Saturday, July 14, 2012



The book of Genesis gives us the origin of things. Doubtless that which immediately occasioned the writing of it was the various ideas that had been prevalent as to the creation; to meet these, the Spirit of God gives us an accurate account of things. The mind of man would attribute the creation to various causes, as we know the heathen do. I suppose the thought of the Spirit was to connect things with God – to show that He is the Author of the universe. This, indeed, comports with the testimony in a general way, for in it the soul of man is connected with God. By “faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear,” Heb.11:3

The beginning here, no doubt, refers to the same period as is referred to in John 1. It is the outset of the divine operations. In John 1 the Person of Christ is the subject. In the beginning He was there. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” The point in Genesis 1 is to connect the physical universe, what man is cognisant of, with God.

Verse 1 stands alone – it is not included in the operations of the six days. Of the time that may have elapsed between verses 1 and 2, God has not been pleased to tell us, but the second verse reveals a condition that one could not believe was the original state of the earth as created by God. Chaos and darkness marked it.

This state aptly describes that which resulted from sin in the moral system of things. Therefore the operations of the successive days serve to show how that out from a chaotic moral state God can bring the most perfect order. Chaos and darkness describe the state of man’s soul as away from God, but God acts in this state, and the result is that the soul reaches His rest (God’s rest). God said, “Let there be light.” This passage is directly connected with the gospel in 2 Corinthians 4.

Direct divine creative power is needed in the moral system of things so as to bring order into it, and to render it suitable to God’s rest; this power is always in accord with the testimony presented to us. I think that each day suggests a certain feature of the testimony, and the order in which the work of each day occurs, accords with that in which the truth is received into our souls from the time the light first reaches us.

“The Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.” I think we may connect this with John 3. At the end of John 2 it is stated that the Lord knew what was in man; He did not commit Himself to men. That is, there was nothing to trust in man; but the early part of Genesis 3 answers to the hovering of the Spirit. It is the sovereign action of the Spirit so as to produce something for God where there was nothing. That of which a man born again realises the need at the outset is light. In verse 3 we get light. Here it is no question of the kind of light. When a person is in darkness he wants light. The presence of Christ as the true light here brought out fully the darkness and disorder which prevailed in the moral state of things; hence the need for the sovereign action of the Spirit, and the gospel (the light commanded, as it were) following in John 3. The first day, therefore, is analogous to the gospel as first presented to one born anew.

As to the second day: “And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters…and God called the firmament Heaven.” There can be no doubt that there is a moral point in this; that is, at a certain time in the history of a soul heaven comes into view. Christ is in heaven. When He was down here, He connected the souls of His people with heaven. In the second day there is indicated another sphere, as distinct from the earth, and this came out very clearly in the Lord’s ministry. “Rejoice because your names are written in heaven”; “your Father which is in heaven”; “the Son of man which is in heaven.”

The earth comes into view in its own place. When we get clear as to heaven we are prepared for the earth. We see in John 3 how heaven takes precedence of the earth. On the third day great stress is laid on what suggests resurrection: “And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth.” Fruitfulness is in resurrection. “Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God,” Rom.7.

The fourth day is a wonderful day for Christians: Christ is now known in heaven as the source of light and rule. The light of the first day, doubtless, came from the sun; this is so, at any rate, if applied morally, for there is no moral light save what comes from Christ. The first day may be taken to represent Christ as here on earth, and the light shone on all. Christ as Man here inaugurates the day, and henceforth the day always attaches to Him, so that when the Lord withdrew from the earth there was a formal separation of light from darkness. In the first day it is light as such: what it was, or its source, is not stated. The light appearing, it is separated from the darkness. The day really went with Christ, and the earth is left in total darkness. But the fourth day provides for this, for the “lesser light” was to rule the night. The lesser light points to the church, and inasmuch as the moon is not light in herself, she cannot be light to the earth during the night unless she remain in the light of the sun; so the church cannot be light now unless it abides in the light of Christ.

The lights in the heavens were to be for signs and for seasons. Seasons have reference to the course of things on earth. Eras of this world have largely been introduced by certain human events; but divine eras are regulated by Christ in heaven. The stars are representative of Christ, and also of the saints individually. Scripture speaks of them in this way. Christ is the bright morning Star, and “they that turn many to righteousness” shine “as the stars for ever and ever,” Dan. 12. It is just possible that stars may take in the Jewish remnant in the latter days. The value of the stars is particularly seen during the night when the moon is hidden. When the church is removed there will still be light, though not so bright. In the fourth day we come into practical righteousness as recognising Christ as Lord in heaven. We understand our place in connection with a settled order of things.

In the fifth day we get life in a visible, energetic way. “Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven” – the activity of life in an intelligent way, one might almost say, although man has not yet come into view. It is the introduction of life.

Monday, February 20, 2012

God Who Cannot Lie

The Scriptures tell that we have a God who cannot lie, not just that He does not lie – God cannot lie. I am aware that certain translations of the Bible render Titus 1:2 as saying that God does not lie. But the true rendering is that He cannot lie. Here God’s character is in focus not just His ways or habit. Whereas the scriptures tell us that when Satan speaks, he speaks lies and is the father of it, because he speaks from himself, i.e., he speaks from within, from his own self; God speaks also from within Himself and of His Own, and it is all truth. For out of the abundance of the heart does the mouth speak!

In this paper, it is however, the context in which the title of this paper appears that we would wish to speak a little about. And so let’s quote the whole verse. Titus 1: 2 – “In hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised before the world began”. This verse tells us that it is God who has promised eternal life before the world began. But if God made this promise before the world began, to whom did He make this promise?

In writing to Timothy, in his second letter, the apostle Paul says, “...Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,” (2 Timothy 1:9). This verse also talks about the time ‘before the world began’ as the verse in Titus. Furthermore, this verse makes it clear that God’s grace was given us before the world began. In the book of the Revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ we read of the Lamb “slain from the foundation of the world.” (Revelation 13:8) [I am aware of the alternate rendering of this verse in the Greek text, however for now, I’d prefer to leave all such discussions aside as it wouldn’t necessarily affect the truth of what we’re here emphasising. In any case, however we may read this particular verse, Peter is explicit in saying that the Lamb, the Lord Jesus Christ was “foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you,” (1Peter 1:20)]

The Scriptures make it clear that before time began Christ was, in the eternal councils of God ‘slain’ for us and that grace was given us before time began, before the world began. When Pauls writes to Titus that God promised eternal life before the world began, although he does not make it explicitly clear as to whom it was that God made His promise, it is obvious that it was to us that He made such a promise. But someone may ask, “How could God make a promise to us when we didn’t even exist?” Now this is exactly where we need to believe in the Power and Might of our God. God could do so as He is One Who “calleth those things which are not, as though they were” (Romans 4:17). What a wonderful and almighty God our God is. Abraham believed God to be so (Romans 4:17), and so should we!

