"A Candlestick of Pure
Gold: of Beaten Work" Exodus 25:31
"The Testimony of Jesus" Revelation 1:9
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|January -- February, 1968
||Vol. 46, No. 1
As we send out this first issue of this little paper in this, its
forty-sixth year, and break upon one more stage of the unknown future,
I think that I could do nothing more helpful than to dwell upon the
words of our motto for 1968:
"Ye have not passed this way heretofore"
"He knoweth the way" (Job 23:10).
"Certainly I will be with thee" (Exodus
Isn't it strange how we gravitate toward the apprehensive aspect of a
confrontation? Already I have found people who, having seen the motto,
immediately exclaim: 'Hello, what is coming now? What are we going to
have to meet in 1968?' Perhaps heavy difficulties in the past or
present do create some predisposition to fear or apprehensiveness, but
such a reaction to the motto is to do two unfortunate things. First, it
is to detach the first part from the remainder, and so to get out of
balance; and then it is to take the words away from their great context
in the book of Joshua. Balance and confidence will be restored or
established if we remember that it is equally a part of the truth that,
in all the uncertainties of the future, "He knoweth the way." That is,
what is quite hidden from us is already present to the knowledge and
sight of the Lord. There is nothing that can take Him unawares, and be
Then there is His categorical affirmation: "Certainly I will be with
This should counter all fear. But when we have got our poise on these
assurances, there is still the wonderful context. It is the context of
a prospect, not a tragedy. The people had reached the point where they
were about to enter upon all that for which the Lord had chosen,
called, and prepared them. All His dealings with them were about to
have their purpose realized. There may be battles, as surely there will
be. There may be more lessons to learn, but there is going to be a
mighty victory placed right under their feet at the very beginning.
Jordan, 'overflowing its banks', is going to be deprived of all its
power to overwhelm them. 'Death will be swallowed up in victory' before
they proceed into the future! The Lord's intention for them [1/2] has already become His realization. "I have
," says the Lord. "You proceed on that ."
There is, however, an element of warning or counsel in the context of
the words concerning the unknown way. The ark was going ahead, but they
were to put two thousand cubits of space between it and themselves.
They were to "come not nigh it, that they might know the way". We know
the ark represented both the presence, nature, and purpose of the Lord.
It is, in effect and fact, the Lord Himself in charge of everything;
His sovereign government. There was a man later in the history of the
ark who got too near to it and assumed the responsibility and control;
he perished tragically and lost the way.
How we project ourselves by fear, anxiety, mistaken
responsibility into what is God's government! We shall only lose our
way and God's support if we -- in our heat -- take His-alone place.
Sometimes our very subjectivity can involve us in confusion, when we
should have our eyes on the One who has done all for us. We need to
contemplate those two thousand cubits in the light of the letter to the
Romans, and remember that -- without careless irresponsibility -- He
has the initiative; the way and the end are with Him. "I am the
Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end." That is really the
message of the motto. Perhaps a ray of sunshine would be let in if we
reversed the order of the words thus:
The Lord has said --
"Certainly I will be with
'I know the way.'
"Ye have not passed this way
In our last issue we informed our readers of the passing to be with the
Lord of our long-time fellow-worker and fellow in this ministry, our
brother, Mr. C. J. B. Harrison.
We have now to report the Homecall of another of those who have been so
valuable a help in the work. Many of our friends in many parts of the
world have known our sister Lady Ogle. For over forty years she has
been very closely bound up with this ministry and has been a "helper of
many". Her prayer ministry has been such a great strength, and she will
be one for whom we shall give thanks on all remembrance. She was called
Home on Monday, 27th November, in the late evening. After a short
illness and no suffering she opened her eyes, smiled, and was gone. May
the Lord fill the gap made by this loss with others who will take up
her ministry of prayer in -- at least -- as strong a way.
