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Covenant Reformed News - December 2021

 
 
 

Covenant Reformed News


December 2021 • Volume XVIII, Issue 20


Introducing the Four Horsemen of Revelation 6

Horses and horsemen are mentioned some 300 times in the Bible. Zechariah 1 and 6 speak of various coloured horses. John’s vision in Revelation 19 portrays Christ on a white horse followed by His armies of saints upon white horses. But it is the four horsemen of Revelation 6 that are the most famous, and always provoke interest and wonder.

In this series of articles, we will study the identity and meaning of the four horsemen. We shall learn to recognise and listen to their hoof beats. As we see them riding forth, we should pray with all our hearts, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus” (22:20)!

Right at the beginning, we need to identify the highly significant time period of the four horsemen and the seven seals to which they belong. When does the period of the seals in Revelation 6 end?

The sixth seal takes us to the very door of the final judgment (6:12-17). First, awesome events transpire in the creation: there is a great earthquake, and all mountains and islands are moved out of their places; the sun becomes black as sackcloth and the moon as blood; the stars fall to earth and the heavens are rolled up as a scroll (12-14). In His Olivet discourse, Jesus Christ speaks similarly regarding events at His second coming: “Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: and then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” (Matt. 24:29-30).

Second, the sixth seal speaks of the “great day” of “the wrath of the Lamb” (Rev. 6:16-17), when all of ungodly humanity, including “great men” and “mighty men,” will cry out in terror (15-16). This is another reference to the last day: “The great day of the Lord is near ... the mighty man shall cry there bitterly” (Zeph. 1:14).

Third, Revelation 6:12-17 introduces the last judgment. Chapter 11:15-19 fills out the picture with verse 18 being especially clear: “thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead [i.e., their resurrection], that they should be judged [i.e., at the great assize], and that thou [1] shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and [2] shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth.” Revelation 14:17-20 vividly portrays the harvest of the wicked and their being trampled in “the great winepress of the wrath of God” (19). Chapter 20:11-15 presents the final judgment of all human beings before the great white throne of Jesus Christ, with the wicked being “cast into the lake of fire” (15).

When does the period of the seals in Revelation 6 begin? With the session of Christ, when He opens the seals of the scroll which He took “out of the right hand of him that sat upon the throne” (5:7)! The Lamb’s opening the seven seals is His execution of God’s eternal decree as the exalted Lord. Our Redeemer rules in heaven as Jehovah’s vicegerent governing all of world history from the time of His exaltation onwards.

Thus the period of the seals in Revelation 6, including the four horsemen, is from Christ’s session at God’s right hand to His glorious return in the clouds of heaven. James B. Ramsey makes the same point by arguing from seven as the number of the seals: “the uniform and well-established meaning of the number seven in all symbolical representations, and occurring frequently in this book, being completeness in all covenant matters, renders it certain that this book, being a seven-sealed book, implies that it contains, not a part, but the whole perfect scheme of God’s providence in regard to His church” (The Book of Revelation, p. 312). Moreover, as well as being “sealed with seven seals,” the book or scroll is “written within and on the backside” (5:1). In other words, the book is full since it is the complete record of all of history from Christ’s enthronement at His ascension until His bodily return.

Clearly the book and the opening of its seven seals deal with past, present and future, from our perspective in the twenty-first century. It covers that which has been, is and will be. It treats the period between our Lord’s first and second comings.

To state it antithetically, the seals of Revelation 6, including the four horsemen, do not speak exclusively of the past, whether the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70 or the Roman Empire, as postmillennialists claim. Nor do the four horsemen and the six seals speak solely of times future to us, say, the literal seven-year tribulation after the rapture and before Christ’s return, as postulated by dispensationalism.

Some claim that the four horsemen in Revelation 6 ride forth chronologically, with the white horse (1-2) covering the first couple of centuries or so after Christ’s exaltation, the red horse (3-4) dealing with the period after that and so on. Such a type of interpretation is mechanical and not the idea of biblical prophecy or apocalyptic. It is also speculative and unprovable, leading to many differences in identification. Does anyone really expect the ordinary believer to know the world’s history for the last 2,000 years so as to be able to identify this or that event or person as the specific fulfilment of each of the many sections in Revelation 6-19? We hold the biblical and Reformed principle of Scripture interpreting Scripture as the way of understanding God’s Word!

