Reading: Gen. 11:1-9; Acts 3:1-16,19-24; John 17:6,11-12,16-17.
We have been much occupied with the matter of the prophetic function, the function of prophetic ministry. We have been seeing that the function of prophetic ministry is to hold things in relation to the full thought and purpose of God, especially in a time when the tendency of the course is away from that full thought and purpose. It is a matter of a function rather than an office, the function expressing itself continually by one means and another. That is, God brings up this particular ministry and function to again bring into view the fulness of His mind when His people are in danger of losing something of that fulness or departing from it, and all prophetic function is related to the Lord Jesus, for all God's thought and purpose is centred in Him and there is nothing outside of Him and nothing beside Him. Therefore the fulness of God's thought is bound up with His Son, the Lord Jesus, and this is the concern of the Holy Spirit in all ages, and every truly anointed instrument will, in some way, bring the Lord Jesus into view.
Now, what I want to say here at the outset is this: that this prophetic function is the real business of the church. We have just read again that fragment concerning Moses in Acts 3:22: "Moses indeed said, A prophet shall the Lord God raise up unto you from among your brethren, like unto me" ("as He raised me up" A.R.V. margin). Moses, with other functions, fulfilled the prophetic function, and the greatest way in which he did it was to inaugurate and establish a vast system which in itself was prophetic in that it pointed on to the Lord Jesus. The tabernacle, which was the embodiment of all the people, which represented the people of God as gathered into a habitation for God, was a great prophecy. Everything in it was a prophecy. It pointed on, it prefigured, it predicted. That whole wonderful system was a great prophecy to fulfil a prophetic ministry. It was declaring beforehand the Lord Jesus. In that way Moses fulfilled a prophetic ministry. He brought in, in a symbolic way, the Lord Jesus. He brought Him into view comprehensively in the full thought of God. How full is the thought of God in the tabernacle - how many-sided, how comprehensive, how exhaustive! You cannot touch one small point in the whole system which does not signify something of the Lord Jesus. Every measurement, dimension, bar, loop, tassel, curtain - everything, the smallest detail - speaks of the Lord Jesus in some way; all that goes on there is speaking of Him. It is a great prophecy.
But it also pointed on to its spiritual counterpart. Its spiritual counterpart is the church. We know from the letter to the Hebrews that that is so. It was a pattern of the heavenly thing, and we are coming to the heavenly thing. All that was there in type is now entered into in a spiritual way and in a very living way by the church. The church takes it all up in a spiritual way, it is a spiritual habitation of God; it is a great spiritual system - in the right sense, a spiritual one - a great heavenly order of things; Christ, the High Priest. We, in terms of Sonship, are ministering as priests in the house of God. All I want to say is that it was a prophecy of a spiritual counterpart. The spiritual counterpart takes up the function of prophecy; the church comes in in a spiritual way to hold the thoughts of God in fulness here in this world and in this universe to represent and set forth the whole comprehensive thought of God. The church takes that place and function.
Now, I want to just leave that to get to another specific point which is comprehensive as to prophetic ministry. If you will look again, you will see that the prophetic function had a peculiar and particular relationship to the Name of the Lord. There is a sense in which the Name of the Lord was the primary thing in prophetic ministry. It was the honour, the glory, and the uniqueness of His Name. It was that Name in all its meaning, purity, majesty, glory and uniqueness which was continually being assailed by evil powers. The prophets came in relation to that Name, the honour of that Name, to recover the honour and glory of that Name among the Lord's people, to lift up that Name again, to put that Name in its place, to hold the full thought of God as represented by His Name. We read in Acts 3:16, "By faith in his name has his name made this man strong". That leads on to this - "A prophet shall the Lord God raise up unto you from among your brethren, as he raised me up" (Acts 3:22). So said Moses.
