Christ In His Suffering, Trial, and Crucified by Klaas Schilder: Schilder, Klaas - Vol 3 - Christ Crucified: 17. Chapter 17: Christ Thrust Away But Not Separated From God

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Christ In His Suffering, Trial, and Crucified by Klaas Schilder: Schilder, Klaas - Vol 3 - Christ Crucified: 17. Chapter 17: Christ Thrust Away But Not Separated From God



TOPIC: Schilder, Klaas - Vol 3 - Christ Crucified (Other Topics in this Collection)
SUBJECT: 17. Chapter 17: Christ Thrust Away But Not Separated From God

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C H A P T E R S E V E N T E E N

Christ Thrust Away But Not Separated From God

And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachtani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? [1]

—Mat_27:46.

THOSE of us who have attended a rendition of Bach’s Passion of St. Matthew very likely can recall the moment in which “the evangelist” announces the fourth utterance from the cross. In many programs this announcement does not harmonize with the immediately preceding moment, in which the other soloist interprets Christ’s words by singing that fourth utterance. The first announces that Jesus cried with a loud voice.[2] But when the second soloist interprets that which Christ said he generally presents it in a restrained voice, and the organ usually accompanies the solo in hushed tone.

[1] In this chapter we shall discuss the significance of the “why” only indirectly. We have discussed that already in chapters 12-13, especially the last. The reason for this method of treatment is indicated on chapter 13, p. 309; see also chapter 1, pp. 25; chapter 12, 242-3; chapter 13, 282 f., 305-8.

[2] Und um die neunte Stunde schrie Jesus laut.

This seems to us to be an unfaithful interpretation, if not of the composer certainly of the Biblical evangelist, the first composer. The fourth utterance from the cross was not spoken softly and in a restrained voice, but was cried aloud. Those who cause the organ and the human voice to subside at this point misunderstand the matter entirely. There was violence in Jesus’ crying; He exerted Himself to raise His voice. Never did the world quake as it did when the Saviour cried: Eli, Eli, lama sabachtani? His utterance rent the clouds and again pushed back the sun, which at first did not break through because it might not and therefore could not. It was a super-individual expression of a superindividual emotion. The whole church was groaning in this cry with groanings that cannot be uttered. And the Spirit groaned with groanings that cannot be uttered. Heaven and hell were included in the same act and were placed in the proper relationship overagainst each other in a single cry. However, on their part this was not made possible for the anima sensitiva of our Lord Jesus. Hence His crying with a loud voice was an extreme demand on that voice. In this portentous hour the highest demands on exertion possible to human nature were given outward expression.

Accordingly, we must say that the power which Christ puts into His cry is a bitter admonition to us. He wishes to suggest beforehand: No one will be able to understand this today. It is as if He wishes to suggest that at best we are but groping for the significance, inasmuch as a revelation, even though it is itself now preserving its manifest character, impresses upon everyone the undefilable character of its mystery.

Accordingly, we shall be able to “comprehend” nothing of what we say now. We shall not be able to “explain” the content of the fourth utterance from the cross, at least, not the essence of it. Of course, that is also true about everything else which we have written here concerning the suffering of Jesus Christ. But the impossibility of an expression which explains the essence is more firmly impressed on our hearts at this point than at any other. A well known saying has it that those who would understand the poet must go to the poet’s country. And now the Poet par excellence is appearing on Golgotha. Be quiet, for Jesus is speaking. The creative spirit. The sensitive soul. And the Author of the psalms. Now He will sing, will recite His severest hymn — and no longer endure His own verses. You all remember that the fourth utterance, to put it that way, is a “quotation.” It is literally the overture of Psalms 22. The Son of David is repeating the song of His father David.

Recently a book appeared written by an Israelite about Jesus of Nazareth. The man wrote that very likely the account of the fourth utterance from the cross was not historically reliable. Why not, do you suppose? Well, he said, because a person who is suffering the extreme passion of dying does not “quote.”

We are already contradicting the general bearing of this objection, of course. Anyone who understands anything of the piety and mysticism nurtured by the Scriptures will know better. Pious people in anxious moments of life almost naturally quote the Scriptures. There are many of those who pray, and who, when they reach the point of strongest feeling in the prayer, immediately start using the phraseology of the Bible. A citation from the Scriptures is more effective at the ministration of the Holy Supper than a “beautiful” discourse. Death beds succeed in eliciting more and more texts from the soul in proportion to the extent that the wall texts in the dying room become paler and paler to the breaking eye. Whoever lives in the Scriptures will, precisely in moments of great stress as in moments of great joy, speak in quotations. So much in general. But we must say something also of the Saviour in particular. He speaks in quotations because in a strict sense He never uses quotations. The Scriptures are the product of inspiration; the author of the Scriptures is the Logos through His Spirit. Thus the Logos is the poet, the creator of the thoughts and of the poems in the Bible.[1] Accordingly, when as man, that Logos feels back, goes back, in experience to that which as the Logos he announced beforehand through the Spirit, we can say that the specifically human in this experience can undoubtedly be characterized by saying: Notice, He is quoting. But on the other hand, Christ, who as a Person remains the Son of God also in His human nature, is not quoting. As a human being He does indeed refer to a statement of the Bible, but as God, as the Supreme Wisdom He once Himself announced the very statement He quotes. Accordingly, He is not “quoting” another person whom He recalls, but He is repeating His own words which He had spoken beforehand concerning Himself, and which, as man, He now fulfills and realizes in Himself. Now they prove indeed to have been written and spoken with Him in mind. Now the tension between the divine Person of the poet, on the one hand, and the human nature of the man Christ Jesus who is struggling with His own poem, on the other, is given expression in the loud, harsh cry: My God, why dost thou forsake me? Thus He perturbs Himself again.[2] He stirs His own waters with His own staff. He moves His own spirit. The Word became flesh, the flesh has recourse to the Word, experiences its own inspiration, and is in the same moment the one to receive and the one to conceive thoughts and poems. Thus He accepts Himself at this moment, but accepts Himself as He is being thrust aside. Thus His God has not forsaken Him, but He is busy primarily in maintaining Himself and confirming Himself in His own words. This is a great thing: to maintain Himself as He is in His own words. To God that is everything; if He does not do that He is not God. Hence God the Lord, God the Logos, exercises, maintains His own words. However, inasmuch as His own words of abandonment are speaking their message, His self-maintenance and self-insistence upon His own words is also self-rejection. God thrusts the man aside, because the Logos cannot thrust Himself aside, but is searching for Himself in His own Scriptures.