The truth is that the four horsemen ride forth throughout the New Testament age from Christ’s coronation in heaven to His return with clouds. They occur contemporaneously throughout this period, portraying the main aspects of the history of the gospel era and intensifying as the end approaches! Rev. Stewart

 

 

Christ's Miracles and Two Natures

The question for this issue of the News is, “While on earth did Christ perform miracles by His Deity or because He received the fullness of the Spirit in His human nature or some combination of these two or something else? Could you please explain?”

There can be no doubt that the power to perform miracles is the power of God. As the Son of God, Jesus had that power in Himself and did not need to have that power given Him as others did. Jesus Himself refers to His miracles as proof of His divinity (John 10:37-38) and the fourth gospel concludes with the same testimony: “And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name” (20:30-31) Mere men, like the twelve apostles, had to receive the power to perform miracles from God (cf. Matt. 10:1).

Christ’s divinity and humanity may not be separated, however, in His miracle-working. As the only begotten Son, He was able to perform and did perform many miracles, but He performed them as the Son of man. He shows us this in His healing the paralysed man who was let down by his friends into the presence of Jesus through the roof (9:1-8). Claiming both the power to forgive sins and to heal, He refers to Himself as the Son of man, that is, the one born in our flesh and like us in all things except sin: “But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then saith he to the sick of the palsy,) Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house” (6). The passage concludes with the thoughts of those who witnessed the miracle (and they were not wrong): “But when the multitudes saw it, they marvelled, and glorified God, which had given such power unto men” (8).

But Matthew 9:8 implies that Christ, as man, had to receive the power to perform miracles. As Matthew 28:18 and John 10:18 suggest, Jesus was truly a man in that He had to receive the power He had to lay down His life and to do miracles. How could He at the same time have that power as the eternal Son and also have to receive it? This is the mystery of the incarnation: God came in the flesh!

The preceding raises this question: What about miracles in our day? That is, does God still give power to men to perform miracles as Jesus Himself, according to His human nature received it and as He gave that power to His disciples?

Scripture’s answer is “No.” Miracles are “the signs of an apostle” (II Cor. 12:12) and, since there no longer are any apostles, any who were eyewitnesses of Christ’s earthly ministry and resurrection, there can be no more miracles performed by men. Nor are they needed, since the Scriptures are completed and the miracles were only ever a witness to God’s Word and extraordinary office-bearers (Mark 16:20; Heb. 2:4).

Another issue raised by the question we have answered concerns the relationship between the two natures of Christ, His human and divine natures. The church of God, following the teaching of the Word, has always insisted that Christ’s two natures are united in one Person and must not be separated. After the incarnation, all that He did was done by One who was both God and man. It was God come in the flesh who was born in Bethlehem; God and man in one Person who walked the roads of Galilee and performed many mighty works. It was God incarnate who taught the people, called the disciples together, ate and drank with them, and lived among them. It was God manifest in the flesh who was arrested in Gethsemane, was tried and condemned and crucified, and who died for our sins and rose again on the third day and ascended into heaven, and who continues there for our interest until the end of the world.

That is the great “mystery of godliness” (I Tim. 3:16). God cannot suffer and die, and so we say that Christ suffered according to His human nature, but it was only as the eternal Son of God that Christ was able to bear the wrath of God against sin and deliver us from it, doing what no mere man could do. That mystery is evident in His miracles as well. When He stilled the wind and waves of the Sea of Galilee with a word, He did that as the same Person who moments before had been sleeping, exhausted and unheeding of the storm. The same Person who wept at the tomb of Lazarus was able to call life out of death when He raised His friend. This is indeed a great mystery, a mystery which ought to delight the souls of all who believe in Jesus. The mystery of God manifest in the flesh is proof that He is everything we need as Saviour, man to pay for man’s sins and God to do what man could never do.

The two natures of Christ may not, therefore, be separated, as the Creed of Chalcedon (451) states, “one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, Only-begotten, to be acknowledged in two natures, without confusion, without change, without division, without separation.” I mention this because I have met people who think that Christ, when He rose from the dead and ascended to heaven, left His humanity behind. If that were indeed the case, we would have no part or interest in Him any longer. He is still God manifest in the flesh. As God incarnate, He prays for us in heaven, prepares a place for us, rules over all things on our behalf and readies all things for the day of His return.

