Approaching unapprochable light

March 19, 2011

According to the Scriptures, the totality of the sin of the saints is said to be separated as far as the east is from the west and indeed at the bottom of the ocean and forgotten forevermore (Psalm 103:12).  But, what does this mean?  It is certainly not that we have earned a certain favor with infinite holiness that this be so.  Nor is it that we have simply grown in enough knowledge of God, the scriptures, holy things and that now we are holy and desire to be so.  How does one who is so flawed and sinful begin to utter the thought of coming boldly to the holy One who judges in perfect righteousness?

Consider the Davidic covenant in contrast to the establishment of King Saul’s reign.  Saul was the choice and handsome son of Kish (1 Sam. 9:2).  In that time, there was not a more handsome person than he among the children of Israel.  From his shoulders upward he was taller than any of the people.   In the midst of all the children and tribes of Israel, it was eternally decreed that Saul be anointed King.  Indeed the spirit of God moved Samuel to do so (1 Sam. 10:6).  It seems that Saul would be more fit than all others to fulfill the role of king over the Israelites since he was chosen by God (1 Sam. 10:19).

The rebellion of Israel during this time ultimately brought Saul to be king over the nation.  While the Israelites flounder in unbelief and fail to obey their fathers and the law of Moses, they simply requested to have a king to reign over them.  God granted their request and gave them Saul through the prophet Samuel (1 Sam. 8:6-8).  From the tribe of Benjamin, the biggest and strongest in all the land of Israel became the king and ruler of God’s people.

Saul’s unbelieving and unlawful sacrifice in the midst of the Philistine battle would very soon provoke the rebuke from God by Samuel to Saul by demonstrating that he was never truly fit to be king.  “But now your kingdom shall not continue.  The Lord has sought for Himself a man after His own heart, and the Lord has commanded him to be commander over His people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you” (1 Sam. 13:14).  So began the decline of the reign of King Saul.  He had not in mind the righteousness and holiness of God.  He ultimately cared not to please and worship God himself with his heart, mind and very life.  “Now the word of the Lord came to Samuel, saying, ‘I greatly regret that I have set up Saul as king, for he has turned back from following Me, and has not performed My commandments’” (1 Sam. 15:10-11).

Saul’s apparent brokenness over sin caused him great emotional distress due to his knowledge of rebellion in heart and what God has spoken through Samuel.  So distressed was he that he claimed to be repentant of heart and desired pardon from sin that he may worship God (1 Sam. 15:25).  Being a king in desperate need for a turn of events in his favor, Saul heard the worst possible news from the prophet of God.  “And as Samuel turned around to go away, Saul seized the edge of his robe, and it tore.  So Samuel said to him, ‘The Lord has torn the kingdom of Israel from you today, and has given it to a neighbor of yours, who is better than you” (1 Sam. 15:27-28).  Everything that seemed to be in favor of Saul in the beginning of his reign would no longer be kept, honored and blessed by God.  He proved to be an unfit, sinful, selfish, unbelieving and ultimately worthless king.  But God would soon again prove faithful to his people.

Although Saul was no longer king over Israel, the scriptures say that he continued to worship God during this time (1 Sam. 15:30-31).  Samuel, the prophet, seer and man of God, even continued to mourn the loss of Saul as king.  But, God soon comforted, rebuked and commanded Samuel to fill his horn with oil, and go to Jesse the Bethlehemite.  Soon after the consecration of Jesse and his sons, they sacrificed a heifer to the Lord.  The most seemingly unfit and unlikely of men would be chosen by God to be the anointed king of Israel.

“But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him.  For the Lord  does not see as a man sees ;  for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart” (1 Sam. 16:7).  God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise (1 Corinthians 1:27).  The small, weak and otherwise pathetic people in the world are those whom God has chosen to bear his name and wear a crown of glory.  The spirit of the Lord was with David from the day he was anointed king and indeed forevermore.