[1] Christ in His Suffering, chapter 13: pp. 273 and 275 (“The Author Sings His Own Psalms”).

[2] Joh_11:33; also chapter 18: pp 432-433.

This is mystery. We cannot appreciate it because—to refer to what was said a moment ago — we have not been in the country of the poet. His country was heaven, and it is hell. We have not understood the poet, will never understand Him, because He is God, because He is in heaven, and because He therefore in His speaking transcends our comprehension. Nor will we be able to think as we should about the poem itself, for the poet is now in hell. Whoever would understand Him as He is in His hellish torture must have been in hell; and may God forbid that. Yes, God Almighty forbid that we should ever enter into the country of this poet. May He protect us from a comprehension of the fourth utterance from the cross. God forbid that we should concoct a theology of experience for we shall have to pay the expensive price of damnation for it.

In fact, even if someone after this life, and in the real suffering of the lost condition, should want to reflect upon the torture of Christ, which He experienced as God forsook Him, he would find that an eternal impossibility still. For whoever is in hell outside of Christ is there as a sinner; his pollution has not been annihilated. But Christ suffered the pain of hell as the holy man, and besides as the Person of the Eternal Son. No one ever was in hell in that way, and no one will ever be there in that way. The fourth utterance from the cross is unapproachable to every creature on earth, in hell or in heaven.

All that we can do, therefore, is limited to this: to try obediently to appreciate the revelation, even though it does not permit our comprehension, and, in doing this, to follow the lines which the Scriptures have laid down for us.

They tell a story about a man who had thought for a long time about the fourth utterance from the cross, and who finally arose with the cry: God forsaken by God; who can say anything about that?

Now we can say at once that although we cannot comprehend the mystery, we can say what it was not. It is plain that it was not what the man said. God did not forsake God; that is an eternal impossibility. Even in the moment in which the Son as Christ was rejected from God in His humanity,[1] God yearned for God, and accepted God. Even in the moment of forsaking the Surety as Man, God’s desire for Himself expressed itself eloquently and maintained its yearning. We said that a moment ago, but now we add this: precisely because God desires Himself, He willed the redemption: His own world might not be allowed to escape Him.[2] And inasmuch as the way to this usurpation of the world had to lead over Golgotha,[3] and over the point of being utterly forsaken, therefore God in this very moment is busy maintaining and asserting Himself.

[1] Presently we shall discuss whether that objective can be understood, p. 401.

[2] Infra-lapsarian terminology which does not wish to contradict the lapsarian idea.

[3] It “was meet for God” (Hebrews); “it was necessary” (Matthew, Luke)

No, it is not God, but man, who is here being forsaken by God. The man Christ, as the sacrifice for sin, He is being abandoned. And it is of this that Christ is speaking in His human language.

Now the language of men is inadequate for exhausting the eternally real and the really eternal things. We have said this so often that we need not elaborate it here. However, we do well to be impressed by this fact in connection with the fourth statement from the cross. A clear sense of that will at the same time aid our progress by inspiring humility; he who humbles himself as a thinking person, shall be exalted.

In human language Christ complains that God has forsaken Him. The language of the fourth utterance from the cross can therefore at best give but an inadequate and incomplete expression to what He experienced. We know that the abandonment of no single person, not even of the poet of Psalms 22, was complete. No person in the world was ever completely forsaken by God as a giver of gifts and as a preserver. For we can say this of “the world” in general: it is still included in the plan of common grace. God’s worst enemy can still pluck fruit from its trees, and wear the clothes which God Himself has woven. The generals and the recruits of Satan’s camp are all going about in armor which heaven provides. Abandonment, called such not because of its ethical or legal bearing but because of the consequences, abandonment, therefore, defined as complete disarming, is not possible in this world. Now you ask whether such abandonment is completely realized in those lost persons who have already left the world and the answer must be: no, it is not perfectly realized in them. For no one has as yet been steeped in the complete affliction of the torture of hell. Hell will be exposed to the raw winds of God’s wrath completely only when the day of days shall have passed by. Hence, the complete content of the concept “abandonment,” of the concept “forsakenness,” is not yet known in hell.

We think, finally, of the children of God. They, too, sometimes speak of being forsaken. But in their case also this abandonment is never entirely real. They have been accepted of God. They have been regenerated by His Spirit; they live in Him eternally. Abandonment in principle is impossible to them in the absolute sense. It is true that they sometimes speak — and in speaking follow the Bible in part — of “spiritual forsakings,” when a fever afflicts their heart, or when the comfort and the fellowship of God wanes or is swallowed up — but surely this is something different from an objective, divine act of forsaking, inasmuch as it is purely negative. They lack a certain amount, a certain degree, a certain fullness of the Spirit. But God does not thrust them aside, He does not deny them, He does not close His doors to them. Even though their spiritual lack does not exist independent of His providence, inasmuch as He takes that means to be their pedagogue both negatively and positively, a pedagogu who lets them feel presently that they have need of Him (see p. 234), nevertheless He does not positively allow perdition to accrue to them. And when He has led them back it becomes apparent that “their being forsaken by God” was but the other side of God’s being forsaken by them. They themselves had retreated on the way which His grace had paved between Him and them. He, on His own part, can say: My child, my child, why have you forsaken me? As for Himself, He still extends His hand to them. And that which had actively accrued to them from Him during the “period of abandonment” was a subordinate part of a process of acceptance.