WORK IN THE GROANING CREATION (2)
"So also it is written, The first man Adam became a
The last Adam became a life-giving spirit" (1 Corinthians 15:45).
WE are brought to the consideration of the Lord Jesus in the redemptive
plan of God, and we want to begin with Him in heaven, for everything in
God's purpose now begins with Christ in heaven. It is important to
recognize that. It may seem very simple, very elementary, and it may
even be that you say: 'Surely it commenced with Christ coming into the
world, with Christ on the Cross!' No! It does not! It commences with
Christ in heaven, Christ in glory, Christ exalted to the right hand of
the Majesty on high. Apart from that the earthly life of the Christ
lacked the essential dynamic. Everything commences in God's new
creation with Christ in heaven.
We notice this contrast: "The first man Adam ... a living soul. The
last Adam ... a life-giving spirit." The first Adam produced after his
kind, a race according to his own constitution, and in Adam by nature
we are that, a living soul. Adam, if he had gone on the straight way in
obedience, would have reached a point where he would have been changed
in his constitution and nature from what the first Adam was as a living
soul to what the last Adam is, but he did not go that straight way. Now
God's thought is no longer with the first Adam, but with the last Adam,
and in the last Adam God has already realized His original thought.
It is a tremendously important and valuable thing to recognize that the
Lord Jesus in heaven now represents the fact that what was in God's
thought originally, and that for which He created Adam probationally
and potentially, is an accomplished and finished thing in the Person of
the Lord Jesus, now. That He has got right through to the end of that
and it is finished, it is completed; in the Lord Jesus God has a Man.
And inasmuch as He is the "Firstborn among many brethren", and is the
Head of the creation, all His race are in Him complete. We turn aside
to the thought about the Body of Christ to get that made clear. Paul
speaks of the Body as having many members, and all the [2/3]
members, being many, are one Body; so also is the Christ. The
article is there in the Greek. That is, the Christ is a Body of
many members, with Christ as sovereign Head, so that "the last Adam" is
a collective and inclusive title.
In Christ in heaven God has His Man completed according to His original
thought, and in that Man, who is the racial Firstborn, He has His race
as represented in perfection, completeness. When we come into Christ by
faith we enter, so far as position is concerned, as full a
perfection as ever we shall have, though we remain here for
generations. In Christ we are as perfect as we ever shall be. What we
are in ourselves will mean a process, but, so far as our position
in Him is concerned, we are perfect in Christ.
What is this last Adam? He is different from the first Adam in that He
is a life-giving Spirit, not merely a living soul. Following on the
definition in this fifteenth chapter of 1 Corinthians we have:
"So also it is written ... that is not first which is spiritual, but
that which is soulical; then that which is spiritual. The first man is
of the earth, earthy: the second man is of heaven. As is the earthy,
such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such as
they also that are heavenly."
The seed of Christ is essentially spiritual and heavenly; that is why
everything begins in heaven. You can no longer know Christ after the
flesh. You can only know Christ after the Spirit now. You can no longer
take hold of Him in the flesh; you can only take hold of Him in the
Spirit now. You can no longer have fellowship with Him on the earth as
of this earth; you can only have fellowship with Him now in the
heavenlies in Christ Jesus; the spiritual and the heavenly. And such
are they of this new generation. In their very being they are spiritual
and heavenly. No longer of this world, and no longer of this natural or
soulical order. They are essentially spiritual.
Before we follow that further we want to note this other thing: that
the second Man was also put on probation, as was the first. He was put
on probation to be tried and tested on exactly the same question as was
the first Adam, that of obedience; and to be brought to a certain point
of maturity, as was Adam. The Lord Jesus was put under conditions of
testing before heaven, and all heaven was interested in that testing.
All heaven was interested in the testing of the first Adam, and all
heaven was interested in the testing of the last Adam. After the first
phase of the testing in the wilderness angels came and ministered. They
had been watching! In the hour of the deepest of all the testings, in
the garden of Gethsemane, an angel came and ministered. It was before
heaven that this testing was going on!
