomplished” (Luke 28:31). “For I say unto you, that this which is written must be fulfilled in Me,” And He was reckoned with transgressors: for that which concerneth Me hath fulfillment” (Luke 22: 37, R.V.). On the night of His betrayal, in the shade of Olivet, three times our Savior points to the fulfillment of these Scriptures in Himself (see Matt. 28:31, 53, 54; Mark 14:48, 49). Three of His seven utterances upon the Cross were in the words of Scripture,and He died with one of them on His lips.

But perhaps the strongest testimony of all which Christ bore to the Old Testament was after His resurrection.

On the very day that He rose He said to the two disciples going to Emmaus, “O fools,and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken ! Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into His glory? And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, He expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself” (Luke 24: 25-27).

Not only did He sanction the Scriptures, but also that method of interpretation which finds throughout the Old Testament a witness to the Messiah of the New. Thus on the very first day of our Lord’s return He resumed His former method of instruction even more emphatically than before, proving His claims not so much by His own personal victory over death as by the testimony of the Scriptures. After this Jesus appeared to the eleven and said: “These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the law of Moses, and in the Prophets, and in the Psalms concerning Me. Then opened He their understanding, that they might understand the Scriptures,and said unto them: Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day” (Luke 24: 44-46). Even those who would seek to place limits upon Christ’s wisdom and knowledge during His life on earth would surely not extend this to the period of His risen life. And it is during this period that He sets His seal upon the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms, the threefold division of the complete Old Testament Scriptures according to the Jews, the very same Scriptures that are in our possession today.

But, lest even this should not be enough to confirm our faith, we are given in the Book of Revelation a glimpse of our glorified Savior, still “this same Jesus,” still quoting from the Scriptures, and still applying them to Himself. He says: “Fear not; I am the first and the last : I am He that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death” (Rev. 1:17, 18). And again: “He that hath the key of David, He that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth” (Rev. 3: 7). Here He quotes from the two parts of the one Book of Isaiah, from chapter 44:6, which says: “Thus saith the Lord, the King of Israel,and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: I am the first, and I am the last; and beside Me there is no God. . . .Fear ye not,” and from chapter 22: 22 : “And the key of the house of David will I lay upon His shoulder; so He shall open, and none shall shut; and He shall shut, and none shall open. –Truly the key “not only of life and death, but the key to the Scriptures” is laid upon His shoulder.

..and He still unlocks the meaning of the book to those who are humble enough for Him to unlock the understanding of their hearts.

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About the author and part of your Christian heritage: A. M. Hodgkin (1860-1955) I have been able to discover nothing about the author, except that he was the editor of Friends Magazine, and lived East Sussex, England.