This matter of the Name of the Lord Jesus is gathered into this. Moses, as a prophet, was pointing on to Christ and His whole life and His whole work, and now Christ is here, and Christ is here in the glory and power of His Name. How do you know the real meaning and value of prophetic ministry? You know it by the working power of the Name of the Lord Jesus. You remember what we were saying in a previous meditation - how do you know that Jesus is the Son of God? You know it by the witness of the Spirit first. "There are three who bear witness, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood". We saw how the Sonship of the Lord Jesus is testified to in a living way by this threefold significance inwardly of the Spirit, the water, and the blood; their mighty virtue as an operation.
The Universality of the Name
Now then, added to that: the Name of the Lord Jesus. What we are concerned with largely in these messages is the recovery of the basic things of the testimony of Jesus. We started with the blood, we went on with the cross, and now we are at the Name, and everything is gathered up into that Name. I want you to see the setting of things. Through the day we have been seeing that what God needs is a vessel of prophetic ministry, that is, an instrument to hold things in relation to God's full thought - firstly, God's thought as in the blood, to hold things in relation to the full significance of the blood of the Lord Jesus; then to hold things in relation to the full meaning of the cross of the Lord Jesus; now to hold things in relation to the full meaning of the Name of the Lord Jesus. That is the ministry that is needed, that is the prophetic function that is required today - a recovery of God's full thought in these things which relate to His Son - the blood, the cross and the Name.
We have read Genesis 11 and of course we underlined the one fragment, "Let us make us a name; lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth". I do not think that they just meant that they would get a reputation by something they were going to do. They meant they would get a single name, they would make or constitute a single name, a name which would represent their unity, their oneness, and therefore their power, authority and dominion in the whole earth. Their thought was that in a name they would find universality, unity and dominion. Those things are implicit there in what they did and in their mind about this matter - "lest we be scattered"; that is unity. God said, "'Nothing will be withholden from them'; they will be in a place of universal power and anything they decide to do they will do. They will have universal dominion, universality and dominion."
But that singleness of entity in that position as represented by the name that they were going to make or take would have belonged to people who had departed from God, who were out of relationship with Him, a people the imagination of whose heart was evil, and God was not having universality and unity and dominion bound up with that. So He came down and investigated, took the significance and the meaning of this thing and this name that they were going to take, and decided that this was a direct contradiction, violation and opposition to His eternal thought, "There is only One who can have a universal Name - that is My Son! There is only One in Whom all things can be gathered together in a solid unity and that is My Son! There is only One Who can have dominion in all realms and that is My Son! He is eternally appointed to hold that Name and to hold it in relation to Myself, not out of relation, not in independence and separation, but in a holy relationship to Myself", and that is the very essence of John 17.
So we come at once to what the Name of Jesus signifies. It signifies in the first place: universality. All things are to come under that Name. "God... gave unto Him the name which is above every name; that in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven and things on earth and things under the earth" (Phil. 2:10) - the universality of the Name of the Lord Jesus, all-comprehending. That universality is reserved by God for His Son, and that is why He could not tolerate this effort for a universal name on the part of the people away back there. It was a counter-move of the devil in another kind of humanity to the Lord Jesus.
The Unity of the Name
The Name of the Lord Jesus stands for unity. Here in John 17 you see it so closely related to that. "Father, keep them in thy name". "I made known unto them thy name". "That they may all be one; even as thou, Father, art in Me, and I in thee". It is the oneness that the Name of Jesus speaks of that is of such tremendous power, potency, effectiveness.
Keep in the back of your minds all the time this - the honour and glory of the Lord's Name. And that honour and glory is upheld by making that Name absolute in heaven and in earth and in hell. The universality of the Name is absolute. It is not just territorial, it does not belong to some limited place. That Name is absolute. There is no realm outside of the Name of the Lord Jesus. He is Lord in every realm, and this prophetic function is to hold things in relation to the absolute universal supremacy of the Lord Jesus.
His Name is honoured in heaven, we know. The testimony of His Name has to be established in the earth, and that is the meaning of Acts 3, bringing in the Name to establish it as a testimony here. Hell at once rises up and challenges, as you see in Acts 4. There is a tremendous reaction to this testimony of the Name. Hell would cast it out and cast out those who stand related to the testimony of the Name, but it is universal, and the honour of the Lord is bound up with the testimony to the universal virtue of the Name of Jesus.
