Acts 5:30-32, A Prince and Savior.

30] “The God of our fathers raised up Jesus whom you murdered by hanging on a tree.  31] Him God has exalted to His right hand to be Prince and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins.  32] And we are His witnesses to these things, and so also in the Holy Spirit whom God has given to them who obey Him.”

The thing we’re interested in in this portion of Scripture is what Peter says about what happened to the Lord Jesus after His resurrection:  God exalted Him to His own right hand.  The question is, what is He doing there right now?  Not “doing there” as if there were some question about His right to be there, but rather, what are His activities there?

A common view is that He is ruling His church as its Head.

Is that what the Scripture teaches?

Our Scripture tells us He is “Prince and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins” (emphasis added).  We emphasized “to Israel” because a common view is that God is done with Israel, that their crucifixion of Jesus forever closed the door to them, that the church has taken her place as “spiritual Israel,” and, ultimately, the Old Testament prophets didn’t really mean Israel when they said, for example, Israel shall blossom and bud, and fill the face of the world with fruit, Isaiah 27:6.

It is true that Israel as a nation has been set aside in this age, but Scripture says that is only until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in, Romans 11:25, (emphasis added.)  Earlier in the chapter, Paul wrote, I say then, have they stumbled that they should fall?  Certainly not!  But through their fall, to provoke them to jealousy, salvation has come to the Gentiles.  Now if their fall is riches for the world, and their failure riches for the Gentiles, how much more their fullness! Romans 11:11, 12.  Though I’ve seen it done, you can’t really say that “their fall” and “their failure” refer to Israel without also saying that “their fullness” refers to Israel.

“Their fullness.”

What is that?

Instead of the crucifixion cutting them off from God’s grace, it is through that very thing that they will be brought to the feet of the Crucified One.  Zechariah 12:10, 11 quotes God as saying, “And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one grieves for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn.  In that day there shall be a great mourning in Jerusalem.”  John quotes part of this verse at the Crucifixion, John 19:37.

Just in passing, Zechariah quotes “the word of the LORD” in this portion, the word “LORD” being capitalized refers to Jehovah, and yet it is He Who is crucified.  This is just one of many incidental references in the Old Testament that demonstrate that Jesus is Jehovah.  He wasn’t just a Man born illegitimately to a peasant girl in Israel, but was God Incarnate.

God is not done with Israel.  Though Zechariah 14 describes a terrible time for her just before the Lord returns, yet He will return and claim her for Himself.  Zechariah 13:1 says, “In that day a fountain shall be opened for the house of David and for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for uncleanness.”

But our Lord won’t just come back as Savior.  Peter says He will come back as Prince, or Ruler.  Perhaps Revelation 20:4 is the best known verse about this:  And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.”  Leaving aside the uproar about “the Millennium,” except to say that the Holy Spirit inspired John to use that phrase five times in six verses for some reason, perhaps to indicate that He meant “1,000 years,” this isn’t the only verse to refer to our Lord as King.  In giving a further description of our Lord’s return, Revelation 19:14-15a say this:  And the armies of heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses.  Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations.  And He Himself shall rule them [the nations] with a rod of iron.  

Zechariah 14 gives us a little idea of this “rod of iron.”  It says, And it shall come to pass that everyone who is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles.  And it shall come to pass that whichever of the families of the earth do not come up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, on them there shall be no rain.  If the family of Egypt will not come up and enter in, they shall have no rain; they shall receive the plague with which the LORD strikes the nations who do not come up to keep the Feast of Tabernacles.  This shall be the punishment of Egypt and the punishment of all the nations that do not come up to keep the Feast of Tabernacles, vs. 16-19.

And Matthew says, The Son of Man will send His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, and will cast them into the furnace of fire.  There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth, Matthew 13:41, 42.

There will be no “diversity,” no “freedom of religion.”  Everything will be in accord with the Word and will of God, to “saved” and “unsaved” alike.  That is why Satan will be able to get together people against the Lord, whose number is as the sand of the sea, Revelation 20:7.  This will forever answer those who say that people go wrong because of education or environment or economic conditions.  Conditions will be the best they have been since the Garden of Eden and people will still rebel against God.