It is evident throughout history and is demonstrated through particular historical events that Yahweh is king of all creation.  David is one of the many sinful human instruments that God has used to establish his people on earth to ultimately triumph over evil and sin and into an everlasting covenant for the glory of his infinite name.  God had instilled this truth and knowledge in David so that all battles and wars to win and the lands and people to acquire were God’s according to his eternal plan and not the temporal affairs of man.  Therefore, only God’s power is able to triumph over evil and establish vindictive judgment over the unbelieving and uncircumcised nations surrounding beloved Israel.

The dichotomy is presented to all of Israel that David’s kingdom shall continually flourish and Saul shall continually grow weaker and weaker (2 Sam. 3:1).  Throughout the numerous battles between David and Saul, it is David who continually prevailed because the Lord was with him and, “gave his enemies into his hands.”    The true impotence of man is demonstrated by the events that God has orchestrated to care for and protect the children if Israel despite continual oppression, developed enemies and even the sin of Israel and David in particular.  So shall David be established with complete dominion over all his enemies.  “He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.  ‘I will be his Father, and he shall be My son.  If he commits iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men and with the blows of the sons of men.  ‘But My mercy shall not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I removed from before you.  And your house and your kingdom shall be established forever before you.  Your throne shall be established forever’” (2 Sam. 7:13-16).

When God’s people enter battle under their own strength, they shall be utterly lost and defeated without the power of Yahweh handing them their enemies.  The omnipotence, sovereignty and grace of God is perhaps most greatly displayed when man is recognized as nothing at all and “as a drop in a bucket,” compared to the holiness of the Most High.  It is when man humbles himself and made into nothing that he shall be exalted.  It is when he sees that God must be a savior in order to be a deliverer. Then his enemies will be given into his hands. David had this in mind:  “The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; The God of my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, My stronghold and my refuge; My Savior, You save me from violence.  I will call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised; So shall I be saved from my enemies (2 Sam. 22:2-4).”

Under the old covenant and the law, God wrought recompense for the sins of his enemies through condemnation and death.  This is even true for those included among the children of Israel who were not part of true Israel.  In other words, there are those who dwell among the people of God, attend worship, pray, read the scriptures and yet otherwise perish in their sins because they are ultimately enemies of God.  King David was not more or less of a sinner than any other born from women, for “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me” (Psalm 51:5).  It was David who committed adultery with Bathsheba and consequently ordered the death of her husband Uriah.  After the adulterous affair, it was David’s son who consequentially died within seven days of birth.  God was displeased with the sin of David, king of Israel and servant of the Most High (2 Sam. 11:27).

Nevertheless, it is David who was known for worshiping God freely in the spirit which even causes an envious heart in Saul’s daughter, Michal, for his intimacy with God (2 Sam. 6:14-16).  Enemies of surrounding nations, including the Philistines, were continually handed over to David.  His name was progressively made more great and famous throughout the land of Israel.  Those who read of the life of David are left only to realize the infinite power of God to glorify his own name in the midst of the most tumultuous scenarios in the lives of his people.  It is perhaps the infinite mercy of the Lord to not only give all things to David, including delivering his enemies that are greater in size and multitude, but to ultimately deliver him from the power of sin and death.  It is God’s chastisement of David’s sin that proves he is a son of God and not David’s ability or even longing to be a great king and warrior.  It was for the sake of God’s own name.  “O LORD, do not rebuke me in Your anger, Nor chasten me in Your hot displeasure.  Have mercy on me, O LORD, for I am weak; O LORD, heal me, for my bones are troubled.  My soul also is greatly troubled;  But You, O LORD-how long?  Return, O LORD, deliver me!  Oh, save me for Your mercies’ sake!  For in death there is not remembrance of You;  In the grave who will give You thanks?” (Psalm 6:1-5).

The power of indwelling and public sin casts a dark shadow upon the soul of every believer.  It has the power and ability to change the direction of one’s life and wreak havoc on daily circumstances, believer or unbeliever.  It can create seemingly unbearable and unthinkable consequences, such as Bathsheba becoming pregnant with David’s son while she is married to someone else.  The greatest and most permanent consequence of sin is death.  A sinner left to himself, like Saul as king, will only lead to destruction.  The Lord says in proverbs, “But he who sins against me wrongs his own soul; All those who hate me love death” (Proverbs 8:36).  How can we distinguish the sin of those who are sons of God and those who will go down to the Pit (Prov. 1:12)?