Not so the situation for Christ. For Him everything is different. Compare Him first of all with the lost people on earth, and you will see the difference. They eat from the table of common grace; He lacks that privilege now; even the rays of this sun do not caress Him. He wears no armor which God Himself has prepared for Him; for His spirit and body and soul are radically broken. Next compare Him with those who are even now steeped in the torture of hell and you will see the difference again. Their torture is that they are incomplete there; their body is not there; wrath cannot express itself in their body. But Christ is hanging on the tree in His body and the plague accrues to Him as He is in His whole human life. And, finally, compare Him with the believers, with a believer such as the poet of Psalms 22, and again you will detect the difference. They on their own part have forsaken God, and do not know how grievous it is to do without Him. But He has not forsaken His God on His own part, is not yet forsaking Him. Heaven has no charge to lodge against Him: My son, my son, why dost thou forsake me? Moreover, overagainst the Christ, God is not the mild pedagogue, who by letting Him feel what it means to forsake Him is really leading Him back to the state of favors and privileges. For Christ has been forsaken here because of His relationship to law. God is ministering the full wrath of justice to Him. Hence the distinction is very sharp: when the believers think they have been forsaken of God, they can return to Him, and must return to Him, and have no need of laying down a new legal basis for the return. Woe to them if they should refuse to undertake the return to the gate of heaven. But Christ in His abandonment is not warranted in accepting God’s hand on the old legal basis. He must now set up the legal basis for the return. He must wait. He must suffer. His abandonment is not a phase of a latent process of acceptance, but is the essence of the process of rejection itself. And this last process cannot be divided into “phases,” for suffering is infinite, and that which is infinite is not cut up into phases nor measured in periods of time. Besides, He Himself as He is in His Person is infinite; the awful significance of that is terribly impressive. And, inasmuch as Christ nevertheless was forsaken in time, this was not a phase of God’s approach to Him, but of His messianic achievement of God’s fellowship by means of His power as the Mediator. He was allowed to seek God’s hand, and had to seek it, but He had to wait until it was extended to Him again. It is the same hand which is never withdrawn from the grasp of the believers.

Therefore we can say that the situation is fundamentally different for Christ than it is for the others, than it is even for the poet of Psalms 22, even though this poet gives expression to a unique poem. For this poet, apparently David himself, the abandonment is a relative one. For Christ it is absolute. For David it is a feeling that he lacks the blessings of grace; for Christ it is reality. David is the type, Christ the anti-type; in other words, David must refer to the Christ, but the Christ is the real. In the case of David, God is far removed from his “roaring”; in the case of Christ, God is completely removed from it. True, David misses the external support, but in the same moment the Spirit inspires him, and in the same moment he exercises faith and prophesies. But Christ, besides missing the external support, misses the internal sustenance also; and although He prophesies, His prophecy is one which was attained at the cost of struggle by arduous conflict (remember His “why”) and without any help. Compared with Christ, David is the child. A child’s hand can be filled easily and can be emptied very quickly. But Christ is the giant; in Him “deep calleth unto deep.” David senses that he is in danger of death; Christ is in the midst of eternal death. David does not live under the curse, but under the blessing; the fact that He can compose a psalm proves that he is in a state of grace. But Christ is under the curse; He has neither grace nor glory; He would have been a repulsive spectacle, if God had not hidden Him in darkness.

All this, accordingly, was very strange. The like of it will return neither in time nor in eternity. For this Christ, God in the absolute sense was the “wholly Other.” That, and the wholly and diametrically Opposed One. The human language was strained to the breaking point of its capacity for expression in the utterance of the fourth statement from the cross! It gave expression to something which it had never heard. In spite of that, however, this most mighty of statements was expressed in the Aramaic vernacular, in the language used daily by Jesus and the people. The official priests could quote Psa_22:1 much more beautifully and better modulated than He. But our High Priest puts it very ordinarily in the language of the people; He had never learned the official Hebrew employed in the temple.

Therefore we can say that the law of the incarnation is again being fulfilled in this fourth utterance. Hell lies wrapped in bonds. And heaven also. The demonic is given expression in Aramaic. God speaks in dialect. Eternal reality is put in the language of the men at the market and the girls in the kitchen. Things are moving in the direction of Pentecost,[1] but for the time being we cannot comprehend it.

[1] The ordinary language of daily life is declared adequate for the holy things; the official (limiting) Hebrew of the temple is no longer prescribed.

Nevertheless we want to come closer, and attempt, if we cannot understand, at least to become acquainted with these matters.

One question which arises very early is this one: Does the fourth utterance from the cross give expression to something which is really true, or to something which Christ “felt” was true. We sometimes say that the gross sins of God’s children remove grace, and yet not grace, but the sense of grace sometimes. Similarly, we can ask now: Was Christ really forsaken of God, or did He simply feel that He had been forsaken? Is His word a prophetic statement; does it disclose an objective reality or is it a subjective expression of feeling? To this question Reformed interpretation, in the language of Bavinck, answers: “Some have regarded this utterance from the cross as a cry of despair giving expression to the fact that His faith had been lost and that God had forsaken Him . . . and others take it as an expression purely of His human feelings, of the psychological pressure suffered in that moment of greatest pain. Others again compare it, even though in broad outline line only, with the cry of a mother whose heart must break because of the shame of her child, but who, nevertheless, motivated by her great love, assumes the shame herself and bows before the judgment of God. But all these interpretations do not do justice to the Word, and conflict with the continuous description of Jesus’ death as delineated in the Scriptures. The lament of Christ is not a subjective, but is an objective, abandonment. It is not only that He feels Himself to be forsaken, but that He actually is forsaken of God; His sense of it was not the product of imagination, did not rest on a false assumption, but corresponded to reality.”[1]

[1] Dr. H. Bavinck, Geref. Dogmatiek, volume c, pp. 431-432.

Yes, what Christ gives expression to here is, in the first place, a fact; in the second place this fact He senses genuinely and to this fact He gives genuine, if, as throughout the Scriptures, anthropomorphic expression.

The abandonment on the cross therefore was an objective abandonment. That in the first place. God is doing something. Now the forsaking by God as an act can be described negatively and positively.

Negatively considered, this forsaking may be regarded as a complete withdrawal from Christ of all those gifts by means of which God through His common and special grace has comforted and sustained His creature. The sun was gone. His honor had been put to shame. He was too repulsive to look upon. He had neither form nor comeliness; in fact He returned to that acosmical condition of a person broken in the presence of God. Moreover, spiritual fellowship has been withdrawn. There are no angels to support Him. The Holy Spirit does not comfort the Office-Bearer; the Holy Spirit neither confirms His being ordained to the office, nor His qualifications for it. The Holy Spirit comforts Him neither by whispering to His heart, nor by opening His eyes as in that portentous hour in which Christ saw Satan falling from heaven as a lightning. Christ had never received the oil of anointing, but where was the spiritual comfort, the vocatio interna[2] as a restful and delightful feeling? There were paradoxes, too, but that was another matter. And the Spirit which gave no comfort, gave no strength either. Influences and sustaining forces do not issue from Him—but stop here . . . who shall ever be able to state plainly what the withdrawal of the gifts of the Spirit means for a sinless heart? The matter is a riddle to us, and would be that even if we were standing overagainst other men. For no one can accurately describe the manner in which the spiritual world, the angels, the Holy Spirit Himself, influences human souls. We know that such an influence exists, but do not know how it “functions.” We can write about it, but we cannot define it. And because we do not know how it takes place, we can not say in what manner and by what specific means it can withdraw itself and check its influence. How much more, then, are we embarrassed now that God stands in a specific, never recurring relationship to the sinless, human nature of Christ. And we must remember that His is a human nature which multiplies its riddles inasmuch as it is impersonal.

