direct Messianic psalms, which apply only to the Lord Jesus Christ; such are the second and the hundred and tenth psalms. Critics - some of them, at least - demur to this as being contrary to psychological law. But it is not merely by the psychological law of the natural man that these Messianic psalms are declared to have been written. We are pointed, for their origin, to a fourfold divergence from naturalistic psychology.
1. It is not of psychology we have to think, but of pneumatology.
2. Of the pneumatology of the spiritual man.
3. Of the pneumatology of the spiritual man when "borne along" by the Divine Pneuma.
4. Of such action of the Divine Pneuma on the human for a specific Divine purpose. All this is indicated in 2 Peter 1:21; and therefore all such critics as those to which we refer are totally beside the mark (see our remarks on Psalm 32.). But there are also psalms which are indirectly Messianic. They are marked, speaking generally, by the pronoun "I." The writer speaks for himself, in the first instance; but whether he knew or intended it or not, the words had such a far-reachingness about them, that they could only be filled up in their perfect meaning by the Lord Jesus Christ. Such is the case with the verses now before us. They first of all apply to David, and it is quite possible that he intended nothing further; if so, unwittingly to himself, he was borne along to utter words whose fulness of meaning could only be disclosed by the Incarnation, by David's Son, who had eternally been David's Lord; and, as such, the doctrines they contain are truly sublime. There is a somewhat difficult matter, which may be indicated by the questions:
(1) How came the phrase, "Mine ears hast thou opened," to be rendered by the LXX., "A body hast thou prepared me"? and
(2) whether of the two readings is to be accepted? Dean Alford (see his Commentary, in loc.) prefers to leave the difficulties unsolved. Dr. J. Fye Smith ('Script. Test.,' vol. 1. p. 208), Dr. Boothroyd, and others, with little hesitation, express their conviction that the original and correct phrase is that adopted by the LXX. Calmet suggests, "On lit dans l'hebreu antes, peutetre pour corpus autem. Archdeacon Farrar says, in his notes on Hebrews 10:5-7, Finding the rendering in the LXX., believing it to represent the true sense of the original (as it does), and also seeing it to be eminently illustrative of his subject, the writer naturally adopts it." On the whole, then, the variation presents an interesting point in textual criticism, rather than any doctrinal difficulty. Since, in either case, the substantial meaning is, "My bodily frame has been marked out and sealed for the performance of thy will." By the very frequent quotation from the LXX. rather than from the Hebrew, even when they vary, the sacred writers show how much more important in their view was the main thought than the precise form of expression. Having, then, in two separate homilies, dealt with this psalm in its application to David, we will now luxuriate in these verses as finding their highest and noblest application in Christ, and in him alone. In so doing, eight lines of thought require to be laid down.
I. THERE IS A MOMENTOUS PRINCIPLE UNDERLYING BOTH THE HEBREW AND THE CHRISTIAN ECONOMIES. It is this - that sin has disturbed the relations between man and God, so that nothing is right with man till these relations are readjusted and harmony is restored. The whole of the Mosaic economy was an education in the evil of sin. "By Law is the knowledge of sin" (Romans 3:20); "The Law was our child-guide unto Christ" (Galatians 3:24).
II. UNDER THE LAW, THE PEOPLE WERE TAUGHT THAT SIN MUST BE PUT AWAY BY SACRIFICE. "Without shedding of blood is no remission" (Hebrews 9:22). But there will ever remain this wide, this infinite, difference between Jewish and pagan sacrifices - the pagan sacrifices started from man, and expressed his desire to propitiate God; the Jewish sacrifices were appointed by God himself, as by One pardoning iniquity, transgression, and sin, who would cancel guilt only as sin had been condemned.
III. THE VARIED SACRIFICES UNDER THE LAW WERE BUT A "FIGURE FOR THE TIME THEN PRESENT." The doctrine of the insufficiency of fleshly sacrifices is found not only in the Epistle to the Hebrews, but also in the Old Testament (see 1 Samuel 15:22,-23; Psalm 51:16; Psalm 40:6-8; Isaiah 1:11-17; Jeremiah 7:22, 23; Micah 6:6-8). The more discerning and spiritually minded of the Hebrew saints saw and felt how ineffective were all the varied offerings to ensure peace with God; and, because ineffective, they were necessarily typical Hence -
IV. THE OLD TESTAMENT DISPENSATION WAS IN ITS ENTIRETY BUT PROPHETIC OF ONE WHO SHOULD COME. (Cf. Luke 24:44; Acts 17:2, 3; Acts 28:23; Daniel 9:24-27.) The entire argument in Hebrews 9. and Hebrews 10. shows this. From the time when he who saw Messiah's day from afar said, "God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering," the outlook of the Church of God was towards One "who should come into the world."
