The Redeemer And The Redeemed
A Petition as yet unanswered
“Redeem Israel, O God, out of all his troubles” (Ps.25:22)
If you know anything about what is going on in the earth you will know there are plenty of troubles, and probably you have heard people say, ‘The great trouble spot at the present moment’ (and we who believe the Bible anticipate that it will be a far greater trouble spot in the future) ‘is Israel’. The Jews have returned to the
What about this prayer of David, “Redeem Israel, O God, out of all his troubles”? That is what people say today, ‘if there is a God in heaven why does He not do something about it? Why is it that the world goes on like this?’ If we know something about ancient history we know about all the atrocities, all the evil, the massacres and the fighting, and if we take all the fighting out of our history books there would not be very much left to talk about! The history of mankind is a history of troubles.
So David, who was raised up of God and was a very remarkable monarch, was inspired of God to utter this cry, “Redeem Israel, O God, out of all his troubles”. We might say, ‘Why has God not answered it?' Well, because there is another matter that underlies the troubles which is the real source of all the misery. A long time ago I read an old book giving reminiscences of about 200 years ago when John Wesley was riding about the country on horseback and preaching the gospel. There was a rather eccentric doctor at that time who visited a sick man, and when he walked into the room, the man said, ‘I am sick of your nasty syrups and your worthless pills, why do you not strike at the root of all my pain and suffering that I endure?’ The doctor replied, ‘It shall be done’, and he smashed a great bottle of gin that was standing on the side of the bed! He had the courage and the candour to strike at the root of the man’s problem. This story has always remained with me. We tend to dabble about with the surface symptoms and forget the underlying root of all the trouble. The man was not a drunkard but his drinking was neutralising the efforts of the well meaning doctor for his relief. Can we point to what is the root of the world’s trouble? Yes, we can, it is iniquity.
“Let Israel hope in the Lord: for with the Lord there is mercy, and with him is plenteous redemption. And he shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities.” (Ps.130:7-8)
This scripture is a prediction. Has it been fulfilled? In part, yes, but not completely. Now you will say, ‘What do you mean by that?’ What I mean is this, as we shall see in a moment, the great necessary work on which the redemption of poor Israel from all their iniquities will be accomplished, has been done, but it has not yet been applied in all its fullness (although it will be in a coming day). The moment will come when we shall see Israel redeemed from his troubles because he will be redeemed from his iniquities, or sins. This sin underlies the troubles. That is what we gospel preachers have to talk about, that is what lies at the root of all the troubles in the earth, sin. What is this sin? We are told plainly that “sin is lawlessness” (1 John 3:4, J.N.D.). Sin is man ‘kicking over the traces’, refusing subjection to the higher power. Sin came in at the beginning of man’s history when man broke free from the control of the Creator. The Creator knows very well how to run affairs in the earth, the fact is that man does not. He has been trying to do so for thousands of years and is no nearer the solution. The earth is no nearer settling down to perfect quietness and order than it was two thousand or four thousand years ago. No, the reason is because of sin. The words of Psalm 130 are an assertion (not a prayer), we are looking on into the future, God shall redeem Israel, but how?
“Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: but your iniquities have separated between you and your God” (Isa.59:1-2a)
This shows clearly the importance of redemption from sin. Sin drives in a wedge between man and God, between the creature and the Creator. My dear friends, let us leave the world’s affairs, it is difficult to govern oneself let alone the world. Let us come down to each one of us in our single experience, the individual. What is true of the world at large, or of the nation is true of the individual, true of me and true of you. Sin separates from God. That is what the gospel is talking about, we are talking about these deep fundamental things. Tinkering with mere surface details will not work, we must come to the root of all the troubles, all the sorrows, all the misery, all the contention, all the strifes and the strivings, to sin which separates man from God. I am talking now to those who do not yet know God. What a wonderful thing it is to be brought back into the presence of God in peace because in righteousness, but let us never forget that if God is going to redeem Israel from her sins and her iniquities (which He is), He has to do the same thing for each one of us, and the fact remains that sin separates from God. You will never be divinely happy until you know God, until you are right with God, until you are put before Him in a new relationship which is that into which every true Christian is introduced.
Now having read those three verses, the petition “save us from our troubles”, the assertion of God “I will save you from your sins that cause the trouble”, and remembering that “sin separates from God”, we have to ask, ‘How can it be removed?’ To see how this can be done we must turn to the New Testament.
