Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Jesus Christ - Our Emmanuel, 'God With Us'

By inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Matthew in writing his Gospel points to the fulfillment of the Lord's prophecy through Isaiah in quoting Isaiah 7:14, in Matthew 1:23 - 'Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.' 'The light of the knowledge of the glory of God' is seen 'in the face of Jesus Christ.' From the days of eternity the Lord Jesus was one with the Father; He was the image of God, the image of His greatness and majesty, 'the outshining of His glory.' It was to show forth this glory that He came. To this world deep in sin He came to be 'God with us.' Therefore it was prophesied of Him, 'His name shall be called Emmanuel.' By coming, Jesus was to make visible to men the invisible God. He was The Word of God - God's very thoughts made audible. In His prayer for His disciples He says, 'I have declared unto them Thy Name,' - merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth,' - that the love wherewith Thou hast loved Me may be in them, and I in them.' But also God's wonderful purpose of grace, the mystery of redeeming love, is the theme into which angels desired to look, and it will be their study throughout endless ages. In the light of the cross of Christ it will be seen that the law of self-renouncing love is the law of life for earth and heaven; that the love which 'seeketh not her own' has its source in the heart of God. In the beginning, God was revealed in all of creation. It was Christ that spread out the heavens, and laid the foundations of the earth. He hung the worlds in space, and fashioned the flowers. 'His strength setteth fast the mountains.' 'The sea is His, and He made it.' Psalms 65:6, 65:5. The earth was filled with beauty, upon all things the message of the Father's love was written. Even though sin has greatly marred God's perfect work, yet that handwriting remains, and yet today all created things declare His handiwork, and continued care. But such are only small and partial representations as we behold God in Jesus. Jesus shows that it is the glory of our God to give: 'I do nothing of Myself,' said Christ; 'the living Father hath sent Me, and I live by the Father.' 'I seek not Mine own glory, but the glory of Him that sent Me.' John 8:28; 6:57; 8:50; 7:15. So in the heavenly courts in His ministry for all created beings: through the beloved Son, the Father's life flows out to all; through the Son it returns, in praise and joyful service, immeasurable love to the Source of all. It was sin, originating in heaven itself, that broke this flow of life and love. Lucifer, the covering cherub, desired to be first in heaven, to gain control of heavenly beings and turn them away from their Creator. He, therefore, misrepresented God, attributing to God his own evil desire for self-exaltation. In this way he deceived angels. In this way he deceived men. He led them to doubt God's word and to distrust His goodness. Because God is Holy and Righteous and Just, satan caused them to see Him as severe and unforgiving. In this way he lured men to join his rebellion against God, and satan became Prince of this world, sin permeating all of creation. Sin is first and foremost unbelief. Yes, unbelief in God, His Word, His good will toward us. This takes place in the heart and is true of everyone, for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God, no matter how moral their lives might be. It is in the heart where unbelief in God lies. That the world might be brought back to God, sin's power, satan's deceptive power, was to be broken. But the service of love that God wishes could not be forced or commanded; only by love can love be awakened. To bring knowledge of God and therefore love for Him to the world, only one Being in all the universe could do. Only He that knew the height and depth of the love of God could make it known, the Sun of Righteousness must rise, 'with healing in His wings.' Malachi 4:2. The plan for our redemption was not an afterthought, formulated after the Fall. It was a revelation of 'the mystery which hath been kept in silence through times eternal,' Romans 16:25. From before the beginning, God and Christ foreknew the apostasy of satan, and man's fall through his deception. God did not ordain that sin should exist, but foreseeing its existence, He made provision to meet it. So great was His love for the world, that He promised to give His only-begotten Son, 'that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life,' John 3:16. Great is the difference between God and satan. Lucifer had said, 'I will exalt my throne above the stars of God;... I will be like the Most High.' (Isaiah 14:13,14.) But Christ, 'being in the form of God, counted His equality with God as not something to cling to, but laid aside His mighty power and glory, and taking the disguise of a slave and became like men. He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.' Philippians 2:6-8. Jesus could have remained at the Father's side, retaining the glory of heaven, the homage of angels, but He chose to come down from the throne of the universe to bring life to the perishing. Nearly two thousand years ago, a voice was heard in heaven, from the very throne of God, 'Lo, I come.' 