Everything He does, therefore, He does as God come in our likeness, and everything He does is miraculous and wonderful. He was tempted in all points as we are, yet without sin. He suffered all His life long but took that suffering upon Himself—it did not just happen to Him. He, God and man in one Person, gave Himself to shame and spitting (Isa. 50:6). He controlled all the events leading up to His death, sending Judas out to do his evil work, surrendering Himself to those who came to arrest Him and testifying to Pilate that he, the representative of mighty Rome, had no power but what had been given him by God. He died, not because His life was taken from Him but, because He laid it down (John 10:18) which, for a mere man, would be suicide. He rose from the dead and ascended into heaven. One stands amazed at every word He spoke and all He did.

And the greatest wonder of all is in these two words: “for me.” The incarnate Son came for my salvation and did so in the everlasting love of God, but also in His love and pity as One who was touched with the feeling of my infirmity. This He did for me, one who is no better or more worthy than others and who, until He rescued me by a miracle of grace, was lost with no hope of being found. Rev. Ron Hanko

Covenant Protestant Reformed Church
83 Clarence Street, Ballymena, BT43 5DR • Lord’s Day services at 11 am & 6 pm
Website: https://cprc.co.uk/ • Live broadcast: cprc.co.uk/live-streaming/
Pastor: Angus Stewart, 7 Lislunnan Road, Kells, N. Ireland, BT42 3NR • (028) 25 891851  
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. • www.youtube.com/cprcni • www.facebook.com/CovenantPRC
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Covenant Reformed News - November 2021

Covenant Reformed News


November 2021 • Volume XVIII, Issue 19



Jehovah’s Departure From His Apostatising People

The Bible uses especially three images for Jehovah’s departure from His apostatising people. First, in the days of Bezaleel’s tabernacle, the ark of the covenant was taken (I Sam. 4). Second, in the days of Solomon’s temple, the God of glory rode off in His angelic chariot (Eze. 10). Third, in the days of the New Testament church, the candlestick or lampstand is removed (Rev. 2:5).

What does it mean when the Almighty declares that terrifying word: “Ichabod” (I Sam. 4:21)? Ichabod means “no glory,” referring to the absence of God’s glory for His “glory is departed from Israel,” as the text explains (21). “Ichabod” is the declaration that the glorious Triune God has left His unfaithful people, those who once were His church in their generations, those who falsely claim to belong to Him.

Though the word “Ichabod” was uttered at the loss of the ark from Israel’s tabernacle (I Sam. 4), Ichabod well describes the departure of God’s glory from the temple in Old Testament days (Eze. 10) or a congregation or denomination in the New Testament era (Rev. 2:5).

The glory of the blessed Trinity is revealed in the face of our Lord Jesus according to the sacred Scriptures. Christ is “the glory of the Lord” and “the glory of God” (II Cor. 3:18; 4:6). The Son of God and Son of man is “the Lord of glory” (I Cor. 2:8; James 2:1). He is this as the One who fully satisfied for all the sins of God’s elect through His bitter and shameful death on the cross. He is this as the mighty resurrected Saviour, who ascended into heaven and now powerfully rules over absolutely all things.

The apostasy of a church is well described as Christ’s removal of its candlestick or lampstand (Rev. 2:5), for it has been overcome with the darkness of unbelief and sin, and no longer shines forth the light of God’s Word. The gospel of the incarnate Son, who is “the light of the world” (John 8:12; 9:5), is no longer proclaimed and maintained there. Thus the Lamb of God judges a congregation or denomination by removing its candlestick or lampstand.

The truth of the Lord Jesus is lost, first, through the corruption of church discipline when wicked living and false doctrine are swept under the carpet or even promoted. Second, a congregation or denomination falls away when it baptizes those who lack a credible profession of faith and/or their young children, or when it pollutes the Lord’s Supper by allowing anyone who wants to partake without proper supervision by the elders (open communion), etc. Third, apostasy develops through deceitful preaching, including the false doctrines of salvation by man’s free will (Rom. 9:16; Eph. 2:8-9), an impotent God who desires to save everybody but does not and cannot (Ps. 115:3; Rom. 9:10-24), an errant Bible (John 10:35; II Tim. 3:16), etc.

