Friday, December 19, 2014

The Cry of the Suffering Christ by W. J. Hocking (Part 8)

Opening the Gates of Praise

The Forsaken One having been heard from the horns of the unicorns, propitiation having been made, the service of praise at once begins. The fragrant odours of the most holy incense mingle with the fumes of the accepted sin-offering. Still with eyes uplifted to heaven, the Captain of salvation, now made “perfect through sufferings,” says, I will declare Thy name to My brethren; in the midst of the congregation will I praise Thee (ver. 22). Here is the prophetic promise of the results of an accomplished atonement. The name of God as the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit should be thereupon unfolded, and Christ Himself would be the Leader of worthy praise to God in the midst of His assembled worshippers.

Historically, it was in this strain that our Lord spoke of His God to Mary Magdalene after His resurrection. He said, “I ascend unto My Father and your Father; and to My God and your God” (John 20:17), a declaration not made nor true before. But now atonement for sin had been made, the righteousness of God in respect of His grace had been established, and it was consistent with the glory of God that a new relationship of believers should be announced. Accordingly through the work finished upon the cross, our Lord associated His feeble and failing disciples with Himself as His brethren. Now they were entitled, not merely because they had been born afresh by water and by the Spirit, but because of Christ's offered and accepted sacrifice for sins, to stand before God as sons in an acceptance like that of Christ Himself — “My Father and your Father.” Being raised from the dead “by the glory of the Father,” the Lord connects His own with Himself as His brethren. As He had said, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit (John 12:24). “My God” was the cry of the Lord when alone and forsaken, when bearing our sins in His body; none could then share that cry. But now He says to His brethren, “My God and your God.” This new link was the firstfruits of Christ's atoning sufferings and death.

But the harvest follows the firstfruits. Throughout the remaining stanzas of this psalm, the unfolding of ever widening circles of praise to Jehovah continues. All the seed of Jacob and of Israel shall glorify and fear Him. All the ends of the earth and the families of the nations shall remember, shall turn unto Him, and shall worship before Him. And in the concluding verse, we read, They shall come and shall declare His righteousness unto a people that shall be born, that He has done this.” The final phrase, “that He hath done this (it)” is suggestive. The words are general, and some might ask, Who has done it? and What has He done? But to every spiritual mind the reference is obvious. It is the unrivalled act of making propitiation performed by Christ on the cross, where He was set forth as a mercy-seat to declare the righteousness of God in respect of sins (Rom. 3:23-26).

Christ Himself in His utterance, “It is finished,” was the first witness to His own completed work. His followers, led by the Spirit of God, have continued that testimony on earth throughout succeeding generations. Expiation for sins is the foundation of all praise, worship, and service. And heaven and earth shall yet unite in ascribing all worthiness to the Lamb that was slain. Every heart and voice of the redeemed shall joyfully confess to the glory of God that “He hath done this.”

Let this psalm, beloved friends speak continually to us of “the affliction of the afflicted” One (ver. 24); and may it awaken our songs of praise, imparting to them a holy savour befitting the sanctuary of God and the presence of Christ. His sufferings and sacrificial death form the everlasting basis of acceptable worship. The Father seeks worship in spirit and truth. Who can render this save those who know Christ Jesus and who rest in faith upon His finished work! May we have the happy experience that the Lord Jesus Christ is in the midst of His assembly as the Leader and Theme of its praises as often as we remember that “He hath done this” and indeed whenever we gather unto His name.

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