The fact of the testing need not be tarried with longer. Two other
things remain: the nature of the testing, and the object, or the issue,
of the testing.
The nature of the testing was through three years of walk under
temptation; temptation from without, and certainly not from within.
Through those three years, what was taking place in His life was not
atoning or vicarious, but He was being watched, observed, under the
play of forces upon Him to see His reaction. He took the place of the
sweet-savour offering during the three years, and His life was a sweet
savour unto God. He was offering Himself to God through those three
years, but not as an offering for sin, not an atoning offering. He was
offering Himself to God as a sweet-savour offering for the good
pleasure of God, for God's satisfaction, so that God could have a Man
under continuous trial and testing before His eye, a Man who would not
in any way develop a flaw, a blemish, a spot, a wrinkle, a stain or any
The other form of the testing, the probation, was in the passion when
He was made sin, and, being made sin for us, He who knew no sin, God
Himself had to withdraw, turn His face away, and deny Him. Then even
under that strain He remained faithful and obedient. I have no doubt
whatever that the cup which He was facing, and over which He had His
supreme battle in the garden, was the cup of His Father's denial. For
Him that had to be a part of the price, but in the presence of that cup
He fought through to victory: "Not my will, but thine ...". Heaven was
so concerned about that aspect of the battle that heaven came in to
succour Him when He had got through in spirit. He was on probation,
under test. The question was one of 'obedience unto death, yea, the
death of the Cross'; and the death of the Cross, in its deepest
meaning, was being forsaken of God. He was obedient.
The object and the issue of the testing was perfecting. He was perfect,
but He was made perfect. He was perfect, and yet He was perfected. The
Word distinctly tells us that He was "made perfect through suffering",
and "though he was a Son, yet learned obedience by the things which he
suffered". While there was no sin in Him, He had to move toward a
position as representing man which He could only reach through being
tested out as man. He reached the position that, while He was perfect,
yet He was perfected. He reached a point of finality as Man which no
man had ever reached before; and when He was perfected through
suffering, God had got His Son as in eternal Godhead, but a [3/4] Man -- through trial and probation -- at the
point where He intended the first Adam to come. When He had got a Man
there He took Him away from this world and put Him in heaven. Why?
Because conformity to the image of that Man was not going to be on the
ground of flesh and blood, but it was going to be a spiritual thing.
God was going to commence, not where He commenced with Christ, but
where He ended with Christ. You and I begin where God has finished with
Christ. That is one of the most blessed truths that it is possible for
us to apprehend, if we could apprehend it. God does not start with us
where He started with the first Adam. He commences with us where He
finished with the last Adam. That is, God is working on the basis of
having already a perfect humanity. He has put the last Adam in heaven,
and there is the image, there is the model, there is the racial Man, in
whom the race is already.
The second thing is that He sends forth the Holy Spirit from heaven.
The New Testament phrase is: "The Holy Ghost sent down from heaven."
Where is that? Where Christ is, where God's perfected Son is. Sent down
from Him! What for? As the Spirit of all that Christ is in heaven. All
that perfection that Christ is in heaven comes down in the Holy Spirit.
We receive the Holy Spirit! What have we received? We have received
into our inner being the Spirit of Christ in heaven.
The first phase of that is our new birth. What is our new birth? It is
the life of God's last Adam. He is "a life-giving spirit". The Holy
Ghost is the Spirit of the life-giving spiritual last Adam. The terms
sound somewhat technical, but I am keeping closely to the Scripture.
The Holy Spirit comes as Christ, as what Christ is, and gives life to
those who believe on the Lord Jesus. We say that we pass from death
unto life, that we receive the gift of eternal life in Jesus Christ our
Lord, that is, we are born anew, we are born of Him. "That which is
born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is
spirit." So we are born of Him, the last Adam, who is a life-giving
spirit, and in the innermost reality of our being we are living spirit.