In Ezekiel’s prophecy, it is the abominable idolatry of chapter 8 and the gross wickedness of chapter 9 that lead to the departure of God’s glory in chapter 10. In the book of Revelation, a church whose candlestick or lampstand is removed (2:5) becomes a “synagogue of Satan” (2:9; 3:9)!

This biblical imagery and teaching helps us understand the last 2,000 years of church history. The glory of God has left Jerusalem in Israel and Antioch in Syria, the two most prominent churches in the book of Acts. The divine chariot has departed from (what is now called) Turkey, where the most famous ecumenical creeds were written: the Nicene-Constantinopolitan (325, 381) and the Chalcedonian (451). Faithful teachers of God’s sovereign grace, such as Augustine of Hippo (354-430) and Fulgentius of Ruspe (c.467-c.532), once served the church of North Africa but, since the seventh century, this region has been under Islam. By and large, the gospel departed from Southern Europe as Semi-Pelagianism and Roman Catholicism took hold. The Word of God was strong in Bohemia in the fifteenth century in the days of Jan Hus but now the Czech Republic has one of the highest rates of atheism in the world. With the coming of the Protestant Reformation, Wittenberg, Geneva, Heidelberg and Cambridge became bastions of God’s truth, but His glory has long since departed from them. What about Congregationalist New England or Presbyterian Princeton in the USA? The gold has become dim (Lam. 4:1)!

It is not that there are no believers in these universities or cities or regions. Nor are churches or missions in these places doomed or pointless. But clearly Antioch, N. Africa, Prague, Geneva, etc., are far from what they once were, though, even in these locations, “there is a remnant according to the election of grace” (Rom. 11:5).

God’s wonderful chariot has departed from some areas and ridden into others, like Latin America, sub-Saharan Africa and East Asia. In these places, the Word of life is having more of an impact than ever before, though, of course, there are struggles there too. The whole catholic or universal church consisting of all the elect of all nations must be gathered. All of the sheep out of every kindred, tribe and tongue must see the glory of God in Jesus Christ by faith alone (Isa. 66:18-19)!

The departure of God’s chariot from the temple in Ezekiel 10 is a warning to His people in all ages, including us. Our calling is to love, confess and obey God’s truth by His grace alone. We must look to our Lord Jesus—His perfect life, His atoning sacrifice, His omnipotent intercession and His second coming—for our justification, sanctification and our all, for it is in Christ alone that God is pleased to dwell among us in mercy by His Holy Spirit. Rev. Angus Stewart

 

Children of Wrath and a Changeable God?

“What about Ephesians 2:3’s reference to believers once being ‘children of wrath, even as others’? We believe that God is unchangeable in His being, attributes, works, etc. But how do we explain the ‘change’ in the lives of God’s elect from formerly being in a state of wrath to being in a state of grace? Doesn’t this indicate a ‘change’ in God’s relationship to us? One moment He is only wrathful toward us because we are not yet in Christ and in constant rebellion, and then, when we are saved, we are no longer in that state? Doesn’t this indicate a change in God’s dispositions towards men? (And therefore He is not ‘absolutely’ unchangeable but is changeable in one sense?)”

There are several things that need to be emphasized in answer to this question.

First, God’s unchangeableness or immutability must not be questioned or denied. He establishes this important truth in Malachi 3:6, “For I am the Lord, I change not.” He uses there the name Jehovah, “I am that I am” (Ex. 3:14-15) which not only reveals His immutability but shows that there is no past, present or future in Him. As the “I Am,” with no past, present or future in Him, there cannot possibly be any change in Him or in His dispositions. If He is changeable, He is not God: “the Strength of Israel will not lie nor repent: for he is not a man, that he should repent” (I Sam. 15:29).

Barthianism and Open Theism both teach that God is changeable but, sadly, so do many evangelicals. Trying to maintain God’s immutability while at the same time denying it, they say things such as, “God decrees for Himself a series of different dispositions,” i.e., He eternally decrees that He will change His mind, first being gracious to some and then sending them to hell or first declaring in the gospel that He wants them to be saved and afterward eternally punishing them. Such denies God’s unchangeableness.

Our salvation and well-being depend on God’s unchangeableness. Because He does not change, the sons of Jacob, both in the Old and New Testaments, are not consumed (Mal. 3:6). He is unchangeable as God, unchangeable in His eternal decrees, unchangeable in His attributes, including His love, grace and mercy, for what we call His attributes are simply descriptions of who and what He is. He is unchangeable in His works and ways, and in His revelation of Himself, so we may safely put our trust in Him.

