God With Us
HIS name shall be called Immanuel, . . .
God with us." "The light of the knowledge of the glory of God" is seen
"in the face of Jesus Christ." From the days of eternity the Lord Jesus Christ
was one with the Father; He was "the image of God," the image of His greatness
and majesty, "the outshining of His glory." It was to manifest this glory that
He came to our world. To this sin-darkened earth He came to reveal the light of God's
love,--to be "God with us." Therefore it was prophesied of Him, "His name
shall be called Immanuel."
By coming to dwell with us,
Jesus was to reveal God both to men and to angels. He was the Word of God,--God's thought
made audible. In His prayer for His disciples He says, "I have declared unto them Thy
name,"--"merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and
truth,"--"that the love wherewith Thou hast loved Me may be in them, and I in
them." But not alone for His earthborn children was this revelation given. Our little
world is the lesson book of the universe. God's wonderful purpose of grace, the mystery of
redeeming love, is the theme into which "angels desire to look," and it will be
their study throughout endless ages. Both the redeemed
and the unfallen beings will find
in the cross of Christ their science and their song. It will be seen that the glory
shining in the face of Jesus is the glory of self-sacrificing love. In the light from
Calvary it will be seen that the law of self-renouncing love is the law of life for earth
and heaven; that the love which "seeketh not her own" has its source in the
heart of God; and that in the meek and lowly One is manifested the character of Him who
dwelleth in the light which no man can approach unto.
In the beginning, God was
revealed in all the works of creation. It was Christ that spread the heavens, and laid the
foundations of the earth. It was His hand that hung the worlds in space, and fashioned the
flowers of the field. "His strength setteth fast the mountains." "The sea
is His, and He made it." Ps. 65:6; 95:5. It was He that filled the earth with beauty,
and the air with song. And upon all things in earth, and air, and sky, He wrote the
message of the Father's love.
Now sin has marred God's
perfect work, yet that handwriting remains. Even now all created things declare the glory
of His excellence. There is nothing, save the selfish heart of man, that lives unto
itself. No bird that cleaves the air, no animal that moves upon the ground, but ministers
to some other life. There is no leaf of the forest, or lowly blade of grass, but has its
ministry. Every tree and shrub and leaf pours forth that element of life without which
neither man nor animal could live; and man and animal, in turn, minister to the life of
tree and shrub and leaf. The flowers breathe fragrance and unfold their beauty in blessing
to the world. The sun sheds its light to gladden a thousand worlds. The ocean, itself the
source of all our springs and fountains, receives the streams from every land, but takes
to give. The mists ascending from its bosom fall in showers to water the earth, that it
may bring forth and bud.
The angels of glory find
their joy in giving,--giving love and tireless watchcare to souls that are fallen and
unholy. Heavenly beings woo the hearts of men; they bring to this dark world light from
the courts above; by gentle and patient ministry they move upon the human spirit, to bring
the lost into a fellowship with Christ which is even closer than they themselves can know.
But turning from all lesser
representations, we behold God in Jesus. Looking unto Jesus we see that it is the glory of
our God to give. "I do nothing of Myself," said Christ; "the living Father
hath sent Me, and I live by the Father." "I seek not Mine own glory," but
the glory of Him that sent Me. John 8:28; 6:57; 8:50; 7:18. In these words is set forth
the great principle which is the law of life for the universe. All things Christ received
from God, but He took to give. So in the heavenly courts, in His ministry for all created
beings: through the beloved Son, the Father's life flows out to all; through the Son it
returns, in praise and joyous service, a tide of love, to the great Source of all. And
thus through Christ the circuit of beneficence is complete, representing the character of
the great Giver, the law of life.
In heaven itself this law was
broken. Sin originated in self-seeking. Lucifer, the covering cherub, desired to be first
in heaven. He sought to gain control of heavenly beings, to draw them away from their
Creator, and to win their homage to himself. Therefore he misrepresented God,
attributing to Him the desire for self-exaltation. With his own evil characteristics he
sought to invest the loving Creator. Thus he deceived angels. Thus he deceived men. He led
them to doubt the word of God, and to distrust His goodness. Because God is a God of
justice and terrible majesty, Satan caused them to look upon Him as severe and
unforgiving. Thus he drew men to join him in rebellion against God, and the night of woe
settled down upon the world.
The earth was dark through
misapprehension of God. That the gloomy shadows might be lightened, that the world might
be brought back to God, Satan's deceptive power was to be broken. This could not be done
by force. The exercise of force is contrary to the principles of God's government; He
desires only the service of love; and love cannot be commanded; it cannot be won by force
or authority. Only by love is love awakened. To know God is to love Him; His character
must be manifested in contrast to the character of Satan. This work only one Being in all
the universe could do. Only He who knew the height and depth of the love of God could make
it known. Upon the world's dark night the Sun of Righteousness must rise, "with
healing in His wings." Mal. 4:2.