It is when we believe God and the Word of His Power, that we understand all things. No wonder we read in Hebrews 11:3 “Through faith we understand that the world were framed [literally - ages were planned] by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.” Beloved, it is only as we look to God and believe Him and His word, that we can “understand” all truth – truth about His old creation as well as truth about His new creation.

What a comfort it should be to our feeble and fickle hearts that our God promised eternal life to us in Christ before the world began [lit. before time began], and God cannot lie. Grace was given us in Christ before the world began. And in both these passages of scripture (in 2 Timothy 1 and Titus 1), Paul immediately follows these worlds stating that God has now manifested (what was previously promised or given) in this present time. And the manner of God’s manifesting it is always through the Lord Jesus Christ! In 2 Timothy 1:10 Paul says, “But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ,...” and in Titus 1:3 Paul says, “But hath in due times manifested his word through preaching,..” Whether through the Lord Jesus Christ (the Incarnate Word) or the Written Word, God always manifests Himself through the instrumentality of the Word, the Son of God Himself.

Here would like to quote the words of A.C. Hervey from the Pulpit commentary –
“Manifested his Word” -there is a change of construction. “The relative sentence passes almost imperceptibly into a primary sentence” ...; “his Word” becomes the object of the verb “made manifest,” instead of “eternal life,” as one would have expected. His Word is the whole revelation of the gospel, including the Person and work of Jesus Christ. Compare St. Peter’s address to Cornelius (Acts 10:36). This “Word,” which lay in the mind of God through the ages, and was only dimly expressed in the promises given from time to time (1 Peter 1:10-12), was now “made manifest,” and  proclaimed openly in that preaching of the gospel of God’s grace which was entrusted to St. Paul. This same idea is frequently expressed (see Romans 16:25; Ephesians 1:9, 10; 3:3-11; 2 Timothy 1:9-11; 1 Peter 1:20)”

It is only in and through Christ that we enter into the good of all those things which God has already given us before time began, whether it is grace that was given us before time began or the promise of eternal life that was made to us before the world began – all in Christ and through Christ alone. Hallelujah, What a Saviour. And grace is yet to be brought to us at the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ (see 1 Peter 1:13).

May the Lord Himself continue to keep each of us in His Grace unto the Day of His appearing and His Kingdom.  Since we have a God Who cannot lie, His promise is as sure as Himself, eternal. And with Him His word is His work, its already accomplished as far as He is concerned, while we wait yet for the ‘manifestation’ of it, let us “hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto [us] at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Did the Cock Crow Twice?

On the night of His betrayal, the Lord Jesus Christ warned Peter that he would deny Him thrice; and this before the cock crew. Mathew, Luke and John are unanimous in stating that Peter’s three denials would be before the cock crew. However, Mark alone mentions the fact that Peter would deny the Lord thrice before the cock crew twice.

This apparent discrepancy has caused much discussion and, in some sense I should say, rightly so. For it is in searching out such matters of the text of the scriptures with a view to understanding them better that the veracity and truthfulness of the scriptures are brought out.

Firstly, let us state what each of the Gospel writers have to tell us:

Matthew 26:34 – “Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice.”

Mark 14:30 – “And Jesus saith unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this day, [even] in this night, before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice.”

Luke 22:34 – “And he said, I tell thee, Peter, the cock shall not crow this day, before that thou shalt thrice deny that thou knowest me.”

John 13:38 – “Jesus answered him, Wilt thou lay down thy life for my sake? Verily, verily, I say unto thee, The cock shall not crow, till thou hast denied me thrice.”

When in Mark’s Gospel we read of “this day, in this night” we must bear in mind that for the Jews, their day began at sunset. Thus for them the day had began and yes, it was also night as it was after sunset. And the Lord therefore tells Peter that, that day – that very night he would deny Him thrice.

Alfred Edersheim in his book ‘The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah’ tells us in a footnote,
“This crowing of the cock has given rise to a curious controversy, since, according to Rabbinic law, it was forbidden to keep fowls in Jerusalem, on account of possible Levitical defilements through them (Baba K. Vii.7). ..Reland argues that, even if that ordinance was really in force at the time of Christ (of which there is grave doubt), Peter might have heard the cock crow from Fort Antonia, occupied by the Romans, or else that it might have reached thus far in the still night air from outside the walls of Jerusalem. But there is more than doubt as to the existence of this ordinance at the time. There is repeated mention of the ‘cock-crow’ in connection with the Temple-watches, and if the expression be regarded as not literal, but simply a designation of time, we have ...a story in which a cock caused the death of a child at Jerusalem, proving that fowls must have been kept there.” [Edersheim, A. (1959). The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah (Vol 2 pg 537) Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.]

Although Edersheim expresses doubt that such a Rabbinical law as he mentions was really in force, it seems rather that such a law as interpreted by the Rabbis themselves would not have precluded the idea of fowls being present in Jerusalem.

For instance consider the following prohibitions:

In Tractate Baba Kamma (The First Gate - chapter 7) it says
“Ten special regulations were applied to Jerusalem: That a house sold there should not be liable to become irredeemable;  that it should never bring a heifer whose neck is broken;  that it could never be made a condemned city;  that its houses would not become defiled through leprosy;  that neither beams nor balconies should be allowed to project there; that no dunghills should be made there; that no kilns should be kept there; that neither gardens nor orchards should be cultivated there, with the exception, however, of the garden of roses  which existed from the days of the former prophets;  that no fowls should be reared there, and that no dead person should be kept there over night.” And the reason given for such a prohibition is stated in the following words “‘That no fowls be bred there' on account of the sacrifices.”

