Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Andrew Bonar’

Andrew Bonar: Leviticus, Covenantal Premillennialism, and Ezekiel

April 3, 2017 1 comment

As part of the 2017 Challies Reading Challenge, for the commentary I’m currently reading Andrew Bonar’s classic and highly-recommended commentary on Leviticus (1846).  I’m a little over halfway through, and greatly appreciate it, as a verse by verse, chapter by chapter commentary that is straightforward reading for the layperson, with many good devotional thoughts.

I have read other works by Andrew Bonar, including his Christ and His Church in the Book of Psalms, and (earlier this year) his biography of Robert Murray McCheyne, which I especially enjoyed.  I like reading his perspective as a covenantal premillennialist, a view not often seen today, due to the over-reaction by many Reformed against the errors of dispensationalism–to the point of rejecting even what has historically been affirmed by Reformed / covenantal theologians.  For Bonar, in the Reformed tradition, saw the unity of scripture (Old and New Testament), and noted in Leviticus many types (figures, allegories) of Christ—yet also affirmed what the scriptures say regarding Israel’s future and how the scriptures describe the future millennial age.

Here, from Bonar’s commentary – published in 1846, years before dispensationalism had taken hold of much of evangelical Christianity – come some interesting thoughts regarding Leviticus and the last chapters of Ezekiel, regarding the future millennial temple.  He notes (as did the later dispensational writers) the differences in this temple as compared to the previous tabernacle and temple, and relates the types and shadows of Leviticus to their educational, instructional purpose:

Is it not possible that some such end as this may be answered by the temple which Ezekiel foretells as yet to be built (chap. Xl., &c.)  Believing nations may frequent that temple in order to get understanding in these types and shadows.  They may go up to the mountain of the Lord’s house, to be there taught his ways (Isaiah 2:3).  In that temple they may learn how not one tittle of the law has failed.  … Indeed, the very fact that the order of arrangement in Ezekiel entirely differs from the order observed in either tabernacle or temple, and that the edifice itself is reared on a plan varying from every former sanctuary, is sufficient to suggest the idea that it is meant to cast light on former types and shadows.  … As it is said of the rigid features of a marble statue, that they may be made to move and vary their expression so as even to smile, when a skillful hand knows how to move a bright light before it; so may it be with these apparently lifeless figures, in the light of that bright millennial day.  At all events, it is probably then that this much-neglected book of Leviticus shall be fully appreciated.  Israel—the good olive-tree—shall again yield its fatness to the nations round (Romans 11:17).  Their ancient ritual may then be more fully understood, and blessed truth found beaming forth from long obscurity.”

The commentary itself includes many references to New Testament passages as well as the Psalms, to give a complete picture of the Levitical worship and what various texts in Leviticus symbolized or paralleled elsewhere.  As for instance, the concluding remarks on Leviticus 1 relate the sacrifices found here to the original sacrifices and features of Eden, explaining these details of God’s progressive revelation from earlier to later Old Testament revelation:

Let us briefly notice that the rudimental sketch of these offerings, and the mode of their presentation, will be found at the gate of Eden.  …  Just as we believe the Hiddekel and Euphrates of Genesis 2 are the same as the Hiddekel and Euphrates of later history; and the cherubim of Genesis 3 the same as those in the tabernacle; and the “sweet savour” of Genesis 8:21 the same as that in Leviticus 1:9 and Ephesians 5:2; so do we regard the intention of sacrifice as always the same throughout Scripture.

In Mosaic rites, the telescope was drawn out farther than at Eden, and the focus at which the ground object could be best seen was more nearly found.  But the gate of Eden presents us with the same truths in a more rudimental form.

… opposite to this sword [at the gate of Eden], at some distance, we see an altar where our first parents shed the blood of sacrifice—showing in type how the barred-up way of access to the Tree of Life was to be opened by the blood of the woman’s bruised seed.  …when we find clean and unclean noticed (Gen. 8:20), and in Abraham’s case (Genesis 15:9,10), the heifer and goat, the turtle and the pigeon, and also “commandments, statutes, and laws” (parallel to Lev. 26:46), we cannot but believe that these fuller institutions in Leviticus are just the expansion of what Adam first received.  The Levitical dispensation is the acorn of Eden grown to a full oak.  If so, then may we say, that the child Jesus, wrapped in his swaddling-clothes, was, in these ceremonies, laid down at the gate of Eden!

