Order of Operations

There are many subjects in Scripture that if the correct sequencing is not laid out or if the order of operations gets tangled up, great error is the result.  For example, the gospel must succeed not precede the new birth.  Otherwise, someone could mistake the gospel as a means to salvation.  Justification must precede glorification as the declaration of righteousness must go before the resurrection for God to receive us into His home.  There are a pair of concepts that also follow similar order of operations in Scripture, and they are suffering and glory.  In I Peter 1:10, Peter tells us that the prophets wrote of the coming of Christ, that He should suffer, and glory would follow.  Later in I Peter 5:10, we are told that we will suffer a while before going to the eternal glory that we’ve been called to.  Therefore, what we experience in this fashion is not done alone as there has been a forerunner, and He still condescends to us today to walk these seasons with us.

Suffering – but for a while: In the case with Christ and with us, suffering precedes glory, but it is generally described in Scripture as but for a while.  The suffering that is eternal will not be tasted by us, and all the suffering that is done does not rise to the level of Christ’s suffering.  We are told that what He went through was such as no man had ever undergone.  His visage was marred more than any man (Isaiah 52:14), and the wrath that He suffered at the hands of His Father (Isaiah 53) was so that we would never have to experience that.  However, on top of the heaviest load at Calvary, He suffered during His walk here.  He was the song of the drunkards, the rulers of the day sought to trip Him up at every turn, and even His closest friends and companions deserted and denied Him.  However, all of what He went through both leading up to Calvary and through it was transitory.  It didn’t endure.

The consolation we can draw from this is that if the Master has gone through the same and even moreso, as the suffering came to a close for Him, so shall it be for us.  While a great consolation that we will never endure what He did, it’s also a great consolation to flee for refuge that it doesn’t last.  When suffering is in season, it’s hard to think of anything else.  Like a pain in the body, the pain consumes the thoughts and mental patterns.  However, if we can do as He did, He continually looked forward to the joy that was coming.  Even while on the cross, He endured it for the joy that was set before Him. (Hebrews 12:1-2) As joy is set before Him, so joy has been set before us.  Looking forward to it helps overcome the problems and sufferings of today.  Just as He has overcome the world for us, we are told we can overcome the world in our walk by our faith. (John 16:33, I John 5:4)  That walk looks forward to glorious things unseen rather than dwelling upon the downtrodden things of today.

Glory – enduring: In sharp contrast to the transitory nature of suffering, glory is something that endures and presses on.  Even with the temporary glory that can be felt and experienced today, that glory is built upon the glory that does not pass away.  For example, Christ had a temporary glory on the mount of transfiguration, but that temporary situation was built upon the glory that endures.  Likewise, our verse from I Peter 5:10 tells us that our suffering is followed by eternal glory, but even the temporary glory that we share with our Husband in mount Zion is a foretaste of what is coming.  Therefore, even though precious, exalted times of glory with Him here come to an end, they point and remind us that some sweet day it won’t be long, that glory will never come to an end.  When the cloud received Jesus out of the disciples’ sight in Acts 1, the promise was that the glory concealed that day by the cloud would one day be revealed with clouds.

When we have those dark moments in the nights and winters of our lives, coming glory heartens us for the journey.  When we are in the glorious day and Sonshine of glory in His house and walking with Him, coming eternal glory gives us great hope from what we are tasting in those seasons.  My heart cheers when I know that special meetings and times are coming with Him and His bride.  One of the reasons my heart cheers during those times is that I can see more clearly what is ultimately coming when He parts the sky to receive us ultimately into His glory.  As He upbraided two on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24), Christ did have to suffer what He did, but He likewise had to be received into His glory.  Just as it was a must that He had to be received, so it is a must that we be received.  Heaven could not be shut out from the Captain of our salvation due to His perfect work, so it cannot be shut out from His reward – us – as we belong to Him where He is.

The Psalmist tells us that weeping may last all night long,  but joy is what follows in the morning. (Psalm 30:5) When dark times come, may we remember that He experienced dark nights but came forth into ultimate day.  As our natural nights are followed by days, so our dark times are followed by glory.  And even if we don’t experience the day in this time world, day is coming that never ends.  Just as He has walked with us in our nights and days here, so He will hold our hand in the last night of our life before breaking forth into glory that never ends.  As an old minister now in heaven used to say at the close of night services during a special meeting, “Lord willing, I’ll see you in the morning, and if I don’t live through the night, Lord willing I’ll see you in the morning.”

In Hope,

Bro Philip

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