Second, wrath and love (or mercy) are not opposites, nor mutually exclusive. This is a mistake that is often made. That God can be, and is, angry with His people whom He loves is not the same as hating them. Hatred is the opposite of love; anger is not. God eternally loves His people, yet before a believer is converted and when he walks in sin thereafter, God is angry with him and reveals His anger in chastisement. Anger can be loving and love can reveal itself in anger. God’s anger with His people is eternally loving. Indeed, a love that does not become angry at sin and excuses or overlooks it is no love at all. “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons” (Heb. 12:6-8).

As Hebrews suggests, this is true even in family life. Those of us who are parents do our children a great wrong when we are not angry with their sins and do not show our anger in punishing their sins. That anger must be directed and controlled by love, but a father who constantly overlooks and ignores the sins of his children is showing that he really does not love them. Children understand that and, especially in the case of covenant children, expect and even want their parents to correct them.

We who are saved, therefore, were children of wrath even as others. Though we are among God’s elect and loved by Him from eternity, until we were regenerated we were under His wrath. Indeed, it is an awareness of the awful wrath of God against sin that is one of the first proofs that a person is being spiritually awakened by His Spirit.

We are children of wrath by our first birth and by nature as children of Adam, born and conceived in sin. We are that even as others for, apart from God’s grace, we are no different from those who perish, no better, no more worthy of salvation. The only difference is that God, “who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ” (Eph. 2:4-5).

We experience God’s anger too, when we are rebellious and disobedient. He chastises us, and we know and feel that He is angry with us for our sin. For a child of God, that is unbearable and it is often used by God to turn us from our sins back to Himself. That was David’s experience: “When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long. For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer” (Ps. 32:3-4). It was only when he confessed and forsook his sin that he experienced once again the favour of a reconciled God.

God’s displeasure and wrath with sin is revealed nowhere more clearly than at the cross where, in just anger, He punished our sins to the utmost, while at the same time revealing His great love for us. That was true of Christ also. God was never so pleased with His beloved Son as when He bore without complaint Jehovah’s punitive wrath. Surely the cross proves that wrath and love are not opposites or incompatibles.

Third, the change in our experience from being children of wrath to children who know God’s mercy and favour is a matter of our experience and not of change in Him. He is forever and unchangeably a God who hates and punishes sins, “not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness” (Ps. 5:4). He is also forever and unchangeably a God of mercy who has eternally and unchangeably loved us and who, when we sin against Him, reveals that unchangeable love in angry chastisement. His anger and chastisement are both loving and saving, for, as we have seen, the revelation of His unchangeable anger with sin is one of the means He has ordained to bring us to repentance and faith in Christ.

There are few things more wonderful than to experience the favour of God after being conscious of His wrath and displeasure for our sin. God says, “In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the Lord thy Redeemer” (Isa. 54:8). And we respond, “For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning” (Ps. 30:5). Rev. Ron Hanko

Covenant Protestant Reformed Church
83 Clarence Street, Ballymena, BT43 5DR • Lord’s Day services at 11 am & 6 pm
Website: https://cprc.co.uk/ • Live broadcast: cprc.co.uk/live-streaming/
Pastor: Angus Stewart, 7 Lislunnan Road, Kells, N. Ireland, BT42 3NR • (028) 25 891851  
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. • www.youtube.com/cprcni • www.facebook.com/CovenantPRC
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Reformed Witness Hour Newsletter - December 2021

News from the
Reformed Witness Hour for December 2021

 

Upcoming Broadcasts for December

 

 
For December, Rev. Bruinsma continues his series on Faith from Hebrews 11 and gives special messages for Christmas and the end of the year. Rev. Bruinsma is the pastor of Pittsburgh Protestant Reformed Church in Pittsburgh, PA. 
December 5
Abraham Offers Up Isaac 
Hebrews 11:17-19

December 12
By Faith Isaac Confers the Blessing
Hebrews 11:20

December 19
The Song of the Angels (Christmas)
Luke 2:13,14

December 26
God's Saints Preserved (End of Year)
Psalm 37:27,28
Listen to the current message here
 
 
Reformed Witness Hour Overview

The Reformed Witness Hour is a radio and internet program committed to the proclamation of God’s Truth—that He is pleased to gather His people to Himself in the way of repentance and faith in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We broadcast on stations in the United Sates, Canada, and Northern Ireland and post our messages on our website and sermonaudio.com.