Challies’ Reading Challenge: Biography, Robert Murray McCheyne

February 16, 2017 Leave a comment

biography-mccheyneContinuing in the 2017 Challies’ Reading Challenge, I have now completed four of the books – classic novel, history, book about theology, and a biography  —  with two more in progress (a children’s book, The Hobbit; and Christian Living, J.R. Miller’s A Life of Character).  Of the four completed so far, I have most enjoyed the biography – Andrew Bonar’s classic that tells us of someone who might well have been forgotten, the life of an ordinary pastor who died at age 29 (lived May 1813 to April 1843).   As John Piper observed in this article, a tribute to McCheyne’s life,  Robert Murray McCheyne is one of church history’s amazing young people greatly used of God in their short lives:

It is amazing to me how God has raised up extraordinary young people with great impact and then cut them off in their youth, and then has preserved their impact with a book for decades to come, and centuries.

This biography was published about two years after McCheyne’s death, a compilation of McCheyne’s own personal journal and letters, combined with narrative from his friend Andrew Bonar.  The story is told chronologically, with brief information about McCheyne’s parents and upbringing, but really beginning the story at age 18, when he was saved, and continuing with the events of his life, including excerpts from McCheyne’s writings each year.  Illness and early death were more common in those days.  McCheyne’s oldest brother, David, died at 26, when Robert was 18; his brother was a godly man who had prayed for Robert, who up until that time had been worldly, interested only in the social life of a teenager.  David’s death had a profound impact on Robert, and was used of God to bring the younger McCheyne to salvation.

As Bonar relates, his friend was ill frequently throughout those short years that Bonar knew him.  McCheyne himself sometimes even expressed the thought, that he would not live as long as others.  The missionary trip to Palestine in 1839, which included McCheyne, Andrew Bonar and a few others, was done in part because of McCheyne’s health; and though he had one serious illness and almost died during that trip, overall the trip did restore McCheyne to better health, for a while at least.  When McCheyne took ill with the typhoid from which he died in the spring of 1843, Bonar again noted that McCheyne had often been ill before – and thus it surprised him and all his friends, they did not realize the danger and his soon death, until the last few days.

Along with biographical material, much of the biography is devotional, with many great quotes from McCheyne, such as the following excerpts from his journals and letters:

I am tempted to think that I am now an established Christian,–that I have overcome this or that lust so long,–that I have got into the habit of the opposite grace,–so that there is no fear; I may venture very near the temptation—nearer than other men. This is a lie of Satan. I might as well speak of gunpowder getting by habit a power of resisting fire, so as not to catch the spark. As long as powder is wet, it resists the spark; but when it becomes dry, it is ready to explode at the first touch. As long as the Spirit dwells in my heart He deadens me to sin, so that, if lawfully called through temptation, I may reckon upon God carrying me through. But when the Spirit leaves me, I am like dry gunpowder. Oh for a sense of this!”

and

One thing we may learn from these men of science, namely, to be as careful in marking the changes and progress of our own spirit, as they are in marking the changes of the weather. An hour should never pass without our looking up to God for forgiveness and peace. This is the noblest science, to know how to live in hourly communion with God in Christ.

McCheyne was ever focused outwardly on evangelism and doing the Lord’s work, while inwardly growing and studying in personal holiness.   The section on the trip to Palestine was especially interesting, for the descriptions of the Holy Land at that time as well as the simple background of how people traveled over 150 years ago – how long the journey actually took, and the physical hardships contrasted with the ease of traveling in our modern world:  extreme heat unknown in Scotland (and no air-conditioning), travel by camel (including an interesting description of how to mount and ride camels) and the ever-present fear of disease and death.  I had heard about this missionary trip, and after reading  about it in McCheyne’s biography, I am interested to read the actual published work about it (available online here  ), which Bonar also later mentions – the time that he and McCheyne set aside from their busy schedule, to complete the book for publication.  From McCheyne’s letters during the trip, here is one interesting description:

A foreign land draws us nearer God. He is the only one whom we know here. We go to Him as to one we know; all else is strange. Every step I take, and every new country I see, makes me feel more that there is nothing real, nothing true, but what is everlasting. The whole world lieth in wickedness! Its judgments are fast hastening. The marble palaces, among which I have been wandering to-night, shall soon sink like a millstone in the waters of God’s righteous anger; but he doeth the will of God abideth forever.” — Robert Murray McCheyne, 1839 — trip to Palestine.