That is what is born from above. It is from above, and therefore it is
not earthly, but heavenly. The nature of the new birth is that we are
life and spirit, and heavenly, inwardly a living spirit, made to live
by the very life of the Lord Jesus, and because that is from above it
is heavenly. So God has here in this earth something which does not
belong to this earth at all, and which does not belong to the first
Adam race, something which is utterly different from the first Adam,
and altogether apart from the earth. God has here that which is of
Christ, and that which is heavenly. The development of that, of course,
is the whole history of spiritual growth, but that is where we begin,
and that is the nature of the new birth.
We have got the perfected humanity of the Lord Jesus in infant form (if
I may put it that way) at our new birth, and spiritual growth is simply
the development of that in us. It is what the Apostle Paul speaks of as
Christ being "fully formed" in us (Galatians 4:19 -- Gk.): "Until
Christ be fully formed in you." Christ in what He is is introduced, as
it were, as a babe at our new birth, and the course of spiritual
experience is the formation of Christ in us unto fulness. While this
relates to the Church in completion, it has a personal meaning.
God did not, because of Adam's failure and sin, wipe out that race,
destroy it, put it out of existence and make another creation. God is
doing a much more magnificent thing than that. In the midst of all that
He is introducing something and building up something which is taking
ascendency over that, and your spiritual experience, and mine, is
simply the progressive ascendency of the last Adam over the first; of
the spiritual over the soulical, the natural; the heavenly over the
earthly. That is the course of our life. It is progressive conformity
to the image of His Son. The Word says: "Be not conformed to this age,
but be ye transformed by the making anew of your mind" (Romans 12:2).
It is only another way of putting the same thing.
So, in the presence of the first Adam (which, mark you, in God's
judicial act has been set aside but not annihilated -- set aside
judicially and no longer recognized as standing before God, yet
remaining), as we walk in obedience, the law upon which God counts for
all the realization of His purpose is the last Adam triumphing over the
first Adam, taking ascendency in us, having already taken full
ascendency in heaven in the Person of the Lord Jesus.
All that means that we are learning Christ. The Apostle said: "Ye did
not so learn Christ" (Ephesians 4:20). He used that phrase in a
specific connection, but it can be used quite generally and applied in
this way, that our business is to 'so learn Christ'. And it is an
education which begins with A, B, C. It is an education which begins in
infancy, and the wisest man after the first Adam does not know anything
more about the last Adam than a little child just born into this world.
The one who may be most confident and self-reliant in the first Adam
has got to learn how to take a first step in the last Adam, and very
often makes some tumbles in learning how to take even a first step. On
that hangs all the doctrine of the Epistles: walking [4/5]
after the Spirit. That is something new -- another kind of walk. We are
not natural, but spiritual and therefore this is something altogether
different, and nature (that is, our relationship and our inheritance
from the first Adam) gives us no help here. You will look in vain to
nature to help you walk after the Spirit. You may be the wisest after
the first Adam, but that can give you nothing for the second Adam. You
have come into a new realm where it is not natural knowledge but
spiritual knowledge, and "the natural man receiveth not the things of
the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him; and he cannot
know them ..." (1 Corinthians 2:14). What is true in walk and knowledge
is true of every other thing that makes up life. Is food a part of
life? Well, you are careful about your food. The natural man knows more
or less what suits him and what he wants. Yes! We have to learn
something new about spiritual food. You know that you need food for
your new creation; you know you need spiritual food; and as you go on
you know what spiritual food is, and you know what is not spiritual
food that assumes to be spiritual food. You are discovering by a new
spiritual -- shall I say? -- instinct, understanding, discernment,
perception what is food and what is not food, spiritually.