The plan for our redemption
was not an afterthought, a plan formulated after the fall of Adam. It was a revelation of
"the mystery which hath been kept in silence through times eternal." Rom. 16:25,
R. V. It was an unfolding of the principles that from eternal ages have been the
foundation of God's throne. From the beginning, God and Christ knew of the apostasy of
Satan, and of the fall of man through the deceptive power of the apostate. God did not
ordain that sin should exist, but He foresaw its existence, and made provision to meet the
terrible emergency. So great was His love for the world, that He covenanted to give His
only-begotten Son, "that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have
everlasting life." John 3:16.
Lucifer had said, "I
will exalt my throne above the stars of God; . . . I will be like the Most High."
Isa. 14:13, 14. But Christ, "being in the form of God, counted it not a thing to be
grasped to be on an equality with God, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant,
being made in the likeness of men." Phil. 2:6, 7, R. V., margin.
This was a voluntary
sacrifice. Jesus might have remained at the Father's side. He might have retained the
glory of heaven, and the homage of the angels. But He chose to give back the scepter into
the Father's hands, and to step down from the throne of the universe, that He might bring
light to the benighted, and life to the perishing.
Nearly two thousand years
ago, a voice of mysterious import was heard in heaven, from the throne of God, "Lo, I
come." "Sacrifice and offering Thou wouldest not, but a body hast Thou prepared
Me. . . . Lo, I come (in the volume of the Book it is written of Me,) to do Thy will, O
God." Heb. 10:5-7. In these words is announced the fulfillment of the purpose that
had been hidden from eternal ages. Christ was about to visit our world, and to become
incarnate. He says, "A body hast Thou prepared Me." Had He appeared with the
glory that was His with the Father before the world was, we could not have endured the
light of His presence. That we might behold it and not be destroyed, the manifestation of
His glory was shrouded. His divinity was veiled with humanity,--the invisible glory in the
visible human form.
This great purpose had been
shadowed forth in types and symbols. The burning bush, in which Christ appeared to Moses,
revealed God. The symbol chosen for the representation of the Deity was a lowly shrub,
that seemingly had no attractions. This enshrined the Infinite. The all-merciful God
shrouded His glory in a most humble type, that Moses could look upon it and live. So in
the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night, God communicated with Israel,
revealing to men His will, and imparting to them His grace. God's glory was subdued, and
His majesty veiled, that the weak vision of finite men might behold it. So Christ was to
come in "the body of our humiliation" (Phil. 3:21, R. V.), "in the likeness
of men." In the eyes of the world He possessed no beauty that they should desire Him;
yet He was the incarnate God, the light of heaven and earth. His glory was veiled, His
greatness and majesty were hidden, that He might draw near to sorrowful, tempted men.
God commanded Moses for
Israel, "Let them make Me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them" (Ex. 25:8),
and He abode in the sanctuary, in the midst of His people. Through all their weary
wandering in the desert, the symbol of His presence was with them. So Christ set up His
tabernacle in the midst of our human encampment. He pitched His tent by the side of the
tents of men, that He might dwell among us, and make us familiar with His divine character
and life. "The Word became flesh, and tabernacled among us (and we beheld His glory,
glory as of
the Only Begotten from the Father), full of grace and truth." John 1:14,
R. V., margin.
Since Jesus came to dwell
with us, we know that God is acquainted with our trials, and sympathizes with our griefs.
Every son and daughter of Adam may understand that our Creator is the friend of sinners.
For in every doctrine of grace, every promise of joy, every deed of love, every divine
attraction presented in the Saviour's life on earth, we see "God with us."
Satan represents God's law of
love as a law of selfishness. He declares that it is impossible for us to obey its
precepts. The fall of our first parents, with all the woe that has resulted, he charges
upon the Creator, leading men to look upon God as the author of sin, and suffering, and
death. Jesus was to unveil this deception. As one of us He was to give an example of
obedience. For this He took upon Himself our nature, and passed through our experiences.
"In all things it behooved Him to be made like unto His brethren." Heb. 2:17. If
we had to bear anything which Jesus did not endure, then upon this point Satan would
represent the power of God as insufficient for us. Therefore Jesus was "in all points
tempted like as we are." Heb. 4:15. He endured every trial to which we are subject.
