Posted by: rcottrill | June 11, 2012

Thou Didst Leave Thy Throne

Words: Emily Elizabeth Steele Elliott (b. July 22, 1836; d. Aug. 3, 1897)
Music: Margaret, by Timothy Richard Matthews (b. Nov. 4, 1826; d. Jan. 5, 1910)


Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: Emily Elliott was the niece of Charlotte Elliott, who wrote the hymn Just As I Am. As to Thou Didst Leave Thy Throne, it is one of a handful of common hymns and gospel songs that has a separate refrain for the final stanza. (Mary Kidder’s Is My Name Written There? and Ruth Jones’s In Times Like These are the same.)

The reference to Mary and Joseph finding no room at the inn, in “Bethl’em’s home” (CH-1), and to Christ’s “lowly birth” (CH-2) have caused this song to be treated as a Christmas carol. It is certainly appropriate that we should use it then, but it’s theme is far grander than that. It describes a condescension beyond imagining, when Christ left His eternal glory behind, entered time, and took on our humanity, in order to save us.

In God’s Word we only catch a faint glimmer of the eternal state of God the Son. We have yet to see Him in His heavenly glory. Further, as finite, fallen creatures, we cannot comprehend what is infinitely above and beyond us. Even the inspired words of Scripture, illuminated by the Holy Spirit, cannot capture His transcendent majesty, or reveal its full scope. But here are a few passages that apply to Christ’s eternal glory and the depth of His willing humiliation.

In John chapter 12, the apostle speaks of how Christ demonstrated who He was by “many signs [miracles]” before the people, yet “they did not believe in Him” (vs. 37). And because of their rejection of Christ, God subjected them to judicial blindness (vs. 40), quoting Isaiah 6:10. Then John says, “These things said Isaiah when he saw His glory and spoke of Him” (vs. 41). To what experience is John referring? It is this:

“I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one cried to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD [Jehovah] of hosts; The whole earth is full of His glory!” (vs. 1-3).

The One that Isaiah saw was the Lord Jesus Christ. “He saw His glory and spoke of Him.” Terms such as “Mighty God and Everlasting Father [i.e. Father of Eternity]” (Isa. 9:6) rightly belong to Him. The prophet Micah tells us that Christ’s “goings forth are from of old, from everlasting” (Mic. 5:2). Dwelling in the eternal now, He was able to say of Himself, “Before Abraham was, I AM” (Jn. 8:58).

“In the beginning was the Word [Christ], and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (Jn. 1:1). Yet He “did not consider it robbery [a thing to be clutched and held on to] to be equal with God” (Phil. 2:6). Of the incarnation, John wrote, “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (Jn. 1:14). “God was manifested in the flesh” (I Tim. 3:16). “Though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich” (II Cor. 8:9).

On earth, Isaiah predicted, “He shall grow up before Him [God the Father] as a tender plant, and as a root out of dry ground. He has no form or comeliness; and when we see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him” (Isa. 53:2). Only once, during His earthly sojourn, did Christ draw back the veil, allowing Peter, James, and John to see Him in His heavenly splendour. When “He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light” (Matt. 17:2). “We were eyewitnesses of His majesty,” says Peter (II Pet. 1:16).

But in spite of who He was and is eternally, the Lord Jesus submitted Himself to the Father’s will (Matt. 26:39), and made His way inevitably and inexorably to Calvary. Hours before, Christ prayed, “Now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was” (Jn. 17:5). Then, “He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross” (Phil. 2:8). “Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name” (vs. 9).

CH-2) Heaven’s arches rang when the angels sang,
Proclaiming Thy royal degree;
But of lowly birth didst Thou come to earth,
And in great humility.

CH-4) Thou camest, O Lord, with the living Word,
That should set Thy people free;
But with mocking scorn and with crown of thorn,
They bore Thee to Calvary.

“You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood” (Rev. 5:9). “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom, and strength and honour and glory and blessing!” (vs. 12).

1) What do these passages tell us about our Saviour?

2) How can we best respond to truths such as these?

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal


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