Another topic presented in this book is a revival that began during their absence, and continued after their return at the end of 1839.  What little I had previously read about actual revivals was more historical observation, that evangelical Christianity up until about 1860 had a different view or mindset in reference to revival; revivals were more frequent, and more expected, but that the general trend changed starting in the 1860s—and Charles Spurgeon lived during this transition time, when modernism and liberalism began to take hold in the Christian church.  The presentation in McCheyne’s biography reflects this earlier time, and Bonar provided good insights into the actual revival and its impact, and the ending results afterward:

That many, who promised fair, drew back and walked no more with Jesus, is true. Out of about 800 souls who, during the months of the Revival, conversed with different ministers in apparent anxiety, no wonder surely if many proved to have been impressed only for a time…. The proportion of real conversions might resemble the proportion of blossoms in spring and fruit in autumn. Nor can anything be more unreasonable than to doubt the truth of all, because of the deceit of some. The world itself does not so act in judging of its own. The world reckons upon the possibility of being mistaken in many cases, and yet does not cease to believe that there is honesty and truth to be found.

McCheyne had a tremendously positive impact on the people around him – the many people who loved him, both at his own church as well as others who continually wanted him to come and speak at their churches, and his friends including Andrew Bonar.  This book provides a great introduction to this great young Christian man and his impact within the Christian church, and now his continued impact throughout history since his time.

Andrew Bonar’s Commentary on the Psalms

August 10, 2015 4 comments

In my continuing study of the covenantal premillennial writers, comes Andrew Bonar’s “Christ and His Church in the Book of Psalms,” (available in electronic format, PDF and through Google Play) which includes interesting, concise commentary on each Psalm.  I have found it works best to read through this commentary as I read along in my daily Psalm reading (part of my ongoing genre reading plan which includes two Psalms per set, and a full genre set every day or every other day), now up through Psalm 64.

The content for each Psalm includes the KJV text followed by Bonar’s comments that are part technical – with actual Hebrew words and meaning, along with reference to the views of various scholars of the day (such as Hengstenberg) and footnotes – along with some good devotional thoughts.  Throughout, Bonar relates each Psalm to how our Lord Himself could pray and “use” the particular words in His own experience as man during His First Coming, the One who was truly dependent on His father.  This style or emphasis takes some getting used to, but Bonar addresses texts that specifically mention the writer’s sins and need of forgiveness, by referencing Christ having sin imputed to Him, as well as noting the contrast in Psalm 51 (the occasion of David’s sin with Bathsheba) with the 50 psalms before it.  I also see this emphasis of Christ’s experiences as a man, relating to what I have been studying in the 1689 Exposition series, which in the study of chapter 8 of the confession, brought out this point about Christ’s two natures, the union of these natures and the human experience of Christ in full dependence on the Father, in the Spirit given to Him without measure — and what a great example this is to us in our Christian walk (though in our imperfect way) and dependence upon the Father through the Spirit indwelling us.

Each Psalm commentary also relates the text to all believers, how all believers can pray and relate to the Psalm — the “and His church” part of the title.  The devotional thoughts include the idea of meditating upon certain ideas, considering the “Selah” of some Psalms, and remembering God’s promises.  To end each commentary is a brief summary statement describing the Psalm, such as “Our Joseph and his seed foreseeing the doom of the archers that have shot at them,” for Psalm 64, or, for Psalm 61, “The Righteous One, when an outcast, looking for the day of his Restoration.”

Finally, here are a few good excerpts from Bonar’s commentary:

Psalm 61:  In this life, every member of the Church has a varied lot—now at rest, then troubled; now hopeful, then fearful; now a conqueror, then a combatant. Seated as he is on the Rock of Ages, immovably seated, he sees at one time a fair sky and a bright sun; then, the thick cloud spreads gloom over nature; soon, the beam struggles through again, but soon all is mist once more. Such being the sure complexion of our sojourning here, we rejoice to find sympathy therewith evinced by our God who knows our frame, and evinced by the fact that He so often turns in the Songs of Zion from one state of mind to another, and from one aspect of our case to another.”