What does all this amount to? The food, and the knowledge, the
understanding, the strength, the walk, are not abstractions, and they
are not things in themselves. THEY ARE CHRIST! He is the food; He is
made unto us wisdom. The whole business of the life of the child of God
is to learn how to live on Christ, how to make Christ their life at
every point, for God has made Him to be all, and summed up everything
Let us focus on one thing: as to where Adam failed and where Christ
triumphed. It was on the question of obedience. Adam did not reach
God's appointed end because he failed in obedience. Christ did reach
God's appointed end representatively, because of obedience. Now what is
righteousness? Righteousness is the all-inclusive virtue. If you go
through the Word of God you will find that everything is gathered up
into that word "righteousness". Whatever may be the forms of sin, all
of them are gathered into that -- righteousness or unrighteousness. Is
it theft? It is unrighteousness! Is it idolatry? It is unrighteousness!
Whatever it is, that is the word which expresses it. It is not so much
the thing in itself, it is what it means of unrighteousness before God.
Righteousness is "the foundation of his throne" (Psalm 97:2), which
means that all His government is upon a basis of righteousness. All
God's governmental activities are upon a basis of righteousness. All is
summed up into one question of righteousness and unrighteousness. The
ultimate issue for man's judgment or man's salvation is the issue of
Come to the Roman letter, and you see quite well that "justification"
is only another word for righteousness -- being made righteous before
God. The whole argument there is: "There is none righteous, no, not
one" (Romans 3:10), and then, out of that, comes all that is said about
justification. Justification is simply to find that righteousness, to
produce that righteousness, to bring to a position of righteousness.
What is unrighteousness? Disobedience! What is righteousness?
Obedience! How did Christ provide God with the righteousness that He
demanded? By His obedience, His utter obedience. How did Adam bring
this race under condemnation, that is, take it off the basis of
righteousness, and, therefore, of acceptance with God? By disobedience!
So that the obedience of Christ provides righteousness. "Christ Jesus,
who was made unto us ... righteousness" (1 Corinthians 1:30). How?
Because of His perfect obedience.
That obedience of the Lord Jesus was as Man for man. It was
representative obedience. His being in heaven means that there is the
virtue of a perfected obedience in Him, satisfying God for you and for
me, and we stand upon a basis of righteousness because of the perfect
obedience of the Lord Jesus. Then we are brought by the obedience of
one Man (that is Romans 5) into the presence of God in the Person of
the Lord Jesus, to stand without judgment and without any fear of
judgment. No condemnation in Him, the inclusive, representative, racial
Man. We come into acceptance with God because of His obedience, but,
having been put in acceptance with God, our business is to walk in the
obedience into which we have been planted. How can we walk in
obedience? How are you and I going to keep on in obedience? The natural
man cannot do it! The Adam man has proved helpless in this. How are we
going to do it? The Spirit of the obedient One is in us, to be the
strength of His obedience to us. 'Lord, I cannot of myself be obedient,
but You, as having already triumphed in this matter
of obedience, are in me; I live on Your strength in this matter.' That
is living by Christ, and that is walking in obedience by reason of the
Holy Spirit energizing. "It is God which worketh" -- energizeth is the
word -- "in you both to will and to work, for his good pleasure"
(To be continued) [5/6]
AT EASE OR AT REST?
The second message by Mr. DeVern Fromke at the
Conference in Switzerland
"Moab hath been at ease from his youth, and he hath
settled on his lees, and hath not been emptied from vessel to vessel,
neither hath he gone into captivity: therefore his taste remained in
him, and his scent is not changed" (Jeremiah 48:11).
I WANT this morning that we should see the wrong tendency to be at
ease, but the right way to be at rest. We will, from a bird's-eye view
of the history of Israel, and continuing from what we were saying
yesterday, see how she was always wanting to be delivered from,
but was hardly ready to be moved unto the purpose of God.
We will begin by seeing Israel after her four hundred years of
captivity in Egypt. God heard her cry when she began to be tired of the
taskmasters of Egypt, and He delivered her out of Egypt and across the
Red Sea. He brought her out from her bondage, or captivity, but, having
been brought out, she then had the privilege of choosing: Would she
give herself unto the purpose of God?
