by E.W. Bullinger
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How to Enjoy the Bible
E. W. Bullinger
II. The One Great Subject of the Word
i. Christ in the Word as a Whole
The one great subject which runs through the whole Word of God is Christ: the promised seed of the woman in Genesis 3:15.
This verse marks the depth of the ruin into which man had descended in the Fall; and it becomes the foundation of the rest of the Bible.
All hope of restoration for man and for creation is centred in Christ; who in due time should be born into the world, should suffer and die; and, in resurrection, should become the Head of a new creation, and should finally crush the head of the Old Serpent, who had brought in all the ruin. Christ, therefore, the King, and the Kingdom which He should eventually set up, become the one great subject which occupies the whole of the Word of God.
Hence, He is the key to the Divine revelation in the Word; and apart from him it cannot be understood.
The contents of the Bible must therefore be seen and arranged with reference to Him. The counsels and purposes of God are all centred in Christ.
1. In the Old Testament we have the King and the Kingdom in Promise and Prophecy, Illustration and Type.
2. In the Four Gospels we have the King and the Kingdom presented and proclaimed by John the Baptiser, and by Christ Himself. And we see the Kingdom rejected, and the King crucified.
3. In the Acts of the Apostles we have the Transition from the Kingdom to the Church. The Kingdom is once again offered to Israel by Peter; again it is rejected, Stephen is stoned, and Peter imprisoned (ch 12).
Then Paul, who had been already chosen and called (ch 9), is commissioned for His Ministry (ch 13), and on the final rejection of his testimony concerning the Kingdom, he pronounces for the third and last time the
sentence of judicial blindness in Isaiah 6,* and declares that "the salvation of God is sent to the Gentiles" (Acts 28:25-28).
* The other two citations of Isaiah 6 were by our Lord, in Matthew 13:14, 15, and John 12:40.
In his final communication to Hebrew believers it is written that while in God's counsels all things had been put under Christ's feet, "we see NOT YET all things put under Him" (Heb 2:7-9).
The Kingdom thenceforth is in abeyance.
4. In the Epistles we have the King exalted, and (while the Kingdom is in abeyance) made the Head over all things to the Church, during this present Interval; the Dispensation of the grace of God.
5. In the Apocalypse we have the Revelation of the King in judgment; and we see the Kingdom set up, the King enthroned in power and glory, the promise fulfilled, and prophecy ended.
We may exhibit the above to the eye in the following Structure:—*
* See Part II, Canon II.
The one Subject of the Word as a Whole.
A. The King and the Kingdom in Promise and Prophecy. (The Old Testament)
B. The King presented, proclaimed, and rejected. The Mysteries (or Secrets) of the Kingdom revealed.
A. The King and the Kingdom unveiled. The King enthroned, and the Kingdom set up with Divine judgment, power, and glory (Rev 19,20). Promise and prophecy fulfilled (The Apocalypse).
C. Transitional (The Acts). The Kingdom again offered and rejected (The earlier Pauline Epistles).
B. The King exalted and made Head over all things to the Church, "which is His body, the fulness of Him that filleth all in all" (Eph 1:22,23). The Great Mystery revealed (The later Pauline Epistles). The Kingdom in abeyance (Heb 2:8).
Here the correspondence is seen between these five members.
In A and A we have the King and the Kingdom.
In B and B we have the King and the mysteries (or secrets) of the Kingdom (Matt 13).
In C, the central member, we have the present Interval, while the King is absent, the Holy Spirit present, and the Kingdom in abeyance, and the mystery of the Church revealed (Eph 3).
From the Structure it will be seen that the great subject of the whole Book is one. From Genesis 3:15 to Revelation 22 "THE COMING ONE" fills our vision.
This teaches us that the Coming of Christ is no newly-invented subject of some modern faddists or fanatics, or cranks; but that Christ's coming has always been the Hope of his people.
