Diamond Hinges—"As And “So
“For this is as the waters of Noah unto Me; for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth; so have I sworn that I would not be angry with you, nor rebuke you.”
THERE are some people in the world who, the moment we begin to speak of a type, try to disparage that style of speech by calling it “spiritualizing.” They seem to be far too wise to be able to learn anything by that mode of teaching. Yet the Holy Spirit has given us, in the Old and New Testaments, abundant instances of spiritualizing and, though He could have used new metaphors and fresh phrases in His Infinite Wisdom, He preferred to use the old historical allusions and the old historical types for the instruction of God’s people. It is a pity that we should crave that which is new when it can truly be said, “the old is better.” In the case before us, the Holy Spirit uses Noah’s flood and the Lord’s Covenant–that it should no more return to destroy the earth–as symbolical of the Covenant of Grace which is made with the people of God in Christ Jesus. Surely He did this for our instruction! Oh, that He would shine upon the Word and make it to be both for our edification and our comfort! His Divine Treasure House is full of blessings, but He must give us the key or we shall not to able to enter. Open it, blessed Spirit, to all Your believing people!
There are two things in our text for us to consider. The first is that there are, in Noah and the Flood, and theCovenant, many symbols illustrating the Covenant of Grace. which was certainly intended first and chiefly, whether the rest were intended or not. On that main point I hope to speak at some length.
- But, first, IN NOAH, THE FLOOD AND THE COVENANT, THERE ARE MANY SYMBOLS ILLUSTRATING THE COVENANT OF GRACE.
First, Noah’s name signified, “rest.” We know where our rest is to be found and who is our Noah. Of our Lord JesusChrist, we can truly say, “He is our peace.” It is through Him that “the peace of God, which passes all understanding,” keeps our heart and mind at rest evermore. We rest in Him and nowhere else. Did He not say, “Come unto Me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest”? And has He not fulfilled His promise?
Further, Noah, in a time of general corruption, was the only man who was found righteous before God. If you turnto the Book of Genesis, at your leisure, you will see that “the wickedness of man was great in the earth.” But you will also read that “Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God.” It is also written that “Noah found grace (or favor) in the eyes of the Lord.” Noah was, in his day, the one man who was told to prepare a hiding place from the storm and a refuge from the tempest. Noah’s ark was the one place of refuge for our race in which eight persons wore preserved, or, otherwise, the whole race would have been destroyed!
Now, we know that Jesus Christ is pre-eminently the one lone Man of the human race whose perfect righteousness has given God infinite delight. When all the rest of mankind had gone astray like lost sheep, He walked with God. Here upon earth He was found, tempted, but never sinning. He was compassed with infirmity, but never transgressing–the one Man upon whom God could look with complacency as the type of what the race ought to have been. He could not look thus on the first Adam, for, when He looked upon him, He cursed the ground for his sake. The blessing came through the Second Adam, upon whom the Lord always looks with joy, and for whose sake He blesses all those who are in Him. If I might call Noah the second father of the human race–and I might properly do so–I might with still greater propriety call Jesus the Second Father of the ever-living race–the race that is quickened into newness of life by the power of the Holy Spirit!
Again, Noah, thus standing out in solitary grandeur, as a type of the lone Redeemer, was a preacher of righteousnessand therein, also, he was a type of our Lord Jesus, for never did any mere man preach righteousness as He did, for He not only preached it–He created it! We must not forget that Noah preached righteousness in vain, for no one except the members of his own family would believe his testimony. In this respect, also, he was a type and symbol of Him who was to come. The cry of Jesus and of His faithful servants in all ages has been, “Who has believed our report, and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?”
But that wondrous man, Noah, was also a builder. Probably all that he had of worldly abundance and wealth wentinto that strange ark in which the survivors from the deluge were to be preserved. And you know how our blessed Master gave all that He had in order that He might build a spiritual Church out of which the new world should be peopled. He laid down His life that He might be the Redeemer of His chosen race, and He still lives to be the great Master-Builder of His Church.