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Hebrews 12:2, 3, “Looking Unto Jesus.”

[2]looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
[3]For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.
(NKJV)

The writer has just gone through a whole list of “faith-worthies,” many of whom did great things or who suffered great things.  But then, as it were, he shifts gears.  While he does want his readers to know about these ancestors in faith, he doesn’t want their attention focused on them.  There is someone else to whom they were to look, and so are we:  Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.

The word translated “author,” refers to a founder, author, prince or leader.  I think the word “founder” gives the best idea here.  Moses and the prophets didn’t “found” Christianity, in spite of those who look to them for guidance.  They indeed laid the groundwork, as it were, foreshadowing and prophesying that One who would come and fulfill all those types and shadows.  However, there is no pattern, no blueprint, for how we are to do things.  There is no salvation in those OT things; there is salvation only in the One who came to fulfill them.

We don’t like that idea in this day of “diversity” and “inclusiveness.”  We want to believe that “all roads lead to heaven,” that the pagan who worships nature or the woman who sacrifices her baby to a river or a person who follows a religion that denies and contradicts every teaching of Scripture, these are all “children of God.”

However, our Lord said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through Me,” John 14:6.  Later on, standing before the leaders of the nation, Peter affirmed this, “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved,” Acts 4:12.  And there is coming a time when this will be universally and unequivocally acknowledged.  Men may have put Jesus on the Cross, may reject Him and ridicule His claims, even deny His existence and do all they can to stamp out every mention of Him in society, but Paul wrote that God has highly exalted Him and given Him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father, Philippians 2:9-11.

Some believe that these verses in Philippians teach that everyone will eventually be saved, but that view contradicts Scripture, which teaches otherwise.  The verses simply mean that there’s coming a time after it’s too late that unbelievers and skeptics will be forced to admit who Jesus is, that He was and is who He claimed to be.  After all, they will stand before Him in judgment.  But there will be no salvation for them, no “second chance” after death.

But there’s more in Hebrews 12:2:  He is the “finisher” of our faith.  A couple of things here.  First, there is no word corresponding to “our” in the original language.  Jesus is the Founder and “finisher” of faith.  It’s common in our time to hear of “faith-based” works or organizations.  It’s become a synonym for “religion.”  However, there are many works and religious organizations that have nothing to do with Scripture.  But there is only one “faith,” the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints, Jude 3, and the Lord Jesus was the One who revealed it.  And He did that through the Scriptures.

Not only did He reveal it, but He “completed” it.  That’s the meaning of the word translated, “finisher.”  “Faith” isn’t about what men say or do.  It’s about what He did.  There’s nothing to be added to what He did.  Some churches blasphemously teach that there are things which we must do in addition to what the Lord did on the Cross:  we must be baptized, or we must offer the “unbloody sacrifice of the Mass,” or a host of other things.  Or they falsely teach that they, too, have a revelation from God.  They have their own prophet or founder.  Or they teach that theirs is the only accepted group.  Only with them is there truth and salvation.  Several groups teach that.  But there is only one Name that God will accept as Savior and Lord, and it’s not the name of some church or denomination or religious group.  It is the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.  No one, no one, comes to God except through Him.

for the joy set before Him.

I’ve read at least one person who believed that it’s wrong to serve God for the sake of “reward.”  Such an attitude is selfish, it is said; we should serve God simply because we love Him.  And it’s true, we should serve God out of love; I doubt if any other motivation is acceptable to Him.

At the same time, though, it’s said of our Lord that He was anticipating a reward for His suffering: “the joy set before Him.”  You see, His death wasn’t just some haphazard affair, with its outcome left to fallible and sinful men.  Nor was it “a mistake,” as Schweitzer claimed.  It was carefully planned in every detail well before Genesis 1:1.  Cf. 1 Peter 1:20.

