THE GLORIES OF THE MESSIAH (Part 1)
From writings by A. G. TILNEY, B.A.
WHAT IS GLORY?
We can talk of the glories of Nature, the glory of man, and the glory of God.
We can think of the universe as a whole - perhaps on a starry night; or of a part at a particular moment, and in a particular place - as in sunrise and sunset, the grandeur of mountain ranges, the tallest trees, virgin forests, huge, swift, powerful, animals, fish or birds, the height and roar and awesomeness of waterfalls, and the raging of the sea, a prairie fire, an earthquake, a volcano ‑ and less enlightened people will worship some of these impressive, overpowering or outstanding wonders. We ourselves could exclaim, possibly even shout for joy and enthusiasm, invigoration and exaltation.
As to human achievements - individual or collective, prowess of strength and skill in the arts (music, oratory, painting, sculpture) or in sport, we can cheer and praise, yet the acclaim is short-lived, for the record may soon be equalled or surpassed, although fabulous sums of money may still be paid for the rare surviving works of the great masters: so we speak of the glory that was Greece, and lament with our ‘sic transit gloria mundi.’
What IS glory? It is supreme excellence leading to fame that lasts, or acclaim that must pass; it stands out, and it may stand the test of time, and of eternity.
Now the Glory of God is superhuman, and even supernatural - beyond the human, and above the natural.
Among the essential glories of Deity are His Self-existence
God needs no support, and knows no opposition. He depends neither upon matter nor space, nor again upon time. And time, matter and space are no obstacle to Him, no limitations either, for He is Resistless Will, independent of means - and not merely of ‘independent means.’
God needs neither food nor drink, nor rest or sleep.
God is completely Self-contained, and Self-sufficient. He is thus Self-subsistent, as well as Self-existent. Those are the first glories of Deity.
Dependent upon nothing and nobody, everything and everybody is, on the contrary, dependent upon Him. Thus He is the Creator. Everything came from Him, out from Him.
The philosophers are wrong who affirm that God created the universe ‘out of nothing,’ for Creation, was in reality EX-Creation, itself a revelation. There was nothing magical about it - like magic wand and Hey Presto! something from nothing. In creating, God externalised and materialised a part of His Own infinite electronic Energy. The Divine Energy is called Spirit - appropriately; it is an emanation or exhalation: ‘By the Word of the Lord were the heavens made, and all the host of them BY THE BREATH OF HIS MOUTH’ (Ps. 33: 6). The material universe is not eternal (as to the past), nor everlasting (as to the safuture). But, as created - or rather EX-created, out-breathed, the material ‘heavens declare the Glory of God’: Psa. 19: 1.
The Self-existent, Self-subsistent, Deity alone can create.
The dilemma of philosophy has ever been this: Either, in the beginning there was Nothing, from which everything has come, Or else, in the beginning was the All, from which a part has come: both horns of the dilemma are hard to grasp, but one of them is more than incomprehensible, it is impossible, absurd.
The Self-existence of God is the very first axiom of cosmology: there never was a time when He was not; there will never be a time when He has ceased to be. ‘From everlasting to everlasting, Thou art God’: Psa. 90: 2. He is before all things, behind all things, in all things - and all things are of Him and for Him, for His Glory.
It asks a few questions, of course, but it answers far more questions than it asks.
The Self-subsistence of God at once follows, for all resources are in Him. Matter is not eternal, but spirit is - for matter is latent, stagnant, an obstacle, impersonal, but free spirit is dynamic and personal, or may be. Matter is an impersonal expression of spirit - as being imprisoned energy, or static energy. The Creator of durable substances - and of hibernating (or aestivating) creatures, can, as being a thousand million times their superior, subsist indefinitely - everlastingly - upon His Own inner and inalienable resources.
Does some released energy go back to Deity? (‘the spirit returns to God Who gave it’) ‑ as the rivers run into the sea, and the winds complete their circuit?
God is for ever giving out, radiating, emanating - creating and servicing, maintaining. As to His Self-existing and Self-subsisting Energy, God is Fire, God is Light; but as to His creating and maintaining, giving out, and upholding or sustaining, God is Love and God is Mercy.
