Saturday, December 3, 2016


“O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord.”
John Wade (1743), translated from Latin to English by Frederick Oakeley (1841)

We are coming to the end of the first week of Advent. The Church is singing her seasonal songs celebrating the incarnation of the Son of God. As we invite one another to “adore…Christ the Lord,” we would do well to love Him with our minds as well as with our hearts. Let’s consider the title “Christ.”

It’s not Jesus’ last name. It’s His title. It means “anointed,” and starts in the Old Testament with the word we transliterate “Messiah” (מָשִׁיחַ in the Hebrew). “Christ” (an English word transliterated from the Greek Χριστός) and “Messiah” both mean “anointed.”

When we first encounter the word “Messiah” in the Bible, it is referring to the priests of old covenant Israel (Leviticus 4:3,5,16; 6:22). The priests represented a covenant people in their sins before a holy God, offering sacrifices and facilitating the offering of sacrifices so that the people could be before the LORD. The priests were to “make a distinction between the holy and the profane, and between the unclean and the clean, and so as to teach the sons of Israel all the statutes which the Lord has spoken to them through Moses” (Leviticus 10:10,11; see also Deuteronomy 24:8; 33:10; 2 Chronicles 17:9; 30:22; Nehemiah 8:2; Malachi 2:7). They, in a way similar to the prophets, represented the God of truth to the covenant people (who, if God did not reveal truth to them, would be just as blind to it as the unbelieving nations). The priests, though exempt from the military census, at times led the people of God into battle (as the priestly singers of 2 Chronicles 20:21, who were probably of the priestly tribe of Levite, see 1 Chronicles 6:31,32; 15:16-21; 16:4-6,41,42; 25:1-7; 2 Chronicles 7:6). We might say that the Levitical priesthood served in an embryonic form of the office of Messiah, or anointed one.

Something amazing happens at the end of the period of the Judges. A woman deep in grief over her barrenness appeals to the LORD and is given a son. After weaning the boy, Hannah brings little Samuel to the chief priest Eli and leaves him there to be raised serving the LORD. Hannah prays a prayer in 1 Samuel 2:1-10 which served as a forerunner to Mary’s own Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55). Like Mary’s prayer, Hannah’s is primarily concerned with God’s character and His saving purposes for His people (neither Mary nor Hannah emote about themselves even though God has miraculously given them both a son…it’s almost as if God is more important to them than their own personal circumstances…imagine!).

At the end of Hannah’s prayer, she is used as a prophetess to foretell of a work of God yet to come:
“Hannah prayed and said,
‘…those who contend with the Lord will be shattered;
Against them He will thunder in the heavens,
The Lord will judge the ends of the earth;
And He will give strength to His king,
And will exalt the horn of His anointed
[מְשִׁיחֹֽו, from מָשִׁיחַ]’” (1 Samuel 2:1,10).

The people have yet to ask for “a king for us to judge us like all the nations,” who would “go out before us and fight our battles” (1 Samuel 8:5,20). This request, a rejection of God’s Kingship akin to idolatry (8:7,8), will be granted by the LORD in His anger (Hosea 13:11). The LORD will use the covenant people’s desire to be like all the nations to establish the office of Messiah/Christ/Anointed One, ultimately leading to the final, perfect, and forever office-Holder, Jesus of Nazareth, eternal Son of God. But none of this has happened yet. Hannah, the humble, God-seeking mother utters this Christ-prophecy before going home to eventually bear five children and disappear quietly from the narrative. Remember, “Messiah” as a descriptor has only been used of priests. Hannah, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, unveils a new chapter in Israel’s history: Christ the King.

Later, “…a man of God came to Eli and said to him, ‘Thus says the Lord, “…I will raise up for Myself a faithful priest who will do according to what is in My heart and in My soul; and I will build him an enduring house, and he will walk before My anointed [מְשִׁיחִי, from מָשִׁיחַ] always”’” (1 Samuel 2:27,35). Not only will God establish the office of “Christ the King,” but those who were previously described by the term “Messiah” (anointed), will submit to this new office-holder under the old covenant.

David’s name had first been revealed in the genealogies at the end of Ruth (4:17,22). In 1 Samuel, however, it doesn’t come until the young man is anointed to the office of Messiah by Samuel.

“…Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed [וַיִּמְשַׁח, from מָשַׁח] him in the midst of his brothers; and the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David [דָּוִד, or “beloved”] from that day forward” (1 Samuel 16:13).

Compare this with another, later anointing of the final Son of David to the office of Messiah:
“After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him, and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, ‘This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well-pleased’” (Matthew 3:16,17).

Both passages show us the beloved of God undergoes an outward rite which represents the invisible reality of the imparting of the Holy Spirit and the instillation into the office of Messiah/Christ.

1 Samuel leads us to wrestle with several theological issues, like the LORD, Who doesn’t change (1 Samuel 15:29), change concerning Saul (1 Samuel 15:10). Or His use of evil spirits for His purposes (1 Samuel 16:14; see also Judges 9:23; 1 Samuel 18:10; 19:9; 1 Kings 22:22; Psalm 78:49). Or the question, “can believers lose their salvation and have the Holy Spirit taken away from them?”

“…the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David from that day forward…now the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul” (1 Samuel 16:13,14). David, after having committed adultery with Bathsheba and having her husband Uriah the Hittite killed in battle, confessed his sin to the LORD and begged, “do not take Your Holy Spirit from me” (Psalm 51:11). When we read this and ask, “can Christians lose the Holy Spirit?” we are making a category fallacy and showing that we need to understand how we are indwelt with the Holy Spirit.

