At the Right Hand of God
Gavin B. Johnston, Inverness
The heading of this article denotes the present position and session of our Lord Jesus Christ. This is of .significance to the Christian and non-Christian in the present and in the future. 'He ever liveth', Rev. 1. 18. At His ascension He passed through the heavens, Heb. 4. 14 and lit., into heaven itself, Heb. 9. 24-to the glory He had with the Father before the world was, John 17. 5; to the right hand of God, Mark 16. 19; the right hand of the Majesty on High, Heb. 1. 3; the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the Heavens, Heb. 8. 1; the right hand of the throne of Cod, Heb. 12. 2.
His exaltation was His enthronement. What dignity and glory and eminence is His! God has exalted Him to His own right hand.
Man debased Him but God has enthroned Him. Man crowned Him with a crown of thorns, but God crowned Him with glory and honour, Heb. 2. 9; made Him both Lord and Christ, Acts 2, 36; a prince and a Saviour, Acts 5. 31; the only Saviour, Acts 4. 12.
He humbled Himself-lower than angels, Heb. 2. 7, taking the form of a servant and the likeness of men, Phil. 2. 7. He stooped even lower to the depths of the cross, Phil. 2. 6. From the lowest depths God has exalted Him to the highest heights as the one worthy of it, Phil, 2. 9.
'Highly exalted him'-the greatest elevation; 'a name above every name', Phil. 2. 9-the greatest honour; 'that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow', Phil. 2. 10-the greatest acknowledgement; 'far above all heavens', Eph. 4. 10-the greatest sphere; 'far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion', Eph. 1. 21-the greatest authority; 'and every name that is named', Eph. I. 21-the greatest supremacy. Truly, God has exalted Him 'far above all'.
'He sat down on the right hand of God', Heb. 10. 12. We rejoice in a finished work. There could be no resting until the work the Son of God came to earth specifically to do was accomplished, and of which He Himself spoke, 'I have a baptism to be baptized with and how I am straitened until it be accomplished'. Moses and Elias spoke of 'his decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem'.
The cross was a great event in the counsels of God: Fore-ordained, 1 Pet. 1. 20; Foreshadowed, Heb. 10. 1; Foretold, Isa. 53; and never to be forgotten, Rev. 5. 6, and central to God's redemptive programme.
Only Christ could accomplish the work of redemption, it was beyond the capability of sinful man to redeem his brother or give to God a ransom for him, Psa. 49. 7. Undoubtedly a greater work than creation and requiring much more than the spoken word. In John 17 He said, 'I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do'. His is the glory of a finished work.
Hebrews 10 makes it clear that nothing less than a perfect sacrifice for sin could satisfy God, 'in burnt offerings and sacrifices thou hast had no pleasure'. Only such a sacrifice could bring to an end the continuity and ineffectiveness of Old Testament sacrifices, which could never take away sins, Heb. 10. 4.
'Every priest standeth daily ministering and offering often times the same sacrifices', Heb. 10. 11. 'But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down at the right hand of God', Heb. 10. 12. 'By one offering He hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified', Heb. 10, 14. One offering-one sacrifice-forever-once for all-the work is done-finished and complete and no need to be repeated. The old sacrificial system has passed away. The new covenant inaugurated, 'their sins and iniquities will I remember no more', Heb. 10. 17.
He makes intercession Rom. 8. 34; Heb. 7. 25. Christ, the High Priest of our profession, who is now in the presence of God for us, Heb. 3.1; 9. 24. His redemptive cross-work finished on earth is now followed by His unfinished work of intercession in heaven. He is there as the Representative of His people, and in all the virtue of His sin-atoning sacrifice, in the presence of the Father, in the interests of His own.
The nature and content of His intercessory work is made plain in John 17. He prays for His own, so precious to Him; The Father's gift to Him, v. 6; out of the world, v. 6; not of the world, v. 16; T pray for them. I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me, for they are thine', v. 9; He prays for their preservation, vv. 11, 15; for their sanctification, v. 17; for their unification v. 21; for their glorification, v. 24.
The spiritual and eternal welfare and blessing of His own is of great importance to Him. His intercessory work avails with God. As a heavenly High Priest He is able to do what no earthly High Priest was able to do. He is merciful and faithful, Heb. 2.17, but also able to sympathize; able to succour; able to save. He can be touched with the feelings of our infirmities, Heb. 4. 15; He was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin, having suffered being tempted, Heb. 2. 18; He knows and understands; He has been in our circumstances and knows what sore temptations are.
But He is able to succour (minister strength) to those who are tempted, Heb. 2. 18, able to save to finality or completion all that come unto God by Him, Heb. 7. 25. The injunction is, 'Let us come boldly to the throne of grace', to where He is 'that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need', Heb. 4. 16.
Expectation, Heb.10. 13
The words, 'From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool', indicate a waiting period, including the dispensation of the grace of God. God is not finished with the world relative to His Son who is still rejected, though exalted in heaven.
Many Old Testament scriptures speak of Christ's coming, rule and reign. In Psalm 2 where opposition to God is envisaged, He is God's appointed King, Kingship is His right. He is King of kings, Rev. 19. 16.
Isaiah 32 tells of His coming reign in righteousness and with the work of righteousness shall be peace and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever.
Many other scriptures, however, present quite a different picture and speak of opposition, conflict, battle, vengeance and retribution. The events of the book of Revelation confirm that there are many enemies of God and His Christ, including the Antichrist and the master of deception, the Devil. All will be brought into subjection in the day of His power and the day of His wrath, Isa, 40. His enemies will be destroyed. 1 Corinthians 15. 25 clearly states that He must reign till He hath put all His enemies under His feet-all rule-all authority and power-the last enemy to be destroyed is death, 1 Cor. 15. 26.
It would appear that opposition to God has continued from Satan's downfall and in its wake the fall of man with all its terrible consequences. But Christ eventually will have the victory-all foes beneath His feet.
Having consummated the divine plan of restoration and regained that which was lost by the fall of man, the Son also Himself will be subject to Him that put all things under Him that God may be all and in all, 1 Cor. 15. 28.
'But now we see not yet all things put under Him; but we see Jesus', Heb. 2. 8-9, and await His coming to the air for His own in fulfilment of His own word, John 14. 3, and in accordance with divine revelation, 1 Thess. 4. 14-18.
'Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus', Rev. 22. 20.