'Sacrifice and offering Thou wouldest not, but a body hast Thou prepared Me...Lo, I come (in the volume of the Book it is written of Me) to do Thy will, O God.'Hebrews 10:5-7. These words announced the fulfillment of the purpose that had been hidden from eternal ages. Had He appeared with the glory that was His with the Father before the world was, we could not have endured the light of His presence. That we might behold and not be destroyed, the manifestation of His glory was shrouded, His divinity veiled with humanity, invisible glory in visible form. This great purpose had been foreshadowed in types and symbols in the Old Testament. In the pillar of cloud by day and of fire by night, God communicated with Israel, revealing His will to men, imparting His grace to them. His glory was subdued, His majesty veiled, that imperfect men might behold it. So Christ was to come in the body of our humiliation.' Philippians 3:21 'in the likeness of men.' In the eyes of the world, He possessed no unusual beauty that they should desire Him; yet He was the incarnate God, the very light of heaven and earth, His glory veiled, His greatness and majesty hidden, that He might draw near to sinful men. Since Jesus came to dwell with us, being tempted like as we are, yet without sin, we know that God knows our trials, and sympathizes with our griefs. In every doctrine of grace, every promise of joy, every deed of love, every divine attribute presented in the Saviour's life on earth, we see 'God with us.' He endured every trial to which we are subject, exercising in His own behalf no power not freely offered to us. As a man, He met temptation, and overcame in the strength given Him from God. He says, 'I delight to do Thy Will, O My God: yea Thy law is within My heart.' Psalms 4:8. He made plain the character of God's law and the nature of His service. As Son of Man, He gave us an example of perfect obedience; as Son of God, He gives us new hearts to obey. It was Christ Who from the burning bush spoke to Moses: 'I am that I am... Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.' Exodus 3:14. When He came 'in the likeness of men' He declared Himself the I AM. To us He says: 'I Am the Good Shepherd.' 'I Am the living Bread.' 'I Am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.' 'All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth.' John 10:11; 6:51; 14:6; Matthew 28:18. 'God with us' is the surety of our deliverance from sin, the assurance of our power to obey the law of love. 'He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him.' Isaiah 53:5. Christ was treated as we deserve, that we might be treated as He deserves. He was condemned for our sins, in which He had no share, that we might be justified by His righteousness, in which we had no share. He suffered the death which was ours, that we might receive the life which was His. It was satan's purpose to bring about an eternal separation between God and man. In Christ we become more closely united to God than if we had never fallen. In taking our nature, the Saviour has bound Himself to humanity by a tie that is never to be broken: 'For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come. Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.' Romans 8:38,39. 'God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son.' John 3:16. Not only to bear our sins, and to die as our sacrifice. God gave Him to become one of the human family, forever to retain His human nature. This is the pledge that God will fulfill His word to us. 'Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder.' God adopted human nature in His Son, and has carried it into highest heaven. It is the 'Son of Man' that shares the throne of the universe. It is the 'Son of Man' whose name shall be called, 'Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.' Isaiah 9:6. In Christ the family of earth and the family of heaven are bound together forever. Christ glorified calls to us as brother. Heaven is enshrined humanity, humanity is enfolded within the arms of the Infinite Love of God. The exaltation of the redeemed will be an eternal testimony to God's mercy. 'In the ages to come,' He will 'show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.' 'To the intent that...unto the principalities and the powers in the heavenly places might be made known...the manifold wisdom of God, according to the eternal purpose which He purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord.' Ephesians 2:7; 3:10,11. Satan's charges are refuted, and his character unveiled. By Christ's redeeming work, love's self-sacrifice, the inhabitants of earth and heaven are bound to their Creator in bonds of unbreakable union. In the place where sin abounded, God's grace much more abounds. The work of redemption will be complete. The earth itself, the very world that satan claims as his, is not only to be ransomed but exalted, honored above all other worlds in the universe of God. Here, where the King of glory lived and suffered and died - here, when He shall make all things new, the tabernacle of God shall be with men, 'and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them, and be their God.' Through endless ages as the redeemed walk in the light and presence of the Lord, they will praise Him for His unsearchable Gift - Immanuel, 'God with us.' The final words of Jesus our Saviour in Matthew's Gospel are spoken to us - "And remember, I am with you all the days even unto the end of the world.' Matthew 28:20. This but begins to open to us the high calling we have in Christ Jesus. It is of these things of spiritual reality that we must bear witness, that others may be drawn to know our Redeemer our Lord and Saviour. It was also of us Jesus spoke and for us that He prayed on the night of His betrayal in John 17: 'As thou has sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world...I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.' (Verses 18,23.) Through the promised Holy Spirit, truly the Spirit of Love, we are united with the Father and the Son. So great is this love, that it literally causes us to love others. It is God with us and in us that gives us our reason for a service of love, indeed for life. Though Christ is with us today by the ministry of the Holy Spirit, He is soon to come for us that we may be with Him and be like Him and see Him as He is. His promise is sure for His word is truth. In His Revelation to John chapter 22:12 Jesus says, 'And behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.' Verse 17. 'And the Spirit and the bride say, Come, And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.' Can we join with the heartfelt prayer of the beloved Apostle and say 'Even so, come, Lord Jesus.' Let us pray.

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