Mishna 7 is more explicit when it states
No cocks or hens must be raised in Jerusalem (even by laymen), because of the voluntary offerings (the meat of which may be eaten in any part of the city, and as the habit of the named fowls is to peck with their beaks in the rubbish, they may peck into a dead reptile and then peck in the meat of the offerings). In all other parts of Palestine priests only must not raise them, as they use leave-offerings for their meals, and they must be very careful about cleanliness.”

From the above quotations it is clear that there only was a prohibition to ‘rear’ or ‘raise’ fowls, including hens and/or cocks in Jerusalem. In all other parts of Palestine only the priests were forbidden from ‘raising’ or ‘rearing’ such fowls.

However, the Gemara on the above mentioned (Mishna 7) clarifies and expounds on this ‘raising’ and/or ‘rearing’ stating – 
The rabbis taught: "No tender cattle must be raised in Palestine but in its forests; in Syria, however, even in the inhabited places, and, of course, in all other places." Another Boraitha states: No tender cattle must be raised in Palestine but in the deserts of Judea, and in those of the village of Achu; and although no tender cattle must be raised, still large cattle may, for no restrictions are made for the community unless most of the people can observe them. Tender cattle may, but large cattle may not be imported from other countries. And although they must not be raised, still they may be kept during the thirty days immediately preceding a feast day, or the celebration of the wedding of one's children. But this shall not be construed to mean that they may be kept for thirty days, and that if some cattle were bought less than thirty days before the feast day that one may continue keeping them after the feast day until the expiration of the thirty days, but that as soon as the feast day is over he must not keep them any longer. The butcher, however, may buy and slaughter them at once, or keep them (until the market day), provided that the cattle he bought last shall not be kept after the market-day to complete the thirty days.”

From the above it is not altogether improbable that fowls, along with ‘cattle’ may be kept during the thirty days immediately preceding a feast day. And according to the Gospel accounts, the night of the Lord’s betrayal and denial was the feast of the Passover and (the days) of unleavened bread (MK 14:1).

As further proof that such an allowance was indeed made, consider the following from the Gemara on the above mentioned Mishna.
“The disciples once questioned R. Gamaliel, whether it was permitted to raise tender cattle, and he answered: "Yea." But have we not learned in our Mishna that it is not? It must be said, therefore, that they questioned him whether it was permitted to keep them, and he answered them: "Yea, provided they are kept locked in the house, so that they shall not go out and pasture with the flock."

This Gamaliel is probably the same Gamaliel mentioned in the NT, at whose ‘feet’ Saul of Tarsus was trained. According to Rabbi Gamaliel it was allowable for them to ‘keep’, if not ‘raise’ tender cattle (by which of course is meant sheep and goats used for sacrifices), provided they were kept locked in the house and not allowed outside. It therefore seems hardly unlikely that fowls too (including doves and pigeons), such as hens and cocks were allowed to be ‘kept’ indoors.

As for Edersheim’s comment about temple watchings being regulated by the cock crowing, consider the following –
[Yoma 1:8] “Every day they take up the ashes from the altar at the cock’s crow or near it, whether before or after it. At the Day of Atonement from midnight, and on festivals at the end of the first watch [they do so].  And never did the cock crow before the courtyard was filled with masses of Israelites. [Neusner, J. (1988). The Mishnah : A new translation (266). New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.]

[Sukkah 5:4h] “[When] the cock crowed, they sounded a sustained, a quavering, and a sustained note on the shofar” (shofar A ram’s horn, blown on set occasions in Temple and synagogue worship)  [Neusner, J. (1988). The Mishnah : A new translation (289). New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.]

“At cockcrow, trumpet signals ended the nightly feast of lights in the court of women.” [Theological dictionary of the New Testament Vol 7 pg 83]

Obviously, the crowing of the cock was a familiar sound heard from within the temple precincts in Jerusalem! Besides, for the Romans and the Greeks the crowing of the cock was a not only most familiar but for the most part regulated their daily life activities. Consider the following –
“Both the Greeks and Romans were early risers. They went to sleep at sundown, but woke up with the first crow of the cock. In late autumn and winter this gave some hours to sunrise, 3 to 4 in Rome. These so-called lucubrations (from the lamp, lucubrum, which has died out) are the main period of intellectual activity.  In order to avoid pettiness, Plato in his Laws is not prepared to limit the hours of sleep, but he regards it as scandalous if the master or mistress of the house sleeps the whole night (ὅλην διατελεῖν νύκτα εὕδοντα) and has to be wakened by slaves. καθεύδων γὰρ οὐδεὶς οὐδενὸς ἄξιος, οὐδὲν μᾶλλον τοῦ μὴ ζῶντος. Those who really wish to live and to do intellectual work must be awake as long as possible (Lege. [Plato, of Athens] VII, 807e ff.). Among his possessions Plato had an alarm-clock which he had had made. [Theological dictionary of the New Testament Vol 3 pgs 431-432]

In Rome, the cock crowing marked the beginning of the day. At least this was so according to Libanius, of Antioch (AD 314–393), teacher of Julian, one of the 4th century Sophists  – “On the New Year Feast in Rome at cock-crow houses were adorned.” [Theological dictionary of the New Testament Vol 7 pg19] Even if it be argued that such a custom did not obtain during the time of Christ, the quotation at least attests to the fact that the crowing of the cock was a familiar sound among Romans.

The Greek word in the NT that has been translated cockcrowing (Mk.13:35) is alektorophonia  (ἀλεκτοροφωνία,) from alektor which means a ‘cock’ and phone which means a ‘sound’.

W.E.Vine notes
“There were two “cockcrowings,” one after midnight, the other before dawn. In these watches the Jews followed the Roman method of dividing the night. The first “cock-crowing” was at the third watch of the night. That is the one mentioned in Mark 13:35. Mark mentions both; see 14:30. The latter, the second, is that referred to in the other Gospels and is mentioned especially as “the cock-crowing.” [Vine, W. E., Unger, M. F., & White, W. (1996). Vine's complete expository dictionary of Old and New Testament words (2:107-108). Nashville: T. Nelson.]

Although some seem to doubt the reference to any such ‘time divisions’, it is evident that the Romans divided their night watches into 4 sections. Mk. 13:35 seems to indicate just such a division – “Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning:”

The cockcrowing was evidently anywhere between midnight to 3.00 am, which was the 3rd watch of the night according to Roman timing.

