"...if anyone makes the assistance of grace depend on the humility or obedience of man and does not agree that it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble, he contradicts the Apostle who says, "What have you that you did not receive?" (1 Cor. 4:7), and, "But by the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10). (Council of Orange: Canon 6)


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  • « Psalm 1 | Main | Two Recent Stories from the United Kingdom »

    The Hidden Treasure (3 -- Finding the Gold: C. A Survey of the Fields in Which it is to be Sought)

    In the art of prospecting for gold, it must ever be kept in mind that, according to the various natures of the fields in which one is searching, the nature of the processes employed must be adapted. When gold is sought from the flowing streams, a steady hand and discerning eye must be taken advantage of, and through the patient perseverance of the seeker, many precious nuggets might be panned out from the midst of the worthless bits of sand and rock. But the deep mines want a strong arm and energetic pick, which might extend the tunnels many miles into the bosom of the earth, and find out the deepest veins hidden far away from the surface. So is it with the labor of seeking the gospel-gold from the fields of God’s word: that pursuit which might be successful in the histories will little profit in the psalms. The method most likely to obtain good results in the prophets will advance but little in the proverbs. A thorough knowledge of the diverse fields in which one is working, and the strategies best adapted for those fields, must always be remembered

    And such is the manifold wonder of the divine wisdom of revelation, that the fields which stretch out before us are richly and marvelously diverse indeed! Consider the different and complementary natures of some of the following scripture-fields:

    In Genesis, we find the necessary background and context given for all that is to follow, and the structured ordering of the stage upon which world history is to be played out. The gold in this field lies like great nuggets upon the surface, which can be marked out better from on high, as if one were to survey the whole with the eye of an eagle, than from the narrow confines of a few verses or chapters. Here, we see the creation of man by the mighty Word of God, his fall, brought about by the deception of the Serpent, who would become his arch-enemy for all the drama, and the first promise of the mighty, conquering Hero, the woman’s Seed. We see the results of man’s first rebellion, how it plunges the entire race into such a state of miserable depravity that his condition is well-nigh hopeless, and the mighty wrath of God that it finally calls down after his patience has been exhausted, destroying the entire world. We see the sovereign grace of God in calling out one man and his family, preserving them from his wrath by hiding them in the bosom of the ark (that notable type of Christ), which passes through the waters of God’s judgment unscathed. We see that, for all man’s wickedness, God’s purpose for him to rule the earth has not been abandoned, and so his original mandate is given to Noah again, in the new earth that he inherits. We see how men’s intention of accomplishing that goal through their own labors is frustrated, and results in their being scattered abroad and confused in their speech; but how God has determined to accomplish the reverse through his own plan, calling out a man through whose Seed all the nations of earth would be gathered together again. We see the promise given to him of a return to Paradise, how he wanders about in the promised land of God’s presence as a sojourner for many years, how God brings about the promised heir through the miracle of his life-giving power, how through him he builds a nation in the midst of the cruel world power of Egypt. In short, we see a stage set which accounts minutely for every nation on earth, and marks out the boundaries of their habitation; and reveals how, from all those nations, a people would be gathered together in one promised Seed, and make their pilgrimage back to the paradise that their forefather had lost; while the rest of the world would remain scattered and driven out from this paradise, and would vent their rage and frustration on God’s people, but to no avail.

    In the rest of the Pentateuch, we must begin to carve out deep mines, and follow the gold through the veins of the intricate types and shadows which constitute the chief mode of instruction for that era. In the histories, we see many notable examples of how the promised Seed should accomplish deliverance for his people, bringing them through the Red Sea of God’s judgment unscathed, while thereby destroying all their enemies; preserving them through the wilderness where they must wander before they reach home, with the water that flows freely from the Rock, and the bread that comes down from heaven; and guiding them with his presence, as the pillar of cloud and fire. We see in the types of the sacrificial system many wonderful things about our Savior, who should bear our sins, undergo our punishment, provide for our forgiveness, bring us back into God’s presence, spread out before us a joyful feast in fellowship with God, sustained by his own sacrificial body, and draw out from our willing hands the sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving. We see in the laws of clean and unclean, and the arrangement of the tabernacle, the utter holiness of God, and the holiness that we should have to partake of, by a separation from all that is sinful and impure, before we can be found in his presence. We see in the price of redemption a type of Jesus’ purchasing us with the price of his own blood, and many other things besides, which time forbids us now to elaborate upon.

    In Joshua, we note how God does in fact bring his people back into the promised land of his presence, driving out and vanquishing all their enemies, through the victorious presence of the Captain of the Lord’s hosts, the Angel of the Lord, who is Christ. In the book of the Judges, we stumble into a dry and dusty land, where the gold is all but lost in the midst of the sands of depravity and defeat, but which is therefore all the more beautiful when panned out with a patient hand. Even as a backdrop of black velvet sets off the resplendent luster of a beautiful diamond, so the failure of God’s people shows forth in greater splendor the freeness of his grace, and the typical judges shine with a more beautiful and encouraging light.

    In Ruth, we are reminded of the ultimate plan of God to bring together all peoples into the nation that would arise from Abraham’s seed, and we see a most precious and intimate glimpse of our Husband and Kinsman-Redeemer; and there, another link in the golden chain which should issue forth in the Messiah is forged.