First, the category fallacy. The imparting of the Holy Spirit is that which is represented by the anointing with oil (remember that the title Messiah/Christ means “anointed”), making the office-holder the Prophet, Priest, and King of God over His covenant people. When Saul disobeyed the LORD, he was rejected from the office of Messiah/Christ. With that rejection the anointing of the office of Anointed One (Messiah/Christ) was removed from him – the Holy Spirit. Since David was the one chosen of God to hold this office, the Holy Spirit was given to him. This removing and giving of the Holy Spirit doesn’t belong to the category “The Spirit’s Indwelling of Christians.” It belongs to the category “The Office of Messiah/Christ.” In other words, 1 Samuel 16:13,14 and Psalm 51:11 don’t give us biblical data concerning the Holy Spirit and Christians, but contribute to our understanding of the title and office of Messiah/Christ. The two categories (the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and the title/office of Messiah/Christ) are connected, however.

Second, we need to remind ourselves how Christians are indwelt with the Holy Spirit. Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God, is publicly installed to the office of Messiah/Christ (the Anointed One) at His baptism (for other verses on Jesus’ anointing, see Luke 4:18; Acts 4:27; 10:38; Hebrews 1:9). He is the One Who is the Prophet, Priest, and King to God’s covenant people. Unlike Saul, who was rejected from the office because of disobedience, and unlike David, who could not continue in the office because of his death, Jesus continues in the office of Messiah/Christ forever because of His perfect obedience and unending life. He is the final, perfect, and eternal Holder of the office of Messiah/Christ. The Holy Spirit is forever imparted to the One Whom He finally anointed to this office: Jesus.

How, then, do we receive the Holy Spirit? Believers receive the Holy Spirit by virtue of their faith-union with Christ, the One eternally anointed by the Holy Spirit. We receive the Holy Spirit because we are united to Jesus.

“Now He Who establishes us with you in Christ [Χριστὸν, from Χριστός ] and anointed [χρίσας, from χρίω] us is God, Who also sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge” (2 Corinthians 1:21,22, New American Standard Bible).

“Remember that God has established our relationship with you in the Anointed One, and He has anointed and commissioned us for this special mission. He has marked us with His seal and placed His Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee, a down payment of the things to come” (2 Corinthians 1:21,22, the Voice).

Notice, too, the Trinitarian nature of the God Who is one in these verses: God (the Father, see 1:2,3; 11:31) establishes us in the Son (Messiah/Christ/Anointed One) and gives us the indwelling Holy Spirit.

The only way we can lose the Holy Spirit is if Jesus of Nazareth, the eternal Son of God, is rejected from the office of Messiah/Christ/Anointed One. This cannot happen, for Jesus’ place as God’s Messiah/Christ/Anointed One is one of His unchanging decree.

“Why are the nations in an uproar
And the peoples devising a vain thing?
The kings of the earth take their stand
And the rulers take counsel together
Against the LORD and against His Anointed
[מְשִׁיחֹֽו, from מָשִׁיחַ], saying,
‘Let us tear their fetters apart
And cast away their cords from us!’
[Proclamation of the Father]
He Who sits in the heavens laughs,
The LORD scoffs at them.
Then He will speak to them in His anger
And terrify them in His fury, saying,
‘But as for Me, I have installed My King
Upon Zion, My holy mountain.’
[Confession of the Son]
‘I will surely tell of the decree of the LORD:
He said to Me, “You are My Son,
Today I have begotten You.
Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance,
And the very ends of the earth as Your possession.
You shall break them with a rod of iron,
You shall shatter them like earthenware”’”
(Psalm 2:1-9).[1]

The LORD’s Anointed (Messiah/Christ) is His “King,” decreed to be “Son” (used in a royal/sovereign sense instead of generational, as in Psalm 89:27).

God’s promise to the Messiah/Christ/Anointed One is an aspect of His covenant through David:
“Great deliverance giveth He to His king; and sheweth mercy to His anointed [לִמְשִׁיחֹו, from מָשִׁיחַ], to David, and to his seed for evermore” (Psalm 18:50, King James Version). Paul teaches us that “seed” (singular) in the Old Testament promises is a reference to “Christ” (Galatians 3:16).

Because Jesus is decreed by the Father to be Messiah/Christ/Anointed One forever, those united to the Christ by faith are eternally indwelt by God the Holy Spirit. All that we eternally and blessedly have, including the Personal Presence of God the Holy Spirit, comes to us through the mediation of Jesus of Nazareth, eternal Son of God and fully human, the perfect and final Holder of the office called Messiah/Christ/Anointed One. Praise and adore Him!

“O come, all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant,
O come ye, O come ye, to Bethlehem.
Come and behold Him, born the King of angels;
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord.

True God of true God, Light from Light Eternal,
Lo, He shuns not the Virgin’s womb;
Son of the Father, begotten, not created;
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord.

Sing, choirs of angels, sing in exultation;
O sing, all ye citizens of heaven above!
Glory to God, all glory in the highest;
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord.

Yea, Lord, we greet Thee, born this happy morning;
Jesus, to Thee be glory given;
Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing.
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord.”

[1] My youngest daughter read this Psalm to us last night during family worship. As I pointed out to her, Psalm 1 begins and Psalm 2 ends with beatitude. How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night” (Psalm 1:1,2). “Do homage to the Son, that He not become angry, and you perish in the way, for His wrath may soon be kindled. How blessed are all who take refuge in Him!” (Psalm 2:12). These “blessed book-ends” bring these two Psalms together, I believe, as the keys to understanding the governing themes of the entire Psalter.

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