“And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins.” (Matt.1:21)
When the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ was announced to Joseph concerning the virgin Mary the Scripture says, “she shall bring forth a son and thou shalt call his name Jesus, for he shall save his people from their sins”. Jesus is a compound name meaning Jehovah-Saviour. When Jesus came it was the first great move in the mighty work that had to be accomplished, that there might be wrought salvation from sins - from their power in the life that is and their penalty in the life to come. Yes, we Christians know that wonderful name of Jesus, He has made God known to us and He has wrought the work which avails to the putting away of sins as a matter of judgment.
Our sins deserve eternal death, departure from God. To die in sin is to die in a state of utter alienation from God. I have said it many times, and I say it again, ‘My dear friends, if you die unconverted do not hope to go to heaven’. The first time a man in the Bible got close to heaven was Jacob when he was running away from home, he had a dream of “a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and the angels of God ascending and descending on it” (Gen.28:12), and when he awoke what did he say? Did he say, ‘How wonderful!’. No, he was afraid and he said, “How dreadful is this place! This is none other than the house of God” (v.17). It was an awful place for him to be, full of dread. Do not hope to go to heaven if you die unconverted, hell will be one degree better for you, it will be better than living in the searching light that condemns you.
My dear friend, if you do not know God, if you are unconverted, I say to you now if I did not have a care for your soul I would not say it, but I warn you, do not hope to go to heaven, because unless this sin question is solved, unless you are put right with God you have not got the nature that would like heaven. We talk about the poor fish out of water, it breathes water not air and so this state means death for it. It is not in the sphere in which it lives. If you live a sinful life in this world heaven is not the place for you, but the Lord Jesus came to deal with this great matter. He came to save His people, which does not merely mean Jews, it means those who really belong to Him, those who acknowledge Him as their Saviour, Lord and Master. If once we are brought to that, if the Lord Jesus becomes to us the Saviour who died that we might live, and our hearts bow to Him, if we confess with our mouth the Lord Jesus as our Lord, believing in our hearts that God has raised Him from the dead, we are saved and we at once become possessed of another nature which would be very much at home in heaven. Why do I say that? Well, I have another scripture, and in it I have some things to say to my brothers and sisters in Christ.
“For Christ also hath suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God” (1 Pet.3:18a)
Here is the way in which the whole question may be divinely set. Sin entails suffering, the world is full of it because sin dominates the earth. Suffering beyond the grave is entailed for those who die unconverted. Why? Because sin entails suffering. Why did Christ suffer? He suffered for sin. It is true in a certain sense that He suffered for righteousness because He was in an unrighteous world, there was a perfect man in the midst of sinful men, and they hated Him and His Father and they put Him out by way of the malefactors gibbet, the cross. But when He was thus put out by the action of sinful men something else happened, He offered Himself as the great atoning sacrifice, what Scripture calls the propitiation, that is to say, He said, in effect, ‘Let me be the One who bears the judgment and the wrath.’ How could He do it? He could do it on this universal scale because of who He really was. Had He not been the mighty Son of God, had He not been God manifest in the flesh, He could not have done it. What a wonderful thing! The God who acts in righteousness and who has to bring in judgment upon sin came in the Person of His Son into manhood to bear the judgment!
I have often told the story of the little deaf and dumb boy who saw a picture of Christ on the cross with a crowd looking on. The boy’s mother showed him this picture and said, on her fingers, ‘Willie, this is Jesus and He is dying on the cross for all these people’, and he replied, ‘Lady, but how can one die for all these?’ It was a good theological question. The mother had a bunch of dying flowers on the table and when she touched the petals they fell, and she gathered them all up and tore them up into small strips and spread them on the table. The boy watched puzzled, but when she had finished she put her wedding ring on the table and asked her boy, ‘What thing will you have on the table? The one ring or the many, many, many petals?’ It did not take him long to decide to take the one ring. ‘Why did you choose that?’ she said. ‘Because one gold ring is better than many, many petals’. When the golden Saviour, God manifest in the flesh, died He died as the sacrifice for sin, He suffered the judgment that my many sins deserved, He suffered for me. That is what you too must say. We want all of you to say that, ‘I take my place, He suffered for me, He suffered for sins. I was among the unjust ones, the many, He the one unique just One’. Why did He thus suffer? That He might bring us to God. Sin separates but the suffering Saviour unites. Sin drives the wedge between fallen man and the mighty Creator, but the Creator came down in human life, in perfection, His humanity was unique but He came into it that He might become the suffering Saviour and we who have received Him are brought to God. You will be all right in heaven if you are brought to God, but you will not be if you are not.
