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“Oh, the unspeakable greatness of that exchange,—the Sinless One is condemned, and he who is guilty goes free; the Blessing bears the curse, and the cursed is brought into blessing; the Life dies, and the dead live; the Glory is whelmed in darkness, and he who knew nothing but confusion of face is clothed with glory.” Trailady

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A person God turned around many times.

Monday, January 03, 2011

Christ the incomprehensible Lawgiver

Never man spake like this Man.” (Jn. 7:46).

“Fury is not in Me: who would set the briers and thorns against Me in battle? I would go through them, I would burn them together.” (Is. 27:4). Christ wants us to comprehend His actions and words and to be able to unite with Him in mind and heart. His big work is to help us understand Him. But the Lord cannot be hedged in by our definition of His principles of character. He will not allow the adversary to use His human children as leverage to divulge the full mystery of His truth, which they cannot comprehend and which Satan would easily and quickly use for His purposes. Christ will define Himself; all the strictures Satan would put upon God’s Law or His doctrine He will ignore. Try as he might, Satan will not control God. The enemy may “think to change times and laws,” but an illusion of this is all he can do. (Dan. 7:25).

Our Creator is unexplainable. The Lord says, “Thou shalt not kill.” (Ex. 20:13). But He kills. He commanded, “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” (Ex. 20:14). But He sends Isaiah and Hosea to commit adultery. (Is. 8:3;Hos. 3:1). He forbade the sacrificing of children (Lev. 18:21;Jer. 32:35), but commanded Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. He hates divorce (Mal. 2:16), but He divorced Israel. (Jer. 3:8). Yet, in all this He is not arbitrary.

Likewise His 9th commandment forbade lying, but He caused the old prophet of 1Kings 13 to lie to the younger prophet. Only God knows why He does what He does. And He needs us to trust Him until light shines on the apparent inconsistency.

The elder prophet was a godly man. He spoke the word of the Lord (1Ki. 13:20). Like Abraham he commanded his sons after him. Like Jesus toward the rich, young ruler (Mk. 10:21,23), the prophet, with all his heart and soul for his fellow prophet, cried out his brother’s doomed end (1Ki. 13:21). His soul was knit with the soul of his younger counterpart. With tenderness and self-forgetfulness, braving—maybe, in his grief, oblivious to—the lion standing by, he picked up the dead prophet to give him a decent burial in his own grave. With genuine grief that must have made Jesus weep he inconsolably cried and mourned at the graveside, “Alas, my brother!” (vs. 30). With deepest brotherhood he commanded his well-trained sons to lay his own dead bones next to those of his fallen compatriot, as some way to reconcile the loss of his beloved friend, and then endorsed his prophecy against King Jeroboam’s system of false worship.

Yet, when we read the whole chapter of 1Kings 13, we see that this whole tragedy happened because the old prophet lied to his fellow prophet. (Vs. 18). This godly man lied. From the pure Christlikeness he displayed later, his lie seems strangely out of character. “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits.” (Matt. 7: 15,16). The old prophet had all the fruits of the Spirit, and was in no way an inwardly ravening wolf. Therefore, as strange as it sounds, I believe his lie was by divine design. It was God’s plan; he was obeying God when he lied.

God condoning lying? God inspiring a man to lie? “Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God?” (Rom. 9:20). “For He is not a man, as I am, that I should answer Him, and we should come together in judgment. Neither is there any daysman betwixt us, that might lay His hand upon us both.” (Job 9:32,33). “Touching the Almighty, we cannot find Him out: He is excellent in power, and in judgment, and in plenty of justice: He will not afflict. Men do therefore fear Him: He respecteth not any that are wise of heart.” (Job 37:23,24).

Must God answer to man for all His actions? Must He have Satan’s permission? Must He submit His plans for the devil’s acceptance or rejection, much like a carpenter does to city hall to get a building permit?

“Who can understand His errors?” (Ps. 19:12). For sure, this is a rhetorical question, because it is presumptuous to call any of the great Judge’s actions illicit or erroneous. So our humble answer must be, “Cleanse Thou me from secret faults. Keep back Thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression.” (Ps.19:12,13).

“No man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.” (Ecc. 3:11). Even Christ’s disciples “but dimly understood” many of His actions and words. Desire of Ages, p. 506. “And they understood none of these things: and this saying was hid from them, neither knew they the things which were spoken.” (Lk. 18:34). “Then answered Peter and said unto him, Declare unto us this parable. And Jesus said, Are ye also yet without understanding? Do not ye yet understand...?” (Matt. 15:15-17).