[2] Internal calling.

We stand abashed and scarcely dare to open our mouths. All we know is that the religious passion in Christ cried aloud for fellowship with God and upon a crystally clear internal testimony to the fact that He desired God. But that which God caused to accrue to Him from the outside was not an adequate response to this internal passion. “Thou dost not answer”; we can hardly get much farther than this negative phrasing (Psa_22:3). But exactly this negative element turns everything topsy-turvy within the pious soul of Christ.

The issue, consequently, was not one of uniting, but one of indwelling. It was not one of uniting. In Christ the two natures are united, but God is not challenging that. Being forsaken means in a person where uniting has obtained, disruption, antithesis, eternal relinquishment, the breaking of the bond. However, next to the uniting of the divine and human nature there is such a thing, we know, as God’s indwelling in man, in the man He has chosen, and in the man Christ Jesus. “The unity of the Divine and human nature in Christ is essentially distinguishable from the indwelling of God in His creatures and in the believers.”[3] Christ as man also shared in this indwelling. And although the union, referred to above, allowed of no change, of no schism, the indwelling is indeed susceptible to various degrees of strength, and can at times be withdrawn entirely without surrendering “the house” in which God “dwells” eternally. The concept “dwelling” leaves room for variation, for more and less. For the union, designated above, this law holds: everything or nothing, eternally or never. But for the indwelling of God in Christ there is a law of more or less, of ascension and descension. Therefore we can say that each withdrawal of God’s grace, each retraction of heavenly energies and divine acts of fellowship, can oppress the man Christ Jesus. These take Him out of His element, make disputable His whole right to life and His power to life from a human point of view and raise the question whether, inasmuch as God is divided against Him, He is not also divided against Himself, and whether He does not therefore fall back into the chaos of a life not nurtured and strengthened by God. External affliction this.

[1] Bavinck, op cit., p. 331.

But the forsaking of God is also positive. God is directly sending the torments of hell against the Christ. A cry of pain surges up in His soul: lead me not into temptation, but deliver me from evil. And when God fails to hear this prayer, and persists in the failure to answer it (thus negatively withholding Himself, Psa_22:3), Christ knows with immediate certainty that the representation of an inactive, and negatively withholding God by no means exhausts the truth. God is also actively busy in this inactive supervision. Just as an active influence of God leads us to the battle ground of temptation, and just as in the admittance of sin God the Almighty Himself appears as active inasmuch as all sin can exist only by means of the active permission of God, so the action of the Father against Him is simply unmistakably known to the Christ. It exists. It is God who looses the devils against Him, the devils and the four winds of the earth. The spirit of Christ, as it battles against the forces of hell for three hours, sees the devils rising up against Him, and as He sees it, God is taking the role of the supervisor in the arena, and it is God who releases the lions, the bulls and goats and cattle of Bashan, and it is God who releases the dogs (Psalms 22) against the great martyr with an agonizing calmness. It is God who lifts the doors of the cages. There is a voice, a lamentation, a mourning; there is the sound of groaning; deliver me from the lion, deliver me from the roaring lion and from the dogs. Plainly, He who really prays that, has acknowledged that God is doing something, that God is not afar off. Just as the martyrs in the arena saw the man who opened the doors of the cages, and maintained the supervision from that point on, so the Saviour saw God in His arena. God did not do much; but He did everything that needed doing; He released the dragon. The same Saviour who once saw Satan falling like lightning from heaven, now saw Satan coming up out of hell. All the winds of God’s storehouse blew in one direction. All were blowing against Him. Afflavit deus, dissipatus est: God has released His winds; the son, the shepherd is being destroyed. Listen to the summons of the Lord of heaven: sword, awake thou against my shepherd. No, the doctrine of an inactive God can afford no solution.

In very fact the forsaking, the great abandonment, was objective. In the second place, this objective abandonment is genuinely felt, subjectively, by the Christ. And, what is more, this subjective feeling is genuinely and purely, if anthropomorphically, expressed. We notice that Christ’s statement “corresponds” perfectly to the content and the form of that which has just proved to us to be an objective reality.

The diction of His reply is a response to the negative element in the “abandonment” of God. Even though He knows that the devils are descending upon Him, and that the gate of hell is being flung wide by this supervisor of the world, He does not complain about the attack of the devil or about the abandonment of God. We read of the attack by dogs and bulls in Psalms 22 also, but Christ does not recite the whole psalm; He simply states the theme of the poem, simply quotes the first verse of the psalm. That which is dominant in this first verse is not the declaration of what the devil does, but the proclamation of what God does not do. There lies the possibility, and not in what the “dogs” do. In the last analysis the devils and the “dogs” are but the “second cause”; God is the first cause. And he who would say something about the essence of a fly or of the cross, of a match or of a stroke of lightning, about a child’s wagon or about God’s chariots winging their way through the cosmos, must begin a parte dei. He must proceed from God, must begin naming things by naming God first, and must put God in the center of his thought complexes and of the turmoil of his words. And doing that, he notices that God is withholding the commandment which could serve to stop the dogs. Had it not been so, the “dogs” would not have had a chance on the steps of the forum. The question is not who the devils are, who the dogs, who the bulls, who the people. The question is who is not here. It is not the coming of God in wrath, but the recession of God’s love which determines the diction of the fourth utterance from the cross.

But the positive element in God’s objective act is also reflected in the concrete statement. Christ says that God has forsaken Him. A person who has been related to us at any time cannot leave us without performing an action, without turning aside, without taking a different position overagainst us from the one in which he stood before. In other words, Christ is applying to Himself that which the Bible, anthropomorphically speaking, expresses when it says that God “repented.” Now the idea contained in this repentance of God suggests just this change of position. It is true that back of this change in external relationship there lies the unimperilled unity of God’s counsel and decision. But these belong to the hidden things. And inasmuch as Jesus by His “why” definitely indicates that He is not asking about the hidden thing, but that He is arduously struggling with the revealed things, with the expressed works of God, we must also find the explanation in a similar manner. Now there is another thing that we know. He hears God saying to the angels — not even to Jesus: I regret that I made Jesus king. Or again: I regret that I made man. We must even go a step lower before arriving where we should be: I regret that I have made man a slave, saith the Lord, the Almighty (see Psa_110:4 : Heb_7:20-21).