In "the fulness of time" He came: but having been rejected and slain He rose from the dead, and ascended to Heaven. There He is "seated" and "henceforth expecting until His enemies shall be placed as a footstool for His feet" (Heb 10:13).
Hence, Christ, "the Coming One," is the one all-pervading subject of the Word of God as a whole.
He is the pneuma or life-giving spirit of the written Word, without which the latter is dead. "As the body without the pneuma is dead" (James 2:26), so the written Word without the pneuma is dead also. Christ is that pneuma or spirit. This is the whole argument of 2 Corinthians.
This is why the Lord Jesus could say of the Scriptures: "They testify of ME" (John 1:45, 5:39; Luke 24:44,45).
Their one great design is to tell of the Coming One. All else is subordinated to this. This is why we see the ordinary events in a household combining with the grandest visions of a prophet to testify of Him who fills all Scripture. It may be said of the written Word, as it is of the New Jerusalem, "The Lamb is the light thereof" (Rev 21:23).
Apart from Him, the natural eye of man sees only outward historical details and circumstances; some in themselves appearing to him trifling, others offensive, and pursued at a length which seems disproportionate to the whole; while things which "angels desire to look into" are passed over in a few words, or in silence.
But once let "the spiritual mind" see Christ testified of "in Moses and all the prophets," then all assumes a new aspect: trifles that seem hardly worth recording fill the whole vision and light up the written Word and make it to shine with the glory of the Divine presence.
Then we see why the Inspired writer dwells on a matter which to the outward eye seems trivial compared with other things which we may deem to be of world-wide importance.
Then we observe in an event, seemingly casual and unimportant, something which tells forth the plans and counsels of God, by which He is shaping everything to His own ends. Nothing appears to us then either great or small. All is seen to be Divine when the Coming One is recognized as the one subject of the Word of God.
This is the master-key of the Scriptures of truth.
"These are they that testify of ME." Bearing this key in our hand we can unlock the precious treasures of the Word; and understand words, and hints; apparently casual expressions, circumstances, and events, which in themselves, and apart from Him, are meaningless.
It is the use of this master-key and this first great foundation principle which is to be observed in the study of the "Word" and "words" of God. It is when we, in every part, have found "HIM of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write" (John 1:45), that we can understand those parts of Scripture which are "a stone of stumbling and a rock of offence" to many: that we can explain much that is otherwise difficult; see clearly much that before was obscure; answer objections that are brought against the Word; and "put to silence the ignorance of foolish men."
The moment this master-key is used types will be seen foreshadowing the Coming King, and showing forth His sufferings and His Glory. Events and circumstances will show forth His wondrous deeds and tell of the coming glory of His kingdom.
ii. Christ in the Separate Books of the Word.
In GENESIS we shall understand the record of Creation (ch 1), for we shall see in it the counterpart of our new creation in Christ Jesus (2 Cor 5:17).
In the light which shined out of darkness (Gen 1:2,3) we shall see the light which has shone "in our hearts to give the knowledge of the glory of God in the face (or person) of Jesus Christ" (2 Cor 4:6). No wonder that those who know nothing of this spiritual light of the New Creation know nothing of the light that was created on the first day as revealed in the record of the old creation.* The natural man sees only a myth and an old wives' fable in the Creation record, and seems actually to prefer the Babylonian corruption of primitive truth. These "other Gentiles walk in the vanity of their mind, having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart" (Eph 4:17,18). Woe be to those who follow these blind leaders, for "they shall both fall into the ditch" they have prepared for themselves by their fleshly knowledge and worldly wisdom."
* Though the recent discovery of Radium is beginning to open our eyes and show how light can exist without the sun.
In the Creator we shall see Christ (John 1:3; Col 1:16).
In the first Adam we shall see the last Adam (1 Cor 15:45; Rom 5:14). In the first man we shall see "the second man, the Lord, from heaven" (1 Cor 15:47).
