Friday, December 19, 2014

The Cry of the Suffering Christ by W. J. Hocking (Part 2)

Sufferings and Praises

In Psalm 22, however, the sufferings of Christ are from God. Forsaking by God is expressed in its opening stanzas, and affords the key to the whole Psalm. The ferocity of men appears as in other Psalms, but the abandonment of the Messiah of Israel by the Holy One of Israel is, as it must necessarily be, the predominating features of the prophecy. Moreover, it is the Holy Sufferer Himself Who confesses that He is forsaken by His God. He Who endured it describes it. He is, indeed, the Speaker throughout this Psalm. And as He records His own sufferings, so He declares the praises to God that follow as their effect. We learn that propitiation or atonement being accomplished, the earth, in due course, will become full of praises to God.

You will recollect how beautifully this combination of propitiation and praise is portrayed in Leviticus 16 by the blood and incense. There the great work of Christ's atonement is foreshown in type. The blood of both the bullock and the goat is taken from the court of the tabernacle into the most holy place and sprinkled there upon and before the mercy-seat. Aaron enters that most holy place where Jehovah's presence rests enthroned upon the mercy-seat with blood and incense. The sprinkling of the blood of sacrifice in the required manner is accompanied by the fragrant fumes rising from the burning incense and affording a sweet odour to Him Who sits between the cherubim. Thus the type illustrates how the incense of praise is intimately associated with the propitiation Christ made in respect of our sins. His atoning work is the abiding basis for the believer's worship now, and for the homage of all men in the millennial day and kingdom.

As we were reminded this afternoon, the Father “seeketh” worshippers; and if we are believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, we have been constituted worshippers on the basis of the propitiatory work of the Lord Jesus, and the Father seeks that we worship Him as we are thereby entitled to do. What then can we offer to God the Father that will be acceptable? Shall we bring any material offering in our hands? Shall we bring anything in our hearts springing from our own natural affections and efforts? You surely know that we can find nothing in ourselves worthy of His acceptance.

Where then as worshippers shall we find what is sure to be acceptable to God the Father? Everything that concerns the Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, is well-pleasing to the Father. And if one subject concerning Him is more acceptable than another, it is that which relates to His sufferings and death, whereby “God was glorified in Him.” As worshippers, therefore, we need to have in our hearts a clear sense of the vast work of atonement accomplished upon the cross when He, the blessed Son of God, Who knew no sin, was “made sin for us” by God (2 Cor. 5:21).

Scripture often refers to Christ's atonement in easy words that even an infant may recite, but how profound and unfathomable is their full significance! They are, however, for us to meditate upon continually, allowing the Holy Spirit to develop and enlarge their meaning and implication before our eyes so that our hearts may break forth in worthier songs of praise as we remember that the holy, perfect, sinless Son of God was upon the cross “made sin for us” by God. We cannot fully understand the profound doctrine, nor need we do so in order to worship God. But when we are before God in “the holiest of all” and recall that the death of Christ is the most notable occurrence in the world's history and that something was done there and then of immeasurable value and requiring no repetition, then songs of irrepressible praise will swell within us. The incense of acceptable praise will ascend to the eternal throne.

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