It was this hope, this expectation, that enabled our Lord to endure the cross, “despising the shame.”  We’ve never seen a crucifixion.  It was an awful and bloody thing.  We’ve cleaned it up and sanitized it, with a cloth strategically covering His body.  One branch of the church even boasts that there is no blood in their pictures.  But in addition to the torture of the whipping He received before the Crucifixion, a whipping that often killed those who endured it, and the agony of the spikes which held Him to the Cross, He hung naked, open to the gaze of all who looked at Him.

We don’t think anything of nudity in our debased society, some even extol it, but back then it was a terrible thing, a thing of “shame.”

Our Lord “despised the shame” because He knew that this wasn’t the end of things.  In some ways, rather, it was the beginning.  A look at the future isn’t the purpose of this post; I’ve done that enough in other posts, but it was “the future” which enabled the Lord to “endure” the present.

And make no mistake; He “endured” the Cross.  It was no walk in the park for Him.  It was no little thing, this matter of crucifixion.  Even though the Romans were concerned about “justice,” and there were some restrictions about who could suffer this or that treatment, there was no such thing as “criminal rights” in that day.  There was no concern about “cruel and unusual punishment” like we have in our day, in which any punishment seems to be considered cruel and unusual.  Some men took days to die on a cross.  That’s why Pilate was so surprised when Nicodemus came to ask for the body, and why Pilate had a centurion verify Jesus’ death.

But beside the physical suffering, about which we might have some idea, there was also the suffering because He bore the weight of God’s wrath against sin, about which we have no idea, no standard of comparison.  We read of no outcry when they whipped Him, or when they drove the spikes into His wrists and feet.  We read of no response to the ridicule of the leadership as they scoffed at Him, and mocked His claims.  It was only His treatment by the Father that forced an anguished cry from His lips,

“My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?!”

Ah, that goes far beyond any mere human experience.

We think we know so much with our “Drs. of Theology,” and our arguments over various doctrines and teachings.  I’ve done a lot of that in this blog.  And I’m not against “education.”  I just wish it was more about the Bible itself, reading the Scripture itself and seeing what it says, and less about what men say that the Bible says.  But when it comes to the Cross, we likely know even less about the sufferings of our Savior than a newborn infant knows of the suffering of his mother in bringing him to birth.  I don’t know that we’ll ever be able to understand anything of that suffering.

That suffering was tempered by the fact that His suffering wasn’t the end of things.  It was not in vain.  It was not “meaningless”.  There was “joy” beyond.  Joy that will last for an eternity….

Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning, Psalm 30:5.

March Memories: The True God.

The Maker of the Universe
As Man for man was made a curse.
The claims of laws which He had made
Unto the uttermost He paid.

His holy fingers made the bough
Which grew the thorns which crowned His brow;
The nails that pierced His hands were mined
In secret places He designed.

He made the forests whence there sprung
The tree on which His body hung.
He died upon a cross of wood,
Yet made the hill on which it stood.

The sky that darkened o’er His head
By Him, above the earth, was spread.
The sun that hid from Him its face
By His decree was poised in space.

The spear which spilled His precious blood
Was tempered in the fires of God.
The grave in which His form was laid
Was hewn in rocks His hands had made.

The throne on which He now appears
Was His from everlasting years,
But a new glory crowns His brow,
And every knee to Him shall bow.

– F. W. Pitt
_______________

(Originally published March 20, 2013.)

“The Kindness of God.” Part 6: “…having obtained eternal redemption.”

In our last post, we began to look at the special responsibilities the Lord Jesus undertook on behalf of believers, or the elect.  We noted that He was their Representative and as such became their Substitute.  As their Substitute, satisfying all the requirements of God’s Law and justice by living a sinless life, and dying on a Roman cross, He also became their Redeemer.  We stopped last week after seeing that He satisfied the requirements for redemption

In this post, we want to look at the second aspect of His becoming Redeemer.

b.  He secured the reality of redemption.

I use the word “reality” deliberately.  Most Christians believe that He only secured the “possibility” of redemption, and that it’s up to us to make it “real”. It’s usually taught that Jesus only died to make men “salvable,” that is, able to be saved, but His death doesn’t actually “save” anyone until and unless they “accept” Him.  While we in no way deny man’s obligation to “repent and believe the Gospel,” the Scriptures teach that Jesus did far more on the Cross than the vague generalizations most people have of His death.

