Call To Worship December 1 2019
THE POOR MAN’S OLD TESTAMENT COMMENTARY by Robert Hawker
“This is a most blessed Chapter, for the precious contents of which the Church of CHRIST has found occasion in all ages since possessed of it, and will find occasion to bless GOD the HOLY GHOST for it till time shall be no more. We have in it the memorable spot predicted where CHRIST should be born; with assurances of his spiritual government and kingdom, and the gracious marks by which his spiritual Israel should be known!
The Chapter is introduced with an account of Zion’s troubles. She is to be brought down to great affliction. Troops of foes are to encompass her. No doubt this looked further than the captivity of the Church in Babylon, because the next verse is a comfortable promise in the midst of this trouble; and as it refers to the person, and the coming of the LORD JESUS CHRIST, I am inclined to think that the troops here spoken of mean the Roman government; under which Judea was a province in the moment of the birth of CHRIST. See, Reader! how when troubles abound, consolations abound!
Every word in this blessed verse is important; and therefore let us regard every word in it. Bethlehem means the house of bread! how suited this to him, and his birth, who is the bread of life. Ephratah, or Ephrath, meaning fruitfulness, was the name also of the city of Bethlehem, about two leagues from Jerusalem, supposed to have been so named from Ephrah, Caleb’s wife; 1 Chronicles 2:19. David was also born here. John 7:42. Observe also, how humbly it is spoken of, little among the thousands of Judah. Yes! where JESUS the humble Saviour is born, all the corresponding circumstances shall be humble also! Now mark the features of the GOD-MAN, also Mediator. His goings forth have been from of old. How? not as GOD only, for then in that sense there is neither goings forth nor retirings. His immensity filling all space, is one of his divine attributes, and could not need mentioning. And not as man only, for then his goings forth could not have been eternal. But in the union of both, as GOD-MAN, JESUS-Mediator went forth in the decree of JEHOVAH from everlasting. Sweet and precious testimony this to the character of the LORD JESUS, as the CHRIST of GOD. His character of office is next to be noted, a Ruler in Israel. And so the LORD JESUS was amidst all the humbleness in which he appeared in the days of his flesh; for though he was despised and rejected of men, yet did he reign and rule in the hearts of all his redeemed, and manifested forth his glory, and his disciples believed on him. John 2:11. Blessed be GOD the HOLY GHOST for this precious portion in the testimony of the Prophets, to the person, character, and offices of the LORD JESUS CHRIST! In confirmation of the whole, let the Reader consult, Matthew 2:6. There is one…thought more in this verse which must not be overlooked, because it is highly important; and that is, who is the speaker of this memorable verse? Doubtless it is GOD the FATHER. Well then, Reader! see here a blessed testimony of GOD the FATHER, to the mission of his dear SON; that this Ruler, this Saviour in Israel, whose goings forth had been from everlasting, had been and should be, unto GOD: he shall come forth unto me, says JEHOVAH. Here lies indeed the great blessedness in the commission of CHRIST, that it is the authority of GOD the FATHER. So spoke JESUS. John 5:36-43. So spoke his servant John! 1 John 4:14.
The sense of this verse seems to be, that there shall be great trouble in Israel, until this glorious event of CHRIST’S birth should take place. And certain it is that Israel was brought very low before CHRIST was born. Some however make these words wholly spiritual with respect to the new birth, in the heart of CHRIST’S people, whose awakenings in grace are well known to be called in scripture travailing in soul. Galatians 4:19.”