To learn more about us or to make a donation
to our internet and radio ministry, click here.
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Reformed Witness Hour Newsletter - November 2021

 
Fri, Oct 22 at 10:15 AM
 
 

News from the
Reformed Witness Hour for November 2021

 

Upcoming Broadcasts for November

 

 
For November, Rev. Bruinsma continues his series on Faith from Hebrews 11. Rev. Bruinsma is the pastor of Pittsburgh Protestant Reformed Church in Pittsburgh, PA. 
November 7
By Faith Abraham Obeys God's Call 
Hebrews 11:8-10

November 14
By Faith Sarah Conceives
Hebrews 11:11, 12

November 21
Satisfied With Marrow and Fatness
Psalm 63:3-5

November 28
Desiring a Better Country
Hebrews 11:13-16
Listen to the current message here
 
Sermon Statistics
So far in 2021, there have been over 13,000 downloads. We continue to be encouraged by increased site traffic and sermon downloads when we feature a sermon on the Reformed Witness Hour Sermon Audio website. On average, over the past year, we have seen about 520 more overall downloads each month that we have a featured sermon. On average, each featured sermon receives about 350 downloads which tells us that in addition to a large number of people hearing this message, listeners are engaging further with our website and listening to additional messages. We are excited about this tool to help us spread the Good News.

In the chart above, Featured Sermons are indicated in orange.
 
Favorite Messages


The Favorite Message so far from 2021 is Certainty in Prayer by Rev Kleyn. Certainty in Prayer is the end of a series on prayer by Rev. Kleyn from 2010. 

Listen to Certainty in Prayer here
Listen to the full Prayer Series here
 

To learn more about us or to make a donation
to our internet and radio ministry, click here.
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Covenant Reformed News - October 2021

 

Covenant Reformed News


October 2021 • Volume XVIII, Issue 18



God’s Chariot Departs From the Temple

In the last issue of the News, we saw that the four cherubs or living creatures or angels of Ezekiel 10 each possess four faces and four wings. Now we note that every one of them has hands (1:8; 10:21). Probably these cherubs had two hands each since angels in Scripture are presented as having a largely human form: “the hands of a man” (21). Next month, we will say more about the important use to which one angel’s hand is put, DV. Here we merely observe that horses that pull earthly chariots are excellent beasts but, given that they have no hands, there are a lot of things that they cannot do!

These four living creatures with four faces, four wings and (two) hands are also full of eyes (12), like the four wheels. Their amazing vision enables the cherubs to avoid any collisions and escape all attacks.

Having concluded our consideration of the wheels and steeds of the divine chariot in Ezekiel 10, we now turn to its platform. In earthly chariots in biblical times, the platform was made of wood or metal. Thus we read of Sisera’s 900 “chariots of iron” (Judg. 4:3). This is Ezekiel’s description of the platform above the angels: “the likeness of the firmament [i.e., expanse] upon the heads of the living creature was as the colour of the terrible crystal, stretched forth over their heads above” (1:22). Whatever it was, the platform had a crystalline sparkle that induced awe!

There were no seats in the chariots of Old Testament days. Depending on the size and function of the vehicle, one or two or three men stood in the chariot, which must have been tiring over long distances. So what was above the platform of the divine chariot? Ezekiel “looked, and, behold, in the firmament that was above the head of the cherubims there appeared over them as it were a sapphire stone, as the appearance of the likeness of a throne” (10:1). The word rendered “sapphire” is lapis lazuli. Resting upon the platform of God’s chariot is a brilliant deep blue throne made of one gorgeous stone!

A chariot in the ancient world was a sign of wealth, power and prestige, but what about God’s chariot in Ezekiel? It moves on four gigantic, omnidirectional wheels full of eyes; it is pulled by four cherubs with four faces, four wings and (two) hands; it has a platform of brilliant crystal, on which rests a throne of sparkling blue lapis lazuli!