But the honour of that Name is also bound up with the unity that that Name represents. If there is one thing more than another that hell is against, it is a spiritual unity of the Lord's people, because that unity is a tremendous testimony to the Name. That Name is honoured by the unity, the oneness, of the Lord's people. That Name is dishonoured by schisms and divisions and disunities among the Lord's people. So this great prayer about the Name, with the Name there all the time, is on the matter of unity, oneness. The devil wants a oneness of his own like that in Genesis 11, because he knows well enough that oneness is strength. This being gathered into the Name of Jesus, this allowing the Name of Jesus to express itself in the oneness of all who are baptized into that Name, is a tremendous testimony. It has tremendous repercussions in the realm of evil influences. We must remember that that Name is robbed of its glory and its honour whenever Satan gets the advantage of a disruption among the Lord's people, for that Name speaks of oneness. The calling of that Name upon us simply means that we are one. It is one Name, one people, and that oneness is the power of the Name.
We never get through or never get the advantage over the enemy,
you never destroy any of the work he is doing, if we are divided.
Two of you praying together will have to symphonise to overcome
the evil thing against which you are praying. It is not a matter
of so many people having met and prayed with a formula - 'in the
name of Jesus'. There has to be a spiritual oneness represented
there because the Name means that, and if in that gathering there
is a dividedness, a strain in relationships, the prayer in the
Name is set at nought. Coming together in the Name of Jesus means
something more than taking the phrase 'in the Name'. It is being
in a state of spiritual oneness. The Name means oneness.
It is a contradiction to the Name which we bear, the Name of the
Lord Jesus, to have divisions with other Christians, with other
children of God, and it is an advantage to the enemy. Probably
that is why much of our prayer is held up. Perhaps it explains why
there is much weakness in corporate prayer times, because
secretly, unknown, behind, there are children of God who are in
disagreement, out of fellowship with one another. The Holy Spirit
knows all that and the devil knows all that, and the whole thing
is brought under arrest, and the Name of the Lord is not glorified
and real work is not done for that reason.
Do remember that strain in Christian relationships is much more far-reaching than just a little tiff, a little upset in our social connections, in our personal affairs. It reaches right back to the Name of the Lord Jesus and everything is held up while that state exists; the Name is robbed of its honour, its meaning, its power. Oh then, let our respect and love for the Name of Jesus lead us to very swift reconciliations with our brethren. If we really do honour the Name of Jesus, we will not postpone one minute longer than we can help, the putting right of anything that has come between us, and we shall strive for the retaining of fellowship and love with all our hearts, not because we do not want to have unpleasantness, but because we see what the devil is after. He is after the honour of that Name. Here you have this great illustration of it at Babylon. Oh, let us remember if we are scattered abroad, that is weakness, that is our undoing, that is disintegration. A Name will hold us together. Held by a name! Well, if they saw that, those devil-inspired people, so ought we to see it inspired by the Holy Spirit, that there is a Name that speaks of oneness which is a tremendous power, and anything that is not spiritually one means a destruction of that power, because it dishonours that Name.
I like the way in which Peter and John cling to each other. Notice how they are together in those early verses - Peter and John, inseparables. "Peter, fastening his eyes upon him, with John...", not leaving one another out. Peter is not doing it and John coming on behind. They are moving together, they are one, and in that oneness moving together in the Spirit in such a perfect and beautiful fellowship, they bring in the Name to such account. It takes that oneness to make the Name effective, otherwise it is only a mere formula. The Name came in, with what tremendous effect!
Sometime ago we were speaking about this chapter in its larger significance in relation to Israel. It is set here, a tremendous indication of something much greater - a nation which had been crippled, paralysed, impotent for so long, represented by this man; that nation Israel... impotent, lame, helpless. Why? Because the Name of the Lord was dishonoured. And then the Lord Jesus comes in with the Name, bearing the Name of the Lord, and this man, who represents a crippled, impotent, helpless nation, comes into the value of the Name of the Lord Jesus and is lifted. And it is a testimony to Israel. It is saying quite clearly, "Oh Israel, so helpless for all these years, so lame, so impotent, having all the time to be borne, to be carried. If only you look on Him, the Prince of Life, accept Him, believe His Name, you too shall be lifted from your bed of impotency and set on your feet to leap and praise God." It is the testimony to Israel in Israel's very condition.