I think we shall see how even today there are so many who in their
bondage cry out to the Lord for deliverance, but are unwilling to go on
unto the full purpose that He has for them.
Israel was content to stop half-way instead of moving on unto the full
purpose of God, but God seems to say: 'If ye will not go on unto
, I have another captivity for you.' And so they wandered forty years
round and round the wilderness instead of moving into the land of
Canaan. They did not want the glorious captivity in the Lord, so there
was imposed upon them a schoolroom captivity. Thus this whole
generation died in the wilderness, except for two men, Joshua and
Caleb, but God, in His mercy, heard the new generation and delivered
them out of the wilderness-wandering into the land of Canaan. He
delivers them out from the captivity of the wilderness, and now
He waits for them to move unto a full possessing of the land of
Canaan -- but you know the story so well. While they possessed and
conquered some of Canaan, pretty soon they settled down just to enjoy
it for themselves. They were not primarily God-conscious,
purpose-conscious, or fulfilment-conscious, but only
So once again there is a captivity imposed upon them: the captivity of
the nations of Canaan. God had said to them: "Make no league with the
inhabitants of this land" (Judges 2:2), but they did not obey Him. They
were fearful of the people of Canaan, and so became captive to them.
What does all this teach us? When we are first saved we are delivered
out of the world. It is so wonderful to have a release from our old
habits and our old way of life, but there are so many young believers
who do not realize that God wants to teach them how to live by His
life. They must learn how to live by the bread from heaven and the
water that He supplies, but they still have an appetite for the things
of Egypt, and there are those who murmur and complain for the onions,
the leeks, the garlic! You would think that they would enjoy the manna
from heaven, but God has to apply the tree to change our appetites. He
says: 'If you will not move unto and live by My life, you will know the
captivity of the fleshly life.'
And then there are those who do move into Canaan, as it were, but
somehow they make entanglements with the men around them; and we read
of the darkest hour in Israel's history during the period of the
Judges. They cried out to the Lord, and with each new judge that He
raised up there was a bit of revival, but I believe that this would
teach us that mere reviving is not the real answer. God must awaken His
people to be alive to His larger purpose, not merely awakenings and
revivings for themselves.
In due time the people of Israel cry out, and God gives them the
prophet Samuel. Then, after a short period of King Saul, King David
unifies the people into a nation. Finally King Solomon builds the House
of Prayer for all nations, and it seems that for the first time God is
maybe getting something out of His people Israel. And yet, once again,
they begin to settle down merely to using all the good things for
themselves. They had been in the land four hundred and ninety years,
and this represents seventy sabbaths, when the land was to rest, and so
the Lord tells them that they will be carried into Babylonian captivity
for seventy years. He would take them away and enforce a sabbath rest
for every sabbath year that they had failed to let the land be idle.
Let us go back and see once again what this means.
Taken first out of the world, then delivered from the fleshly life of
wrong appetites, then set free from the entanglements and the fears of
men, this is the people that should have a ministry unto God and unto
the world around, but they began to enjoy [6/7]
God's blessing and the temple just for themselves instead of letting
them be a means for the blessing of the world. My gift, in my
ministry, must never be merely for my blessing, but for the
blessing of others.
And so we see the northern armies of Syria coming in and taking Israel
into the Babylonian captivity. I wonder if now we have a fuller
appreciation of Psalm 137? I see so many of the Lord's people in this
kind of captivity. Instead of joy there is defeat, and the only
testimony they have is: 'We remember a better day!' But hear me! We
today should know the joy and the overflow of the life from within. Let
us read about these people in Psalm 137:
"By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we
wept, when we remembered Zion. We hanged our harps upon the willows in
the midst thereof."
Now notice how the people round about are turning to them and saying:
'Why do you not sing us one of your blessed songs of Zion? We remember
that you are the songbirds.' I notice in my country how many people of
the world like to slip in and hear the Christians sing!
