As we start a new school year it is appropriate that we begin a new study. The difficulty for me in choosing a subject is that there are so many subjects in the Bible worthy of our close attention.
However, I have settled on the topic of the parables of the Lord Jesus.
Let us start by asking the question: 1. WHAT IS A PARABLE?
As a youngster I was taught that a parable is “an earthly story with a heavenly meaning.” I don’t think any can fault this explanation. The parables of the Lord Jesus set forth heavenly truths using earthly illustrations. The story of the lost sheep shows this to be so.
The Saviour tells us that parables served a two-fold purpose, Matt 13:10-17.
Parables are meant to HIDE the truth from those who will not hear the Word of God but reject it, verses 13-15.
But it is meant to ILLUSTRATE the truth to those who willingly hear God’s Word, verses 16-17.
“Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession,” Psalm 2:8.
In verses 1-3 we may listen to the plotting and scheming of men against the Lord and His Christ.
Verses 4-6 bring us into the Council Chamber of the Almighty and we may listen to His response to man’s plotting. He ‘laughs’! He mocks man’s folly! He then will “speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure.”
Man will give an account of his evil words against the Saviour. “And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him,” Jude 14-15.
Note finally that the Father says: “Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion.” He uses the past tense for something that has not yet taken place. Only God can so speak. “Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that,” James 4:13-15. See also Rom 8:30 where our glorification, yet future, is spoken of in the past tense.
When we come to verses 7-9, we are listening to the Lord Jesus speaking.
I. THE SUM OF GOD’S PURPOSE AMONGST MEN IS TO SET CHRIST UP AS KING
“Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion.”
II. LOOK AT THE TERRITORY OVER WHICH CHRIST SHALL REIGN
“Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession,” verse 8.
III. THERE IS A DAY WHEN CHRIST SHALL ASK FOR THE UTTERMOST PARTS OF THE EARTH.
“Ask of me . . .” He shall claim His inheritance.
Confusion and anarchy in the UK . . . . . .What saith the Scriptures?
Ever since the entrance of sin, man has been in rebellion against God. Man has been determined to go his own way and defy God’s commands. That is seen in the life of the very first man born into this world. Cain was not submissive to God but “was of that wicked one,” 1 John 3:12.
That rebelliousness has increased ever since the days of Eden. There has been a struggle to be free of God’s authority and rule and were it not for the power of God it would have reached its zenith long ago. God has restrained man’s wickedness in order to accomplish His own purpose of gathering in His elect for whom Christ died.
This struggle will one day reach its zenith! Though the time has been long it will come. The words of James are more relevant today than ever. “Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh,” James 5:8.
We will consider:
I. I BELIEVE THAT WE ARE SEEING THE FINAL DEVELOPMENT OF THE REBELLION SPOKEN OF HERE.
The character of the rebellion set forth is more true of today than of any other age that has gone past.
II. WE ARE TOLD THE REACTION OF THE LORD TO THIS AGITATION.
This rebellion will not be tolerated for ever. You cannot challenge God without Him answering. “He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision. Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure,” verses 4-5. God will accomplish His purpose, verse 6, despite all that men may try to do.
III. WE MAY CONCLUDE THAT WHEN THE REBELLION REACHES THE PITCH HERE DESCRIBED WE WILL KNOW THAT GOD’S RESPONSE IS NEAR.
Today, our ears are bombarded with the vilest taunts against God. It cannot be long until the Lord rises to silence by His wrath these defiers of God and His Son, the Lord Jesus.
Oh Christian know the times in which we live and prepare yourself for the dark days that will soon come.
These 4 chapters detail the judgments of God which befell the nations around Israel at the hand of Babylon back some 2600 years ago.
Three of the chapters deal with Tyrus. I believe that what is here read is a picture, a foreshadowing of the future judgments of God against the Antichrist and his allies.
The Bible says that: “The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun,” Ecclesiastes 1:9.
Such a statement is entirely logical.
Man is unchanging in his spiritual disposition and constitution.
Contrary to the Evolutionist’s silly notion that man is on an upward moral path, in truth man is ever on the sinful, depraved downward path. It is only by God’s constraining providence that mankind has not long ago plunged into unspeakable depths of universal darkness and the damnation that will follow.
No, man being the same he ever seeks out the same sinful paths as did his forefathers.
God being the same, and He is, “For I am the LORD, I change not,” Malachi 3:6, His response to sin has ever been the same.
When nations sin as nations have before, then the judgments that will follow such sin will again be as the judgments of the past.
The chapter 25 deals with the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Edomites and the Philistines. I do not intend examining each declaration of judgment against these nations for that would require more time than is available to us tonight.
I wish to highlight important features in these chapters.
I. FOR ISRAEL, THE MOUTH THAT UTTERED JUDGMENT ALSO SPOKE OF DELIVERANCE AND RETRIBUTION AGAINST THEIR ENEMIES.
Doubtless, there was comfort for poor distressed Israel in these words of judgment against those who had rejoiced in their distresses which followed their apostasy.
They had received God’s word of judgment, 21:1-17 and what a terrible word it was. Note that the word ‘sword’ appears many times. It is the sword of God’s judgment. When will men learn that it is a terrible and fearful thing to sin and to “fall into the hands of the living God,” Hebrews 10:31.
But now it was the turn of the enemy to be condemned.