Is it true that this matter of repentance has a bearing upon the real point with which we are concerned here? How could it be otherwise? Forsakenness implies fellowship. It implies fellowship between God and man. We know that the fellowship between God and man is a religious communion; it creates a unity, not of essence or influence, but of fidelity to covenant. The covenant has been placed between God and man. From that covenant, religion arises. By means of the covenant the relationship existing between Creator and man becomes a personal relationship of love. By that covenant also the fellowship becomes a consciously known communion; the fellowship recognizes itself, confesses itself, and enjoys all the times and seasons which the Father of love has in His own power appointed. In that covenant, in which God Himself fixed and declared and announced all the terms and forms and postulates — for He never ceases to be Sovereign — God accepts man, His creature, as a friend. Man, who exists in a relationship of duty, now stands in a relationship of privilege. Man, His pure product, He now makes a producer. By this means God makes His own servant a friend. It is in that covenant that He now has religion in all of its entering in and going out, in all of its movement, become a communion, a medium of fellowship, and a manifestation of the union of God and man.

Christ as religious man was also placed in that covenant. He serves His God: that already represents the covenant relationship. He serves God as the Head of the covenant of grace, and as the supervisor of the covenant of works. By that the covenant relationship is in an absolutely definitive sense made central. Throughout His life Christ felt this relationship, and this union, this fellowship with God. It blessed Him, it gave the blessing, it colored and determined the blessing, it was the blessing. “Father, I thank Thee that Thou hast heard.” “But I knew that Thou didst always hear” (John 11). But now, in this hour, those words with which He opened the week of the passion[1] stick in the Saviour’s throat. The unity between God and Him no longer attracts, is active no longer. No wonder, we zealous students in His own school dare to say, no wonder, for now He was being treated as a covenant breaker, and therefore the union had to be cut off. Yes, yes, that is easy to say, but, even though the statement does name a legal basis for the broken relationship, it does not explain everything; in fact, it explains nothing about the legal basis for that action, nothing about the way which this dispensation of justice takes when it proceeds to remove all Christ’s rights. The manner of it simply defies description. The only thing which we are able to confess to ourselves is that the meriting of the covenant relationship by the covenant interdict, that the achievement of the peace of the covenant by the suffering of the wrath of the covenant, was an infinite grief to the Christ, a return to the origins of the world, to the beginnings of religion, to the bases of all joy, and to an acknowledgment there of His own essential excommunication.

[1] Christ in His Suffering, p. 56. This gives a further perspective to the narrative: Joh_11:41-42 stands overagainst this fourth utterance from the cross; see chapter 17, p. 418.

Even the Scriptures cannot help Him here, for the Scriptures were given in and by means of the covenant of grace, and although they speak of the covenant of works, they speak of it only in its relationship to the covenant of grace. These find their point of orientation in the covenant of grace which has entered the world since the fall of Adam and which explains itself in the course of the history of the church and the world. But in this astonishing hour Christ lacks not only the covenant-relationship as it was preached to the Israelites in terms of the covenant of grace, but He also misses the form in which it presented itself to Adam in the relationship of the covenant of works. He always “worked” in conformity with the demands of the covenant, but the reward which the “working” carried with it is consumed by the supplicie. Hence God is now referring to the epilogue of the sixth “day of creation.” God says: I repent that I made Adam a sharer in my covenant. That is God’s unexplained word. The covenant was mono-pleurical in character. It was announced by God; hence the Son can do nothing but endure that this same God from His own side can, in His sovereignty, proclaim that broken man retains nothing save a confused “why.”

At this point, however, we hear someone saying that the expression about God’s “repentance” is a mere anthropomorphism, not particularly serious inasmuch as it was not quite true. The person who raises that argument by way of claiming that the spiritual struggle of Christ was less severe than it is here presented — by use of the word “hellish” — means by His “anthropomorphism,” a manner of speech in which God, and the divine, are represented to men in human figures. There are well known instances of such usage. God is a spirit, and still He is represented in human figures as a God who has hands, feet, as one whose eyes comprehend the whole earth, as one who senses sacrifices, and as one who sometimes repents. No one accepts these modes of expression as an adequate statement of what God really is. In fact, when we hear them, we feel at once that they are somewhat unreal.

Arguing in that manner, such a person draws his inferences in connection with this point also. He will say that in the last analysis it is but an anthropomorphic expression which presents God to man as one “who forsakes.” Christ is really accommodating Himself to the Biblical diction, and consequently is expressing Himself by means of anthropomorphisms. The significant conclusion follows quickly: the “forsaking” was meant only in a figurative sense, and consequently was not as serious as it is sometimes made.

We completely reverse the roles. Precisely because the Scriptures speak of God in an anthropomorphic manner and precisely because Christ makes use of their figurative language, the suffering was much severer for Him than we can ever imagine.

Just what, generally speaking, is the significance of the anthropomorphic in the Scriptures? In answer, we must indicate that it includes two elements: a humiliating, and a comforting element. Yes, the anthropomorphic element in the Scriptures is humiliating. It tells us in so many words that we cannot know God, that we could not know Him if He spoke in His own language, and in His own language gave expression to His unique completeness. He must condescend to us, He must address us in our own language, must make Himself known to us in images taken from our sense experience in order to enable us to understand Him at all. In other words, we are treated in the same way that a pedagogue treats small children. But the anthropomorphic manner of speaking also contains a comforting element. It proves to us that God in His love does wish to make contact with us, and that in doing this He is very merciful, inasmuch as He takes account of our capacity for comprehension, even though His sermons must necessarily be freighted with significance.

What, now, was Christ’s relationship to these anthropomorphisms — Christ, that is, as man, as a creature limited by time. This much is certain, for Him the comfort inhering in it for us was not present. And the humiliation, the terror, included in this phenomenon, held for Him in an absolute import.

