THE FATHERS PREDESTINED HOUR, Sermon #759
"These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee" (JOH 17:1).
In that hour He was betrayed, forsaken, denied, blasphemed, and He was crucified. Sometimes it is hard for us to realize who did this to Him. If you and I have part in the sufferings of Christ and in His resurrection, then we are the ones who crucified Him. He came to atone for our sins. It was our sins that nailed Him to the tree.
This hour was predestined by the Father in the stillness of eternity, in the covenant of peace. TIT 1:2 says, "In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began." This hour was the foundation of all promises.
We read in 2TI 1:9, "Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began." No human mind can begin to fathom the eternal love of the Father toward His chosen children of grace. That hour of perfect obedience by His only begotten Son unto death, even the death of the cross, was ever before the Father from eternity. Had it not been for these covenant promises that the Father and the Son had covenanted, and that that hour of redemption had been established, Adam would have sunk eternally into hell the instant that he sinned. However, the love of the Father was so great that He predetermined this hour that He would give His only begotten Son, that He would restrain His own love that He had for His Son. This was not done impulsively. This was ever before the Father from before the foundation of the world.
The names of His chosen people are "written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world" as it says in REV 18:8. The Fathers eye was looking on that atonement of His own Son when He wrote our names in the book of life.
For four thousand years this hour was ever before the Father in the way of the sacrifices, burnt offerings that typified the sacrifice of Christ, and the covenant of circumcision, assuring the pledge of the Lord Jesus Christ that He would come with His perfect obedience unto death, even the death of the cross. He would become a debtor to obey the whole law for His church. As it says in 2PE 3:8, "But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day."
If you were sentence to die, and that sentence would be carried out in thirty days, think how you would start counting down. First you count the days, then when the day arrives, you count the hours. Can you imagine how the agony intensified as the hour drew near? For four thousand years the Father watched the time count down to come to that predetermined hour. The Lord Jesus Christ was sent. He was born of a woman. Every year He was one year closer, but now it is coming to the day and the hour. As that hour approached, our Savior went to the Garden of Gethsemane and prayed in agony to the Father.
No man, nor Satan, nor all the forces of hell could have any power against the Lord Jesus until the Fathers appointed hour. He lived for thirty years, then He had His ministry. There were many attempts on His life. JOH 7:30 says, "Then they sought to take him: but no man laid hands on him, because his hour was not yet come." The Father had predetermined an exact time for this calamity, the exact place, and the instruments He would use to bring about that calamity. In the Fathers predestining decrees, He predetermined who would bring His Son to the cross.
In our lives we so often lose sight of this. The Lord has an instrument that He uses to bring some affliction upon us, a trial of our faith, some portion that we would least expect. The Lord used the chief priests, those of the highest religious office, to bring Christ to this hour. This did not cause our Saviour to murmur because He saw that the Father had put this in His cup. He saw that all the dregs of His Fathers wrath against the church were in His cup to drink. He left removal of this cup in submission to His Father. When the Lord brings trials upon us, we must realize that it is from His hand and His appointing.
But when His hour was come, all the powers of hell were turned loose against Him. LUK 22:53 says, "When I was daily with you in the temple, ye stretched forth no hands against me: but this is your hour, and the power of darkness." This is the hour that the Lord had predetermined to give them power over Him that He would die in weakness, in His human nature. The Lord removed His hedge, and in His human nature He became as weak as a man. The Lord allowed the chief priests and the Roman soldiers to prevail over Him because that was the hour that He decreed from eternity. Verse 54 says, "Then took they him, and led him, and brought him into the high priests house. And Peter followed afar off." He went to be condemned to death in the high priests house.
As we are adopted into the family of God in Christ, we learn to understand that we will fellowship in His sufferings as well as in His glory. Every calamity or affliction we suffer is ordained of the Lord. We see this in 1TH 3:3. "That no man should be moved by these afflictions: for yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto." We must see any affliction that we suffer in the same light that the Lord Jesus saw them, and that is, that that hour of affliction has been appointed unto us by the Lord.
The Lord has ordained that the way to heaven is through a waste-howling wilderness for our good. The Lord uses this to wean us of all of our pride and all the lust of the flesh and all of the things that would destroy us eternally. And the Lord says in DEU 8:2-3, "And thou shalt remember all the way which the LORD thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no. And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live." The Lord uses trials to prove us. We can talk of much love. We can talk of much faith, but the Lord sends an instrument against us, that will prove our faith, that will prove our love, that will prove how we respond. Do we have the Spirit of Christ? Are we able to say to our Judases, "Friend, why have you come?" Can we look on a Peter who is cursing and swearing and denying he ever knew our name and give him a look of love? God comes not only to humble us, but to prove us whether we will keep His commandments. The purpose of our lifetimes is to humble us and prove us and to know what is in our hearts. The Lord knows what is in our hearts, but He wants you and I to know what is in our hearts. He wants us to see and understand how our hearts are desperately wicked and deceitful above all things. He wants us to confess this that we might come to Him for cleansing.