In the "seed of the woman" (Gen 3:15) we shall see the coming son of Abraham, the son of David, the Son of man, the Son of God; while those who are in the black darkness of Rome see either a helpless Infant, or a dead man, and a living woman—the Virgin Mary; having corrupted their Authorized Vulgate Version (in Gen 3:15),* to make it the foundation of this blasphemy.
* Where the Hebrew masculine is misrepresented as feminine, and is thus made, as Dr. Pusey has said, the foundation of Mariolatry, and the basis of the Immaculate Conception.
In Abraham's shield we shall see the Living Word, coming, speaking, and revealing Himself to him (ch 15:1; John 8:56).
In Isaac we shall see Christ the true seed of Abraham (Rom 9:7; Gal 3:16). In the Annunciation to the Mother (Gen 18:10; Luke 1:30-33), the miraculous conception (Gen 18:14; Luke 1:35) and the pre-natal naming (Gen 17:19; Matt 1:21; Luke 1:31, 2:21). In the projected death of the one we see the foreshadowing of the other, two thousand years before, and on the same mountain, Moriah; and this Mount, selected not by chance, or for convenience (for it was three days' journey), but appointed in the Divine counsels as the site of the future altar of burnt offering (Gen 22:2; 1 Chron 21:28-22:1; 2 Chron 3:1). In the wood laid upon Isaac (Gen 22:6), and not carried by the servants or on the ass, we shall see Him who was led forth bearing His Cross (John 19:17).
In Joseph, of whom the question was asked, "Shalt thou indeed reign over us?" we see Him of whom His brethren afterwards said, "We will not have this man to reign over us" (Luke 19:14). But we see the sufferings of the one followed by the glory, as we shall surely see the glory of the true Joseph following His sufferings in the fulness of time (1 Peter 1:11), of which glory we shall be the witnesses, and partakers (1 Peter 4:13, 5:1).
We must not pursue this great subject or principle in its further details, though we have but touched the fringe of it, even in the book of Genesis. As the Lord Jesus began at Moses so have we only made a beginning, and must leave our readers to follow where we have pointed out the way.
It may be well, however, for us to indicate one or two of the leading points of the other books of the Old Testament.
EXODUS tells of the sufferings and the glory of Moses, as Genesis does of Joseph, and in both we see a type of the sufferings and glory of Christ.
Joseph's sufferings began with his rejection, his own brethren asking, "Shalt thou indeed reign over us? Or shalt thou indeed have dominion over us?" (Gen 37:8). Moses' sufferings began with his rejection and the question of "two men of the Hebrews,"—"Who made thee a ruler and a judge over us?" (Exo 2:14). In all this we see the rejection of Christ by a similar question, the
thought of their hearts being put into their lips, in the parable, where "his citizens hated Him and sent a message after Him saying, 'We will not have this man to reign over us'" (Luke 19:14).
But the issue in all three cases is the same. Of each it is true, as it is said of Moses, "This Moses whom they refused, saying, 'Who made thee a ruler and a deliverer?' The same did God send to be a ruler and a judge by the hand of the angel which appeared to him in the bush" (Acts 7:35).
Even so will God surely "send Jesus Christ...whom the heavens must receive until the times of restitution of all things which God hath spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began" (Acts 3:20,21).
Thus early, in Genesis and Exodus, we have the great subject of the sufferings and the glory of Christ more than foreshadowed (1 Peter 1:11, 4:13, 5:1; Luke 24:26).
Exodus tells us also of Christ as the true Paschal Lamb (1 Cor 5:7,8); as the true Priest (Exo 30:10; Heb 5:4,5); and the true Tabernacle which the Lord pitched and not men (Heb 9).
LEVITICUS gives us, in the offerings, a fourfold view of the Death of Christ (the Sin and Trespass Offerings being reckoned as one), as the Gospels give us a fourfold view of His life.