Psalm 53: The state of earth ought to be deeply felt by us. The world lying in wickedness should occupy much of our thoughts. The enormous guilt, the inconceivable pollution, the ineffably provoking atheism of this fallen province of God’s dominion, might be a theme for our ceaseless meditation and mourning. To impress it the more on us, therefore, this Psalm repeats what has been already sung in Psalm xiv. It is the same Psalm, with only a few words varied; it is “line upon line, precept upon precept;” the harp’s most melancholy, most dismal notes again sounded in our ear. Not that the Lord would detain us always or disproportionably long amid scenes of sadness, for elsewhere he repeats in like manner that most triumphant melody; but it is good to return now and then to the open field on which we all were found, cast out in loathsome degradation.

Psalm 37: Instead of complaining of our burdens, and anxieties, and cares, and fears, and instead of throwing them off in stoical indifference, let us “roll them on the Lord” (as ver. 5), and then “Wait—be silent”—standing still at the Red Sea, till God opens the way. “The meek” are they who bow to God’s will; they shall as surely “inherit the earth,” as ever Israel entered into possession of Canaan. This is a promise repeated in verses 11, 22, 29, 34, as if to reiterate, “that though you have little of earth and earth’s good things now, all shall yet be yours, and the ungodly be gone for ever.”

Psalm 32: Forgiveness is so great a blessing that all else may follow. If the Lord forgive our sin, what next may we not ask? On this account, then, His people pray. Our Head intercedes, because His offering of Himself was accepted; we pray, because through Him we have already got pardon, and may get any other real blessing. Yes, we may get such blessing, that “at the time of *the floods of great waters,” whensoever that be —whether calamities personal and national, or the waves of the fiery flood, parallel to that of Noah, that shall yet sweep away the ungodly,—even then we shall be altogether safe. The forgiven man is hidden, instructed, taught, guided by God’s tender care.

The Millennial Psalms (Andrew Bonar)

December 16, 2014 Leave a comment

At a local church doing a series through the Psalms, for Psalm 150 the preacher casually remarked that this psalm has association with postmillennialism — though without further explanation.

It is true that quite a few psalms – and the 150th could be included as well – describe the millennial age, a time of nations rejoicing and praising the Lord and the Lord reigning (and a reign that is more than the present age “universal kingdom” overall sovereignty). Yet the descriptions of the millennial age say nothing regarding the “timing” of this millennial age related to Christ’s return – other than against the a-millennial idea which denies any millennial age other than our current age. Therefore such psalms could be understood as describing a future kingdom / millennial age – an idea that fits with both premillennialism and postmillennialism, since both views at least recognize a future state unlike the present one.

A book on my list to read is classic premillennialist Andrew Bonar’s “Christ and His Church in the Book of Psalms” (available here), a much more thorough look at each of the Psalms.  I have heard good things about Andrew Bonar’s work, as well as Charles Spurgeon’s much lengthier “Treasury of David,” and look forward to reading through Bonar’s book.  Meanwhile, searching through the Google play edition reveals the following interesting commentary on several of the Psalms, concerning the future millennial age:

Psalm 22

The essence of the feast is indicated at verse 28, as consisting in knowing and feeding upon Him who is our Paschal Lamb ; even as in Isaiah xxv. 8, the feast of fat things is Christ Himself, seen and known, eye to eye. The people of that millennial time are ” the seed” of ver. 30. If men do not at present serve Him, yet their seed shall- — there is a generation to rise who shall so do.”

 

Psalm 45

This tells of the Glorified Church, the Lamb’s Wife; ruling over a subdued world, in the millennial days. “Tyre” is taken as a sample of Gentile nations, and is elsewhere referred to as acting a part in these happy times. … The Glorified Church, reigning with Christ, is to see her prayers answered and her labours crowned, in the blessings which shall be poured on Earth in those glad millennial days.

 

Psalm 85

The time of millennial blessedness has come. The time for displaying grace to the full has come. Jew and Gentile shall meet, like David and Araunah, at the altar on Moriah.

 

Psalm 102

For now his saints enter on the possession of Earth, and the millennial race of Israelites inherit their Land, reigned over by the Lord and his glorified saints. And thus we understand this Psalm, beginning in woe, ending in gladness.

 

Psalm 144

he does not fail also to lead him forward to a future day, when earth shall witness its millennial scenes, among which not the least wonderful and refreshing shall be Israel in all the restored plenty of his last times, with the favour of Jehovah over all. In all this, David was the type of Christ.