Now that we have explained the nature of Jehovah’s magnificent chariot, we turn to its movement in connection with God’s glory. In the Old Testament, as is well known, God’s glory cloud was over the ark of the covenant in the holy of holies, the most sacred part of Solomon’s temple.

Jehovah’s chariot (with its wheels, living creatures, platform and throne) moves to the south of the door of the temple building: “Now the cherubims [conveying God’s chariot] stood on the right side [i.e., south] of the house” (3). The divine conveyance has taxied into position.

God’s glory cloud now leaves the ark in the holy of holies and moves to the temple entrance or the threshold of this mighty edifice: “Then the glory of the Lord went up from the cherub [in the inner sanctum], and stood over the threshold of the house [i.e., temple]; and the house was filled with the cloud, and the court was full of the brightness of the Lord’s glory” (4).

Thus God’s glory cloud is at the temple threshold and His chariot is just to the south in the inner court. The four living creatures are, as it were, raring to go: “And the sound of the cherubims’ wings was heard even to the outer court, as the voice of the Almighty God when he speaketh” (5). Like motorbikes revving loudly on the grid of a grand prix, the angels are eager to get started. Once God’s glory cloud mounts the throne of His chariot, they will be off!

Indeed, this is what happens, for Jehovah enters His magnificent chariot and sits on His throne: “Then the glory of the Lord departed from off the threshold of the house, and stood over the cherubims” (18). Next, God’s glory leaves the temple building and its precincts: “And the cherubims lifted up their wings, and mounted up from the earth in my sight: when they went out, the wheels also were beside them, and every one stood at the door of the east gate of the Lord’s house; and the glory of the God of Israel was over them above” (19). Almighty God has departed from His temple!

So what is the lesson in all this for us? Ezekiel 10 teaches that a congregation or denomination can (and often does) apostatize, like Judah, so that the Triune God leaves it. This stands over against the Church of Rome’s claim that it is indefectible, that it cannot depart from God’s Word so that He departs from it. Rome states that, whereas individuals within her communion may apostatize, it is impossible for the church or institute of Roman Catholicism ever to do so.

The truth is that it is not only possible for Rome to apostatize and for God to leave it, but that this happened a long time ago! Rome is committed to evolutionism and higher criticism of sacred Scripture. It denies God’s all-encompassing providence and the infallibility of the Bible. The papacy’s seven sacraments are unbiblical, including baptismal regeneration, transubstantiation, masses for the dead, the worship of the wafer and the last rites. Rome’s doctrines of Mariolatry, free will, salvation by works, purgatory, indulgences, etc., are an attack on God’s sovereign grace and Christ’s cross (Gal. 2:20).

Moreover, any church or denomination can fall way and many have. In the history of Protestantism, some churches are now false and others no longer exist in any form. But this will have to wait until the next issue of the News, DV. Rev. Angus Stewart

 

The Advantage of the Jews

One of our readers writes, “In Romans 3, Paul says that the Jews, as a people, had an ‘advantage’ compared to the Gentiles in that ‘unto them were committed the oracles of God’ (1-2). Were not the Jews, therefore, externally blessed in this regard? They had tremendous access to the Word of God, not only in written form, but they also heard it directly from the prophets themselves—whereas the rest of the world were not given this (Ps. 147:19-20; Amos 3:2). The Jews also had the rite of circumcision and the privilege of being the covenant people of God. Paul writes in Romans 9 that to them, as a people, also pertained ‘the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises’ and even the privilege of being the very people ‘of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came’ (4-5). Were they not therefore blessed in this regard, having been given so many advantages, privileges and benefits? Similarly, surely a child born into a believing household can be said to be advantaged. He has the Scriptures read to him by his parents, he hears the gospel preached in church, and is even baptized and included as a member of a church, whereas children born outside the church to unbelieving parents are not given such an advantage; they’re not blessed in this way …”

The brother who submitted the question is correct in using the word “tremendous” to describe the privileges the Jews enjoyed in the Old Testament and still enjoy in some ways in the New Testament age. Romans 9:4-5 describes many of those privileges and so do other passages, such as Deuteronomy 4:7-8: “For what nation is there so great, who hath God so nigh unto them, as the Lord our God is in all things that we call upon him for? And what nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day?” and Deuteronomy 4:20: “But the Lord hath taken you, and brought you forth out of the iron furnace, even out of Egypt, to be unto him a people of inheritance, as ye are this day” (cf. 4:32-36). Romans 11:23-27 speaks of the privilege they still enjoy.