Corresponding to the error of the philosophers with regard to creating (out of nothing) is the error of the theologians as to the Creator. We need not be too hard on the fathers who formulated the Creed, but we can attain a little greater accuracy: ‘I believe in God the Father Almighty, Creator …’ but was the Father the Creator, or was the Son? It may be affirmed that the entire Godhead participated in Creating. ‘In the beginning God created...’ gives the plural Name of the Mighty Ones (Elohim), and in Eccl. 12: 1, the actual admonition runs: ‘Remember now thy Creators in the days of thy youth.’
Just as we cannot have too high or too great a conception of Deity in general - or collectively, and of the Father in particular, so we cannot have too great or too high a view of the Divine Son, the pre-incarnate Christ, or Messiah, the coming King.
He enjoyed a pre-creation Glory before the world was, and just before His deepest humiliation in mock justice following dastardly betrayal, in loneliness and abandonment, in glad Self-offering with acutest pain for the redemption of the human race, He looks back for a moment to that original Glory, and then forward to its restoration in the more than compensating Joy set before Him, in that High priestly-prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane intended to be overheard by His disciples at the time, and by all of us ever since; for He intends us to share that Coming - that Returning - Glory: Jn. 17.
THE GLORY THAT I HAD WITH THEE BEFORE THE WORLD WAS
Christ was the only human being who had a pre-natal memory. He knew what ‘happened’ to Him thousands of years before He was born. He remembered what He said and did.
Without resorting to speculation or mere imagination, we are surely entitled to meditation on these remarkable and wonderful words: ‘THE GLORY I HAD WITH THEE BEFORE THE WORLD (THE COSMOS) WAS’ … ‘BEFORE THE COSMIC OVERTHROW’ (misrendered ‘foundation’) and ensuing chaos.
We are so very limited by our ignorance, our inexperience and our generally feeble power, that even meditation can be very difficult. We need a landscape before us, a picture or a description of a landscape, or at least an artist’s or a poet’s memory of a landscape - or even of a person, a building or a flower - otherwise our mind is a blank, or at best a blur. And if we are neither artists nor poets, we find it hard to understand how these - to us - near geniuses - can so clearly, so powerfully, so livingly SEE the actual object or view that they can reproduce as drawing, painting, poem or word-picture, so realistically that they now PROVE they have seen (or heard - in the case of music).
So, when we read of a time - and state – ‘BEFORE THE WORLD WAS,’ we are at a loss - empty, void, blind, deaf, and in consequence dumb.
But the mind of Deity is always literally swarming with ideas, ideals, melodies - satisfactions. God, we may affirm with reverence, is never in an empty room, an unfurnished or unadorned space. He is never limited by our poor human limitations.
Thus, before the Creation of a material world, landscape, angel, tree or animal, the live and lively Mind of Deity was incessantly creating immaterial worlds, kaleidoscopically, that could be fixed, held, enjoyed - or at least contemplated, considered. There is no darkness to Him; there is no stagnation, no lifelessness. He is never taken by surprise - He knows the end FROM THE BEGINNING, the outcome from the origin. The first trees never grew - they were ‘ready-made,’ or rather immediately created full-grown, mature, with their seed in themselves.
So God could see a sunrise in the absence of a sunrise. His thoughts were acts, His Will was fact, His pre-views were history - awaiting the command to materialise.
God is thus never lonely, never ‘bored.’ Infinite power, infinite wisdom, infinite realisation are always immediately at His disposal. Potential matter, habitable space, were all limitlessly present - but not time, which is cosmic and human, and corrupting.
Hence, meaningless are such questions as: ‘What was God doing before He created the cosmos - and in the billions of aeons before any imagined moment?’
God was never alone; so full, so friendly, so encyclopaedic and exhaustless Persons as the Divine Father and Son could never be lonely, limited, bored, at a loss.
We can think dimly of two devoted and mutually responsive persons, like David and Jonathan, of Paul and Timothy, affectionate, appreciative, co-operative, sharing purposes and plans, projects and prospects, in an intimacy of heart and mind, impossible to beings of flesh and blood; we can recall phrases like ‘daily His delight’ (Prov. 8: 22-30), ‘My Beloved Son’ – ‘in Whom I am well pleased,’ at a far later period, though disclosing glimpses of this same pre-natal Glory: Mt.3: 17; 12: 18; 17: 5.