1).  Hebrews 1:3 says, …when he had by Himself purged our sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high….  Hebrews 10:12 repeats this:  …this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sin forever, sat down at the right hand of God….

“Purge” means “to cleanse.”  He sat down to demonstrate that redemption had been accomplished, not just “attempted.”  This is significant.  No Old Testament priest could ever sit down because his work was never done.

For years I heard it said, and believed it myself, that there was no seat in the tabernacle.  This isn’t strictly true.  What did the High Priest do when he went that one day a year into the Holy of Holies?  He sprinkled blood on the Mercy Seat.  He would never have dared to sit on that seat because he had no right to it.  His work wasn’t done.  However, the Lord completed the work of redemption. Nothing could be added to it, and nothing needed to be added to it.  I won’t be dogmatic about it, but I believe that when He sat down in Heaven, in the true tabernacle which the Lord erected, and not man, Hebrews 8:2, He sat down on the Mercy Set.  Not only was there blood on the Mercy Seat, but the One whose blood it was is there, as well.  Sin has been cleansed, and the One who did it sits on the Mercy Seat as proof.

2).  Hebrews 9:12, not with blood of bulls and goats, but with His own blood, He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.

Hebrews says that He obtained eternal redemption, He didn’t just make it “possible” for us to obtain.  Throughout the book, the writer demonstrates the superiority of the Lord Jesus in the areas of revelation and redemption over several OT persons or ceremonies, in that He fulfilled or finished the things which they themselves did or typified.

The Law had a shadow of good things to come, but the Lord Jesus came as the High Priest of those things, Hebrews 9:11.  The OT sacrifices could never take away sin, Hebrews 10:11: He has…put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself, Hebrews 9:26.  Because He died, sin has been paid for and “put away.”  The word translated “put away” means “to set aside,” “to annul,” “to reject.”  By His death, the Lord Jesus “set aside,” “rendered null and void,” “rejected” the sins of those for whom He died.  By “rejected” is meant that He got rid of them.  And in the words of Hebrews 1:3, He did this “by Himself.”  His payment for sin doesn’t require the “acceptance” of those for whom He died in order for it to be “effective.”  He…put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. 

3). Romans 8:28-30, And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.  For whom He did foreknow, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His son,…Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, them He also glorified.

Romans 8:28-30 has been called, “The Golden Chain of Redemption.”  There used to be a TV show called, “The Weakest Link.”  There are no “weak links” in this chain.  It was planned in eternity past in the wisdom and purpose of God the Father; it was forged in the fires of Calvary by the grace and suffering of God the Son; it stretches from eternity past to eternity future , if we can refer to eternity like that, through the activity and power of God the Holy Spirit.  We’ve already looked at those who think that all this was simply the result of what God “foresaw” that we would do.  In contrast, the Bible talks about what God will do.

4). Romans 8:33, Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect?  It is God who justifies.

The words, “it is,” have been supplies by the translators.  I believe the verse could be framed as a question:  who shall bring a charge against God’s elect?  God who justifies [them]?  This verse ties together God’s election of some to be saved, as we saw in the last post, and Christ’s redemption of them in accordance with God’s will.  According to Paul, in His purpose, God has already “justified” His elect, Romans 8:30, but what does “justified” mean?  Basically, it means “to declare righteous.”  Sometimes a play on the word is used to say that it means, “just as if I’d never sinned.”  This is true as far as it goes, but there is so much more to it than that.  What it really means is, “just as if I’d always obeyed,” which to my mind is something far greater!  Since God has already, in His purpose, cleared us of wrong-doing, and credits us only with “right-doing,” who is successfully going to charge us with anything?  God has already accepted us as His righteous children in Christ.  Who is going to be able to nullify or question that decision?

5). Romans 8:34, Who is he who condemns?  It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.

Again, translators have supplied words.  We could read the verse, Who is he who condemns?  Christ who died…?  In John 5:22, 27, Jesus said, “the Father judges no man, but has committed all judgment to the Son, …and has given Him authority to execute judgment also….”