V. THE LORD JESUS CHRIST, IN THE FACT OF HIS INCARNATION, DECLARED THAT BE HAD COME TO ACCOMPLISH THE UNFULFILLED MEANING OF OLD TESTAMENT SACRIFICES. We are not told here that he said this by his Spirit in the fortieth psalm, but that "when he came into the world" he said it. His entrance into our race was itself the great declaration. That act of "emptying himself" spake volumes then, and will do through all time; and thus he put upon the ancient words the sublimest possible significance.
VI. IN ACCOMPLISHING TYPE AND PROPHECY, JESUS FULFILLED THE WORD OF GOD. His advent to earth was an absolute self-surrender to the Father's will (cf. John 4:34; John 6:38). He fulfilled the Father's will
(1) by revealing the Father;
(2) by honouring the Law;
(3) by condemning sin;
(4) by thus laying a basis for the forgiveness of every penitent.
VII. ON THE GROUND OF THIS SURRENDER OF HIMSELF, SIN IS PUT AWAY. "He put away sin by the sacrifice of himself" (Hebrews 9:26). The absolute surrender of the will of the Eternal Son to the Eternal Father accomplished, in fact, that which all past sacrifices had accomplished only in figure. The surrender of that will ensured the fulfilment of all the purposes for which that will was surrendered. "He hath obtained the eternal redemption for us" (Hebrews 9:12; see John 6:38-40).
VIII. SIN HAVING BEEN PUT AWAY FOR EVER, THE ANCIENT SACRIFICES HAVE CEASED FOR EVER. "He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second" (Hebrews 10:9); "By one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified." Any pretended repetition of the Saviour's sacrifice in the Mass is impiety. No repetition of it is possible. All Old Testament sacrifices have ceased; the Old Testament priesthood has ceased, and has never been renewed. Note: What now remains for us? Only
(1) to accept the one offering of the Son of God as all-sufficient; and
(2) to render now the only sacrifice which is possible for us, viz. the loving, the absolute surrender of our will to him who hath loved us, and hath given himself for us, that we may stand perfect add complete in all the will of God. - C.
By the which will we are sanctified.I. THE ETERNAL WILL — "By the which wilt we are sanctified."
1. This will must, first of all, be viewed as the will ordained of old by the Father — the eternal decree of the infinite Jehovah, that a people whom He chose should be sanctified and set apart unto Himself.
2. This wilt by which we are sanctified was performed of the ever blessed Son.
3. This work is applied to us by the Holy Spirit.
II. THE EFFECTUAL SACRIFICE by which the will of God with regard to the sanctity of His people has been carried out. "By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ."
1. This implies, first, His incarnation, which of course includes His eternal Deity. Jesus Christ, very God of very God, did certainly stoop to become such as we are, and was made in the likeness of sinful flesh.
2. All this is implied in the text, because it speaks of the offering of the body of Christ. But why does it specially speak of the body? I think to show us the reality of that offering; His soul suffered, but to make it palpable to you, to record it as a sure historical fact, He mentions that there was an offering of the body of Christ.
3. I take it, however, that the word means the whole of Christ — that there was an offering made of all Christ, the body of Him, or that of which He was constituted.
III. THE EVERLASTING RESULT.
1. The everlasting result of this effectual carrying out of the will of God is that now God regards His people's sin as expiated, and their persons as sanctified. Offered, and its efficacy abides for ever.
2. They are reconciled.
3. They are purified.
(U. H. Spurgeon.)