It does not pay to mock at the distress of God’s people. “And say unto the Ammonites, Hear the word of the Lord GOD; Thus saith the Lord GOD; Because thou saidst, Aha, against my sanctuary, when it was profaned; and against the land of Israel, when it was desolate; and against the house of Judah, when they went into captivity . . . . For thus saith the Lord GOD; Because thou hast clapped thine hands, and stamped with the feet, and rejoiced in heart with all thy despite against the land of Israel; Behold, therefore I will stretch out mine hand upon thee, and will deliver thee for a spoil to the heathen; and I will cut thee off from the people, and I will cause thee to perish out of the countries: I will destroy thee; and thou shalt know that I am the LORD. . . And I will execute judgments upon Moab; and they shall know that I am the LORD. . . . . Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; I will also stretch out mine hand upon Edom, and will cut off man and beast from it; and I will make it desolate from Teman; and they of Dedan shall fall by the sword. And I will lay my vengeance upon Edom by the hand of my people Israel: and they shall do in Edom according to mine anger and according to my fury; and they shall know my vengeance, saith the Lord GOD. . . . . Thus saith the Lord GOD; Because the Philistines have dealt by revenge, and have taken vengeance with a despiteful heart, to destroy it for the old hatred; Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will stretch out mine hand upon the Philistines, and I will cut off the Cherethims, and destroy the remnant of the sea coast,” Ezekiel 25:3, 6-7, 11, 13-16. “Son of man, because that Tyrus hath said against Jerusalem, Aha, she is broken that was the gates of the people: she is turned unto me: I shall be replenished, now she is laid waste: Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against thee, O Tyrus, and will cause many nations to come up against thee, as the sea causeth his waves to come up. And they shall destroy the walls of Tyrus, and break down her towers: I will also scrape her dust from her, and make her like the top of a rock,” Ezekiel 26:2-4.
We can learn from these words.
1. Such truths preserve us from despair in the midst of tribulation. “And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day,” 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10.
2. They keep us back from seeking revenge against our tormentors. “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord,” Romans 12:19. Hear the words of the Pslamist. “For the rod of the wicked shall not rest upon the lot of the righteous; lest the righteous put forth their hands unto iniquity.” God preserves His people from seeking vengeance.
3. Being aware of God’s judgments serves to keep us in the fear of God. “And David was afraid of God that day, saying, How shall I bring the ark of God home to me?” 1 Chronicles 13:12. “And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things,” Acts 5:5.
Is there not a great absence of such a fear today?
II. NOTE THE DISPOSITION OF THE PROPHET.
“Son of man, set thy face against the Ammonites, and prophesy against them,” Ezekiel 25:2.
It is no light thing to pronounce God’s judgments against sin. This rather cuts across the light and frivolous spirit so often seen in pulpits today!
1. In this he displayed God’s disposition. His countenance was to be appropriate to the solemn words he was to utter. When God’s truth is in our hearts our countenances will reflect it. So it was with Elisha as he spoke God’s terrible word to Hazel. “And he settled his countenance stedfastly, until he was ashamed: and the man of God wept,” 2 Kings 8:11.
2. Such a disposition will draw the world’s hatred. “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus,” Acts 4:13. It was what they ‘saw’ that caught their attention as was also the case with Stephen. “And all that sat in the council, looking stedfastly on him, saw his face as it had been the face of an angel,” Acts 6:15. Despite that they stoned him to death!
3. It is a terrible thing to have God’s face against you. In truth, it seals your eternal doom. “And I will set my face against that man, and will cut him off from among his people; because he hath given of his seed unto Molech, to defile my sanctuary, and to profane my holy name,” Leviticus 20:3, 26:14-17.
III. THE REASONS FOR THE JUDGMENT
We have already noted the words of 25:3, 6, 8, 12, 13-15. Note “because”!
1. God has a record of the sins against His people. 27:27-36; Rev 18:4-5.
2. It is a record even of the words spoken against His people. 26:2. “Son of man, because that Tyrus hath said against Jerusalem, Aha, she is broken that was the gates of the people: she is turned unto me: I shall be replenished, now she is laid waste,” Ezekiel 25:3, 8, 26:2. Remember the words of the Saviour. “But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment,” Matthew 12:36.
3. All linked with the enemies will suffer. 27:27. The importance of ‘separation’ will then be known. “And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues,” Revelation 18:4.
It is a doctrine much despised today and indeed it is called sinful and unchristian. That will be seen as a grave error one day.
IV. GOD’S JUDGMENTS ARE MOST DREADFUL
25:10-11, 13, 15-17; 26:3-6, 21.
1. The strongest of terms are employed by the Lord. There is no exaggeration with the Lord (unlike North Korea). 25:10, 13, 14 (anger, fury), 16 (cut off etc.)
2. Israel will be God’s instrument of judgment. “And I will lay my vengeance upon Edom by the hand of my people Israel: and they shall do in Edom according to mine anger and according to my fury; and they shall know my vengeance, saith the Lord GOD,” Ezekiel 25:14.
This is our final study in this series. It will bring our studies to number 126. The series started in September 2015.
There is no better place to finish than in the verses before us.
1. Here is the substitutionary death of Christ emphasised again.
This is the very heart of the gospel! “For the transgression of my people was he stricken,” V 8. The Saviour died for a specific people. His elect, His sheep. See Rom 8:32; Gal 3:13; Eph 5:2; 1 John 4:10.
2. The character of the Saviour displayed as He suffered.
He was a most uncomplaining Redeemer. “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth,” V 7.
I believe this shows the utter willingness of the Lord Jesus to suffer and die for His people. “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us,” Rom 5:6-8.
3. The chief sufferings of the Saviour came from Jehovah.
“Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, 10.
God punished His dearly beloved Son for the sins of the people He had made His. How wonderful this is!!
Here is how much we are loved.
4. The sufferings of Christ accomplish wonderfully the eternal purpose of God.
“He shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.”
“He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied.”
“Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.”
Note this verse highlights once more. VICTORY, SUFFERING, PRAYER.
Remember the words of the Saviour in Luke 24:25-27. “Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself,” Luke 24:25-27.