|Hence "the gospel of God" (Romans 1:16) is being rapidly and almost universally superseded by the gospel of man, which is a gospel of sanitation, and indeed is now openly called "Christian Socialism." But it is a socialism without Christ. It does not begin with the glory of God, and it will not and cannot end in any real good to man. It begins with man; its object is to improve the old nature apart from God, and to reform the flesh; and the measure of its success is the measure in which man can become "good" without "God." |
There are a number of ways man's thoughts are the opposite of God's. God says, "Seek first." However, man says"I'll take care of me first." He is great in his own eyes and his aim is to be independent of God. Independence, in God, is His glory. Independence in man, is his sin, and rebellion, and shame. In the Word of God, therefore, God is first, and before all.
"Thus saith the LORD, the King of Israel,
And his redeemer the LORD of hosts:
I am the first, and I am the last;
And beside Me there is no God." (Isaiah 44:6)
"Hearken unto Me, O Jacob, and Israel My called;
I am He; I am the first, I also am the last.
Mine hand also hath laid the foundation of the earth,
And My right hand hath spanned the heavens." (Isaiah 48:12,13)
"Before Me there was no God formed,
Neither shall there be after Me.
I, even, I, am the LORD;
And beside Me there is no savior." (Isaiah 43:10,11)
"I am Alpha and Omega,
The first and the last." (Revelation 1:11,17, 2:8, 22:13)
Thus God emphasizes this great foundation truth. All must be confusion where man refuses to recognize it. All must be peace where it is owned.
Why are the first recorded words of Jesus significant?
Here is another illustration of the significance of numerials, especially the number one, in Scripture. The Lord Jesus must have spoken from the time that all children spoke; but not a single syllable that He uttered has the Holy Spirit been pleased to record in the Scriptures, until He was twelve years of age. And then only this one utterance from His birth till He entered on His ministry at His baptism. Only a single sentence out of all those twenty-nine years. Surely words thus singled out by the Holy Spirit must be full of significance. What were they? They are written down for us in Luke 2:49: "WIST YE NOT THAT I MUST BE ABOUT MY FATHER'S BUSINESS?" Solemn words! Important words! Especially in the light these first words throw up His last words, "IT IS FINISHED." What was finished? "The Father's business." Yes, it was the Father's will.
"Lo, I come to do Thy will, O My God." "This is the Father's will which hath sent Me, that of all which He hath given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day" (John 6:39).
Salvation was no afterthought with God. It was part of his "eternal purpose." It originated in His "will." It was not merely for the good of man, but for the glory of God in a number of ways which we see not now or yet. Hence it is that when Jesus was delivering up His work back into the Father's hands, He could say:
"I have glorified Thee on the earth: I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me to do" (John 17:4).
We may find another illustration of the significance of the number 1 or "first" in noticing the first ministerial words of the Lord Jesus.
What were the FIRST words Jesus spoke when he began his ministry?
At His baptism (Matthew 3:13-17) He was anointed for His ministry, and immediately after we read: "THEN was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the Devil." For Forty days He fasted and was tempted. Not a word that escaped His lips during those Forty days is written down. But the very first recorded words of his ministry are: "It is written." Three times over: "It is written"; "It is written"' "It is written."
His official ministry closed with His High-Priestly prayer to the Father in John 17, for at its close He went out into the Garden of Gethsemane to His betrayal, and within a few hours His death. In those last words of His ministry there is the same threefold reference to the Word of God: 5:17, "Thy word is truth"; v. 14, "I have given them Thy word"; and v. 8, "I have given unto them the words which Thou gavest Me."
What does this fact say to us? If we have ears to hear, it says The beginning and end of all ministry is the Word of God. Yea, it is the number of ministerial testimony. The Lord thus exalted the Word of God, and by the power of His first ministerial words He impresses upon us this great lesson.
What is the first book of the Bible?
The first book of the Bible also affords us another illustration of the number one. In Genesis we see Divine sovereignty and supremacy. Sovereignty in Creation, in giving life, and in sustaining life. The name by which God specially revealed Himself to the Patriarchs, He says (Exodus 6:3), was El-Shaddai (God Almighty). This Title occurs a number of times; the square of three, the number of Divine perfection.
|In Genesis 6 times ||= 9 (32) |
|Rest of Pentateuch 3 times |
The first occurrence of the name "Almighty" is also full of instruction, but we shall consider it under the number "five." All through this first Book we see this Divine supremacy and sovereignty - sovereignty of will in election and calling: calling Abram and no other (Acts 7:2); choosing Isaac and not Ishmael (Genesis 17:18-21); Jacob and not Esau (ibid. 25:23, etc.); Ephraim and not Manasseh (ibid. 48:19; Hebrews 11:21).
