Monday, July 14, 2008

Celebrating the Release of Prisoners

Today the French celebrate "Bastille Day," a day on which the rebellious mob of the French Revolution overwhelmed the security of France's most famous prison, the Bastille, and released its prisoners. I have a proposal this year to remember on this day God's gracious act of regeneration. It is a bit incongruous, I suppose to liken the Sovereign setting free the rebels, as opposed to the rebels overthrowing the sovereign, but perhaps the irony will provide a much-needed reminder of the work of our Most High King!

Isaiah 42:6-7
6I the LORD have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles; 7To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house.

It is by regeneration that our eyes are opened. It is by regeneration that our bondage to sin is broken, and the shackles of slavery to the flesh are shattered. It is the Holy Spirit working in regeneration that opens our eyes to the truth, so that we believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.

Isaiah 49:8-9
8Thus saith the LORD, In an acceptable time have I heard thee, and in a day of salvation have I helped thee: and I will preserve thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, to establish the earth, to cause to inherit the desolate heritages; 9That thou mayest say to the prisoners, Go forth; to them that are in darkness, Shew yourselves. They shall feed in the ways, and their pastures shall be in all high places.

This again has the same concept. I should point out that both passages have a double fulfillment. A first fulfillment was in the return of Judah from Babylon. The second and greater fulfillment is in our salvation from sin.

Zechariah 9:11 As for thee also, by the blood of thy covenant I have sent forth thy prisoners out of the pit wherein is no water.

As you can see, the prophet Isaiah is not alone in describing God's work of salvation in such terms. It is the Holy Spirit that regenerates, but he does so on the basis of the blood of the covenant: the blood symbolized in the water of baptism.

This is not simply my teaching, but the teaching of Peter the Apostle, who wrote by divine inspiration:

1 Peter 3:18-22
18For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: 19By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; 20Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. 21The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ: 22Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him.

So then, we may glorify God singing Psalm 102:

Psalm 102:19-22
19For he hath looked down from the height of his sanctuary; from heaven did the LORD behold the earth; 20To hear the groaning of the prisoner; to loose those that are appointed to death; 21To declare the name of the LORD in Zion, and his praise in Jerusalem; 22When the people are gathered together, and the kingdoms, to serve the LORD.

Here's one proposed metered version from Scottish Metrical Psalter:

19
He from his sanctuary’s height
hath downward cast his eye;
And from his glorious throne in heav’n
the Lord the earth did spy;

20
That of the mournful prisoner
the groanings he might hear,
To set them free that unto death
by men appointed are:

21
That they in Sion may declare
the Lord’s most holy name,
And publish in Jerusalem
the praises of the same;

22
When as the people gather shall
in troops with one accord,
When kingdoms shall assembled be
to serve the highest Lord.


Praise be to our Gracious Prison-Breaking Savior!

-TurretinFan

1 comment:

natamllc said...

TF,

if I am learning anything from you would it be fair to say that some theologians will find this portion of Isaiah 42:6 "I the LORD have called thee in righteousness...." difficult to accept because they believe that there is "some good" about them that should be acknowledged and not rejected by God?

Also, from where I sit, learned as I am, when we read these verses at Romans 5:16-18,

Rom 5:16 And the free gift is not like the result of that one man's sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification.
Rom 5:17 For if, because of one man's trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.
Rom 5:18 Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men.

...some think that there is something "good" in us intrinsically meritable by God to accept us for our "good and equitable deed" as a reason to give us Salvation. It seems some believe that God pronounces an "acquittal" upon us because we "merit" it, that judgment and not the judgment of eternal damnation?

Why do I say this?

When you understand the Greek Word used for the translated word "justification" in verse 16 it is this Greek Word:

δικαίωμα
dikaiōma
dik-ah'-yo-mah
From G1344; an equitable deed; by implication a statute or decision: - judgment, justification, ordinance, righteousness.

This Greek word, dikaioma, means literally "an equitable deed". The only "human" God accepts their equitable deed from is none other than Jesus Christ, the Son of Adam.

In verse 18 the Greek word for justification is another word, dikaiosis, meaning "acquittal":

δικαίωσις
dikaiōsis
dik-ah'-yo-sis
From G1344; acquittal (for Christ’s sake): - justification.

The misconception is a lie of the devil and my own flesh in self denial that I would believe there is something in me intrinsically good enough for God to pass a favorable judgment on me.

The reasoning or thinking goes something like this:

"I am not as bad as some. In fact I do good things every day. God should accept me on this basis because of that intrinsic goodness in me!"

It seems to me if we do not vomit this reasoning up from our mental stomach, we will live a good moral life in this lifetime and pass and perish because God declares ....'NONE ARE RIGHTEOUS, NO NOT ONE'.... . My "goodness" is just not good enough to lift the curse from me.

I was born under the curse God pronounced in Genesis 3. There is no way to have that curse removed from me other than Jesus Christ and Him crucified, for the Elect!