The offering of the body of Jesus Christ.I. no one can read the Gospels in the most careless manner without noticing THAT IN THEM IS A SPECIAL IMPORTANCE ATTACHED TO "THE DEATH OF JESUS CHRIST, apart from that which belongs to His life, with its absolute sinlessness and perfect obedience. As a general rule, it will be found that Scripture attaches very little importance to a man's death, and lays all the stress upon his life. The solitary exception in the Bible is the death of Jesus Christ. Then notice also the way in which our Lord Himself speaks of it beforehand. Again and again He speaks of His death as a necessity, as if there was a Divine "must" which rendered it indispensable. There are frequent allusions to it in parable and allegory. The shadow of the Cross is resting upon Him. He speaks with the utmost plainness, and tells the Twelve that He has come "to give His life a ransom for many" (Matthew 20:28). All this prepares us for the teaching of the apostles, namely, the fact that throughout their writings the utmost stress is laid on the death of Christ, as distinct from His life; and that the greatest blessings .and highest gifts are always connected with His suffering and with the shedding of His blood. You will find that the Epistle to the Hebrews especially is full from beginning to end of the thought of the sacrificial character of the death of Christ. Vie was incarnate "that through death He might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil." "He needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins and then for the people's: for this He did once, when He offered up Himself." "By His own blood He entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us." "The blood of Christ, who through the Eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God" shall" purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God." "Once in the end of the world hath He appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself." He was "once offered to bear the sins of many." "He offered one sacrifice for sins for ever." "We are sanctified by the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all." We have "boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus." It is the "blood of the covenant wherewith" we are "sanctified." "Jesus, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered without the gate."
II. THE ATONEMENT. What controversies have raged round it! What a stumbling-block it is even now to many! Let us beware not only of endeavouring "to explain the efficacy of what Christ has done and suffered for us beyond what the Scripture has authorised" — this is a danger on one Side — but also let us beware of endeavouring to explain it away, and of "confining His office as Redeemer of the world to His instruction, example, and government of the Church" — this is danger on the other side. Both dangers are real ones. A great statesman once said in eloquent words of our own Church, "Take the history of the Church of England out of the history of England, and the history of England becomes a chaos without order, without life, and without meaning." And may we not say with all reverence, "Take the history of the death of Christ out of the history of the world, and the history of the world becomes a chaos without order, without life, and without meaning"? We must cling to the fact that Christ is "the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world," and that by "the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all," there was made "a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction for the sins of the whole world." The fact of the Atonement is revealed, but how it is efficacious, or why it was " necessary," we are nowhere fully told. Still, we are not to make it more mysterious by shutting our eyes to what is told us; and we must not forget that the doctrine does not stand alone. It should never be dissociated from the great truths of the Holy Trinity and the Incarnation. Take the doctrine of the Atonement in connection with these two central doctrines of the Christian faith, and then these three things follow, each of which is worthy of serious consideration:
1. He who bore our human nature, and wrought human acts, and died on the Cross for us was a Divine Person. "Not, indeed, God alone; for as such," it has been truly said, "He would never have been in the condition to offer, or to die; nor man alone, for then the worth of His offering would never have reached so far; but He was God and man in one person, and in this person performing all those acts; man, that He might obey and suffer and die; God, that He might add to every act of His obedience, His suffering, His death, an immeasurable worth, steeping in the glory of His Divine personality all of human that He wrought."
2. From the fact that He was God the Son, the Second Person in the Blessed Trinity, who is one with the Father, it follows that we must never, even in thought, imagine a discordance of will between the Father and the Son, nor so represent the Atonement as if there was a clashing of will within the Godhead. "God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself," and "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." And what greater proof of love can be imagined than this?
3. In considering the doctrine of the Incarnation, we are to remember that it was not the death of a man which brought about such great results. He who died for us was the "Second Adam," the Head of the redeemed humanity. If it is His Godhead which gives His offering its infinite worth, it is His position as the Second Adam which qualifies Him to represent us. It is often said that if you would win back to self-respect some poor despairing wretch who has fallen so low as to be utterly reckless, and lost to all sense of shame, you must begin by making him understand that there is some one who cares for him yet. And if we can learn at the foot of the Cross of Jesus Christ that though we are sinful and hardened, it may be, and despairing, yet, in spite of all, God loves us with that yearning, passionate love which led Him to give Himself for us, then I think that our hearts will be broken, and we shall yield to the power of that love which knows no rest, and can never tire until it has found those it died to win.
(E. C. S. Gibson, M. A.)
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