The circumstances and the timing of every trial are all predestined by the Lord for our good. He knows exactly what we need to humble our proud attitudes. He knows exactly what we need to take that bitterness out of our hearts. He knows exactly what we need, and He knows when to apply it. He not only chooses every trial, but also what we may often refer to as accidents are the very instruments He has chosen to use. In the Lords house there are no accidents. In the Lords time, and in the Lords providence there is no such thing as an accident. The Lord uses these things for His own glory, and the Lord uses these things for our profit.
MAT 10:28-30 says, "And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered." The Lord has everything predestined for His exact time and for His perfect purpose. There is not the most trifling thing that could ever come in our life that the Lord has not a purpose for.
Our loving heavenly Father has His times and seasons for every providence. He is never one second early or late. We see this in DAN 9:2, "In the first year of his reign I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem."
The Lord had a set time. By faith we must wait for His time. The Lords time is most often when we think it is impossible. HAB 2:2-3 says, "And the LORD answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it. For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry." The Lord has His appointed time for everything.
Abraham waited twenty years, until all human reason said it had become impossible, but the clock of the Lords providence is set by Himself for His own good reasons. We learn patience, by the exercise of faith, therefore, God also waits for His own appointed time. The Lord has said that He will be gracious, but He also waits for His appointed time to be gracious. ISA 30:18 says, "And therefore will the LORD wait, that he may be gracious unto you, and therefore will he be exalted, that he may have mercy upon you: for the LORD is a God of judgment: blessed are all they that wait for him." The Lord is waiting for the trial of our faith, that our faith and patience might be established. We know that we are able to trust Him when we can wait on Him.
In His infinite wisdom our tender loving Father knows when the trial has done its perfect work. We see in HEB 12:11 the Lords will for all of these trials and calamities. "Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby." All resistance against His will must be broken. This brings perfect obedience.
You and I do not always see it at first glance, when the Lord puts His finger upon us, that He is doing it in love. Sometimes we are like a bull unaccustomed to the yoke. Sometimes we try to get away. Sometimes we struggle and fight against His providence. We do not always recognize that He does this as a token of His love.
The hour predetermined by the Father is always the best time for Him to discover His love unto us, both for His own glory, and for our welfare. ISA 16:14 says, "But now the LORD hath spoken, saying, Within three years, as the years of an hireling, and the glory of Moab shall be contemned, with all that great multitude; and the remnant shall be very small and feeble." Moab was the instrument God had chosen to use to chasten Israel, but He had also chosen the time and the means whereby this enemy would be removed. Moab would lose its power to afflict.
I have spent thirty years trying to determine how the Lord would answer a promise He gave me thirty years ago, and I have found in previous trials that when we quit trying to figure it out and we come to the point where we give it into His hands, that He will do it in His way. When we see the promise fulfilled, we look back and see how He did it in a way that never entered our minds.
By faith we must wait for the Lords time when patience has had its perfect work. Then He will bring it to pass. JAM 1:3-4 says, "Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing." The Lord wants us to exercise patience, and sometimes we do not realize how patient we have to be. Can you imagine how Abrahams patience must have been tried, how that he had so trusted and longed to see the fulfilling of Gods promise? He came to the point in his human reasoning that it was no longer possible. Patience means cheerfully enduring, cheerfully waiting for the Lords time.
From our side when in a sore trial we may well think it is high time for the Lord to deliver, and then we can have a sinking feeling that it was not the Lords time, but we are admonished by our Saviour to wait for the Lords time. See what He told His brethren after the flesh, who were going to rush the clock and have Him be glorified and be established as a king. JOH 7:3-6 says, "His brethren therefore said unto him, Depart hence, and go into Judaea, that thy disciples also may see the works that thou doest. For there is no man that doeth any thing in secret, and he himself seeketh to be known openly. If thou do these things, shew thyself to the world. For neither did his brethren believe in him. Then Jesus said unto them, My time is not yet come: but your time is alway ready." His brothers saw some of the miracles He did. They wanted to promote Him, but His time to be glorified had not yet come. We often put something to happen before the Lords time.