Yes, He had to forego the element of comfort contained in the anthropomorphic figures of God. If someone is doing his very best to make it plain to us that he no longer wishes to do his best for us, can we call that comfort? By no means. If he were to leave his brutal message shrouded in a cloud of obscurity, very vague, and quite beyond our reach, it could not possibly hurt us. But because the speaker is actually exerting himself to make it very clear to us that he has rejected and denied us, he wounds us grievously by the very intelligibility of his cruel word. Now this was the case for the man Christ Jesus. The Scriptures out of which He as a man of God had to learn His own ways, also speaks of God’s wrath under the unmistakably anthropomorphic figure of being forsaken. Accordingly, God does His very best to teach the Son of man that He has no good word to say to Him. The very transparency of revelation is an agonizing message to Christ for precisely this reason at this time.

And that is why nothing remained for the Christ but sheer suffering, precisely because He was addressing the Scriptures in anthropomorphic language, and precisely because He had to express Himself in such figurative speech. For the reality about God is always much weightier and more powerful than the anthropomorphic figure of speech can express. And this is true also of the forsaking. The phenomenon of forsakenness among men is never something absolute, is never given without reservation, and is never infinite in scope. But for Christ it was all these things. Being forsaken among men is never a fundamental rejection, is never the act of a perfect sovereignty of justice, is never an absolute withdrawal. But for Christ it is all these things. Hence being forsaken never represents being put to death among men, and if to be forsaken does mean to be put to death, the cause of the death is never the abandonment solely, and it is never the cause of an eternal death. For Christ it was all these things. And hence His suffering was infinitely greater than the anthropomorphic way of speaking could indicate.

Listen closely, Second Adam: God repents of having made Adam. No humiliation remains, only the servile attitude. God is a terrible God, His sword cuts deeply. Christ listened to the psalm of David and conformed Himself to David’s God. He did not cry out His lamentations in the language of His experience — had He done so all prophets would simultaneously have been consumed — but in the language of the anthropomorphic Scripture. Adam was here, and God was here, and all the doors were closed. Let that which is dying, die. Thus God had spoken and He had turned His back. This is to be forsaken! But precisely because Christ assumes the law of anthropomorphic revelation, He is the greatest sufferer among the prophets. Now the word characterizes Him also: Thou hast overwhelmed me. The statement fits Him as an auditor and as a speaker. It fits Him as a bearer of the message, and as the suffering victim of the message. There is no weightier theology than the theocentric theology; there is no more significant theology than one which proceeds from God. For this is the kind which now proceeds from the Christ. We have observed already that He made no mention of the second causes — of devils and of man — or of the powers which God’s active permission allowed to descend upon Him, but that He spoke only of God Himself. In this His words about the “dogs and bulls” are placed under an awful tension, for He proceeds from His God. Now it may be, as we hope to point out later, that this is a manifestation of obedience inasmuch as it will save our souls, but for Christ it nevertheless is the root and cause of His passion. He who cannot get rid of God, cannot take a sedative, cannot dull the ends of the goads, cannot break the point off any lance, necessarily aggravates all His contrasts to the point of infinity. In this fourth utterance from the cross Jesus Christ is the absolute victim of the sermon on the mount. His theocratic thinking and speaking has placed these griefs upon Him. Only by means of such thinking and speaking can the “forsakenness” take on a positive content and a negative; only in that way can it prove a real perdition, paradoxically grieve His spirit, cut off every approach to God, and disrupt every scheme of organization within Him.

Now we must note that the expression of God’s objective acts of commission and omission, the saying aloud of the fourth utterance from the cross, was a separate and necessary element in the suffering of Christ. He not only felt and pondered the fact that God had forsaken Him, but He also stated it. Why, you ask, is the expression and the pronouncement of this abandonment of such significance?

We can appreciate that fact better if we think, for instance, of prayer. The physical shape which we give to our petitions, the outward expression, the actual phrasing of our desire, is a separate element. We can say that in the last analysis prayer is an attitude of the spirit of man; we can give the name “prayer” to our desires, and God can reckon them as such, even when they still have only the form of unspoken thought and desire. But it is a part of the technique and of the essence of prayer to make it verbal, and to present the completed expression of it to God. A complete prayer is a speaking prayer. Not the objective need, or the awareness of it, not even the subjective sense of need arising from the desire, or the ideational approach to God determines the essence of prayer. A mature prayer is put into language, is expressed in words.

This is true for more than one reason. The oral presentation, the express form of prayer, is necessary first of all to keep the prayer pure and genuine. The cautious formulation of the petition, the oral phrasing of the desire, makes concrete a need which is first vaguely felt, and puts it into human language. In other words the spirit of man presents itself after preparation; it exerts itself to express adequately its needs. The naive upsurging of need disciplines, controls, and conforms itself to God’s speaking, and forms words. The naked soul looks for a cloak. It cannot appear before God in a frolicsome gait, because it knows the nature of its sin. The soul hides itself behind a cloak, feeling justly ashamed of unwarranted boldness, and making the approach in humility. It shapes its words, and adapts its phraseology to the revealed word. By speaking its own words in conformity with the word of God faith conquers false shame, and converts every feeling of such shame into a genuine manifestation of humility. That is why the oral presentation is necessary to prayer.

That should suffice to make clear why the oral expression of His forsakenness constituted a separate and indispensable element in Christ’s suffering. He preserved the essence of prayer. Now the psalms sung in churches may raise the song: Hallelujah, amen! The High Priest did not for one moment defile the essence of prayer. His distress did not make Him curse and, surely, the vitiation of prayer is called cursing in heaven. He has spoken, hallelujah, amen! His soul was like a parched land. This He had in common with all purely natural life, the natural, created life which has no tongue, inasmuch as it was not foreordained and created for a covenant relationship and therefore had no capacity for speaking in a covenant language. But He also gave oral expression to His thirst. He spoke in human language — He has no other — and gave physical shape to His experience. Thus He gathers His ideas together, now, when they are downright terrible. He is very ashamed of Himself, put on display as He is before God’s angels, but His shame does not become a false shame False shame never wants to give expression to itself; it stands mute, or it talks about every other thing, in order to divert attention from its own unworthiness. Consequently, it is disobedient; it can neither pray nor confess, it asserts sin, and rejects virtue, for virtue serves with simplicity of heart. But Christ in this nadir of His suffering must still speak, for only in that way can He preserve His prayer intact and pure, and still be qualified for prayer. He fully appreciates all that God is doing to Him; He acknowledges that this is called rejection; that He no longer represents a mission, but a dismissal. Thus His shame remains holy. It is weak, yes, but it is not sinful. He has not on His own part broken the covenant by spurning language. He kept on speaking, even when God was mute. He continued to speak. Never did any man speak so shamelessly. The unrighteous Judge of the parable — ah no, he cannot be found in this reality; however the righteous Judge will have to arise from His tranquility. Here is a creature who persists in speaking, even though the First Speaker long and essentially held His peace.