NUMBERS foreshadows the Son of Man come to be "lifted up" (ch 21:9; John 3:14,15); the Rock (ch 20:11; 1 Cor 10:4); the Manna that fed them (ch 11:7-9; Deut 8:2,3; John 6:57,58); and the future Star that should arise "out of Jacob" (ch 24:17; Luke 1:78; 2 Peter 1:19; Rev 2:28, 22:16).
DEUTERONOMY reveals the coming Prophet "like unto Moses" (ch 18:15; Acts 7:23-26); the Rock and Refuge of His people (ch 32:4, 33:27).
JOSHUA tells of "the Captain of the Lord's host" (ch 5:13-15; Heb 2:10, 12:2) who shall triumph over all His foes; while Rahab's scarlet cord (ch 2:12-20) tells of His sufferings and precious blood which will shelter and preserve His people in the coming day of His war.
JUDGES tells of the Covenant Angel whose name is "Secret," i.e. "Wonderful" (ch 13:18, margin; compare Isa 9:6, where the word is the same).
RUTH reveals the type of our Kinsman-Redeemer, the true Boaz; and the question of chapter 2:10 is answered in Proverbs 11:15.
SAMUEL reveals the "sufferings" and rejection of David, who became a "Saviour" and a "Captain" of his followers (1 Sam 22:1,2), foreshadowing David's Son and David's Lord, "the Root and the Offspring of David" (Rev 22:16).
KINGS shows us the "glory which should follow," and the "greater than Solomon" (Matt 12:42); the "greater than the Temple" (Matt 12:6), where everything speaks of His glory (Psa 29:9 and margin).
CHRONICLES reveals Christ as "the King's Son," rescued "from among the dead," hidden in the House of God, to be manifested in due time, "as Jehovah hath said" (2 Chron 22:10-23:3).
EZRA speaks of "a nail in a sure place" (ch 9:8), which according to Isaiah 22:23 is used of Eliakim, who typifies Christ.
NEHEMIAH tells of the "bread from Heaven" and "water out of the Rock" (ch 9:15,20), which are elsewhere used as typical of Christ (John 6:57,58; 1 Cor 10:4).
ESTHER sees the seed preserved which should in the fulness of time be born into the world. His name is there, though concealed, but His will and power is manifested in defeating all enemies in spite of the unalterable law of the Medes and Persians.
JOB reveals Him as his "Daysman" or "Mediator" (ch 9:33); and as his "Redeemer" coming again to the earth (ch 19:25-27).
THE PSALMS are full of Christ. We see His humiliation and sufferings and death (Psa 22), His Resurrection (Psa 16), His anointing as Prophet with grace-filled lips (Psa 45; Luke 4:22); as Priest after the order of Melchisedec (Psa 110; Heb 5:6, 6:20, 7:17,21); as King enthroned over all (Psa 2), and His kingdom established in the earth (Psa 103, 145, &c.).
PROVERBS reveals Christ as the "Wisdom of God" (ch 8; 1 Cor 1:24); the "Path" and "Light" of His
People (ch 4:18); the "Surety" who smarted for His people while strangers (ch 11:15; Rom 5:8-10; Eph 2:12; 1 Peter 2:11); the "strong tower" into which the righteous run and are safe (ch 18:10); the friend who loveth at all times, and the brother born for adversity (ch 17:17).
ECCLESIASTES tells of the "one among a thousand" in the midst of all that is vanity and vexation of spirit (ch 7:28).
THE SONG OF SONGS reveals Him as the true and faithful Shepherd, Lover, and Bridegroom of the Bride, who remained constant to Him in spite of all the royal grandeur and coarser blandishments of Solomon.
ISAIAH is full of the sufferings and glories of Christ. He is the "despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief" (ch 53:5); wounded for our transgressions, oppressed, afflicted, and brought as a lamb to the slaughter; cut off out of the land of the living (ch 53:2-9). Yet the glory shall follow. "He shall see of the travail of His soul and be satisfied" (ch 53:11). He will be His people's "Light" (ch 60:1,2; Matt 4:16); "The Mighty God" (ch 9:6; Matt 28:18); Salvation's Well (ch 12:3); the King who shall "reign in righteousness" (ch 32:1,2); Jehovah's Branch, beautiful and glorious (ch 4:2).