You know also that when the right time came, Noah went into the ark and was shut up in it, away from all the restof mankind. When the flood came, it spent itself upon the ark as well as upon all people and things outside it. The ark must endure the long pelting of the rain and go through the terrible deluge as through the waters of death, itself, as though it were a coffin, floating over the world’s grave–from a dead world into a new world. “The same figure,” says the Apostle Paul, “whereunto even baptism does also now save us.” That is to say, Baptism is a type and symbol of salvation, just as Noah’s ark was, for therein we, being spiritually dead with Christ, are buried with Christ in the outward symbol and rise from the water, even as Christ rose from the grave, to live henceforth among the twice-born race who fear not the second death! After the deluge, Noah came out into a new world and Jesus rose into a new world towhich He had brought life and immortality to light. Noah survived a flood that had spent all its force–and Jesus stands among us and we, His people, stand with Him to look upon a flood of Divine wrath that has spent all its force so far as we are concerned. It is true that it will sweep away the ungodly who are not of the twice-born race, but it will not injure any who belong to the race that is allied to this Second Adam, this more glorious Noah! For them, the flood of wrath has spent itself forever. Noah came out into a new world which was very different from that which existed before the flood. And he came out of the ark with a sacrifice of thanksgiving, even as Jesus presented Himself to His Father as the appointed Offering which made all His people acceptable in Him.
And, lastly, it was with Noah that the Lord’s Covenant was made, even as the Covenant which most concerns us wasmade with Jesus Christ. And, as the Covenant with Noah still stands, so stands the Covenant with Christ. The world, preserved today from destruction by flood, is a symbol of the Church of Christ preserved forever from all the wrath of God which was due to it because of its sin, but which was borne by its great Substitute and Surety, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
I have just hurriedly mentioned these various points in which Noah was a type of Christ. This is a subject which is worthy of being thought out another time–and it deserves your earnest consideration and constant remembrance.
II. But in the second place, I want to deal more fully with the chief point of the text. THERE IS A MAIN SYMBOL HERE–“This is as the waters of Noah unto Me; (for this reason, that) as I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth; so have I sworn that I would not be angry with you, nor rebuke you.”
The text turns on the two hinges of, “as,” and, “so”–two precious diamond hinges upon which it hangs! And these mean, I think, first, “ as surely as.”
First, as surely as God has sworn that a devouring flood shall never again cover the earth, so certainly has He sworn that His wrath and rebuke shall never go forth against His redeemed Church, or against one of His redeemed people. And you may rest assured that as the one is a fact, so is the other, and as the one shall never be altered, so the other never shall be! The first oath is irrevocable and so is the second–“ As I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go overthe earth; so have I sworn that I would not be angry with you, nor rebuke you.”–
“My God, the Covenant of Your love
Abides forever sure
And in its matchless Grace
But it not only means “as surely as,” it also means, “in the same manner as,” and there I notice two points of resemblance. As God has sworn, absolutely, that He will not again destroy the earth with a flood, so has He sworn absolutely that He will not pour forth His wrath against any Believer, or against the Church of Christ as a whole. And the second point is that as God has promised with a symbol that He will not destroy the earth a second time by water, so has He also promised to His people, with a symbol, a token, a sure sign–that He will not be angry with them or rebuke them.
First, then, in both cases God has promised absolutely what He will not do. You observe that there is not a single,“if,” in either of these Covenants. The Lord said absolutely, “I will not again destroy the earth with a flood.” He did not say, “Unless such-and-such contingencies arise, I will not send another flood.” He supposed no contingencies, or else, regardless of all contingencies, He said, “I will never again destroy the earth with a flood–under no circumstances, at no time, and for no reason whatever will I do so.” In like manner, God has sworn that His wrath shall never be let loose upon you who believe in Jesus Christ and are saved, in time or in eternity, or under any supposable circumstances whatever–“As I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth; so have I sworn that I would not be angry with you, nor rebuke you.” There may be dark rain clouds–there have been many such. There may be partial floods–there have been many such–but these have not invalidated the Covenant that the waters shall never again cover the earth as the flood did in the days of Noah. That Covenant stands fast forever!
In like manner, the Church of God may be very severely tried. Fierce persecutions may break out against her. She may be torn with schisms and poisoned with heresies–but God will not forget her or forsake her! And you, child of God, may have many trials and, indeed, you will have them because you are a child of God. You may have to go through deep waters, and sometimes unbelief will say–
“The Lord has quite forsaken you!
Your God will be gracious no more.”