What this Name means of a testimony when you find that which the Name signifies there: a real oneness between the Lord's people. Peter and John are two men in whom are gathered up the Christian church; the church is very fully represented by them and they are in this place of spiritual oneness in the Name and things happen. If the Lord gets a condition like that, then the Name is a functioning thing, a mighty thing. Do you see that what the Lord wants is to bring in again the expression and testimony to the mighty power of the Name of the Lord Jesus and what that Name means and can result in? But He has to get it in consistency with what it means, that is, a spiritual oneness, a mighty spiritual oneness, for the Name means unity. We were all made one in that Name. If we are truly in that Name, there is a glorious oneness. It works out in just the opposite of what the Lord had to do with the people of Babylon. He said, "They are one people, and they have all one language", and He confounded their language and scattered them abroad. Their work ceased because they did not understand one another. That is the result of their trying to get a name. But when you really do get the Name which God does allow, which God does accept, which God does recognize, the only Name that He recognizes as a universal Name, you get one language, one speech. It does not matter where you come from, you understand one another in the Spirit without opening your mouth. There is a common intercourse in the Spirit between all those who are really in the Name. It is a heavenly language which only those who belong to the Lord understand, but they do understand. Sometimes it is language conveyed only by a look. Some of us have met those from countries whose language we cannot understand, but we have met them and at once we have spoken to one another, we have had intercourse at once just in the look and in some interchange of spirit. We are in Christ. Well, the Name means a deep inward oneness.
The Authority of the Name
It means universality, unity and authority. Here we have it in
Acts 3. The Name was authoritative. It spoke of Christ being in
the place of power, of authority. The whole testimony of Peter and
John to the people who ran together was concerning the exaltation
of the Lord Jesus to the place of authority. That is all gathered
up into His Name. Given the real foundation or basis of that Name,
that is, given our being right in the place that that Name
signifies, there is tremendous authority there, there is
tremendous power there.
We have to get into a spiritual position before the Name functions in its power, in its authority, but having got there, then that Name means authority over all the power of the Evil One over every situation. When there, being in harmony with the Name, consistent with the Name, on the ground of the holiness of that Name, the oneness of that Name, the honour and glory of that Name, being there through the blood in the meaning of the Name, where the blood has dealt with all that is contrary to the very meaning of that Name such as unholiness and Satan's work in divisions, and we stand really, truly, on the ground of the Name, oh, what tremendous things can happen, and did happen! Said Peter and John, "Silver and gold have I none; but what I have, that I give thee." And what had they? "In the Name of Jesus...". I have the Name of Jesus! We have the Name of Jesus, and that will do you more good than all the fortunes of this world. If you had asked that man afterwards, "Well, would you sooner have had your legs given to you or five pounds or a hundred pounds?" I am quite sure he would have said: "The Name of Jesus brought me something far more than all the wealth of this world could bring me!" The Name of Jesus has bound up with it tremendous values, tremendous enrichments. It is the power of walking and leaping and praising God. It is the testimony of the Name.
I close where we commenced, saying this, that what the Lord needs is that vessel here among His people which holds for Him His thought in fulness concerning these three great things in relation to His Son - the testimony of the blood, the testimony of the cross, and the testimony of the Name. I do ask you to pray very definitely, very much, that the Lord will - if it is a matter of recovering, reviving, reconstituting, or bringing in a new cruse altogether - move very strongly to have for Himself a living ministry which keeps in a living way this threefold testimony before His people - the tremendous significance of the blood of Jesus; the great meaning and value of the cross of the Lord Jesus and then His Name, that it may be honoured, that all its honour, its glory, its majesty, its uniqueness, may be felt among us, that there may be more done by the Name of Jesus to His glory. The Lord grant it!