Betz says that
“in Palestine the cock usually crows just before dawn, i.e., from soon after midnight to about 2.30 a.m., the third watch from midnight to 3 a.m. is called, ἀλεκτοροφωνία “the time of the crowing of the cock” (קְרִיאַת הַגֶּבֶר) [Theological dictionary of the New Testament Vol 9 pg 303]

We know that Mark was much influenced by the apostle Peter, who obviously would have passed on these delicate and accurate details of his denials of the Lord. And we have them preserved for us just as Mark wrote them. Matthew, Luke and John only give us the fact that Peter denied the Lord 3 times before the breaking of day, ie. Before the ‘cock crew’. Mark alone, through Peter, records for us the details of the second crowing of the cock. 

In conclusion, we may say that there were indeed two crowing of the cock when Peter denied the Lord. The first one probably around midnight or a little before and the second immediately after Peter denied the Lord the 3rd time, anytime between 2.00 and 3.00 am. Once again the scriptures prove to be accurate and without errors.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Does the Bible say the Lord Jesus was born of a Virgin?

Genesis 3:15

An orthodox Jew once asked a Jewish Christian, “Suppose a son were born among us today, and it was said of him that he was born of a virgin, would you believe it?” “Yes,” replied the other, “I would believe it if he were such a son!”

Truly, the whole truth of the virgin birth of Christ, revolves around the Person of Christ. If Christ is who He is, and we are willing to believe Him, surely to believe in His virgin birth will only follow as a natural requirement. However, for many so-called Christian ‘scholars’ the issue seems to be reversed. For them, if the virgin birth can be proved, or disproved, the true identity of Jesus of Nazareth would be established. And very often, for the most part, the majority of all such ‘scholars’, either set about disproving the deity of Christ or the veracity of the Scriptures that mention His miraculous virgin birth.

Our purpose will be to first take a look at the prediction of the virgin birth in the Old Testament scriptures, and based upon our understanding of these predictions, examine the New Testament scriptures to see if they indeed fit the picture we presented with of Jesus of Nazareth. We believe a correct understanding of the scriptures themselves will lead to a correct understanding of the who Jesus Christ really is. For you see, if He was not really born of the virgin, that would put him, as far as His human origin as least is concerned, on the same level of other men, born into this world. True, God could in some mysterious way still cause His birth to be unique. However, our own conviction is that a careful examination of scripture will no doubt lead our readers to uphold the truth of Christ’s virgin birth.

To begin, let’s take a look at Genesis 3:15; that most famous of verse in the first book of the Bible which reads, “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; he shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.”

Most commentators believe that the expression “seed of the woman” really is a veiled reference to the Messiah, who would be born of a woman without the intervention of a man; else the expression would have been “seed of the man”, as also generally speaking it is the man’s seed that is usually spoken of whenever the word ‘seed’ occurs in connection with the human family.  For example, one writer says,

“The phrase...“her seed” is not found elsewhere in the Bible. Well over one hundred times we read of “the seed” and “seeds”, but in all cases the seed of the man is meant. But the seed of the woman is a unique concept and can be interpreted only as a foreshadowing of the virgin birth of our Lord. If He was not to be born of a virgin, then Adam would have been referred to: “his seed”, not “her seed”.

Of course the writer of the above words did not literally mean that the word ‘seed’ is never mentioned in the Bible in connection with a woman; for it is. For example, Ruth 4:12 reads, “And let thy house by like the house of Perez, whom Tamar bore unto Judah, of the seed which the LORD shall give thee of this young woman.” Revelation 12:17 reads, “And the dragon was angry with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, who keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” In the first verse quoted, the meaning really is that the LORD should grant ‘children’ or ‘descendants’ to Boaz through Ruth. And the second verse quoted really means that the Devil turned his attention to wage war with the ‘remnant of her offspring’, or the rest of her children who keep the commandments of God and continue to hold the testimony of Jesus Christ. Obviously, the expression ‘her seed’ could not be a reference to the Messiah. Nor could it be argued that the words taken in context should mean the remnant of the Messiah, as though here the words ‘her seed’ was a veiled reference to the Messiah; and that therefore the remainder or ‘remnant’ of ‘her seed’ are the remnant of the Messiah – a minority group still owning the Messiah. No, such a construction would do violence to the text and would completely mar the true and simple meaning of these words.

Nevertheless, it is true that the words ‘her seed’ is rather singular in its usage in Genesis 3:15. Adam Clarke, believing it to be so, comments,

“But there is a deeper meaning in the text than even this, especially in these words, it shall bruise thy head, or rather, הוא  hu, He; who? the seed of the woman; the person is to come by the woman, and by her alone, without the concurrence of man. Therefore the address is not to Adam and Eve, but to Eve alone; and it was in consequence of this purpose of God that Jesus Christ was born of a virgin; this, and this alone, is what is implied in the promise of the seed of the woman bruising the head of the serpent.”

However, as pointed out earlier, the appearance words ‘her seed’ does not necessarily mean that here is a direct prophecy pointing to the virgin birth of the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ. C.F. Keil & F. Delitzsch in their commentary on Genesis say,

“although in the first clause the seed of the serpent is opposed to the seed of the woman, in the second it is not over the seed of the serpent but over the serpent itself that the victory is said to be gained. It, i.e., the seed of the woman will crush thy head, and thou (not thy seed) wilt crush its heel. Thus the seed of the serpent is hidden behind the unity of the serpent, or rather of the foe who, through the serpent, has done such injury to man. This foe is Satan, who incessantly opposes the seed of the woman and bruises its heel, but is eventually to be trodden under its feet. It does not follow from this, however, apart from other considerations, that by the seed of the woman we are to understand one solitary person, one individual only. As the woman is the mother of all living (Gen 3:20), her seed, to which the victory over the serpent and its seed is promised, must be the human race. But if a direct and exclusive reference to Christ appears to be exegetically untenable, the allusion in the word to Christ is by no means precluded in consequence. In itself the idea of זרע, the seed, is an indefinite one, since the posterity of a man may consist of a whole tribe or of one son only (Gen 4:25; Gen 21:12-13), and on the other hand, an entire tribe may be reduced to one single descendant and become extinct in him. The question, therefore, who is to be understood by the “seed” which is to crush the serpent's head, can only be answered from the history of the human race.