Where our text says, "the hour is come," this teaches us that by comparison to eternity our time of suffering is short. He said hour. He did not say that this is the century, this is the year, this is the day, the month or the week. By comparison to eternity, the hour of tribulation is short. In our estimation it may seem so long.
PSA 30:4-5 says, "Sing unto the LORD, O ye saints of his, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness. For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning."
The Lord approached this hour with His eye fixed on the reward. Faith means that our eyes are fixed on the reward, not on our present circumstances. This time seems so short compared to the reward, which is eternal.
The Scriptures regard all the sorrows of our whole life as but one night of darkness, which turns to gladness in the morning of the resurrection. Our eyes should be fixed on that resurrection morning. 2CO 4:15-17 says, "For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God. For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory." The Apostle Paul was speaking of his light affliction, yet he was beaten and stoned and left for dead, he was imprisoned. Do we think we have great afflictions? Pauls afflictions began the day he entered the Lords service and continued throughout his life. His eyes were not on the short time of afflictions we suffer in this life. That eternal weight of glory is where our eyes should be fixed, not on present circumstances.
When you compare time with eternity, our human vocabulary fails to be able to express the shortness of our afflictions. Then our afflictions become light and but for a moment.
I told my wife this morning, "The older we get, the faster our time goes. It is like driving at 100 miles and hour and seeing if you can count the fence posts." Our hour will soon come, therefore we are admonished in 2PE 3:11-13, "Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness." We start to see and understand how fast our time goes by, that all the things of this life will be dissolved. Our sufferings and afflictions are short. We should not be building as though we are here to stay.
We can look forward to being eternally cleansed from all unrighteousness. We need to wait but a while and all our fears and anxieties will be dissolved into eternal glory. HEB 11:32-34 says, "And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets: Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions. Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens." Everyone of them persevered in faith until their life was dissolved.
These martyrs of whom we read found their suffering to be but a moment. They were looking by faith to the reward that lay before them. Our Savior compares our time of trial and tribulation to an hour. Our Lord had such a blessed way of illustrating this in JOH 16:21. "A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world." When you and I are in the travail of this life, we will have sorrow. This is our hour of trial. The Lord is telling us that this hour of trial will become dissolved with an eternal weight of glory.
To our faith, the time between Christs departure and His return is likened unto the time between His death and resurrection. Their time of sorrow was three days. JOH 16:16 says, "A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me, because I go to the Father."
When we get caught into walking by sight instead of faith, we measure time with human reasoning, as men who are in pain count minutes like hours. REV 6:9-10 says, "And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?"
What does our Saviour teach us by His example when His hour was come? He resorted to prayer. He lifted His eyes to heaven, above the things of this life, above Calvary. He recognized the shortness of the time He would suffer, compared to eternity.
The only true deliverance from sorrow is to meet it with confidence in our tender heavenly Fathers care. When our eyes of faith are fixed on Christ, and when our hearts are fixed on the love of the Father, and when we fellowship with the Father and the Son in prayer, the circumstances may not have changed at all, but we have just stepped over a paradox, where everything becomes so plain. All of a sudden we have perfect peace because our minds are stayed on Him.
His name "Father" commands patience and reverence for His authority, as well as faith in His love and care. As we approach our own departure from this life, we cannot pray for deliverance, but we may pray for the pain to be relieved. MAT 24:20 says, "But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day." We may pray to the Lord that He would save us from the extremity that we would have to go through.
Christ knew His hour was come, yet He made no attempt to escape the hour. You and I have a tendency to try to find ways to escape what God has placed upon us. MAT 26:51-54 says, "And, behold, one of them which were with Jesus stretched out his hand, and drew his sword, and struck a servant of the high priest's, and smote off his ear. Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword. Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?" Peter was going to fight to escape the hour, but the Lord Jesus made no attempt to escape the hour.
Our Saviour did not flinch from His Fathers appointed hour. He did not come as a swine with much noise and resistance, but as "the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world." ISA 53:7 says, "He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth." The wicked are likened to swine, and that is exactly what they do against Gods prodding.
Christs suffering was not eternal. It was over very quickly. It is compared to an hour. PSA 110:7 says, "He shall drink of the brook in the way: therefore shall he lift up the head." What does it mean, "He shall drink of the brook in the way"? HEB 2:9 says, "But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man." Christ drank of the brook in the way.
Outside of the perfect obedience of Christ being imputed to us we would suffer eternally. Why? Because we are not able to keep the law. Because our violations against Gods law would keep on compounding and we would never be able to atone for our sins.
Because of the consolation we have in our Saviours imputed righteousness, that is, His imputed obedience, all true believers can say with the Apostle Paul in 2CO 4:17-18, "For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal."
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