Friday, December 19, 2014

The Cry of the Suffering Christ by W. J. Hocking (Part 5)

Propitiation and Praise

In the third verse, Messiah provides the answer to His own inquiry, “Why hast Thou forsaken Me?” The answer is, “Thou art holy, O Thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.” The holiness of Jehovah required the judgment of sin before either His people or the praises of His people could be acceptable to Him. Propitiation for sins is the foundation of worship and praise, because the place where Jehovah dwells is holy.

Now the children of Israel were a people separated from all other nations of the earth to offer praises to Jehovah continually. The tabernacle was built in the wilderness and the temple on Mount Zion that He might dwell among them and receive their tribute to His name. Jehovah appointed that daily, morning and evening, the priests should burn “the most holy incense” to Him in the holy place. Incense is a figure of the sweet-smelling praise that God seeks from the lips of man.

Israel was elected in order that in their daily service of praise they might illustrate what Jehovah required from all men. He brought them out of the house of bondage, showing them His mercy when the destroying angel passed by their dwellings, and His redemption when their enemies were drowned in the Red Sea. Immediately, the song of praise ascended to Jehovah from His redeemed people. Moses and the children of Israel celebrated His victory, ascribing their deliverance to the strength of His right arm (Ex. 15).

Moreover, in this national praise-song, Israel looked forward to the mountain of Jehovah's inheritance, His dwelling-place, the sanctuary established by His own hands in the land of promise. Then “they believed His words; they sang His praise.” But soon they forgot Jehovah's mighty works, disobeyed His commandments, and worshipped the idols of the heathen that knew not God. They forsook the Holy One of Israel, and neglected their daily offering of praises before His dwelling-place. Israel sinned grievously, and provoked the righteous wrath of their God, the One Who inhabits the praises of Israel.

To this great sin by that favoured nation especially the Holy Sufferer seems to make allusion in verse 3. Because of their sins, not His own, He was forsaken, and His cries were unheard. Jesus was standing in the breach. He had given Himself a sacrifice for sins. He was making propitiation for sin. By His suffering, He would bring holiness where there was now unholiness, righteousness where there was righteousness, and praise where there was now but “cursing and bitterness.” By His atoning work, the Lord Jesus would satisfy every claim the Holy One inhabiting the praises of Israel made in respect of the sins of men; but in the meantime that Holy One was irresponsive to His cry.

The close connection between propitiation and praise is plainly marked in the construction of the Psalm. The former part, to the middle of verse 21, depicts Christ upon the cross, while the rest of the Psalm foretells the results of Christ's atonement in imbuing Israel and all the nations to the ends of the earth with the spirit of praise to Jehovah.

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