This first book contains all the other books in embryo, and has been well called "the seed plot of the Bible." Its Divine title is "THE BEGINNING," i.e., the first: "In the beginning God," i.e., God first. Here is the beginning of life, the beginning of prophecy (Genesis 3:15). The woman's seed foretold, and the beginning of the enmity between her seed and the seed of the serpent.
The covenant made with Abraham (Genesis 15) was unconditional, because there was only one contracting party. The Law had a mediator, therefore there were two parties to that covenant. "But a mediator is not of one [contracting party*], but God is one" (Galatians 3:20). God alone made this covenant, hence it is called "the covenant of PROMISE."
* The ellipsis is wrongly supplied in Galatians 3:20. It is not the word mediator which is to be repeated a number of times, but the contracting party from v. 19.
Then we have the sufferings of Christ, and the glory which should follow, foreshadowed in Joseph. "The way of Cain" and the way of God are seen in Cain's fruits and Abel's lamb, showing the true and only ground of access to and worship of God.
Thus in the forefront of revelation we are shown that man cannot be saved by works, but by grace alone. The foundation of all truth is here. Gospel truth shines brightly here. All is in a single book, and that the first.
How is the number one related to the Millenium?
"And the LORD shall be King over all the earth; In that day shall there be one LORD, and His name one."
There will in that glorious day be none to dispute God's rule. There will be no difference of law, or will, or rule, then. All will be harmony, unity, and agreement. This is the secret of Millennial peace. In the Lord's Prayer the two are placed together, the first being consequent upon the other.
"Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven."
Where there are more wills than one, there can be no peace, no rest. There must necessarily be conflict and confusion.
This is where the Lord Jesus, as man, found rest in the midst of His rejection. In Matthew 11, John the Baptist doubts, vv. 2, 3; the people of that generation reject Him, vv. 16-19; the cities which saw His mightiest works do not believe, vv. 20-24. Then we read in the next verses (25,26),
"AT THAT TIME Jesus answered and said, I THANK THEE, O FATHER, Lord of heaven and earth, because Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes, EVEN SO FATHER; for so it seemed good in Thy sight."
And then turning to his weary servants, the subjects of similar trials and disappointments, He says,
"Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest."
In other words, rest is to be found only in subjection to the Father's will. This is the secret of present rest for our souls. This is the secret of Millennial peace and blessing for the earth.
It is when our hearts are so before God and so with God, that we learn the wondrous wisdom of His way, and the perfection, sweetness, and blessedness of His will. We yearn to possess it, we long for it, and desire to come into its joy; and our own will vanishes without an effort, and without our knowing it, until we discover afterwards what has happened by a happy experience. In Millennial days this will be the blessing of the whole earth. For in that day there shall be 1 King, 1 will, "one Lord, and His name one."
How does the number one relate to being Holy?
The first occurrence of Ko-desh, holy, is in Exodus 3:5. Not in the Book of the Beginning (Genesis); not until Exodus is opened - the Book of Redemption, which records how God came down to redeem His people out of Egypt (Exodus 15:13). The creature cannot understand anything about holiness except on the ground of redemption.
What is the first QUESTION asked in the New Testament?
The number one of the New Testament therefore is, in Matthew 2:2, "Where is HE that is born?" Where is this savior whom I need? He has sought me and brought me to conviction. Where is He that I might find Him, and know Him, and worship Him, and serve Him?
How is TRUTH related to the number one?
The Hebrew noun for Truth in the bible is a remarkable illustration of the symbolism of one. Many are the words used for deceit and lies, (see above) but there is only one word for truth. Man's lies are almost infinite! The word Emeth means firmness and stability, perpetuity, security. This is what God is. This is exactly what man is not! Man is altogether vanity.
"All men are liars" (Psalm 116:11).
"His mouth is full of cursing, deceit [Hebrews pl., deceits], and fraud; under his tongue is ungodliness and vanity" (Psalm 10:7).
"They speak vanity every one with his neighbor: with flattering lips and a double heart do they speak" (Psalm 12:2).
Truth is found only in the Word of God, in Christ, who says of Himself, the living Word, "I am the truth" (John 14:6); and of the written Word, the Scriptures, "Thy word is truth" (John 17:17).
Truth is heard only in the Word of God. It is taught only by Jesus. Hence it is written (Ephesians 4:20,21),
"Ye have not so learned Christ, if so be that ye have heard HIM, and have been taught by HIM, as the truth is in Jesus."
Additional commentary on the Biblical Meaning of 1 *
The number one signifies the unity and oneness of God:
"Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one!" (Deuteronomy 6:4, NKJV).
In the Hebrew this phrase is literally translated as "Our one Elohim is Jehovah, Jehovah."
The number one also symbolizes the unity and oneness of God the Father and Jesus Christ (John 10:30; 17:21). By His one sacrifice Jesus removes our sins forever. Jesus is the one Mediator and the one Shepherd (1Timothy 2:5; John 10:16).
The apostle Paul states regarding the relationship between God and believer:
"There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all." (Ephesians 4:4-6, NKJV)