Let me say a word to my Christian friends. Let us ever remember this is ever the great reality that we know and enjoy, we are not brought primarily to the church or to the meeting, or into intercourse with other Christians, all these are quite subsidiary matters, they flow out of this great matter that is stated so simply in these words. What a wonderful thing it is, we who have received the Lord Jesus Christ as our Saviour and Lord are brought to God, we are put in touch with God through the sacrifice of Christ and the consequent coming of the Holy Spirit of God in a way Adam never could have been when in innocence when he walked in the garden of Eden. When God came in the cool of the evening Adam could speak to God. Alas, sin came in and he broke loose from the Creator. It was only a small matter, just as two departing trains in a station are only a small distance apart but they are on different lines, and they lead far apart.
Satan did not say to Adam and Eve, ‘Defy the Creator!’ but he induced disobedience and man sinned, and sin brought distance between man and God. Now the gospel has brought us to God, and we are brought to God in a new relationship. We are made children of God. We are endowed with a new spirit because we have the Holy Spirit of God indwelling us; we have before us fresh prospects. When life ends or when the Lord comes again and we pass into that glorified condition, we shall be there as those that are in relationship with God and who know God. We must cultivate the knowledge of God while we are here. How can we do it? An unconverted person may call out in an agony of mind, ‘O God...’, but they do not know God whereas we Christians do. Let us cultivate the habit of intercourse with God. There are many things pressing upon us, shutting up those moments of quietness where we can speak humbly in the presence of God, or read the Bible in which God speaks to us, in which, instructed by the Spirit of God, we may find God’s mind concerning us. If we want to see some blessing in our land let us see to it that we maintain spiritual contact with God Himself, made known to us in Christ.
The sin that separated us from God has been dealt with sacrificially as a matter of judgment in the great atoning death of our Saviour and so I can say to you all, you may know the peace, the rest and be able to say, ‘Yes, I was a sinner, I am not going to attempt to defend myself as before God. The more I know God the more conscious I am of little things I might have overlooked. Even in my early Christian days things strike me now as not being according to God, but the judicial question of my sins as a matter of judgment in the presence of the all mighty God is settled by the sacrifice of Christ. I can say, ‘He was delivered for my offence, He was raised again for my justification, and therefore, as a consequence of that, I am justified, cleared from all the guilt and condemnation of sin by His sacrifice, and I have peace with God’. What a wonderful thing that is.
Have all you here this evening got this peace, this settlement of the great question so that no longer need it be said of you that your sins have separated you from God? They have been dealt with by the sacrifice of Christ, they have been atoned for in the offering of Himself when He suffered for our sin and we stand cleared and at peace knowing God’s favour, the great favour in which we stand, and we can rejoice in hope in the glory of God (Rom.5). We now have a nature which will suit that glory when we enter it and the glory will suit our state, but if we are unconverted and living the life of sin in the world the glory will condemn us and we shall be utterly miserable in His presence.
I feel I have given you the simple message that seemed to be laid upon my heart. We began with the desire, “O God”, not just Israel but for all of us, ‘O God if only the poor world could be saved from all its troubles!’ Yes, but there could be no salvation from trouble until there is the settlement of sin. Sin separates from God, that must be dealt with, that is the root of all the troubles, and the blessed Lord Jesus came into the world in order that He might save His people, those who receive Him in the simplicity of faith, to whom He is Lord and Master that He might save His people from their sins and to that end He suffered for sins when He died on the cross of Calvary and He died there that this awful wedge of sin that has been driven in between us and God might be removed.
We who have received the gospel and are brought into peace with God are brought to God and in that we can rejoice. The more the world sees that we are a little bit different and that we have been brought to God and that we are walking in communion with God and in the light of God and under the power of the word of God the better Christians we shall be. We are brought to God, let us see to it, my dear Christian friends, that we maintain spiritual contact with God in prayer and by His word, let us allow His word to govern our lives. This is the life that pleases God, this is the life that has some effect for God as we pass through the world. God grant that every one of us may be brought into the wonderful privilege of knowing God through the sacrificial work of our Lord Jesus Christ.
F B Hole