JEREMIAH tells of "the Righteous Branch," and "Jehovah our Righteousness" (ch 23:5,6); of the "Righteous Branch" and King who shall reign and prosper (ch 33:15).
EZEKIEL reveals Him as the true Shepherd (ch 34:23), and as "the Prince" (ch 37:25); the "Plant of Renown" (ch 34:29), and "Jehovah Shammah" (ch 48:35).
DANIEL reveals Him as the "Stone" become the Head of the corner (ch 2:34; Psa 118:22; Isa 8:14, 28:16; Matt 21:42,44; Acts 4:11; 1 Peter 2:4,6). Also as the Son of Man (ch 7:13,16); and "Messiah the Prince" (ch 9:24).
He is HOSEA'S true David (3:5), the Son out of Egypt (11:1);
JOEL'S "God dwelling in Zion" (ch 3:17);
AMOS' Raiser of David's Tabernacle (ch 9:11; Acts 15:16,17).
OBADIAH'S "Deliverer on Mount Zion" (v 17);
JONAH'S "Salvation" (ch 2:9); the "Sign" of Christ's resurrection (Matt 12:39-41).
MICAH'S "Breaker," "King" and "Lord" (ch 2:13, 5:2,5);
NAHUM'S "Stronghold in Trouble" (ch 1:7);
HABAKKUK'S "Joy" and "Confidence" (ch 3:17,18);
ZEPHANIAH'S "Mighty God in the midst of Zion" (ch 3:17);
HAGGAI'S "Desire of all nations" (ch 2:7);
ZECHARIAH'S Smitten Shepherd; The Man, Jehovah's Fellow (ch 13:7); Jehovah's "Servant—the Branch" (ch 3:8); "the Man whose name is the Branch" (ch 6:12);
MALACHI'S "Messenger of the Covenant" (ch 3:1); the Refiner of the Sons of Levi (ch 3:3); "The Sun of Righteousness" (ch 4:2).
Thus, the "Word" of God has one great subject.
That one great all-pervading subject is Christ; and all else stands in relation to Him. He is "the beginning and the ending" of Scripture, as of all beside.
Hence, the Word of God, at its ending, shows how the beginning all works out; and how, that to which we are introduced in Genesis is completed in Revelation.
Satan's first rebellion is implied between the first and second verses of the first chapter of Genesis, and his final rebellion is seen in Revelation 20:7-9. his doom is pronounced in Genesis 3:15, and is accomplished in Revelation 20:10.
We have the primal Creation, "the world that then was," in Genesis 1:1 (2 Peter 3:6). "The Heavens and the Earth which are now" in Genesis 1:2, etc. (2 Peter 3:7). And "The New Heavens and the New Earth" in Revelation 21:1 (2 Peter 3:13).
We have "night" in Genesis 1:1; and see "no night there" in Revelation 22:5.
We have the "sea" in Genesis 1:10; and "no more sea" in Revelation 21:1.
We have the "sun and moon" in Genesis 1:16, 17; and "no need of the sun or the moon" in Revelatino 21:23, 22:5.
We have the entrance of sorrow and suffering and death in Genesis 3:16,17; and "no more death, neither sorrow nor crying" in Revelation 21:4.
We have the "curse" pronounced in Genesis 3:17; and "no more curse" in Revelatino 22:3.
We have banishment from Paradise and the Tree of Life in Genesis 3:22-24; and the welcome back and "right to it" in Revelation 22:2.
This will be sufficient* to show the unity of the "Word" as a whole; and to stimulate Bible students to a further study of it on the line of this great fundamental principle.
* More instances will be found in The Apocalypse; or, the Day of the Lord, by the same author and publisher.
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