The gospel that Paul preached began with acknowledging the law.  It was made because of transgressions and the law in itself is good.  We would not know sin if not for the law (Romans 7:7).  However, since Adam, our federal representative fell into sin, all others, including David, have inherited it by nature. Therefore, we are not justified by the law but rather condemned.  Nor are we made right with God by trying to keep it under our own righteousness and power. “Therefore He who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you, does He do it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith” (Gal. 3:5).  Paul is suggesting something perhaps foreign and outrageous to the church at Galatia as a former teacher of the law and a pharisee of pharisees.  The biblical truth of being justified by faith is probably most greatly realized by the apostle Paul.

“Abraham believed God and it was counted to him for righteousness” (Genesis 15:6).  Both Abraham and David believed God for their righteousness because of promise.  So must we, in Christ  They also knew specifically of the righteousness and holiness of God.  So must we, in Christ. But, perhaps more precisely they believed by faith that God forgave their sins and would not remember them anymore despite the sin that they continually committed against infinite holiness.  So must we, in Christ.  All the forefathers could not manifest even by faith, “the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints” (Col. 1:26).  It is something that even angels desire to look into (1 Peter 1:12).  This mystery is also hidden from the world, from those who are are rich and well learned and from those who will not inherit the grace of eternal glory.  It is something so manifestly and unutterably glorious that it is, “according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began but now made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, for obedience to the faith” (Romans 16: 25-26).  The mystery of the gospel is realized in what we know as the covenant of grace when the now indwelling holy spirit of God enables believers to have the belief, power, knowledge and ability to obey God in Christ.

Understanding the glorious depths of the gospel comes primarily by understanding the purpose of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ given in the new birth .  Paul understood that all of the promises made by God to his people of old were ultimately fulfilled in Christ.  All of the sin of Adam, David, Israel, Moses and those who are yet to be saved must be nailed to the cross.  There is no other way to be saved from sin and the omnipotent wrath of God.  “And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still dead in your sins!” (1 Corin. 15:17).  Where the blood of calves and spotless lambs do not ultimately forgive sin, the judicial power of the blood of Christ is supremely enough to satisfy the ransom for the infinite payment required for sins.  The death of Christ satisfied the debt for sin but the resurrection of Christ turns death and all evil to life and hope.  The sinner that was once dead can now live by faith in Christ. Jesus says in the Revelation of John, “I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore” (Revelation 1:18).

Thanks be to God for all the promises of old that are completely fulfilled by Jesus Christ in the new covenant.  “For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second” (Hebews 8:7).  The writer of Hebrews explained the promise, “For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.  In that He says, ’A new covenant,’ He has made the first obsolete.  Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away” (vv.12,13).  The all-consuming majestic power of God is seen when the visible image of the invisible God in his humiliation came to be, “the cursed who hangs on a tree” (Gal. 3:13).

Now, our completely depleted account of self- righteous filthy rags is completely filled by Jesus Christ due to his perfect obedience to the law.  His righteousness is now ours because he gave or imputed it to us, by grace and infinite mercy.  Our confidence is now not how close we can obey the law (which is judicially impossible at every moment due to depravity and fallen sinful nature), but our belief by faith in what only Christ has already done for us.  Therefore, our obedience to the law is really obedience to Christ because the law is only our tutor that leads to him (Gal. 3:24).

The great name of King David was passed on through each successive generation until the new covenant, beginning with his son, King Solomon, the richest and wisest man who has ever lived and ever will live.  But, perhaps the greatest theological reality of the Davidic covenant (besides being a type of Christ and in which his direct lineage leads to the birth of Christ, Matt. 1) is that before the great name of David was the great name of Noah, Abraham and Moses.  These great men of God served and loved God with all of their hearts.  God knew them and loved them.  He called them by name and made them what they were in his sight.  Nevertheless, none of these foundational spiritual forefathers were without sin and unbelief.  One may take only one look through the scriptures at each one of these men to find that by nature they are no different than any other born from woman.  The only difference between these men and any other is that they ultimately were justified by faith, in Christ.

“I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.”  Galatians 2:21

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