KING WINS FREEDOM FOR THE SLAVES
In stating the case there must first be a remembrance of certain foundation facts. Of this the highest one is that of the DIVINE KINGSHIP. God is King. His claim is based upon the fact that He is the Creator, and Sustainer of all life; and therefore His Proprietorship is based upon this original relationship, and His governmental right is the necessary and logical sequence. From this fact there can be no final escape. The history of human sin is the history of man's attempt to deny the Divine Kingship, and to resist its claims. In spite of all this terrible history of rebellion and failure, God has not resigned His throne, He has not abandoned His scepter, He has not yielded the reins of government. He is absolute King in the very nature of the case. His right to rule does not depend upon the vote of a crowd. He has created, He has sustained, and in facts lies the right of His Kingship. In the fullness of time God revealed and represented the fact of His Kingship in the Person of His Son.
Let us again revert to Psalm 2, and read it as it bears on our article.
First we have the question of the Psalmist in which we discover the touch of irony
“Why do the nations rage?
And the peoples meditate a vain thing?" (Psa. 2:1)
Then follows his description of the attitude of the kings and the rulers of the earth towards God and His anointed, with a declaration of their resolve
“The kings of the earth set themselves,
And the rulers take counsel together,
Against Jehovah, and against His Anointed, saying, Let us break their bonds asunder,
And cast away their cords from us." (Psa. 2:2-3),
The next stage in the Psalm reveals the attitude of God towards the kings and the rulers, and declares the words of Jehovah, in answer to the resolve of these kings and rulers:—
“He that sitteth in the heavens will laugh:
The Lord will have them in derision.
Then will He speak unto them in His wrath,
And vex them in His sore displeasure
Yet have I set My King Upon My holy hill of Zion." (Psa. 2:4-6)
At this point there is a change, and the Psalmist records the words of the anointed King, in view of the fiat of Jehovah
“I will tell of the decree:
Jehovah said unto Me, Thou art My Son;
This day have I begotten Thee.
Ask of Me, and I will give Thee the nations for Thine inheritance,
And the uttermost parts of the earth for Thy possession.
Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron;
Thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel." (Psa. 2:7-9)
And yet once more there is a change. With the ceasing of the voice of the Anointed, the Psalmist addresses the kings, and the rulers of the earth
“Now therefore be wise, O ye kings:
Be instructed, ye judges of the earth.
Serve Jehovah with fear,
And rejoice with trembling.
Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and ye perish in the way,
For His wrath will soon be kindled.
Blessed are all they that take refuge in Him." (Psa. 2:10-12)
Notice specially the announcement of Jehovah, "I have set My King upon My holy hill of Zion." Jesus Christ, the Son of God was the visible representation and revelation in time, of the perpetual inward fact of the Divine Sovereignty. He is God's anointed King for the accomplishment of certain purposes, for the carrying out of specific work. The eternal and unalterable fact is that of the sovereignty of Jehovah, and looking on over the far and immeasurable distances, I see the point described in the words of the apostle, "Then cometh the end, when He (the Son) shall deliver up the kingdom to God, even the Father." (1 Cor. 15:24) In the Divine economy therefore there will finally be restored the actual and immediate Kingship of God. In order to that issue for the carrying out of the wonderful processes which will result therein, the Son is the King anointed, set upon the holy hill of Zion. These facts must be clearly before the mind in the contemplation of the Cross as the “exodus” of the King.
