The Order of Things
Lift up your eyes on high and behold who hath created these things… not one faileth. (Isaiah 40:26)
I am glad that apples grow on apple trees, and oranges grow on orange trees, and pecans, pears, and bananas grow on trees that bear their names. How confusing it would be if it were otherwise!
I find the same joy when I see the sun come up in the east each day, the moon rise where it ought to rise every night, and the stars with a fixed place, not wandering around at random. It is the same kind of joyful satisfaction that expects the snow in winter and the flowering of the earth in spring, and which expects summers to be hot and autumns to be cool.
The Order of the Universe
None of these things is unreasonable in a world ordered by a just, faithful, and reasonable God; in a world created by Him for His pleasure, and which illustrates His sovereignty, His care, and His unfailing love. Not a sparrow falls to the ground without His notice. Yet in this universe which He has created and ordered He is so sure of its continuance that He compares it to his holiness and swears by it.
“Once have I sworn by my holiness that I will not lie unto David. His seed shall endure forever, and his throne as the sun before me. It shall be established forever as the moon, and as a faithful witness in heaven.”
The Order of the Church
One of His created delights is His Church. He compares her to a Bride. The Bible says that Christ loved the Church and gave Himself for it. His desire was that it might be set apart solely for Himself, clean and pure, spotless, even as any man would desire in the object of his love. Then one day it is to be presented to Him a glorious Church, holy to look upon, beautiful to see. Even the angels look into these matters and are amazed. What amazing grace, that God should make perfect in Christ, a creature so low as man!
As the unparalleled beauties of the universe do not suffer by comparison with the order of its parts, so the Church, Christ’s Bride, should not suffer by order in its operation. Paul directed the Corinthians to “do all things decently, and in order.” There is an order, an arrangement, a season for all things, even in the Church. One of the loveliest things seen in the church at Colosse was its order. “Though I be absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit, joying and beholding your order, and the stedfastness of your faith in Christ.”
Why is it we object to order in the Church and get so ecstatic over the order of the universe in sunrise, sunset, roses, daffodils, and Easter lilies? Is it perhaps because the God of the lilies is not the God of the churches? That He controls the seasons by His wise decrees but is unable to bring submission to His Church? Or is it perhaps that the appealing nature of disorder satisfies that rebellion in our hearts against God which says, “I will not!” regarding His sovereignty over our lives?
The order of the four seasons does not kill our enjoyment of them. Why should the doing of things decently and in order sour our delight in the conduct of the Church? There were some in those early days who thought excitement and confusion was the key to enjoyment (Corinthians). There were some who thought that rule by rules was the key to enjoyment (Galatians). There were still others to whom freedom was license (Romans). But they were all wrong. The Scriptures give us a picture of a body held together by bones and sinews and muscles, each doing its part, fitly joined together and “compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto edifying of itself in love” (Ephesians 4:16).
Order, then, with love, is pleasing to God in the building of His Church. He Himself will provide the increase, bringing every man to his full measure in Christ.
The Order in Procuring Salvation
Order in the universe, as well as order in the Church, is overshadowed by God’s order in His eternal purpose in salvation. Notice first how the Lord Jesus Christ was the “firstborn among many brethren.” He was theforerunner, the Captain of our salvation, that brought and is bringing many sons to safety. Notice how His sorrow was of the first order of all sorrow. “Was there any sorrow like unto His sorrow?” There was not. Was there ever any suffering like His suffering, any temptation like His temptation? There was not. Neither was there any joy like His joy, for He always did those things that pleased His Father, while you and I continually grieve His Holy Spirit. Thus, in all things, He was the first-fruits.
Could there have been such a salvation without such a Forerunner? Could we have dared to set foot beyond that veil without a Guide who had entered first, one who knew the way, every step of it? So God, in omniscience, sent His only Son to lead the way, saying, “This is my beloved Son. Hear Him!”
Having opened the way through death, He became the first-fruits of them that slept. Death was the final barrier reef, the shoal that wrecked every hope. It stood across the channel of the haven of hope and menaced every soul that approached the harbour. Only when death was destroyed could the pilgrim pass safely, his sails furled, to cast anchor within sight of the gold city of his dreams, that new Jerusalem, like a jewel let down from heaven. How characteristic of an infinite God to be so lovingly finite in all His actions!
So the grand, imperial march of divine progression leads us to give thanks unto the Father “who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son: in whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins; who is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of every creature.” And if He is the first-born of every creation, of every living thing, so is He also the first-born from the dead, of everything that must die.
God’s order with the apple, the orange, the pear, is not less remarkable than His order with created living things. All is unfathomable, but completely satisfying. The apple, the orange, the pear, are each complete in themselves. Man cannot add to the work of God. So in Christ are all men made alive and complete. “For it pleased the Father that in Him (Christ) should all fullness dwell...and ye are complete in Him (Christ) who is the head of all...”
The Order of Heaven
The apple, the orange, the pear tell us of God’s way in creation. He is a God of order. There is first the planting of the seed, then there is the waiting with long patience for the precious fruit of the earth until the early and latter rain. That is God’s order on earth. The exactitude of His celestial order is even more astounding. Will His order in heaven be any less perfect, any less beautiful, any less satisfying? Is the fruit less perfect than the seed that bore it? No, the perfectness of the earthly and celestial bodies assures us that the heaven of heavens will surpass them.
“He walketh the circuit of heaven… His glory is above earth and heaven… Heaven is my throne and earth is my footstool.”
The order there will surpass anything that we have ever known here on earth, though of a different magnitude, it will be of the same order, for God is the same God. He does not change with men’s moods. His throne room will reveal the beauty and orderliness of One who is perfect. We shall behold the consummation, the “magnifical” unveiling, of that ordered plan and purpose which, from the beginning of creation, was ever on his loving heart, “to present (us) faultless before His presence with exceeding joy.”