But that can never be true! You must not judge of God’s love by any outward Providences any more than you would judge of His Covenant not to destroy the earth with a flood by the fact that there are heavy showers of rain now and again. God stands true to His Covenant with Noah, let it rain as heavily as it may! And God stands true to His still greater Covenant of Grace, let your trials and troubles be as numerous and severe as they may be! Get a firm grip of this glorious Truth of God, that there is not a drop of Divine wrath in all your sufferings! You have an aching head and a palpitating heart. You have lost your property. You have buried the darlings that nestled in your bosom. You say, “I am the man that has seen affliction,” but, for all that, not a drop of God’s wrath, nor even a rebuke, in the strong sense in which that word is used here, has fallen upon you! Gentle, tender, paternal rebukes you have had and can expect to still have–but no such rebuke as signifies fierce wrath, no such rebuke as brings a withering curse with it can ever fall upon you if you hide yourself in the Redeemer’s pierced side, if you trust to the Covenant of Grace which Christ has made with His Father on your behalf!
There will yet come upon the earth greater convulsions than have yet been experienced, for, in the verse following our text, we read, “The mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed.” Before the history of the world is complete there will come dreadful shakings and upheavals. I am no Prophet, nor the son of a Prophet, but, as it has been in the past, so may we expect that it shall be in the future. Dynasties will die, empires will collapse, there will be wars, famines, pestilences and we know not what, for the earth is subject to all these things! But the Church of God shall never suffer from famine–her dynasty shall never be dissolved, the gates of Hell shall not prevail against her–and her King shall sit upon His throne forever! And you, dear Friend, may have such troubles that it shall seem to you as if the mountains had departed and the hills had been removed and you shall seem to have no resting place for the soles of your feet, but if you are trusting in Jesus, He will not be angry with you, nor rebuke you, for so God’s promise stands! “The mountains shall depart and the hills be removed, but My kindness shall not depart from you, neither shall the Covenant of My peace be removed, says the Lord that has mercy on you.” Ah, the most terrible convulsions may come–the star called Wormwood may fall and the seven vials be emptied out! And the earth may shake with the tramp of the armies gathered together for the last dread battle–but, whatever may happen, the people of God must forever remain–
“Safe in the arms of Jesus.”
Stormy may be the outlook, but all are safe who are within the ark! The huge billows may threaten to overwhelm us, but, “with Christ in the vessel,” we can “smile at the storm.” His kindness shall not depart from us nor shall the Covenant of His peace be removed–
“Firm as the lasting hills,
This Covenant shall endure,
Whose potent shalls and wills
Make every blessing sure.
When ruin shakes all nature’s frame,
Its jots and tittles stand the same.”
I would like to sit down and think over these blessed Truths of God and enjoy them. May the Lord be pleased to give each of us the Grace to feed upon them and to know, by personal experience, the blessedness of them! Think, dear Brothers and Sisters, how can there be any wrath treasured up against God’s people when it was all poured out upon the Lord Jesus Christ, their Surety and Substitute? For–
“Payment God cannot twice demand,
First at my bleeding Surety’s hand,
And then again at mine.”
If Jesus suffered in my place, how can God’s wrath fall upon me? Does Infinite Justice demand two victims? Can God smite the Substitute and them smite the sinner for whom He stood as Substitute? I know, in my inmost soul, that this is utterly impossible! If Jesus really did suffer in my place–and well do I know that He did–if, in the place of all His believing people, He has bled and died, and well do we know that it was so–then, Beloved, the wrath of God cannot fall upon us, for there is none, it is all gone! Christ has borne it all so far as all His people are concerned!
Observe, too, that there is such a close union between Christ and all His people that if God’s wrath did fall upon Christ’s people, it would also fall upon Christ! If you were to scald one part of my body–the soles of my feet, for instance–you would scald me. Brothers and Sisters in Christ,we are so vitally united to Christ that if we were lost, Christ would not have a perfect body, for “we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones.” So His Inspired Apostle assures us. Be comforted, then, you who are one with Jesus! How can wrath fall on any part of the body of Christ? And you are a part of that body and, therefore, you are safe from wrath forever–
“If ever it should come to pass,
That sheep of Christ should fall away,
My feeble, fickle soul, alas,
Would fall a thousand times a day.”
That shall never be, for He will keep His own and preserve them in righteousness and true holiness, in faith, and love, and hope, until He brings them to His eternal Kingdom and Glory! When our Great Shepherd counts His sheep at the last, they shall, each one, pass under the rod of Him that counts them, and they will, every one of them, be there! That little lamb that was all but devoured by the lion shall be there. That poor weather-beaten ewe that was seized by the bear shall be there–the one that had the hardest lot of all shall be there, for the Lord will never let it be said that He kept the strong but could not keep the weak! He will not let it be said that He kept them that were not tried, but that He could not keep those that were! That cannot be! The Good Shepherd will never have to say of any of His sheep that He has lost them–but He will say to His Father, “Those that You gave Me I have kept, and none of them is lost.” He will account for the full tale of His flock in the Presence of Him who gave them to Him. Oh, I think I hear the muster-roll being read out at the last! In it are the names of all those who ever put their trust in Christ. Let not any true Believer say–
“What if my name should be left out,
When You for them shall call?”