“Christ’s answer to John’s disciples he found incomprehensible. To the desert prophet all this seemed a mystery beyond his fathoming.  Desire of Ages, p. 216.

The fact that He claimed to be the Sent of God, and yet refused to be Israel’s king, was a mystery which they could not fathom.” Desire of Ages, p. 385.

Is God bound by His own Law, His will, His doctrine? Yes, of course He is. He is no hypocrite. “Every word of God is pure.” (Prov. 30:5). And since no iniquity can be found in Him, we must be careful how we treat His words. Thus the warning, “Add thou not unto His words, lest He reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.” (Prov. 30:6). I don’t want that for myself; and I’m sure you don’t want it for yourself, either.

Yet His word is deep and broad. “The words of a man’s mouth are as deep waters, and the wellspring of wisdom as a flowing brook.” (Prov. 18:4). “I have seen an end of all perfection: but Thy commandment is exceeding broad.” (Ps. 119:96). Of Christ, the Word of God, scripture intones, “I will open My mouth in a parable: I will utter dark sayings of old.” (Ps. 78:2). “But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory.” (1Cor. 2:7).

He takes liberties we are not allowed to take, because we can’t be righteous outside of His revealed will. But He can be. “The secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.” (Deut.29:29). His gospel of grace, the plan of redemption came to us outside of and beyond His longstanding Law of righteousness. “But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets.” (Rom. 3:21).

“The Pharisees therefore said unto Him, Thou bearest record of Thyself; Thy record is not true. Jesus answered and said unto them, Though I bear record of Myself, yet My record is true.” (Jn. 8:13,14). He was made under the law (Gal. 4:4)─willingly, for our benefit. The reality was that He authored the Law; therefore He perfectly interprets His Law. No one else can interpret His Law. Satan tries personally (Matt. 4:6), and then through men he devises thousands of books of human tradition (Ecc. 12:12.)

“Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.” (2Pet. 1:20). All we can do in correctly understanding His Law, His “dark sayings,” is to compare scripture with scripture. “For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little.” (Is. 28:10).

No creature can intercept God in His will by deciphering His law perfectly. “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? Or who hath been His counsellor?” (Rom. 11:33,34).

“And unto man He said, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding.” (Job 28:28). Righteousness is the path to true wisdom; God through obedience to His written word, will ensure that His people, His disciples—Bible students—will not be dumbed down by simplistic humanism. He will try their heart and their observation skills. “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.” (Ps. 19:7).

True righteousness—Christ’s righteousness—does not produce dummies. His righteousness is His person that He gives to us—His heart and His mind. “But of Him [God] are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.” “In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” (1Cor. 1:30;Col. 2:3). When He has won our hearts He will train us to be “wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.” (Matt. 10:16).

“We shall reign on the earth” as “kings and priests.” (Rev. 5:10). Christ’s disciples will not only be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation (Ex. 19:6), but also a generation of prophets. “Moses said unto him, Enviest thou for my sake? Would God that all the Lord’s people were prophets, and that the Lord would put His Spirit upon them!” (Num. 11:29). Through His Spirit He will give them a wisdom that puzzles unbelievers. His students will discern the prophecies that have been riddles to even the multitudes of the Christian world. Like their Master, it will be said of them, “How knoweth this Man letters, having never learned [from recognized educational institutions]?” (Jn. 7:15).

Like Joseph in the dungeon they will say, “Do not interpretations belong to God? Tell me them, I pray you.” (Gen. 40:8). And they will have the confidence in Christ which Daniel had. “Then Daniel answered and said before the king, I will read the writing unto the king, and make known to him the interpretation.” (Dan. 5:17). “And the Lord shall make thee the head, and not the tail; and thou shalt be above only, and thou shalt not be beneath.” (Deut. 28:13).

They will be like Jesus. “And the king communed with them; and among them all was found none like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah: therefore stood they before the king. And in all matters of wisdom and understanding, that the king enquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm.” (Dan 1:19,20).

They will reap accolades from those who are strangers to the holy God. “There is a man in thy kingdom, in whom is the spirit of the holy gods; and in the days of thy father light and understanding and wisdom, like the wisdom of the gods, was found in him; whom the king Nebuchadnezzar thy father, the king, I say, thy father, made master of the magicians, astrologers, Chaldeans, and soothsayers; forasmuch as an excellent spirit, and knowledge, and understanding, interpreting of dreams, and shewing of hard sentences, and dissolving of doubts, were found in the same Daniel, whom the king named Belteshazzar: now let Daniel be called, and he will shew the interpretation.” (Dan 5: 11,12).

“Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding;
If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures;
Then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God.” (Prov. 2:3-5).

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