However, they go on to comment, bringing out as they do the full significance of the verse in question. We cannot here do better than to once again quote them at length for the benefit of our readers.

“But a point of much greater importance comes into consideration here. Against the natural serpent the conflict may be carried on by the whole human race, by all who are born of a woman, but not against Satan. As he is a fore who can only be met with spiritual weapons, none can encounter him successfully but such as possess and make use of spiritual arms. Hence the idea of the “seed” is modified by the nature of the foe. If we look at the natural development of the human race, Eve bore three sons, but only one of them, viz., Seth, was really the seed by whom the human family was preserved through the flood and perpetuated in Noah: so, again, of the three sons of Noah, Shem, the blessed of Jehovah, from whom Abraham descended, was the only one in whose seed all nations were to be blessed, and that not through Ishmael, but through Isaac alone. Through these constantly repeated acts of divine selection, which were not arbitrary exclusions, but were rendered necessary by differences in the spiritual condition of the individuals concerned, the “seed,” to which the victory over Satan was promised, was spiritually or ethically determined, and ceased to be co-extensive with physical descent. This spiritual seed culminated in Christ, in whom the Adamic family terminated, henceforward to be renewed by Christ as the second Adam, and restored by Him to its original exaltation and likeness to God. In this sense Christ is the seed of the woman, who tramples Satan under His feet, not as an individual, but as the head both of the posterity of the woman which kept the promise and maintained the conflict with the old serpent before His advent, and also of all those who are gathered out of all nations, are united to Him by faith, and formed into one body of which He is the head (Rom 16:20). On the other hand, all who have not regarded and preserved the promise, have fallen into the power of the old serpent, and are to be regarded as the seed of the serpent, whose head will be trodden under foot (Mat 23:33; John 8:44; 1Jo 3:8). If then the promise culminates in Christ, the fact that the victory over the serpent is promised to the posterity of the woman, not of the man, acquires this deeper significance, that as it was through the woman that the craft of the devil brought sin and death into the world, so it is also through the woman that the grace of God will give to the fallen human race the conqueror of sin, of death, and of the devil. And even if the words had reference first of all to the fact that the woman had been led astray by the serpent, yet in the fact that the destroyer of the serpent was born of a woman (without a human father) they were fulfilled in a way which showed that the promise must have proceeded from that Being, who secured its fulfilment not only in its essential force, but even in its apparently casual form.

Clearly, although we cannot pin down the words ‘her seed’ to be a direct reference to Christ and therefore a hint to His virgin birth, the verse itself does not preclude this idea.

Isaiah 7:14

Let us now consider the one passage in the Old Testament where a direct reference to the virgin birth is mentioned. Isaiah 7:14 reads, “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, the virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” (It may be objected that we have given here the definite article ‘the virgin’ instead of the indefinite article ‘a virgin’ as given in the KJV. However, a quick look at the original dispels all doubt. Darby has translated it with the definite article, in keeping with the Hebrew original and also the LXX translation)

The bone of contention here is the word ‘virgin’; whether the word in the original Hebrew has such a bearing, designating one not yet married – a virgin in the strict sense of the word. Some translations render it ‘the young woman’. Such is the translation of the Jewish Publication Society Bible and The Revised Standard Version, to name a few.

Such a translation of the Hebrew word almah is unnecessary and misleading. The word almah occurs 6 other times in the Old Testament – Gen 24:43; Exo 2:8; Psa 68:25; Pro 30:19; Son 1:3, 6:8. There is another word that is strictly reserved for a female who is a virgin and that is the word bethulah (see Genesis 24:16 where this word is used in the Hebrew along with the definition “And the damsel was very fair to look upon, a virgin, bethulah neither had any man known her...” Darby has it “a virgin, and no man had known her” ). For instance this word is used in Deu 22:23 (& 28) – “If a damsel who is a virgin be betrothed unto an husband, and a man find her in the city...” Clearly, here a virgin in the strict sense of the word is meant. And in Isaiah 62:5 “For as a young man marrieth a virgin...” again this same word bethulah is used.
So why isn’t this word used in Isaiah 7:14? And what significance does the word in this place have to the virgin birth?

Firstly, let it be said that from the word almah itself we cannot ascertain whether a woman is a virgin or not; for this other considerations will have to be taken into account. Strictly speaking the word bethulah would refer to a woman who is a virgin in the sense in which we today understand the term. The word almah only emphasised the fact that the woman was of a marriageable age and is therefore not a minor. In order words, she is old enough to bear a child, something a young female child cannot. Now this meaning is borne out in every instance of the word in its context in the Old Testament.

For instance, the first time this word occurs is in Genesis 24:43. Here Abraham’s servant recounts his prayer to God earlier that day saying, “Behold, I stand by the well of water; and it shall come to pass, that when the virgin cometh forth to draw water, and I say to her, ...” Here Abraham’s servant is asking God to guide him to the right girl for his master’s son Isaac. Of course, the girl would have to be of marriageable age; needless to say a virgin too. It is impossible to image that the servant’s prayer would have precluded such a vital requirement in a bride for his master’s son. Obviously, the servant was expecting to see, not a young female child, nor an old woman but a youthful lady, still in her virginity.

In Exo 2:8 the context doesn’t require any such qualities in the maid mentioned, nor in Psa 68:25.  Proverbs 30:19 is rather interesting in that it says, “...the way of a man with a maid.” Although Adam Clarke has pointed out the possibility of translating the expression “the way of a man in his youth” as found in certain MSS., with which the LXX translation also seems to agree, the words as appearing in our authorised version seems best taken as it is. Here again the word itself may not explain much. However, it is interesting to note that even here it is the way of a man with a woman of some maturity, not a female child of tender age that is implied. Once again the meaning we have attached to the word almah makes sense.

Strictly speaking the word in Son 1:3 may not refer to virgins, however, this distinction seems to be at least hinted at in Son 6:8 “There are threescore queens, and fourscore concubines, and virgins without number.” If here the word almah merely refers to young married women, the point of distinguishing them from queens and concubines is pointless. Obviously in this verse, virgins, in the strict sense of the word is implied, though not proved.

From the above observations, it is clear that the word almah in itself may not necessarily mean a virgin, as we understand it. That it may also include the idea of virginity, however, cannot be negated. Every young woman of marriageable age need not be a virgin, but every young virgin may be of marriageable age. Therefore the word definitely excludes the idea of a younger female child, a minor, and would refer only to young marriageable girls, virgin or otherwise.