It will not be left out if you are one of His! If the question is put “Is Mrs. Much-Afraid here?” She will sweetly answer to her name and say, “Yes, Lord, I am here, by Your Grace, but I am afraid no longer!” “Is Little-Faith here?” And LittleFaith will sing out, “Yes, Lord, for Little-Faith’s grain of mustard seed has grown into a tree!” “And is Mr. Ready-toHalt here?” “Yes, Lord, but without his crutches, for he no longer needs them!” “And Mr. Feeble-Mind–is he here?” “Yes, Lord, but he has left his feeble mind behind him and now he sings of the eternal love of Christ to such a poor sinner as he was!”
Besides, do you not know that “the Father Himself loves you,” and that He loved you so much that He gave His only-begotten Son to die for you? Will He cast you away after doing that? Never! “For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.” If He so loved us when we were in the horrible pit and in the miry clay, when the filth of sin was all over us, as to lift us up into the bosom of Christ, do you think that He will not love us enough to keep us there? From eternity He has chosen us and by the precious blood of Jesus He has bought us! His is no child’s love that burns brightly today and goes out into cold ashes on the morrow. His love is no spark of transient passion–it is an eternal flame and He will never allow it to burn itself out. Let us not be afraid, therefore, that the wave of His wrath will ever go over us, or that the torrent of His stern rebuke will ever sweep us away. Let us rest in the joyful assurance that if we are, indeed, in Christ, any question about the wrath of God falling upon us can be laid aside forever.
What you all need is to have that precious Truth of God brought home to your heart. Possibly some of you are like a sea captain to whom I was once talking about the precious things of the Kingdom. We were going up the river and he pointed to the great posts to which the barges and ships could be moored. “Ah,” he said, “they would hold the forest if I could only get a rope over them. But, sometimes,” he added, “we can’t fling the rope so that it goes right over the head of the post and gives us a firm hold.” If any of you, dear Friends, are in such a difficulty as that, I pray that the Lord, as He stands on the shore, may throw a rope to you and that you may lay hold of it and be moored fast to this sure Truth of God that as certainly as the waters of Noah will no more go over the earth, so will the waves of God’s wrath never go over the man who is safely sheltered in the wounds of Jesus!
The other point we were to notice is that, in both Covenants there was a sign. As I read about the Covenant of Noah,I like to dwell upon that part where God said of the rainbow, “This is the token of the Covenant which I make between Me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations.” So God has a sign for Himself, for us, and for every living soul that is in Christ. The rainbow is a very precious sign of the ancient Covenant. We cannot often see it, but now and then God hangs it out–often enough, I have no doubt. But He has given to us, in the Covenant of Grace, a sign which we can always see and I think it is this. Our Lord Jesus once said to His disciples, “As the Father has loved Me, so have I loved you.” As certainly as the Father loves Christ, so certainly does Christ love His people. If you could look up into Heaven, what would you see there? You would see Christ at the right hand of the Father–Christ the Beloved of the Father, Christ whom the Father delights to honor, Christ the very apple of the Father’s eye! That is your token of the Everlasting Covenant made with Christ on behalf of all His people! Whenever you can see that sign–and you can always see it, for there is not a single child of God who has any doubt about the love which the Father bears to Christ–that is the token to you of the Covenant made with Christ for you. “As the Father has loved Me, so have I loved you.”
And, in a minor sense, I think that this Communion Table, around which many of us will presently gather, furnishes us with another symbol of the Father’s love as instructive as the rainbow itself. Let me speak of it for a minute or two. Child of God, the fact that your Father loves you and that He will not be angry with you, nor rebuke you, is certain, for there stands His Table furnished and prepared. For what purpose? Why, that you may feast with Him! At the institution of the Supper, Christ Himself sat and presided at the table–and it is no Lord’s Supper if He is not there! “You are My friends,” He says to you who believe in Him–and He invites you to come and sit at His Table and feast with Him. If He did not love you, He would not have spread the Table for you. As if you have had any doubt about the continuance of His love to you, see the Table spread for you. I am sure that the poor prodigal, when he came back from his wanderings, was comforted, among other things, by the killing of the fatted calf and the loading of the table at which he was a welcome guest. See how your Father loads the table for you–
“Never did angels taste above
Redeeming Grace and dying love”–
yet these items have been set before you. O Believer, rest assured that the Lord will not be angry with you, nor rebuke you–otherwise He would not have called you to sit with Him at His table! “Go to bed, Sir, without your supper,” is what an angry father says to his disobedient boy. But “Eat, O Friends! Drink, yes, drink abundantly, O Beloved,” is what your Father says to you! Therefore, be you greatly comforted!