Paul’s question is, “Will Jesus condemn ones for whom He died?”  Most modern Christians would say, “Yes, because they didn’t accept Him as their Savior.”  We’ll have more to say about the importance of faith in a later post.  For now, let’s just say that such an answer would have been the farthest thing from Paul’s mind.  Christ didn’t just “die.”  Listen as Paul piles evidence upon evidence that those for whom Christ died cannot and will not be condemned:  Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us (emphases added).  Paul says four things about what Christ did and is doing for sinners.

a).  He died.  He did indeed die, but His death wasn’t random, or an accident or mistake, as some blasphemously assert.  It was a sacrifice, given as a ransom for many, Mark 10:35.  The idea of “ransom” implies a particular, personal transaction.  A “general ransom” is a contradiction in terms.

b).  He rose again.  Jesus was delivered up because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification, Romans 4:25.

Jesus made certain claims while He was alive, most of which were rejected or ignored.   The Resurrection was God’s “Amen” to His Son.  It was also, if you will, the receipt for the payment Christ made on the Cross.  If He had not risen from the dead, we would have no way of knowing if His death did any good.  The Resurrection is our assurance that it did.

c.)  He was exalted.  Him God has exalted to His right hand to be a Prince and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins, Acts 5:31.

Leaving aside the implications of the phrase, “to Israel,” note that the exaltation of Christ declared Him to be the Savior, Who gives repentance…and forgiveness of sins.  His death not only purchased the salvation of all for whom He died, but also the means of that salvation, namely, repentance and faith.

d).  He intercedes for us.

The only time in His earthly life that Jesus said, “I will,” to the Father was in regard to this very thing.  In John 17:24, He said, Father, I will that they, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am…[KJV].  It’s true that the NKJV and the ESV translate it, “I desire,” but it doesn’t matter.  Will the Father not give the Son the one thing He ever said He wanted?

Jesus finished His request by saying, “for you loved Me before the foundation of the world.”  The Father loved us “before the foundation of the world,” as well, gave us to His Son and sent Him to be our Redeemer and Savior.  That’s what He came to do, and that’s what He did.

Furthermore, in this very prayer, our Lord said, “I pray for them.  I do not pray for the world, but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours,” John 17:9.  It’s strange that He would die for “the world,” as some insist, but He wouldn’t pray for it.  If it be argued that He was praying for His disciples, vs. 6-8, that’s true, but in v. 20, He said, “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word.”   In v. 21, He clearly distinguishes between those for whom He is praying, and “the world.”

Someone might object, “Now, wait!  What about those verses which speak of Christ’s death for the world?”  Lord willing, we’ll look at them next time, and then finish up with a look at Christ and the individual.

Further references:  Matthew 1:21;  John 10:10, 11, 15-16: Acts 20:28; Romans 4:7, 8; 8:31-32; 1 Corinthians 1:30; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Ephesians 1:3-14; 2:19, 20; 5:2, 25-27; Philippians 1:6, 29; Titus 1:2, 2:13, 14; Hebrews 2:17; 9:15; 10:10; 13:12.

Questions

1.  What is the first aspect of Christ as Redeemer?

2.  What is the second aspect of Christ as Redeemer?

3.  What is the significance of the phrase, “He sat down”?

4.  What kind of redemption did Jesus obtain by His death?

5.  What did Jesus do with sin?

6.  Does His death require the agreement of those for whom He died to be effective?

7.  What does “justification” mean?

8.  Can those for whom Christ died ultimately be condemned for their sin?

9.  What four things did Jesus do, or is He doing, for sinners?

10. Write out one of the verses in “further references.”  What does it say about the death of the Lord Jesus?

Jesus and His Revelation

This is the post I started to write under the title “The Revelation of Jesus Christ.”  That’s not the first time this has happened – starting off in one direction and winding up somewhere else.  Not complaining, just commenting.

