January 1

 

Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever — Heb. 13:8.

 

So the apostle exclaims in the last chapter of the epistle to the Hebrews. It is surely a great consolation to the believer, at all the turns and changes of this present time, to know that Christ still lives and is the same yesterday, and today, and forever! Because of Him everything will eventually be put right, and all will be well! At the turn of the year what is more consoling or dearer to the Christian, for whom Christ is all, and in all, and what is a more suitable password or watchword for the New Year than this: Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, and today, and forever! You who know Christ, and have always known that the Lord is good; you who have experienced, tasted, and seen how sweet the Lord is, how great He is in grace and mercy, how faithful and powerful to put right all that is wrong, just think and consider, that today and always, today as well as yesterday, this year as well as the one just elapsed; and also throughout eternity He is ever the same. He cannot possibly change. He is the “Father of eternities,” utterly unchangeable. He is the same at the turn of every time and season. It is only while we are down here, within us, in our feelings, thoughts, and sensations, that alterations and changes take place. In the midst of it all Christ remains unchanged, ever the same. For instance, if we remember that He has forgiven our sins quite undeservedly, that He has made us righteous when we were quite ungodly, out of His sheer, free grace, and because of His own merit, then we know that He will do the same thing every day. If He has ever consoled us, when we were not worthy of being consoled, but in reality deserved punishment and casting away, then we realize that He still wants to console us equally undeservedly today. If we remember that He has redeemed us from distress, from sin and temptations, when we had not even the least power to set ourselves free from them, then we know that He both wants to and can do the same also today. If we can relate: At such a time I was lost, confused, and astonished, like a lost sheep, but He, the good Shepherd, sought me, moved me by His word, and brought me back, then surely we know also that in coming days He wants always to do the same. Because He is the same! “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today, and forever.” The last time has not yet come of His doing good to us! “He first loved us” (1 John 4:19). And the manner of His love toward those who belong to Him in the world, free, undeserved and from depths of His heart, is the love that will follow them to the end. Nor does this consolation belong only to our own short and limited experience. No, ever since the creation of the world, throughout all the centuries, there has been the same experience of the grace and power of our Lord Jesus Christ. “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever!” When we see how in the past He has won sinners and has forgiven them very heinous and evil deeds, we know that He will do the same for us. When He said while on earth, to a notorious sinner crying at His feet: “Thy sins are forgiven. Go in peace” (Luke 7:48); when Saul, who was “a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious,” receives full pardon and apostleship; when David, after having enjoyed great grace, still falls into very evil deeds, yet again gets the promise of grace and forgiveness, then we know that the grace of Christ our Lord has no end, that He still wants to forgive all the transgressions of all seeking Him. Yes, when we see how He never grew weary of the weakness of His disciples, but though He kept on punishing and correcting them, He never cast them away, we know also that He will never grow tired of us. And when we see how inclined He was to hear a prayer, so short, perhaps, that it consisted only of the touching of His garment, we know that He also now hears extremely short prayers. In all this we should bear in mind that even today Christ is still the same: “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever!” This is a great consolation and a fortress strong beyond description when times change, yes, and storms arise, and all grows dark around us. A Christian can still sing with joy even then: “I sit in His shadow with great delight! O Lord, Thou art my Strength, my Rock, my Fortress, and my Redeemer, my God, and my Consolation. Thou remainest ever the same, and thy years shall have no end.

January 2

 

And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals — Rev. 5:1.

 

S o immense and glorious beyond measure is the consolation contained in these words, that if we would only have our eyes opened to see it, and were able in living faith to consider it a real truth, we would probably once and for all throw all our anxieties away from us, and say: “Now, I do not want anything else. Now God may do with me whatever He wants. Yes, now all wicked spirits and evil people may gladly do what they like to me. I do not fear anything.” Let us look a little at the Bible words quoted. John sees a book in the right hand of Him that sits on the throne. And what does this book contain? As the first voice from the opened heaven said, it contains things which must be hereafter (Rev. 4:1). Mark now what the vision signifies! The book contains “things which must be hereafter,” viz., what will happen in future to the whole world, and most especially to the people of God on earth. That such a book rests in the right hand of Him that sits on the throne, does not only mean that God knows to the least detail all that will happen to us, for the way described in a book always lies open before the eyes; but also, as the book is expressly in His right hand, the acting hand, this indicates, firstly, that the great and almighty God leads and rules everything, and secondly, that He pays such careful attention to what will happen to us, that He has written it in a book, and we know that when a record is made of things being done, this means that very careful attention is being paid to them. But now is it not truly “the things that will happen hereafter” that form the object of all our anxieties? Our hearts are usually full of anxiety and thoughts of what will happen to us in the future. The one who is fortunate enough not to be preyed on by the sorrows of the world which bring death, even the one who has become a believing Christian, has now a new world of anxieties concerning many more important things. On this side our own soul, our sins, temptations, fights, and dangers of falls and deviations. On that side the souls of our relatives and other people and how it will go for them. On this side the future of the church or what will happen in society. On that side a multitude of trivialities, which still often worry us very bitterly. Beside that, Christians have the anxiety of love, wanting everything to go well, and an enlightened eye to see the importance of things that others consider nothing. They are also always the butt of all the glowing darts of the devil, this restless enemy who tries to upset our peace by means of temptations, tribulations, and all sorts of false inspirations, so that the children of God often have no repose, either by day or night. To what should they resort then? On what should I lean my wearied head? Oh, that it had been granted to me to see what this incident contains for me! We think yet all that can meet us has been written in a book which rests in the right hand of Him that sits on the throne. David himself saw it and for the consolation of his heart sang: “In Thy book all my members [‘days’ in Swedish] were written, … when as yet there was none of them” (Ps. 139:16). We still have the same faithful Father in heaven: and so graciously He takes care of everything regarding us, that He has it put down in a book that He Himself keeps in His right hand. Oh, were we but able to believe in and realize the graciousness and care God has for us, do you not think that we would have a blessed rest and peace for our poor hearts, and a deep peace and consolation for all the future days? But here the “heathen” in our breast, our unbelieving dark heart and reason, come and say: “Well, the great historic events, or the things that will happen to the whole of the church, those are the things God has put down in His book. Not what concerns insignificant individual creatures like me.” And surely, it does seem too much to expect, and quite incomprehensible to our reason if we say that He has also put down in His book all that will happen to you and me! But what can we do, if the very great Lord, sitting on the throne Himself says that He is enough, not only for every individual human being and his least concerns, but also even for every bird on earth? (Matt. 10:29–31). What can we make of such a Lord? On one hand our reason says: “It is quite absurd, impossible!” On the other hand, all the visible creation stands full of innumerable witnesses against us and shouts with a thousand voices: “Look, what God has done! Look, what magnificent works! and look what detail!” And since He has made all these small things, it is probably equally easy for Him to watch over and take care of them. Oh, if we would but wake up from our miserable darkness of unbelief! We go on in the midst of the endless richness of the witnesses of the power and glory of God and still see nothing. It is the Lord Himself that says: “Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? And one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. Ye are of more value than many sparrows. The very hairs of your head are all numbered.”

Januari