Even that, however, does not exhaust the matter. A second reason exists for which Christ had to speak. And that precisely when God refused to answer. The first reason, you recall, is that the prayer had to remain prayer. The second reason is that the prayer must remain subservient. It must remain so absolutely subservient that it confesses God to be the first cause of created life, independent even of the covenant. It must remain so subservient that it continues to seek Him, even when the man, the original enjoyer of the highest possible scheme of creation (the domain of the covenant), is steeped by the silence of God in the lowest possible scheme of creation in the humility of the purely natural life which must acknowledge the duty of serving and seeking God. And that even though not as much as a single privilege ever accompanies the imperative of duty.

Have you noticed that Christ comes to God in spite of the fact that He is not called to do so? That is the nadir of the suffering. When I as a human being am called to do a thing, when I have been summoned, I know that a covenant relationship exists between me and the one who calls me. And a covenant always is accompanied by those privileges which man in distinction from the other creatures has received. But the covenant is monopleurical; in other words, the predominant element in the covenant is that God is sovereign, that man must refer the enjoyment of the covenant to the duties of the creature. “Even though He slay me, I shall have to come to him . . .” Even though God takes the grace of enjoyment and all the forms of fellowship from him, even though He mocks these by virtue of a light inaccessible to our broken thoughts, does not this duty-bound servant remain a creature? Is he not one who has been thrust into existence by a sovereign good pleasure and a monopleurical will? Even though every enjoyment and every delight recedes, is it not the duty of all things made to honor the Maker?

Here now is your Saviour. God no longer answers Him, but He continues to speak. He clings to Himself as a creature, He excavates the ground of His own covenant until He comes upon the created foundations of His humanity, and dares to become one with every creature, and to say: Maker, why dost Thou reject me, Thy creation? In this He confesses His God in terms of “the whole creature.”

This was His nadir. Now that Christ can no longer enjoy religion as a covenant relationship but continues meanwhile to acknowledge it as the duty of the creature, and now that He because of this duty undertakes to speak to God even though God does not speak to Him (Psa_22:3), now the problem of His suffering has become the problem of every created being. And now the utterance of the fourth statement from the cross is one which proceeds from the deepest profundities of an unreserved (if need be, joyless) obedience and of absolute (without regard to special privileges) dependence and pain. He seats Himself at the table of all created beings and takes the lowest place for Himself.

Now we recall the discussion of anthropomorphism previously indulged. Every covenant relationship demands oral expression. Covenants serve to open the mouth. In a covenant relationship there is a fellowship between personal beings who declare their love to each other. Thus they stagger joy to higher levels. By means of the word they surrender to each other, by means of the word the association and fellowship are lifted to higher levels, and by means of the word spontaneity becomes conscious, a song of love becomes a psalm of love, life becomes a confession, and life is logically celebrated in the spirit. Hence the covenant fellowship of religion is a fellowship of speech. God calls and answers: man answers and calls.

But we noted above that the language of the covenant is an anthropomorphic language. Such is peculiarly the language of the covenant between God and man. In this very anthropomorphism we discover an element[1] which humiliates man, which forces him to condescension, which keeps him humble, and another element which comforts, exalts, and buoys man up.[2] The thought that the covenant between God and man in its deepest manifestation is monopleuric in character, inasmuch as God in it proves to be the Sovereign, the “wholly-Other,” the one who in Himself is unapproachable to us, the one who cannot be understood unless He condescends to us in anthropomorphic language — that thought, we find now, is in conformity with the humiliating element of anthropomorphism. But there is also something to correspond to the second element and this something is the reality of the covenant as covenant. By means of the “anthropomorphically regulated” communication, God exercises fellowship; by that means He exercises and permits us to exercise it. Therefore Christ had to speak, His speaking preserves Him and the whole of creation. By speaking at the place of natural creation He arises together with her to the plane of the covenant. The speaking is a part of that. Just because the idea of a forsaking God is anthropomorphic, and just because it cannot be exhausted in the depths of its terrors, Christ has to speak. He must speak, even though God remains mute. He must speak, not on His own authority — the creature has no authority— but on the authority of the Word. We can say, therefore, that the anthropomorphism is the thin thread which He obediently grasped in order to climb from the plane of the natural creation to that of sonship.

[1] The first predication is appropriate after sin (the covenant of grace); the two second predications are appropriate before sin (paradise, the covenant of works).

[2] As in note 1.

By speaking to a silent God, Christ confesses that He does indeed lack religion as a covenant gift but that He still clings to it because of His duty as a creature. Having arrived at this nadir, the creature asks for the rights of a human being, and the human being for the rights of a covenant child. The duty-bound creature does not ask for release from duty, but he asks for a manifestation of a communication in which duty is pleasure. The unashamed prayer of the creature is the profoundest language which humility ever spoke. God be praised, He keeps the shame holy, relates it to religion, and manifests faith even in the extreme temptation and rejection. He is redeemed by His theocentric insight and His honest speaking.

By His oral communication with the God who has forsaken Him, He becomes the Corrector and Atoner of the first Adam. The first Adam hides himself among the trees, and does not make his appearance until a voice of God definitely summons him and asks: Where art thou? This is the false shame. This is a loss of language. But Christ is the unsummoned One; no one pays any attention to Him; all voices are mute. Nevertheless He opened the gates of heaven by calling up out of hell, by calling to God. The uninvited guest stood at the gate of heaven and knocked. Pray, He admonishes Himself, and you will receive; seek and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you. The creature in the garb of a widower knocks at a door behind which the celebrated judge is celebrating a feast and is now sleeping. He says to himself: Would God not deal justly with a person predestined to be a creature, and open the door again? You see that this being forsaken, that this not having found, that this empty heart and empty hand, and that this locked door have not yet been explained. All these are still punctuated by the question mark of the “why” “why”? But above the fact that the abandonment is inexplicable stands the fact of the certainty of His wanting to and having to approach the gate of heaven, even when there is no voice to summon Him or to invite. Must His approach to God be an entrance into the “wrath of the covenant”? Then it must be that, but He will come, and He will also say that He is coming.

