January 09, 2017
From the desk of A.J. Higgins
A Great Distinction
“As the apple tree among the trees of the wood” S of S 2
“An olive leaf plucked off” Gen 8:11
“The heifer unto a rough valley, which is neither plowed nor sown” Deut 21:4
“A red heifer without spot” Num 19:2
“The rod of Aaron … was budded, and brought forth buds,
and bloomed blossoms, and yielded almonds” Num 17:8
There are numerous pictures and metaphors of the Lord Jesus Christ in the Scriptures, many of which point to His distinctiveness in one way or another. Consider some of the ones that have been highlighted.
The Shulamite of the Song of Songs refers to Him as the apple tree among the trees of the wood. Here, amidst the pines and conifers and other non-fruit bearing trees, stood an apple tree. No one needed to dress it; it produced fruit by virtue of its nature. An apple tree in a forest would be a rare find. Here was a tree bearing fruit, amidst a forest of trees which did not bear fruit.
In the love song motif of the S of S, she is expressing that the one she loves is a rare find. But in the hands of the Spirit of God, we are made to consider One Who was not only rare, but unique: a tree, planted by the rivulets of water, bearing fruit in season (Ps 1).
The imagery suggested by the incident surrounding the flood is thrilling to consider. The initial dove sent forth could find no rest for itself and returned to the ark (Gen 8:8-9). Seven days later, a second dove was sent out and returned, having in her beak an olive leaf. There was life amidst a scene of death and decay. Fast forward to the banks of Jordan over two millennia later. The Spirit of God, in dove-like fashion, found an olive leaf, green and fresh, amidst a scene of death, upon Whom He could rest. While the descent of the Spirit added nothing personally or inherently to the Lord Jesus, it marked Him out to John as the source of life; and yet John added that this One, Who possessed life, would be the sacrifice for sin (John 1:29).
A similar thought is suggested in the picture of the heifer in the rough and barren valley. A life giver is brought to atone and rid the land of blood-guiltiness. A valley that had not been sown nor reaped, barren and desolate, became the scene where the life of the heifer was taken. Perhaps the only picture of the death of Christ in Deuteronomy, this foreshadows the nation which pronounced its own guilt when it cried, “His blood be on us and on our children” (Matt 27:25). Yet His blood will one day bring that nation into blessing.
Aaron’s rod budded, blossomed, and brought forth fruit. A picture of resurrection, the rod was to still every debating voice and settle every false claim. All the saints of God will know resurrection at His return, yet His resurrection was unique. All Who have died in Christ and those who “are Christ’s,” will experience God’s power in resurrection. But Christ, while dead, in death, raised Himself from the dead (John 2:19; 10:18). Elsewhere we read of His being raised by the glory of the Father and by the Spirit of God; but it is equally true that He had life in Himself and raised Himself from out of the dead. He is distinct in His resurrection as well.
Whether we consider Him in His inherent life, fruitfulness, death, or resurrection, He is singular and supreme. “No mortal can with Him compare …”
What other examples can you find in the Old Testament which suggest the distinctiveness of the Lord Jesus form all others?