The word bethulah is used in Exo 22:16 “And if a man entice a maid that is not betrothed...” Darby has it “And if a man seduce a virgin that is not betrothed...”. Clearly, the word bethulah here describes a young virgin girl of marriageable age but not even engaged to be married. And in this verse too the LXX uses the word parthenos.

Interestingly, the translators of the LXX in translating the word almah in Isaiah 7:14 into the Greek language of their day used the word parthenos, which word meant a chase virgin in the strict sense. This is also the word they used in Genesis 24:43. This word is also used in Isaiah in two other places; Isa 37:22 & 47:1 each of which occurrence is translated in our English versions as ‘virgin’. This word is also used in Deu 22:23 “if a damsel that is a virgin be betrothed unto an husband..” however, in the previous verse describing a married woman a different word is used – gunaikos. This is the word that is invariably always used to describe a woman in general as distinguished from a man, also as the wife of a husband. Note that verse 23 talks about a damsel who is a virgin (parthenos) albeit married to a husband. In other words, she is engaged, which the Jews considered as good as the marriage bond, although not yet living with the husband.

Listing out our observations we may state

1.       The word bethulah could refer to a virgin not yet betrothed to a husband (Exo 22:16)
2.       The word bethulah could also refer to a virgin betrothed to a husband (Deu 22:23)
3.       The word bethulah never refers to a woman already living with a husband
4.       The word ishah is used in Deu 22:23 to describe a married woman already living with her husband
5.       Every time the word almah is used, the idea of a young girl of marriageable age who can bear a child is predominant, with no reference to her being married or not
6.       It cannot be proved beyond doubt that each time the word almah is used, a married woman was ever referred to

Furthermore, from the LXX we may observe in line with the above

1.       The word parthenos is used in Exo 22:16
2.       The word parthenos is used in Deu 22:23
3.       The word gunaikos is used in Deu 22:22 to describe a married woman already living with her husband
4.       The word gunaikos is used to refer to a woman in general as opposed to a man

So although some might argue that in Isaiah 7:14 the word bethulah should have been used, the fact that the other word almah is used makes more sense, when we consider the scope of Isaiah’s prophecy; which was at once also a sign to King Ahaz. Since the usage of the word bethulah would have precluded the idea of a woman already living with her husband which would also therefore render her not a virgin, the other word almah is used. And as we have already seen, this word almah does not necessarily rule out the fact of virginity in the woman, however, it is also open to the idea of the woman (whoever she might have been at the time the prophecy was spoken) living with her husband. If bethulah would have been used, the King would have been hard pressed to figure out just how a virgin could bear a son without living with her betrothed husband or without having known a man! For this word bethulah strictly referred to a virgin, one who has never known a man. And this, far from being a sign, would have been a mystery to him.

Although the word bethulah therefore would have been the most appropriate word to describe the future miraculous birth of the promised Messiah, it would be out of place in the context of the present crises King Ahaz was facing and of the assuring sign (and doubtless, bethulah could have been employed, were the prediction only for the distant future, not also a sign for the present). This is so especially in the light of the following verses in chapter 7, verses 15-16. However, the word almah creates no such problems. Since the word itself could refer to a young woman living with her husband or a woman who is unmarried and still a virgin.

Isaiah’s words therefore to King Ahaz would have been reassuring in view of the land’s speedy deliverance from their enemies. Isaiah told the King, “For before the child (connecting the child to verses 14 & 15) shall know to refuse the evil, and choose the good, the land that thou abhorest shall be forsaken by both her kinds” (Isa 7:16). If by this prophetic verses, Isaiah and therefore through him, the Spirit of God, meant to refer only to their future Messiah, the sign would have been no sign at all, as far as King Ahaz was concerned! On the other hand, if these verses were meant only to serve the purpose of a sign in the immediate future for King Ahaz, the prophetic element would be lost.

Some have suggested that ‘the child’ of verse 16 is none other than the prophet’s own son, whom he told to take along with him to meet with King Ahaz (see verse 3). However, the connection of ‘the child’ in verse 16 and 15 is so closely tied up with verse 14, that such a suggestion does violence to a natural understanding of the text. No, these verses serve as a sign, when first spoken to the King, and they were also meant to have a prophetic import.

We therefore believe the Spirit of the Lord chose a word that would fit the immediate context as well be applied in future. The word bethulah would have been, although most fitting to predict the future virgin birth of the Messiah, completely out of place and without sense as a sign for King Ahaz. On the other hand, almah serves both purposes. In the immediate context a woman, unknown perhaps now to us, but known to the King and to the prophet, would bear a son and before he was old enough to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land of Judah would be delivered of her present enemies. Moreover, the world almah leave open the possibility of a woman while still a virgin, miraculously giving birth to a son. And it is in this sense Matthew quotes this verse in his Gospel.

Under the circumstances, we cannot think of a better way to handle both situations than by using a word to describe the woman living at the time of Isaiah and at the same time would also describe the one, who in future would bring in the virgin-born Messiah. Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? Or who hath been his counsellor? Indeed, our God is a great God and He does all things well.

To sum up, the translators of the LXX obviously understood Isaiah 7:14 to refer to a virgin not yet living with her husband, else they could have used the word gunaikos. Isn’t it rather significant that they understood this verse to be speaking about a virgin in the strict sense of the word and not a married woman already living with her husband! And with this Matthew agrees and therefore is led by the Spirit of God to link this verse with Jesus’ birth through the virgin Mary, betrothed though she be to Joseph though not living with him yet. 

In conclusion we cannot do better than close with the summary of G. Rawlinson in his exposition on the book of Isaiah on these prophetic verses.

            “The subject is far from being exhausted. It is still asked:
(1) Were the mother and son persons belonging to the time of Isaiah himself, and if so, what persons? Or,
            (2) Were they the Virgin Mary and her Son Jesus? Or,
(3) Had the prophecy a double fulfillment, first in certain persons who lived in Isaiah’s time, and secondly in Jesus and his mother?