We feel at once that the turning point of the thought has been reached here. Up to this time everything issued in the idea: Christ is being rejected. Now we must amplify that epitome and add: Yes, He may be rejected, but He has not yet been separated from God. The tie which united Him with God continued to draw Him, and He Himself as a mere creature preserved that bond.

Therefore Christ’s speaking in the state of His soul’s distress is the reinforcement of our thought. At this point His own redemption and ours begins. The uninvited Guest redeems us. He takes us in behind Him. He who by His speaking condescended to the creature which was silent, ascribed no unreasonable things to God. The paradox, the apparently unreasonable did not drive Him away from God. He did not derive the notion of being from the notion of reason, and the notion of duty from that of thought. He lived on the principle of God’s glory and honor. Surely, God cannot condemn His creature, for the name of God is written upon it. This the Saviour knew not on the basis of extensive argument, but on the basis of faith. The fourth utterance from the cross is a practical denial of deism.

Moreover, when Christ by His crying aloud to God lays Himself bare as a needy child who cannot live in His abandonment, He proves to take no delight in that which is not of God. “Whom have I in heaven but Thee” — in those words I recognize the psalm of Golgotha. Did He despise the hell? By no means, but He hated it terribly, and feared it mortally. Why? Because the penalty grieved Him? No, not for that reason. He hated and He feared because God is great and good, and because our heart is restless within us until it finds rest in Him.

Again: why does He lament? Because of the pain, because of God, of Satan? No, in the last analysis He does not lament, He does not complain. He merely asks. Not even the fact that He is the victim of hell grieves Him. But the fact that He has been surrendered to hell by God, that wounds Him terribly. He Himself had the high courage to deduce chaos from God, and to look for the principle of its explanation in Him. In other words, He denies the chaotic in the chaos. He denies that the hell is another world of equal worth, standing sovereign overagainst the world of God. He takes His “why” to God whose justice and power and will assert themselves also “in the element of hell.”

This is obedience, and it is a primordial obedience. He does not speak of a possibility, but of a fact. He says nothing of what can be, but much of what is.

A person often suffers most from an imagined care;

the grief he thus anticipates burdens him with heavier weights than God gives him to bear.

We human beings very often say, do we not: God will forsake me now; alack, He is forsaking me already. We often shout aloud our anticipations of abandonment, and convert these into the realities of being forsaken the moment we feel the first suggestion of the suffering coming on. It is not so for Christ. He did not say: My God, wilt Thou forsake me now? but Thou hast forsaken me. There is a fact, and the fact creates a circumstance. No, this person does not bear a greater weight than “God gives him to bear.,, That would be impossible anyhow, for He had been given every burden, and when one has everything, one cannot speak of “greater” ones. But what we mean to say is that He suffered nothing but that which God gave Him to suffer. His suffering never became mingled with unbelief. He reverenced the fact even in hell.

As a matter of fact, we are told as much by the words of the text: Christ cried aloud in the ninth hour. First we have been told that darkness came and lasted from the sixth to the ninth hour, that is, from midday until three o’clock in the afternoon. For three hours, therefore, the son struggled in torture and held His peace. He did not utter this statement until the end of those three hours had come.

Hence He is not guilty of the sin of the poet who created Psalms 39. The poet of that psalm was one who had wanted to hold his tongue in check lest men should see that he was no longer able to cope with that which God sent down upon him. That was the man who could not hold his peace in the calmness of faith because he derived his strength from God, but one who by means of a false manifestation of strength overagainst the people virtually tried to conceal his restlessness.

Christ is not such. For when He finally does speak, the message is an honest acknowledgment of His being defeated, and of His condition of defeat. He camouflages nothing: He cries with a loud voice. He cries so loud that the cry of victory which He had allowed Himself at the grave of Lazarus is now absorbed. For the sake of the people — you ask whether He takes account of the people! — for the sake of the people He had said: I know that God heareth me always (Joh_11:41-42). That had been the first impetus given the government by way of rousing them to thrusting Him out.[1] And now He again says to the people: God does not answer; I have been forsaken. I aroused Lazarus, but I cannot save myself. When “his heart is hot within him” it is burning with a holy fire.[2] Moreover, in this He also transcends the singer of Psalms 39, in that He first speaks when God has done speaking. The darkness receded in the ninth hour, and Jesus opened His mouth the ninth hour. He allowed God to have His full say; He did not hurry and act impatiently overagainst heaven and God.

[1] Christ in His Suffering, chapter 3, p. 56; this volume, chapter 17, p. 407.

[2] See the confession of Psa_39:4.

Christ is obedient especially because as the theocentric theologian He exercised religion in His theology, even when the majesty of God was subduing Him. He did not address “God” but “His God.” “My God, my God, why dost Thou forsake me?” It was a “quotation,” but nevertheless absolute experience.

We can say now that He was in hell as the perfect stranger. He did not belong here, He could not acclimate Himself to that place. There was not a single reality of hell which He did not gainsay. His strangeness overagainst hell was not something negative, but something positive. He was a stranger in hell, because He remained a son and member of the family of heaven, because He remained theocentric in His thoughts, words, and deeds.

Therefore He shuddered in hell. He shuddered and trembled. True, the devils also tremble (Jas_2:19). Nevertheless, the difference is infinitely great. The devils tremble because they are divided against God and against each other. Christ trembles, because God is divided against Him, yes, and because He cannot sustain Himself independent of God any longer. But He Himself is not divided against God, and therefore not divided against Himself. He fears and trembles, but “fear and trembling” are not the same in Him as they are in Satan; they are not evidence of a destructive life, but means to a constructive end, a positive comprehension. “Fear and trembling”, that is a phrase which assumes its classic significance, the significance it always has when used in the New Testament, when it means exacting suspense, awful tension, but a suspense, a tension, which accomplishes something.

Brethren, we are saved by this means. Christ descend into hell solely because that is necessary. To descend into hell means to perform a personal deed, and to put oneself into hell by an act which results from personal choice is an abomination, and an instance of terrible haughtiness — unless it is necessary. Forget for a moment that Christ had to because of the theocracy, and the predication He descended into hell means: He played with God and with fire; He repudiated His God. But now that we know that it had to take place, and that while in hell He asked in God’s name why He was not acceptable in heaven, now we can say that He was a stranger in hell, hallelujah!

Brethren, we are redeemed by this. He passed through, He emerged from the darkness. He lived in it for three long hours, and then passed on. Observed from