The point I was planning to make in that post, and in this post, too, was that we need to get away from all the inadequate views of the Lord Jesus that are floating around contemporary Christianity, and have been probably have been floating around in different forms since His life and ministry.  We need to get away from the “bumper sticker theology – ‘My boss is a Jewish carpenter'” kind of stuff.  And a lot of the stuff that gets posted on facebook.

Yes, He was a carpenter, although the word behind that translation simply means, “craftsman.”  Yes, He did walk among men and women.  As Hebrews 4:15 puts it, we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weakness, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.

He has walked in our shoes.

The thing is, we can never walk in His shoes.  We can never even begin to understand what it meant for Him to leave the glories of Heaven, to inhabit a body formed in the womb of His mother by the power of the Holy Spirit.  We can never know what it must have been like for He Who gave men and women legs to have to learn how to walk; for the One Who gave them tongues to have to learn how to talk.  For Holiness to walk among sinners.

He never complained about it, though He did indicate a few times how it affected Him.  For example, in Luke 12:50, He said, “I have a baptism to be baptized with [referring to His coming Crucifixion and all that accompanied it], and how distressed I am till it is accomplished!” (NKJV)  In Luke 22:15, He said, “With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.”  His suffering was about to come to an end, even though the worst of it lay before Him.

So, even though a large portion of professing Christendom still has Him on the Cross, we’re not dealing any more with that One Who hung naked on a Roman cross, to the jeers of His enemies and the tears of His supporters.  We’re not dealing with a Christ Who still lies in the tomb or Who never actually existed.  That’s what the world thinks.

We’re not dealing with the incarnate Christ Who lived in obscurity, but with the glorified Christ, Who again resides in the heavenly splendor He left when He came to redeem us.

As we wrote in the other post, “the people to whom John wrote needed to know they served a Christ Who was greater than what they were going through.  They needed to know that what they were suffering, and were going to suffer, wasn’t just some ‘accident of history.’  They needed to know that when Satan did his worst, he was still a defeated foe and that his wouldn’t be the final word.”

So John describes the Lord Jesus as He is, not as He was.

I started this post a few days ago.  It’s been simmering on the stove since then.   In the other post, I divided the Revelation as “the revelation of Jesus Christ to the reader, to the churches and to the world.”  It occurred to me, though, that not only does “the reader” need to understand Who the Lord Jesus is, so do the churches!  Too often, we have more a Christ of sentiment or supposition or Sunday School than of Scripture.  That’s why, in chs. 2 and 3, in each letter to a church, there is reference to the vision of ch. 1.

I was going to write about each aspect of that vision in some detail, and still might, but the whole picture tells us what we need to know.  It all points to one thing.

In Revelation 1:13, John said he saw One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band, standing in the midst of seven lampstands.  This is somewhat reminiscent of the attire of the High Priest in Israel, and, indeed, it’s in that role that the Book of Hebrews presents Him – not only as Prophet, nor even yet as King, but as High Priest, interceding for His people at the right hand of the throne of God.

One of the duties of the High Priest was to make the lamps burn continually, … He shall be in charge of the lamps on the pure gold lampstand before the LORD continually, Leviticus 24:3, 5.

So John presents our Lord as examining His churches to see if and how they are “burning”.  And He has a lot to say to each one of them.

But “churches” aren’t about buildings or denominations, but about people, the people who are their members.  Each believer can find himself or herself in the descriptions of the seven churches.  What the Lord said to them, He says to us.

 

 

 

The True God

The Maker of the universe

As man for man was made a curse.

The claims of laws which He had made

Unto the uttermost He paid.

His holy fingers made the bough

Which grew the thorns that crowned His brow;

The nails that pierced His hands were mined

In secret places He designed.

He made the forests whence there sprung

The tree on which His body hung.

He died upon a cross of wood,

Yet made the hill on which it stoood.

The sky that darkened o’er His head

By Him, above the earth, was spread.

The sun that hid from Him its face

By His decree was poised in space.

The spear which spilled His precious blood

Was tempered in the fires of God.

The grave in which His form was laid

Was hewn in rocks His hands had made.

The throne on which He now appears

Was His from everlasting years,

But a new glory crowns His brow,

And every knee to Him shall bow!

– F. W. Pitt