Tuesday, May 19, 2015

"I offer; on me let thine anger fall... on me let Death wreak all his rage."

I remember the literature class in high school in which we studied John Milton's Paradise Lost.

And I remember the joy and thrill I was just barely tasting in the study of it... but, sadly, I was too much beholden to the conspiracy of cool to really start getting into literature at that time.

Sorry, Mrs. Warren.  If only I could sit in your classes again.

Sort of.

But anyway... taste the joy and thrill with me again, to the measureless glory of Christ.  Here's the scene: before the world was created, Satan & his minions rebelled against God.  And after getting himself cast down from heaven, he waits for the day of his sweet revenge.

Then Milton tells of our world being formed, in beauty and glory and mystery.

But.  Satan sees man.  Now comes the day of his revenge.  He can't destroy God Himself, but he can destroy the image-bearers of God.

And now the Godhead (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), considering what awful things Satan intends for man, holds counsel:

On his right the radiant image of his glory sat. 
His only son.  On earth he first beheld
Our two first parents, yet the only two
Of mankind, in the Happy Garden placed....
He then surveyed Hell and the gulf between, and Satan there....
Ready now to stoop, with wearied wings and willing feet.... 
Him God beholding from his prospect high,
Wherein past, present, future, he behold,
Thus to His only son foreseeing spake: --
"Only begotten son, seest thou what rage
Transports our Adversary... he wings his way...
Directly towards the new-created World,
And Man here placed, with purpose to assay
If him by force he can destroy, or, worse,
By some false guile pervert: and shall pervert;
For Man will hearken to his glozing lies,
And easily transgress the sole command"....

Then the Father says this, contrasting two destinies: that of Satan & his minions, and that of mankind:

The first sort by their own suggestion fell,
Self-tempted, self-depraved; Man falls, deceived
By the other first: Man, therefore, shall find grace.

And then Jesus, the Son of God, responds to his Father.  If anyone is still reading this far, this is your reward:

O Father, gracious was that word which closed 
Thy Sovereign sentence, that Man should find grace....
Happy for man, so coming! He her aid
Can never seek, once dead in sins and lost--
Atonement for himself, or offering meet,
Indebted and undone, hath none to bring.
Behold me, then: me for him, life for life,
I offer; on me let thine anger fall; 
Account me Man:... on me let Death wreak all his rage.
Under his gloomy power I shall not long lie vanquished....
Then, with the multitude of my redeemed, 
Shall enter Heaven, long absent, and return.
Father, to see Thy face, wherein no cloud
Of anger shall remain, but peace assured
And reconcilement: wrath shall be no more
Thenceforth, but in thy presence joy entire.

This is the great joy of the gospel for sinners!  No cloud of anger on God's face anymore, but peace with a holy God, assured.  Wrath shall be no more.  All joy, in the presence of the Holy One.


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