I. The first theory is that of the Jewish commentators. Originally, they suggested that the mother was Abi, the wife of Ahaz (2 Kings 18:2), and the son Hezekiah, who delivered Judah from the Assyrian power. But this was early disproved by showing that, according to the numbers of Kings (2 Kings 16:2; 18:2), Hezekiah was at least nine years old in the first year of Ahaz, before which this prophecy could not have been delivered (Isaiah 7:1). The second suggestion made identified the mother with Isaiah’s wife, the “prophetess”of Isaiah 8:3, and made the son a child of his, called actually Immanuel, or else his son Maher-shalal-hash-baz (Isaiah 8:1) under a symbolical designation. But ha-’almah, “the virgin,” would be a very strange title for Isaiah to have given his wife, and the rank assigned to Immanuel in Isaiah 8:8 would not suit any son of Isaiah’s. It remains to regard the ‘almah as “some young woman actually present,” name, rank, and position unknown, and Immanuel as her son, also otherwise unknown (Cheyne).  But the grand exordium, “The Lord himself shall give you a sign — Behold!” and the rank of Immanuel (Isaiah 8:8), are alike against this.

II. The purely Messianic theory is maintained by Rosenmüller and Dr. Kay, but without any consideration of its difficulties. The birth of Christ was an event more than seven hundred years distant. In what sense and to what persons could it be a “sign” of the coming deliverance of the land from Rezin and Pekah? And, upon the purely Messianic theory, what is the meaning of ver. 16? Syria and Samaria were, in fact, crushed within a few years of the delivery of the prophecy. Why is their desolation put off, apparently, till the coming of the Messiah, and even till he has reached a certain age? Mr. Cheyne meets these difficulties by the startling statement that Isaiah expected the advent of the Messiah to synchronize with the Assyrian invasion, and consequently thought that before Rezin and Pekah were crushed he would have reached the age of discernment. But he does not seem to see that in this case the sigma was altogether disappointing and illusory. Time is an essential element of a prophecy which turns upon the
word “before” (ver. 16). If this faith of Isaiah’s disciples was aroused and their hopes raised by the announcement that Immanuel was just about to be born (Mr. Cheyne translates, “A virgin is with child”), what would be the revulsion of feeling when no Immanuel appeared?

III. May not the true account of the matter be that suggested by Bishop Lowth — that the prophecy had a double bearing and a double fulfilment? “The obvious and literal meaning of the prophecy is this,” he says: “that within the time that a young woman, now a virgin, should conceive and bring forth a child, and that child should arrive at such an age as to distinguish between good and evil, that is, within a few years, the enemies of Judah should be destroyed.” But the prophecy was so worded, he adds, as to have a further meaning, which wan even “the original design and principal intention of the prophet,” viz. the Messianic one. All the expressions of the prophecy do not suit both its intentions — some are selected with reference to the first, others with reference to the second fulfilment — but all suit one or the other, and some suit both. The first child may have received the name Immanuel from a faithful Jewish mother, who believed that God was with his people, whatever dangers threatened, and may have reached years of discretion about the time that Samaria was carried away captive. The second child is the true “Immanuel,” “God with us,” the king of Isaiah 8:8; it is his mother who is pointed at in the expression, “the virgin,” and on his account is the grand preamble; through him the people of God, the true Israel, is delivered from its spiritual enemies, sin and Satan — two kings who continually threaten it.

With the view of Bishop Loweth we fully agree. The passage in Isaiah 7 indeed has such a double character – a sign for King Ahaz during his time, and also a prediction of the Messiah’s virgin birth. The Messiah alone, when born among men, could be truly and literally called Immanuel, God with us. And with this Matthew agrees quoting Isaiah 7:14 in his Gospel in connection with Mary giving birth to our Lord Jesus Christ, who was indeed born of His mother the virgin Mary.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Chapter 1: 2

“ Whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds”

The Lord Jesus once asked his disciples, “Who do men say that I, the Son of man, am?”His disciples replied, “Some say thou art John the Baptist; some, Elijah; and others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets” (Mat 16:14). The Lord then went on to ask, “But who say ye that I am?” He wanted to know exactly what opinion His own had of Him.

The world today has made up their minds regarding this ‘Jesus of Nazareth’. Many are willing to admit and accept Him as a ‘great’ religious teacher/founder. For many, he continues to be just one of several ‘gurus’ they could choose from. Others there are who outright brand Him as a fraud or even dismiss Him entirely as a myth. Only true believers in the Lord Jesus Christ own Him as the Son of God, the Creator and Lord of all. As the apostle Thomas they too address Him, “My Lord and my God”.

When Pilate introduced the Lord Jesus to the awaiting crowd of Jews on that most eventful day, he said, “Behold, your King!” (John 19:15). Pilate then asked the crowd, “Will ye that I release unto you the King of the Jews?” (Mar 15:2) But the chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar”. Alas! They disowned their own Messiah. And to this present day, Jews as a rule continue to reject the Lord Jesus and the New Testament revelation about Him.

However, God’s estimate of His own Beloved Son is far different. Because the Lord Jesus humbled Himself and was willing to take the lowest place, God has highly exalted Him, far above the heavens and has given Him the name that is above every name, in heaven and on earth and under the earth; that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God, the Father (see Phi 2:9-11). The writer to the Hebrews tells us just as much in the opening words of this letter.

God “hath appointed (the Lord Jesus) heir of all things”. Let men deny Him, reject Him and turn away from Him. The Father’s estimate of the Lord Jesus is summed up in these wonderful words. God thinks Him fit to be heir of all things. Isn’t that wonderful! This Man, who, while in this world could say, “Foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head”, has now been appointed heir of all things. And according to the passage in Philippians, this Man was exalted to the highest station because He was willing to humble Himself, to lower Himself to the lowest point possible, sin exempted. May we too, along with God the Father, give the Lord Jesus Christ the highest place, not only in our estimate, but in our lives too. May He alone indeed have the pre-eminence in all things, for He is worthy.

