Hebrews 9: 26 from “But now”; 3: 1
1 Timothy 3: 16
These three scriptures have been before me over the last week or so, in different contexts, and I had not particularly thought to speak about them tonight, but our hymn suggests to me that perhaps they link together. There is a line in the hymn, 211, that speaks of Christ in relation to God:
As the Man of all Thy counsels,
Who the universe will fill.
These scriptures are all very profound in their own way, and I do not know that I can say very much as to them, but I would like to draw them to our attention for our contemplation. In particular I would point to that scripture in Hebrews 3, “consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Jesus”. He is the One who is the Pinnacle of everything, the Centre of everything for God and the Centre of everything for man. He is the Centre of the universe and will fill that universe; and, we might say, He is the Centre of time as well.
This scripture in Hebrews 9 has often attracted me, “But now once in the consummation of the ages”. Think of the immensity of that: up until the point of the coming in of the Lord Jesus there had been some four thousand years or so, not allowing for what there may have been in the gap between the two verses at the beginning of Genesis 1; and then there have been the two thousand years since the death of Jesus. Think of all of that and all ages to come that you could consider, all brought together; and then consider that, just once in the whole of that period, the Lord Jesus “has been manifested for the putting away of sin by his sacrifice”. For just thirty-three and a half years there was a Man here perfectly in accord with the entire thoughts of God. We were impressed on Lord’s day with the perfection of One who was able to fully reveal the thoughts of God. More than that, the linkage between the scriptures where I read tonight is that He was God, manifest in flesh. What a thought that is! How impressive to think of that, and that He is also “the Apostle and High Priest of our confession”. As I understand it, as Apostle He revealed everything that there is to be revealed of God in coming out; and as High Priest He goes in taking in everything that is perfect and complete for God. He will fill the universe for Him. What a thought that is! What a perfect Man He is! Perfect, divine, yes, but a perfect Man, One who was God manifest in flesh. Think of the immensity of God’s thoughts, even just in that way, that God Himself should be manifested in flesh, “now once in the consummation of the ages”. Never before had such a thing happened, never before had God been fully made known, never before had there been such an Apostle, never before the incoming of Christ had there been such a representation of God. But once He had come out, He had come out as Apostle and the nature of God has been declared. Yet He has gone in, gone in as High Priest, gone in to ensure that there is a full and complete response to God that is in accord with the greatness of the revelation of God. Think of the greatness of that! “Once in the consummation of the ages”. His life was short, thirty-three and a half years, most of which we know nothing about. We know so little about what happened in those years between the incoming of the Lord as a lowly Babe and His service here, and then His death on the cross, but in all of that period there was a perfect Man here for the pleasure and will of God.
“Once in the consummation of the ages”: never before or since has there been such a perfect representation of God here, or a Man here so in accord with the will of God. In 1 Timothy it says, "God has been manifested in flesh"). It is part of the mystery of piety, the mystery of godliness. As I understand it, the thought of the mystery is not exactly something that we search out. It is something that we are initiated into, as we grow in our spirituality or as we are brought into it, and the mystery of piety, the mystery of godliness, is summed up in these words that Paul uses to Timothy. They are so profound in each line, “God has been manifested in flesh”. Think of the magnificence of that! God’s thoughts, as we have been reminded, are so much higher than our thoughts. God has taken a way that is beyond our comprehension, that He, “dwelling in unapproachable light; whom no man has seen” (1 Tim 6: 16), should find a way of coming into this scene, of coming into His own creation in a way which would not destroy His creation in so doing. Think of God finding a way of doing that, speaking reverently, by being manifested in flesh, coming in in a way that was attractive, coming in in a way that was not threatening to men but in which men could see in One like unto themselves, sin apart, the fulness of God’s nature. What fulness that is: “the effulgence of his glory and the expression of his substance” (Heb 1: 3) there in a Man, the One in whom “all the fulness of the Godhead was pleased to dwell”, Col 1: 19. Think of that! “God has been manifested in flesh, has been justified in the Spirit, has appeared to angels, has been preached among the nations”. So that there is an opportunity for all to appreciate Him; it is not restricted to those who were there at that time, “the consummation of the ages”, but everyone of all ages and times can be brought to God by the glory of that One who came in and who died, who offered Himself as a perfect Sacrifice, once offered Himself as a Sacrifice, Rom 3: 25-26. What a thought that is! Then He “has been believed on in the world, has been received up in glory”. Think of Him being received up in glory at the end of that brief period of His life: think of the Lord Jesus being received up in glory, there to fill the universe for God. What a thought that is! The “consummation of the ages”, the climax, that single, brief period on earth when everything was brought together in a single Man, a perfect Man, “God … manifested in flesh”, “the Apostle and High Priest of our confession”, what a wonderful contemplation that is. As the writer says in Hebrews, “consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Jesus”.
Well, I leave these thoughts with the brethren for our contemplation and to stimulate our greater praise and worship. For His Name’s sake.
4th January 2011