And He exercised in His own behalf no power that is not freely offered to us. As man, He
met temptation, and overcame in the strength given Him from God. He says, "I delight
to do Thy will, O My God: yea, Thy law is within My heart." Ps. 40:8. As He went
about doing good, and healing all who were afflicted by Satan, He made plain to men the
character of God's law and the nature of His service. His life testifies that it is
possible for us also to obey the law of God.
By His humanity, Christ
touched humanity; by His divinity, He lays hold upon the throne of God. As the Son of man,
He gave us an example of obedience; as the Son of God, He gives us power to obey. It was
Christ who from the bush on Mount Horeb spoke to Moses saying, "I Am That I Am. . . .
Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I Am hath sent me unto you." Ex.
3:14. This was the pledge of Israel's deliverance. So when He came "in the likeness
of men," He declared Himself the I Am. The Child of Bethlehem, the meek and lowly
Saviour, is God "manifest in the flesh." 1 Tim. 3:16. And to us He says: "I
Am the Good Shepherd." "I Am the living Bread." "I Am the Way, the
Truth, and the Life." "All power is given
unto Me in heaven and in earth."
John 10:11; 6:51; 14:6; Matt. 28:18. I Am the assurance of every promise. I Am; be not
afraid. "God with us" is the surety of our deliverance from sin, the assurance
of our power to obey the law of heaven.
In stooping to take upon
Himself humanity, Christ revealed a character the opposite of the character of Satan. But
He stepped still lower in the path of humiliation. "Being found in fashion as a man,
He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross."
Phil. 2:8. As the high priest laid aside his gorgeous pontifical robes, and officiated in
the white linen dress of the common priest, so Christ took the form of a servant, and
offered sacrifice, Himself the priest, Himself the victim. "He was wounded for our
transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon
Him." Isa. 53:5.
Christ was treated as we
deserve, that we might be treated as He deserves. He was condemned for our sins, in which
He had no share, that we might be justified by His righteousness, in which we had no
share. He suffered the death which was ours, that we might receive the life which was His.
"With His stripes we are healed."
By His life and His death,
Christ has achieved even more than recovery from the ruin wrought through sin. It was
Satan's purpose to bring about an eternal separation between God and man; but in Christ we
become more closely united to God than if we had never fallen. In taking our nature, the
Saviour has bound Himself to humanity by a tie that is never to be broken. Through the
eternal ages He is linked with us. "God so loved the world, that He gave His
only-begotten Son." John 3:16. He gave Him not only to bear our sins, and to die as
our sacrifice; He gave Him to the fallen race. To assure us of His immutable counsel of
peace, God gave His only-begotten Son to become one of the human family, forever to retain
His human nature. This is the pledge that God will fulfill His word. "Unto us a child
is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder." God
has adopted human nature in the person of His Son, and has carried the same into the
highest heaven. It is the "Son of man" who shares the throne of the universe. It
is the "Son of man" whose name shall be called, "Wonderful, Counselor, The
mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace." Isa. 9:6. The I Am is the
Daysman between God and humanity, laying His hand upon both. He who is "holy,
harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners," is not ashamed to call us brethren. Heb.
7:26; 2:11. In Christ the family of earth and the family of heaven are
Christ glorified is our brother. Heaven is enshrined in humanity, and humanity is enfolded
in the bosom of Infinite Love.
Of His people God says,
"They shall be as the stones of a crown, lifted up as an ensign upon His land. For
how great is His goodness, and how great is His beauty!" Zech. 9:16, 17. The
exaltation of the redeemed will be an eternal testimony to God's mercy. "In the ages
to come," He will "show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward
us through Christ Jesus." "To the intent that . . . unto the principalities and
the powers in the heavenly places might be made known . . . the manifold wisdom of God,
according to the eternal purpose which He purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord." Eph.
2:7; 3:10, 11, R. V.
Through Christ's redeeming
work the government of God stands justified. The Omnipotent One is made known as the God
of love. Satan's charges are refuted, and his character unveiled. Rebellion can never
again arise. Sin can never again enter the universe. Through eternal ages all are secure
from apostasy. By love's self-sacrifice, the inhabitants of earth and heaven are bound to
their Creator in bonds of indissoluble union.
The work of redemption will
be complete. In the place where sin abounded, God's grace much more abounds. The earth
itself, the very field that Satan claims as his, is to be not only ransomed but exalted.
Our little world, under the curse of sin the one dark blot in His glorious creation, will
be honored above all other worlds in the universe of God. Here, where the Son of God
tabernacled in humanity; where the King of glory lived and suffered and died,--here, when
He shall make all things new, the tabernacle of God shall be with men, "and He will
dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them, and be
their God." And through endless ages as the redeemed walk in the light of the Lord,
they will praise Him for His unspeakable Gift,-- Immanuel, "God with us."