As Divine Spirits, capable of incomprehensibly intimate intermingling if not of merging (‘I in Him, He in Me’: Jn. 1: 18), Father and Son enjoyed an unbroken communion and satisfaction: the Glory I had with Thee before the Cosmos was (Jn. 17), in the beginning of the Creation (Mk. 10), and enjoyed undimmed and unlimited love before the Cosmos was ruined: Gen. 1: 2; Jn. 17, for the Son was no after-thought, no substitute or compensation for archangelic failure. All that the Father had He showed to the Son, gave to the Son, and all that He did, or was going to do: Jn. 3: 35; 5: 20-22; 13: 3; 17: 2.
So the Son had a Glory superior to that of the angels Heb. 1, with all their freedom, wisdom and power. In fact the angels are part of the Glory of the Father and the Son.
A very remarkable revelation – Self-revelation, of the Son, surpassing His disclosure that He had come down from Heaven: Jn. 6: 33, 38, 41: 62, was the declaration that He had come OUT FROM GOD: Jn. 8: 42; 13: 3; 16: 27; 17: 8. Away back in Genesis 1, ‘ELOHIM’ (the personally plural but volitionally united Name of Deity) already included the Person of ‘JEHOVAH’ (‘ONE of US’).
ELOHIM, JEHOVAH ELOHIM, JEHOVAH:
‘Elohim’ is Deity, or God, and ‘Jehovah Elohim’ is not, as with the JW’s, exactly ‘Jehovah God,’ but (with two nouns together, and one being used adjectivally, as with us), ‘The Divine Jehovah.’ Then, the Deity of Jehovah being thus established, this wonderful Name is used alone. Just as ‘Elohim’ means the Mighty Ones, so ‘Jehovah’ means the Eternal One - the One Who was, is, and ever shall be. Of course each of the Divine Persons is eternal and everlasting, and as such the title Jehovah is occasionally given to the other Two, as in Psalm 110: 1: ‘The LORD said unto my Lord...’ but apart from rare exceptions, JEHOVAH, THE ETERNAL, represents the Divine Son, the Messiah to come and rule: Ps. 2.
There are not 3 gods, as the JW’s can trap some people into admitting, but 3 Divine Persons together constituting ONE UNITED Deity or Godhead, so that the Father - or the Son - or the Spirit - is not the whole of the Godhead, or revealed Deity.
Jehovah is viewed as the unchanging Covenant-keeping God – ‘the Same yesterday, to‑day and for ever’. His Covenant is mainly and generally with man - the human race, the man Adam, and particularly with the family He called out - singled out - from the race, the nations. Identifying Himself ever more fully with the sons of men, He loved to call Himself ‘The Son of man,’ the Representative Man, the One uniting humanity with Deity, afflicted in all their afflictions, bearing their sorrows, touched with the feeling of their infirmities - Godward their Prophet, manward their High Priest, Israel’s King, and before long the world’s King: King of Nations: humanity’s Creator, Redeemer, Friend, Judge and loving King.
In a way it is a pity that ‘JEHOVAH’ is rendered ‘LORD’ in the Authorised Version. ‘The Eternal One’ would often have been better, but often ‘JEHOVAH’ would be better left untranslated - for there is another word for ‘God,’ and another word for ‘Lord.’
must never be imagined that Jehovah was a tribal deity, or exclusively
He is likewise the Lord of prophecy, foretelling the downfall of kingdoms while they are at the zenith of their power and self-confidence – and naming kings centuries before their birth (to the confusion of the critics). All this, and much more is revealed in Isaiah 40-44. Foretelling is a supreme glory of God.
Now the prophets are full of the returning Lord, God’s Own King, in fact the Divine King. ‘A King shall reign in righteousness’ – ‘thy King cometh unto thee’: Ps. 2, Isa. 32; Ps. 72; Psalms. 97-100: ‘The Lord cometh to judge the earth – The Lord reigneth’ (or, is King) – The Lord, the King; Ps. 118: 26; Dan. 2: 44, The Lord coming and reigning as King, universally, IS THE BURDEN OF PROPHECY FOR THE NATIONS, THE HUMAN RACE.