In certain respects, this fact of the Divine Kingship has become inoperative in human lives. In no human life has it absolutely become inoperative. Every man, woman, and child is under the government of God, and can by no means escape from it, the utmost illustration and proof of this lies in the fact that no man has been able to fix the day of his death. Or if by an act of unreasoning idiocy man has taken his life (suicide) it has been but to discover that he has not escaped from, but has hurried himself into the consciousness of the sovereignty of the Eternal God. Yet in the realm of will, and therefore of certain lines of conduct, the Divine Kingship is not acknowledged, and in that sense has become inoperative. Insomuch as this is true, man has passed under the false authority, and has become its slave. In an earlier article we noticed how the will necessarily demands a governing center, a reason, a because. Will can only be exercised upon the basis of reason, and the reason behind the exercise, is the governing authority of the life. The true reason for the exercise of the will of man is the will of God. Man dethroned God, declined to consider His will as the abiding law and abandoned by that act the true principle of life. He did not, however, escape from the necessity of a central authority and a governing principle. In place, however, of the good and perfect and acceptable will of God (Rom. 12:2), he enthroned the foolish, varying, imperfect desires of the flesh and the mind. Instead of continuing to say, I will because God wills, he came to say, I will because I wish. That is the essence of sin, and the issue is obvious. Man yielded to sin, becomes the servant of sin, is oppressed by sin, and is unable to do any other than respond to the mastery of sin. He may catch fair glimpses of that freer life, actuated by the will of God, but being under the dominion of sin, he is not free to obey the Divine Kingship. In the words of the apostle, he has to say, "to me who would do good, evil is present." (Rom. 7:21) That is the ultimate and overwhelming degradation of human life. It is, moreover, the whole story of man. Yielded to sin he is the slave of sin, bound hand and foot, bruised and ruined in the whole fact of his life.
This principle of sin expressed itself towards God's anointed King in His rejection and casting out. The will of man, governed by a wrong reason, acting from a wrong motive, rejected, and crucified the One Who revealed the true center of authority in human life.
The great problems, therefore, facing the King in His work of redeeming man, were those of how he should be FREED FROM THE PENALTY OF SIN, and DELIVERED FROM ITS PARALYSIS. The inevitable issue of sin is death. Sin committed cannot be undone by sorrow, or by promise of amendment.
SOWING DEMANDS THE HARVEST. It cannot possibly be avoided. Before man can be delivered from the slavery of sin, the penalty of sin must be kept.
The deeper and more terrible problem is that of the PARALYSIS resulting from sin. Sin working death makes obedience impossible. Man is the slave of sin, is paralyzed in all the highest powers of his being, in the whole of which the poison operates with ever increasing and terrific power. These problems are solved in the mystery of the King's passion. Having reverently come to the margin of that passion, and observed Him as He passed into a realm where we could by no means follow, we see Him in the cross emerging from the slavery.
As our previous article has shown, the King in His sinlessness has carried the sin of His people, and having done so has created a value which He did not require for Himself, and which is therefore at the disposal of those in whose place He has suffered. Thus by identification with man in the penalty and paralysis of sin He brings man into identification with Himself in the pardon and POWER OF HIS LIFE. Yet when I hear Him saying: "It is finished," (John 19:30) "Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit," (Luke 23:46) I know that He is on the highway of His exodus, Egypt is behind, the power of the oppressor is broken, the mystery of sin is at an end, and as He emerges from the slavery, He sets the door wide open, that those who follow Him by the way of the Cross, may have their exodus also from all that sin means as to penalty. It was, moreover, the pathway of FREEDOM FROM THE PARALYSIS OF SIN, in virtue of the fact that the life laid down was taken again, that it might be communicated to the sin-enslaved. He didn’t leave that life there. This will only be fully dealt with as we pass to the subjects of RESURRECTION and ASCENSION, which are also within the highway of His exodus.
Thus we reverently contemplate the anointed King as He leads His people from the Egypt of their bondage, through a divided sea, towards the place of liberty under the Kingship of Jehovah. The King Himself has taken hold upon that which has enslaved man, He has accepted its penalty, and broken its power, and thus provided the value of forgiveness for the race, and a dynamic of life for all such as put their trust in Him. We see Him passing by the way of the Cross with the step of a CONQUEROR, the LEADER OF THE GREAT HOSTS, who by His victory shall be delivered from the BONDAGE of sin and the bondage of death, into all the spacious FREEDOM of the Kingdom of God.