If you look on the Table, what do you see there? You see the bread and the wine, the emblems of the body and the blood of Jesus, and as you see the two emblems separate from one another, they become to you the emblems of the death of Jesus, whose blood streamed out of His body through His many wounds. God bids you come here and think of Jesus, your Savior. He does not bid you come here and sit and groan because of your sins! He would have you think of the death of His dear Son by which all your sins were put away. Our Father in Heaven says to us who have believed in Jesus, “Come, My children, to this Table, and see how you were cleansed from all your guilty stains. Come and see how all that could provoke Me to wrath against you was forever put away. Come to My Table and take the tokens of the great propitiatory Sacrifice offered by My well-beloved Son on your behalf.” When I look into the wine cup and think of the precious blood of Jesus shed for many for the remission of sins–and when I realize that He means this emblem of His bloodshed to be a luxury, a source of exhilaration, a means of spiritual strength to us as we drink it–I understand that His mind is not full of thoughts of wrath against us, but rather of thoughts of a sacred hospitality which bids His children to be happy while feasting with Him at His Table!
I have not time to say more, except to remind you that all who lived in the days of Noah did not enter the ark ofsafety. They did not all have a share in that Covenant of which the bow in the cloud was the visible sign, for the vast mass of the population was swept away by that terrible flood. As I look upon my present congregation, I bless God that it will not be so with you, for the most of you have, I trust, believed in Jesus. It is a melancholy reflection, however, that there are many here who have not entered the Ark of Salvation, or, as far as we know, have any share in the Covenant of Grace. Every time the Communion Table is spread here, it seems to me that it would be a wonderful sermon even if I did not say anything. Tonight, as soon as I have finished preaching, many of us will begin to gather around the Communion Table and the congregation will at once begin to break up into its several parts. There are some of you who will be going home and others of you will be going upstairs to look on while we are gathered at the ordinance. I do not know how you feel about this division, but I do not like it, especially with regard to some of you whom I respect and esteem, and who, I believe, have many admirable points about you.
But you are not decided, you have never given your hearts to Christ so you will be lost forever if you die as you now are! You know you will and, years ago, it caused you quite a pang to have to go away when others remained for the Communion. You have to leave your wife, do you not?–and your sisters and some of you have to leave your father and mother. I grieve to say that there are some parents here who have to leave their children to sit at the Table while they, themselves, go away. There was a time when you could hardly bear to do that, but you are getting used to it, I am afraid–some of you. I pray God that you may not get used to it because, if you do, there will come a day when these partings will be final–when you will not merely be going home or going up into the gallery, but you will be driven from God’s Presence, far away from the everlasting halls where His saints will be feasting–and be cast down to the prison of black despair where weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth must be your portion forever! What says that old-fashioned hymn that the Revivalists used to sing?–
“Oh, there will be weeping!
Oh, there will be weeping!
Oh, there will be weeping–
At the Judgment Seat of Christ!”
The sharp, two-edged sword will cut many families in two and sever the husband from the wife whom he so fondly loved, though he did not love her Savior! And the son will be cut off from the mother whom he truly loved, but whose God he did not. Why should we be divided thus? Why should we be divided? Why should we not go hand in hand to Immanuel’s land?
Dear Savior, put Your almighty arms right round this Tabernacle–it is only like a little box to You–and take the whole Tabernacle full of us, and let us all be Yours in the day when You shall make up your jewels! Oh, that You could then say, “They are all here, as they were all in the Tabernacle on that first night in August, 1875–all here and all Mine, and all saved.” Oh, how fervently I pray that it may be so! Will you not yourselves all pray the same prayer? God will hear you if you do, for He waits to be gracious! There must be a separation, now, but let this be the last time that it in your lot with Christ and with His people, too! I can assure you that if you do so, we who love the Lord, will greatly rejoice–and you also will rejoice with us! God bless you all, and so grant us our heart’s desire, for Jesus Christ’s sake! Amen.