And all that dwell on the earth shall worship him…
The Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. From this wonderful declaration we conclude -
I. THAT THE THINGS THAT ARE TO HAPPEN IN THE UNIVERSE IN THE MOST DISTANT FUTURE ARE TO GOD AS FACTS ALREADY ACCOMPLISHED. As a fact in this world's history the crucifixion of Christ was enacted about eighteen centuries ago, and yet here it is declared to have occurred before all time, before any creature existed, when he lived alone in the solitudes of eternity. Two things are here disclosed:
1. That God's intelligence is infinite. He knows not only all that has been, and all that is, but all that ever will be. All the generations that are yet to appear on this earth, with their commerce, politics, literature, religions, are facts to him. All the worlds and systems which are yet to be launched into immensity are to him realities. The slaying of Christ on Calvary was a fact to him ages before his purpose became realized to men.
"Eternity, with all its years,
Stands open to thy view:
To thee, great God, there's nothing old appears;
To thee there's nothing new."
2. That God's purposes are unfrustratable. Christ's death was according to God's eternal decree. It was his "determinate counsel," and after millions of ages it was accomplished. What God has purposed must come to pass - the conversion of the world, the resurrection of the dead, the transactions of the judgment day, etc., all are inevitable things. "Heaven and earth shall pass away."
II. THAT SELF-SACRIFICING LOVE IS AN ETERNAL PRINCIPLE IN THE CREATION. Here it is in the mind of God before all worlds. Christ was slain before the "foundation of the world." Self-sacrificing love is a new and a rare thing to us, the men of this little planet, because we have fallen from the eternal order of things; but it is an old and common principle in God's creation.
1. It is the root of the universe. What is the creation but love going forth in infinite gifts? Every life that breathes, every plant that blooms, every star that shines, is a gift of love.
2. It is typified in all material existences. Where is there a thing to be found throughout the vast domain of nature that is made for itself? All existences work, live, and die for the good of others. "The several kingdoms of nature depend on and, therefore, help each other. The mineral is the solid basis on which is spread out the vegetable - the body that its vesture clothes. The vegetable directly nourishes the animal. The tree does not grow for itself; it cradles the birds, and feeds animated races, and shades the traveller until he blesses it. Of all the thousand and ninety species of plants that botany has classified, not one, from the vast oak to the weed that springs out of its mould, and the moss that clings to its bark, but takes its appointed place in a related family. The atmosphere would lose its salubrity but for the salt and bitter sea. The ground would catch no fertilizing streams if the clouds did not kindly drop them from the sky. The flowers wait for the falling light before they unveil their beauty. All growing things are buttressed up by the vast ribs of everlasting granite that sleep in sunless caverns. Heat, electricity, magnetism, attraction, send their subtle powers through nature, and play through all its works, as unseen and silent as the Eternal Spirit they bear witness of. Everything helps, and everything is helped."
3. It agrees with the moral constitution of the soul. The soul is so formed:
(1) That it can recognize nothing morally praiseworthy that does not spring from it. Disinterestedness must be the soul of any conduct it can heartily commend.
(2) Its conscience can approve of no act of its own that is not inspired by it. Our consciences have not a single smile for the avaricious and self seeking.
(3) Its happiness can only be realized as it is controlled by it. "He that seeketh his life shall lose it, and he that loseth it shall find it." Self-oblivious benevolence is the fountain of human joy. This eternal principle of self-sacrificing love we must have in us before we can be saved; it is, in fact, salvation. "Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of God and drink his blood, ye have no life in you." The flesh and the blood here stand for the vitality of Christ. And what was this moral life, the moral essence of Christ, the soul of his soul, the moral blood? Self-sacrificing love. And this we must get into us or die.
III. THAT REDEMPTION IS NO AFTER THOUGHT IN THE ARRANGEMENTS OF THE UNIVERSE. It is true that the slain Lamb of Calvary came to meet and master an evil - the world's depravity. He came to "put away sin by the sacrifice of himself." But it was all according to the eternal order of things. Miserably narrow and God-degrading ideas of Christ's work are popular in the pulpits of some of the sects. Sometimes it is spoken of as an expedient which the Almighty took a long time to contrive in order to overcome a state of things that had sprung up in his kingdom. Like some human king, he had a great deal to do in order to hit upon the best plan to harmonize his attributes, to reconcile mercy to justice, to maintain the order of his government, and, at the same time, save and forgive repentant rebels. And sometimes it is so spoken of as if the original system which God established with humanity was defective, did not work well, broke down, and thus not only disappointed the Creator, but taxed his wisdom greatly in order to invent an expedient that should meet the difficulty. Away with such notions! They are repugnant to reason, they are an insult to Omniscience, they are a libel on the gospel, they are obstructive to Christianity.
1. God foresaw the fall from eternity. This is an undeniable fact. Why did he not prevent it? Ah! why?
2. God ordained the remedy from eternity. Redemption was no after thought; it is an essential part, and, perhaps, a primary part of the original scheme of the universe. All that are redeemed to moral order, rectitude, and peace by Christ, are so redeemed "according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began."
IV. THAT OUR PLANET WAS PROBABLY FORMED FOR THE SPECIAL PURPOSE OF BECOMING THE THEATRE OF GOD'S REDEMPTIVE LOVE TO MAN, This is saying more than that Christ came into the world. There are men who argue from the littleness of this planet the absurdity of this. But material magnitude is nothing to God; spiritual existences and moral facts are vitally interesting to him. But the text leads us beyond - leads us to believe that this world was made for the express purpose. As God had the idea of redemption before the "foundation of the world," and as the idea is being worked out here, is it not probable that this idea guided him in its formation? Small in bulk as our planet is when compared with that of other orbs that roll in splendour under the eye of God, it has a grand moral distinction. Its dust formed the fruits that fed the body of the Son of God. Here he lived, laboured, suffered, and was buried, and here his grand work is being carried on. If it be moral facts that give importance to places, is there a more important spot than this earth? - D.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.