Notice the text says, “he hath appointed”. In other words, it was not Jesus who appointed Himself, but God who appointed Him thus. How wonderful it is to read that, though worthy to do so, the Lord Jesus did not take this honour to Himself. But it was God who therefore bestowed this honour upon Him. We are reminded of Peter’s words, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time”. Of the Lord Jesus we read, “being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Phi 2:8). In other words, being found as a man, Jesus did not exalt Himself; He chose to humble Himself, to abase Himself (same word Paul uses in chapter 4:12, the only other place this word is found in Philippians in a different form). Isaiah the prophet had indeed predicted that the true Messiah would have such an humble attitude – “He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street” (Isa 42:2). When the Lord Jesus Christ came into this world the first time, He came as the humble servant of Jehovah, the suffering servant. But the day is not far when He will come to this world the second time; and He will not refrain from speaking up. “The LORD shall go forth like a mighty man; he shall stir up jealousy like a man of war; he shall cry, yea, roar; he shall prevail against his enemies” (Isa 42:13). May that day be soon! But in the meanwhile, God the Father has placed Him at His right hand of power, high above all authority, rule or principality. In sharp contrast, of the man of sin we read that he has “a mouth speaking great things” and that he “spoke very great things” and his “look was more stout than its fellows”. But alas! He speaks “words against the Most High” (Dan 7:8,20 &25). And his end is most deserving, total destruction.

According to the scriptures, the son is always the heir of all that the father possesses; and in the words of Paul we might say about every son, “but if son, heir also” (Gal 4:7). The Lord Jesus Christ has been appointed heir of all things because He is the only begotten Son of God. And to be the heir is to also be ‘lord’ of all (see this connection in Gal 4:1).  Although believers are also called “heirs of the kingdom, which he (God) has promised to them that love him” (Jam 2:5), and being children of God “heirs also: heirs of God, and Christ’s joint heirs” (Rom 8:17 – Darby’s translation), the Lord Jesus Christ is uniquely singled out as the Heir of all things seeing also that it was by Him God made all the worlds. The plural word ‘worlds’ is here used as it probably refers to the ‘ages’, which a literal translation of the word seems to imply.

The verb ‘appointed’ is in the aorist tense, which really stresses the fact of the action having taken place with no reference to time. Here we cannot do better than to quote at length from J. Barmby’s exposition of the text in the Pulpit Commentary.

J. Barmby explains

The verb is in the aorist, and here the indefinite sense of the aorist should be preserved. Two questions arise. (1) Was it in respect of his eternal Divinity, or of his manifestation in time, that the Son was appointed “Heir of all things?” (2) When is God to be conceived as so appointing him? i.e. What is the time, if any, to be assigned to the indefinite aorist? 

In answer to question
(1) the second alternative is to be preferred. For (a) his eternal pre-existence has not yet been touched upon: it is introduced, as it were parenthetically, in the next and following clauses. (b) Though the term Son is legitimately used in theology to denote the eternal relation to the Father expressed by the logos of St. John, yet its application in this Epistle and in the New Testament generally (excepting, perhaps, the monogenes huios peculiar to St. John, on which see Bull, ‘Jud. Eccl. Cath.,’ 5:4, etc.), is to the Word made flesh, to the Son as manifested in the Christ. And hence it is to him as such that we may conclude the heirship to be here assigned. (c) This is the view carried out in the sequel of the Epistle, where the SON is represented as attaining the universal dominion assigned to him after, and in consequence of, his human obedience. The conclusion of the exordium in itself expresses this; for it is not till after he had made purification of sins that he is said to have “sat down,” etc.; i.e. entered on his inheritance; having become (genomenos not oon) “so much better,” etc. This is the view of Chrysostom, Theodoret, and the Fathers generally (cf. the cognate passage, Philippians 2:9).
(2) It seems best to refer the aorist etheeke, not to any definite time, as that of the prophetic utterances afterwards cited, or that of the actual exaltation of Christ, but indefinitely to the eternal counsels, which were indeed declared and fulfilled in time, but were themselves enarchee. A similar use of the aorist, coupled with other aorists pointing to events in time, is found in Romans 8:29, 30.

According to Barmby, the Son was appointed heir of all things with respect to His manifestation in time. Secondly, this appointment seems to be referring to the eternal councils of God, hence the aorist tense of the verb ‘appoint’.

God has not only appointed the Son heir of all things, He also made the worlds through Him. This word ‘made’ is the same word used in the LXX in Genesis 1:1 “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth”. Darby has the word translated ‘created’ in Hebrews 1:2 giving it thus “through who he created the universe”. The word itself simply means to ‘do something’ or to ‘make something’. Interestingly, in the book of Hebrews this word in the Greek occurs only one other time; in Hebrews 7:27 “Who 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”. It’s almost as if the Spirit of God wishes to emphasise these two acts in this book, and they both are performed by the Lord Jesus Christ, and besides, they are both accomplished by the Spirit of God! (see Job 26:13 & Heb 9:14) The Lord sacrificing Himself as the perfect sacrifice was not any less spectacular than His creating the universe. It is He who alone could perform both acts, and that with perfection. What a glorious God we worship; not just a God who created this universe out of nothing but is also able, and willing too, to redeem us by the sacrifice of Himself!

The writer to the Hebrews makes it clear that the God who created the heavens and the earth, with which creation the Old Testament Scriptures begin, created them through (Gk. Dia) the Son. Therefore the Son could not be anything less than Divine, could not be less than God Himself. Indeed, in the following verse the writer expands further upon this, which we shall look into shortly. The word in the Greek that is here translated ‘worlds’ is not the usual word kosmos. And this word kosmos occurs in Hebrews only once in 11:38 in this form, “of whom the world was not worthy...” This word kosmos usually refers more to the inhabited world, this earth dwelt by men. Whereas the word used in 1:2 is the word aion. This usually refers to, and if often translated, ages. For example Heb 13:8 says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and to-day, and to the ages to come” (Darby’s translation). Again in verse 21 of this same chapter we read “ whom be glory for the ages of ages” (Darby’s translation. The KJV however translates it with the word ‘for ever’).

Whereas in Genesis 1:1 the emphasis really is the world of men and the heavens above that were created, in Hebrews 1:2 the emphasis is on the Son creating the ages – past, present and future! He has created all of them. And no wonder, for He alone is able to carry it, bear it and upholding it carry it forward; as mentioned in the following verse.

Beloved, what comfort these words should minister to our fearful hearts. He who is the creator and upholder of all things, all ages, past, present and future, throughout which ages all Glory will be unto Him, He is our Lord and our God. Need we worry about the present or the future? We know not what the future holds, but we know Him who holds the future! Our Lord is able to carry us through. May we ever and always find our hearts resting in Him, in Him alone who is our present and our future.