The brother is also right in suggesting that these privileges are the “advantage” to which the Word of God refers in Romans 3:1-2. Their advantage was not that they were able to save themselves by their own works, that is, by the works of the law, but simply that they were given privileges which the heathen nations were not given. As Jesus said to the woman of Samaria, “salvation is of the Jews” (John 4:22) or was in Old Testament days, before our Lord’s atoning death and His pouring out the Holy Spirit.

As the brother points out, these privileges are similar to those enjoyed by a child born into a covenant home, whose parents are believers. It is not only a covenant child, however, who enjoys such privileges but anyone who is a member of a faithful Christian church, whose friends and family are fellow believers, who has the Word of God (the “oracles” of Romans 3:1-2) at hand, who hears the preaching of the gospel regularly and who, in times of need, has others who will help and pray for him. Some even enjoy the privilege of working for a Christian employer or with believers.

These privileges or advantages are not to be taken lightly. They are means God uses for the salvation of elect covenant children, and for our growth in grace and knowledge. He shows us that He is pleased to use such means when they work for our own spiritual profit and the profit of others, but He also reminds us that He is sovereign and depends on no one and nothing when these privileges bear no good fruit, as among many of the Jews. When a child goes astray in spite of the instruction and example he received, and when our efforts to help and admonish a brother are in vain, then God especially shows that salvation is of the Lord.

Nevertheless, when God does use them for good, they are inestimable blessings. They work, as do all things, for the salvation and good of those who love God and who are the called according to His purpose. But the crucial question is, Are they also blessings to those who do not profit from them, like the unbelieving Jews? Does God bestow mercy, grace, lovingkindness upon those who ultimately perish in unbelief?

That God does not show grace, mercy, lovingkindness to those who perish is the teaching of the CPRC and the PRC, the churches to which I belong. If some of our readers are interested in further reading on that point there is material in the CPRC bookstore and on the CPRC website (www.cprc.co.uk/resources-on-uncommon-grace).

Several things must be remembered as far as the good things received by the reprobate are concerned: (1) they are temporal and temporary only; (2) they have nothing to do with any saving grace of God in Jesus Christ for them.

It is not wrong to say that God gives good things to those who never believe and who perish in their unbelief, but that does not mean He loves them or shows favour to them. In fact, such things are cursed by God and work for the ruin of the reprobate who receive them (Ps. 73:18-20). They leave their recipients under greater condemnation.

Jesus makes that clear in His words of judgment against Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum (Matt. 11:21-24): “Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you. And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee” (cf. Matt. 12:41-42).

It all comes down to this: “But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more” (Luke 12:48). We, who profess to follow Jesus Christ, have many privileges and blessings, and we must be thankful to the living God for them, treasure them, profit from them and use them well or we stand where the unbelieving Jews stood, who had everything taken away from them for their hardness of heart, unthankfulness and disobedience. Rev. Ron Hanko

Covenant Protestant Reformed Church
83 Clarence Street, Ballymena, BT43 5DR • Lord’s Day services at 11 am & 6 pm
Website: https://cprc.co.uk/ • Live broadcast: cprc.co.uk/live-streaming/
Pastor: Angus Stewart, 7 Lislunnan Road, Kells, N. Ireland, BT42 3NR • (028) 25 891851  
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. • www.youtube.com/cprcni • www.facebook.com/CovenantPRC
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Reformed Witness Hour Messages - October 2021

 

RWH Logo 2019

 

October 2021

October 3

Faith: A Confident Conviction
Hebrews 11: 1, 2
Rev. W. Bruinsma

October 10

The Voice of All Creation
Hebrews 11:3
Rev. W. Bruinsma

October 17

Abel’s More Excellent Sacrifice
Hebrews 11: 4
Rev. W. Bruinsma

October 24

Enoch’s Translation
Hebrews 11: 5, 6
Rev. W. Bruinsma

October 31

By Faith Noah Prepares an Ark
Hebrews 11: 7
Rev. W. Bruinsma

 

WBruinsma 2017

During October, Rev. Bruinsma will present a series on Faith from Hebrews 11.
Rev. Bruinsma is currently the pastor of Pittsburgh Protestant Reformed Church in Pittsburgh, PA.

 

 

 

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