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Time and Eternity: Chapter 4 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Joseph R. Holder   

Chapter 4

                                       The Eternal Christ: Always With the Father

 

                But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.  Micah 5:2.

 

When did Jesus Christ begin?  Did he begin?  Is he, like God the Father, eternal?  Probably this central point more clearly distinguishes heretical from historic biblical Christianity than any other doctrine.  Many believe in a Jesus who was the first and most prominent of created beings, but a created being cannot be God.  Many believe in a Jesus who only existed in some amorphous evolving state until the virgin birth, but an evolving God cannot be the God who inhabits eternity.  If you don't have the essential nature of Jesus Christ straight, you can't get anything else right!

 

Micah wrote this book around 750 B. C.  750 years before Christ he uttered this exceptional prophecy of the coming Messiah.  The country inhabited by the Jews knew of two communities named Bethlehem.  Micah didn't leave us in doubt; he told us which of the two cities the prophecy intended.  The Messiah was not to be born in Jerusalem or one of the large population centers of the nation, but in an obscure village named Bethlehem.  When God sends us a prophecy, he doesn't offer vague generalities, but specific data which cannot be doubted.  This prophecy contains a birth announcement, but it came 750 years before the child was born!

 

The Messiah, Israel's true ruler, was to be born in Bethlehem Ephratah.  Yet his goings forth, his life, his existence, and his essential work had been from of old.  At the moment of Micah's prophecy, 750 years before Christ was born in Bethlehem, Christ's goings forth had been from of old.  According to the King James marginal reading, the Hebrew words translated from everlasting mean "From the days of eternity."  Though he would assume the form of man through a virgin's womb and be born in Bethlehem Ephratah, that remote little village could never boast of his origin.  His goings forth, his essential activities within the being and person of God reached back in time to the days of old.  In I Corinthians 10:4 we read, "And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ."  These words describe God's miraculous provision of water to the Israelites in their wilderness journey under the leadership of Moses.  Water in the desert was not attributed to strange natural forces, or to coincidental artesian wells, nor to an impersonal cosmic force.  Christ gave them that water, part of his goings forth of old.

 

In John 8:56-58 Jesus responded to the unbelieving Jews who questioned his claim of eternal Godhood.  "Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.  Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham?  Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am."  When Jesus spoke of Abraham seeing the day of Christ, he intended more than Abraham's prophecy.  He signified that Abraham personally experienced fellowship with the pre-incarnate Christ, and the Jews who accused him understood that.  How could a man who was less than fifty years old claim to have personal fellowship with Abraham who lived approximately twenty centuries earlier?  Consider the power of Jesus' response, "Before Abraham was, I am."  I am takes on the same meaning as it does in Exodus 3 where God revealed his name to Moses in the burning bush, "I AM."  It suggests the same eternal God described in John 1:1, "In the beginning was (I AM) the Word, and the Word was (I AM) with God, and the Word was (I AM) God."  Jesus could not have chosen words to make his claim of eternal Godhood more obvious.  His goings forth of old included personal providence with Abraham. 

 

Based on the lesson from John 1, we may claim scriptural authority to trace his goings forth farther back into the day of creation, "All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made," John 1:3.  The Word, Christ's goings forth, John here assigned to the days of creation, the very beginning of all things.  Notice that Christ did not begin at that time, but that he existed at that time.  "The same was in the beginning with God," John 1:2.

 

Perhaps as much as 200 to 300 years before Micah's prophecy, Solomon wrote of Christ in this same manner, "Who hath ascended up into heaven, or descended?  Who hath gathered the wind in his fists?  Who hath bound the waters in a garment?  Who hath established all the ends of the earth?  What is his name, and what is his son's name, if thou canst tell?" Proverbs 30:4. 

 

In the New Testament Jesus shined his eternal light into the shadows of our limited thoughts on eternity and taught this same truth.  Consider his personal prayer.  "And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was," John 17:5.  These words stand in perfect harmony with Micah's prophecy.  His goings forth from everlasting, from the days of eternity, assign him a position of undivided Godhood with God the Father.

 

Consider this New Testament witness to Christ's eternal being.

 

                Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.  Philippians 2:5-8.

 

According to this lesson, Christ existed in the form, or being, of God.  In that state he had every right to claim equality with God.  He was, in no way, inferior to God.  The word translated equal comes from the Greek root for our English Isosceles, meaning exactly equal.  Christ was God.  Therefore, he did not exaggerate his position by claiming that equality with God.  Becoming human did not constitute his beginning, but rather represented a decision which he implemented.  He made himself of no reputation by taking the form of a servant, the fashion of a man.  His death did not signal his defeat, but marked his personal submission and execution of his purpose in coming as man.  In eternity's day we shall bow the knee to him and praise his eternal goings forth.  May we begin eternity's exercise now as we offer him our praise and worship.

 

                What think ye of Christ is the test,
                To try both your state and your scheme;
                You cannot be right in the rest,
                Unless you think rightly of him.
                As Jesus appears in your view,
                As he is beloved or not;
                So God is disposed to you,
                And mercy or wrath are your lot.
 
 
                Some take him a creature to be,
                A man, or an angel at most:
                Sure these have not feelings like me,
                Nor know themselves wretched and lost.
                So guilty, so helpless am I,
                I durst not confide in his blood,
                Nor on his protection rely,
                Unless I were sure he is God.
 
                Some call him a Saviour in word,
                But mix their own works with his plan;
                And hope he his help will afford,
                When they have done all that they can:
                If doings prove rather too light,
                (A little, they own, they may fail),
                They purpose to make up full weight
                By casting his name in the scale.
 
                Some style him the Pearl of great price,
                And say he's the Fountain of joys;
                Yet feed upon folly and vice,
                And cleave to the world and its toys:
                Like Judas, the Saviour they kiss,
                And while they salute him, betray;
                Ah!  What will profession like this
                Avail in his terrible day?
 
                If asked what of Jesus I think,
                Though still my best thoughts are but poor,
                I say, he's my meat and my drink,
                My life, and my strength, and my store;
                My Shepherd, my Husband, my Friend,
                My Saviour from sin and from thrall;
                My hope from beginning to end,
                My portion, my Lord, and my All.
                       John Newton
Last Updated ( Monday, 09 April 2007 )
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