Posted by: rcottrill | December 26, 2016

O Thou Before the World Began

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Also see 30+ Ideas for Promoting Hymn Singing in your church. As others have contributed ideas, this wonderful resource has grown to over 80 items now. And, for more than three dozen reasons why congregations should still use hymn books rather than merely projecting words on the wall, see The Value of Hymn Books.

Words: Charles Wesley (b. Dec. 18, 1707; d. Mar. 29, 1788)
Music: Carey’s Surrey, by Henry Carey (b. circa _____, 1687; d. Oct. 4, 1743)

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (Charles Wesley)
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org

Note: This hymn of Wesley’s originally had the first line, “O Thou eternal Victim, slain” (and that was used as the title). The hymn can be sung to the more familiar tune St. Catherine, by Henri Hemy, also used with Faith of Our Fathers.

F retting and worrying about the future is seldom helpful. It simply adds to the burden of today what might happen tomorrow. And many things we worry about never happen anyway!

That being said, there is a place for thoughtful preparation for future events. During the chilly days of fall, we put snow tires on the car because we can be pretty sure, in our temperate climate, that snow is coming. We put money in the bank, or stock the freezer with food, for a similar reason: we’re preparing ahead of time for what we have reason to expect.

The Lord Jesus talked about that. He said, “Which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it–lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish?’” (Lk. 14:28-30).

In His parable of the Ten Virgins (Matt. 25:1-13), the Lord illustrates something similar. In weddings of that day, at evening, the bridegroom would bring the bride from her parents home to his own home, where there would be a time of feasting. The ten young women in the story were to be the official welcoming party, going out to join the procession.

But for some reason, the procession was delayed (vs. 5). Five of the young women brought extra oil for their lamps, and took the delay in stride. But five were foolish, and when the wedding party approached, their lamps were flickering out. While they went to buy more oil for themselves, they missed the celebration (vs. 10).

Over and over the Bible exhorts us not to worry and be anxious.

“Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Matt. 6:34).

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:6-7).

But the Bible does encourage wisdom with regard to looking ahead, and being ready for the future, as much as that is humanly possible. Would it surprise you to know that God has done the same thing?

Of course, in His case, we are dealing with omniscience, the ability to see the future with perfect clarity. He says, “I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done” (Isa. 46:9-10). “Known to God from eternity are all His works” (Acts 15:18).

Perhaps the most astonishing application of God thinking ahead and planning for the future is the relation of creation to redemption. That is, because Almighty God could foresee the fall of man, and the problem of human sin, He also knew, if we were to be rescued, it would take the cruel death of His beloved Son to do it. He knew that before He created us, but He did it anyway.

God prepared ahead of time for the sacrifice of His Son. Christ is described in Revelation as “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Rev. 13:8). And we are redeemed through faith in “the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world” (I Pet. 1:19-20).

Now having been crucified, buried, and having risen (I Cor. 15:3-4), and ascended, in heaven (Rom. 8:34), our living Saviour “is also able to save to the uttermost [completely and forever] those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them” (Heb. 7:25). That was the theme of one of the lesser known hymns of Charles Wesley. He wrote:

CH-1) O Thou, before the world began,
Ordained a sacrifice for man,
And by th’eternal Spirit made
An offering for the sinner’s stead;
Our everlasting Priest art Thou,
Pleading Thy death for sinners now.

CH-2) Thy offering still continues new
Before the righteous Father’s view;
Thyself the Lamb for ever slain,
Thy priesthood doth unchanged remain;
Thy years, O God, can never fail,
Nor Thy blest work within the veil.

Behind that preparation for our salvation is the love of God, not only for His eternal Son, but for us fallen sinners. As the Lord Jesus said to His heavenly Father, “You have…loved them as You have loved Me” (Jn. 17:23; cf. Rom. 5:8). In the blazing light of that glorious truth we can only wonder and worship.

Questions:
1) What does it tell us about God that He knew His beloved Son would have to die, if we were to be rescued from sin’s condemnation, but created us anyway?

2) What is your favourite hymn about the cross?

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (Charles Wesley)
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org


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