    In the following stories of the kings of Israel, we see the typical history of God’s people climax in the brilliant reigns of kings David and Solomon, the two most notable types of the Savior in all the Old Testament; and then, just as the moon, when it has become full, immediately begins slowly to wane, so we see this mighty kingdom falter by degrees, and end in the utmost calamity; and thus, the first tragic act, which both prepares the way for God’s coming Messiah, and whispers his story ahead of time, comes to its conclusion.

    But out of the ashes of utter defeat arises the dawn of a new and golden era, which only begins by slow degrees, but promises ultimate victory. And a new tabernacle, although humbler than the first, hints at the greater glory it should finally bear, for it will see God’s true presence, not just typified in the shekinah glory, but in all its fullness bodily, when the Messiah finally arises to walk in its courts. Such is the forward-looking and hopeful story of Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther.

    As we approach the great poetic portions of the bible, we are coming into a very different kind of field indeed. These nuggets are so rich and manifold that they must be held in many different lights to be appreciated, and their marvelous facets sparkle with a thousand different comforts. There, we hear the psalmists singing to God the Father through the Messiah, or else singing to the Messiah, or crying out for deliverance on the basis of their union with the Messiah; or sometimes we hear the Messiah singing through them, and pouring out his own soul to God, for the calamities that should come upon him, undeserved though they be, on the occasion of similar and typical circumstances which happened in the lives of the psalmists. Ah, here the spirit of prophecy paints a portrait of Jesus which can be seen only by his beloved bride, and which has not failed to thrill her soul throughout the ages.

    Likewise in Job we see many precious glimpses of the coming Redeemer who should rise from the dead; and also, of the role that the Enemy should play in the drama, always raging against God and his people, but so chained by God that in his very ragings, he accomplishes God’s own good purposes in calling out and purifying a people. Here also we meet with that precious truth that, the one who suffers at the hands of the devil, yes, and at God’s hand himself, is not necessarily therefore evil; and in this one point, we have the truth of the gospel, that Jesus, being righteous, should suffer for no wrong of his own (and also that those who are his might follow in the same footsteps), most positively established.

    In Proverbs, we see Christ as the manifold Wisdom of God, who holds forth every good thing to the one who seeks him, in the gospel; but his rival, the whore of this world, offers the many lesser and deceptive pleasures of fornication, laziness, gluttony, etc., to turn aside the hearts of the simple. We see, moreover, how we ought to frame our lives in every detail, so as to be like him whom we love, the all-good Christ. Then, in Ecclesiastes, we see the futility of all things cursed and earthly, and are counseled to look ahead to a different time, when God will bring all things into judgment, and destroying the works of vanity, give joy only to the righteous in Christ. In the Song of Solomon, we encounter, through the type of Solomon’s great love for his Shulamite bride, the eternal love between Christ and the Church.

    In the prophets, we are reminded again of the unity of revelation, as they take up only the themes that already inhered in the Mosaic Law, and apply them to the situations of their day, emphasizing God’s eternal covenant with his people, and calling down the judgment and exile which God’s injured law demanded. But just as the fierceness of the law becomes more pronounced in their day, so the free gospel-gold of the work of the Christ shines the more clearly, as the gracious restoration is many times announced, the universal expansion of the Kingdom is much anticipated, and the circumstances surrounding the coming of the promised Seed are revealed in ever clearer terms.

    Then, in the gospels, we have the very heart of divine revelation, which beats life into the rest, so that, if all that came before were fields rich in gold, this is pure and polished gold itself, and the mother lode to which every other vein must be traced. Here, all the types find their fulfillment, and all the histories are recapitulated in the life of One who trades victory and perfection for all the flaws and failures that had come before; here we see every promise fulfilled, every purpose accomplished, and every victory won. Here is the central moment of all history, the very reason for the creation of mankind, and the reward that will satisfy us with its inexhaustible depths for unnumbered ages.

    In Acts, we have the history of God’s newly restored and recreated people, now brought together from every nation in Christ, the Seed of Abraham, and we see how she begins to spread across the earth, this time with the certain hope of victory. The epistles not only contain much fine gold themselves, but they take up and brush off the gold that had been hidden in the fields before, and arrange it before our eyes in an orderly fashion, so that, if one would become rich in the Old Testament treasure, he ought first to begin in the New Testament treasuries, and take his example from there.

    And finally, in Revelation, the last chapter of God’s great saga concludes: the Lamb who once came meek and mild, to bear the sins of his people, will return in raging fury to destroy all his enemies. The fruits of his great accomplishment will be gleaned from all the fields of the world, and then the end will come. Here, the paradise that was lost will be regained, all that was cursed will be done away, and the mighty God-Man, for whose sake all history was designed, will enjoy the rewards of the great victory of the ages, a universal people to sing his praise and dwell before him in love and unity forevermore.

    Thus we have but hinted at the manifold means by which God has hidden the rich and satisfying gold of the knowledge of his Christ in the pages of revelation: let us up and be digging, for there is much more to be had, such as will satisfy our souls as with a sumptuous feast, and intoxicate our hearts with pleasure, as with the finest of well-aged wines! If we would be rich, all the gold we can carry away is ours to be had for the taking, if we will only arise to gather it up.

    Posted by Nathan on February 15, 2008 08:13 PM


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