"For there they that carried us away captive required of
us a song; and they that wasted us required of us mirth, saying, Sing
us one of the songs of Zion."
All the people around us are looking for something of reality in us. If
not in words, at least in some way they are saying: 'Lift us with one
of your songs of Zion', but all these people can say is:
"How shall we sing the Lord's song in a strange land?"
I know I am in a strange land here, but I have a song, for this is a
different kind of strange land -- I am here with my brothers and
sisters! But I wonder if we catch the real significance here: these are
the people who had a ministry, but they lost the ministry they had. You
see, the very issue is this: We are called all along the way to give,
to be poured out. 'Death worketh in us', and this brings life unto
And so we see that there are three different planes. Up above there is
a glorious captivity in the Lord. If we do not want that, then the Lord
says: 'Well, I have another one for you', but there are so many of the
Lord's people who want to stop half-way. They do not want to be a
love-captive, nor to be a bondage-captive, but they just want to be
free. But I must remind you that this half-way plane is only a
passing-zone; it is not a stopping-place. You think you can
stop here, but God says: 'I enrol you in My school-room'. Israel turned
the wilderness into a schoolroom, and the captivity of the nations into
another schoolroom. Even the Babylonian captivity was turned into a
So we read that in due time, after seventy years of captivity in
Babylon, the Lord stirred the spirit of Cyrus, King of Persia, and the
people go back to their land. They rebuild the temple, restore the wall
-- and settle down to enjoy it all for themselves again! Well, we have
another Psalm -- 126 -- which tells us about the turning of their
"When the Lord turned again the captivity of Zion, we
were like them that dream. Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and
our tongue with singing: then said they among the heathen, The Lord
hath done great things for them."
Do you know who it is that knows when you are set free? The neighbours
begin to say: 'Something has happened to brother ...!' Even your wife
says: 'He has a song again!' You see, the heathen had a sense of what
Israel ought to be. They may be glad that you are in captivity, but
they know inwardly what is right, and so they say: "The Lord hath done
great things for them." And then the Israelites reply:
"Yes, the Lord hath done great things for us; whereof we
Now, God wants to turn one captivity to another, for we are not made to
be free in ourselves. Many years ago Dr. Matheson wrote these words:
"Make me a captive, Lord,
And then I shall be
And so we read in the next verse:
"Turn again our captivity, O Lord, as the streams in the
He who expects to have a real, poured-out ministry must know the broken
'streams of the south'. In our country we say that the South is way
down deep, and the North is up, so it is way down deep within that the
'streams of the south' must be broken up.
"They that sow in tears shall reap in joy."
Let me illustrate that. Many years ago, when my grandfather came from
Sweden to America, he homesteaded out in the bleak prairies of the
Dakotas. One spring they had so little food for the family that when it
came time to plant the potatoes in the ground, my grandfather said he
felt that each potato he put in was being taken out of the mouths of
the little children. It was almost like weeping and watering each one,
but that was the only way to have a joyous harvest. Beloved, there is
no easy way to bring life to others. "They that sow in tears shall reap
in joy." [7/8]
"He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed,
shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with
That may perhaps be true of our ministry, but look at my lovely Lord
who comes with all of His sheaves!
So it is hard to say how much Israel did move unto the full purpose of
God. The temple was built, and the nations round about looked upon the
glory of Israel. You remember that the Queen of Sheba had heard about
the glory of a people who had sanctified the Lord God in their midst,
and when she came and beheld it all she said: 'Oh! The half has not
been told!' Israel had her wonderful ministry of representing, of being
a testimony to what a people could be who are living unto God, and I
have often wondered what she could have moved unto if the kings who
followed had continued wholly in the way of the Lord. But we remember
how, after Solomon, the kingdom was divided under Jeroboam and
Rehoboam, and, weakened from within, Israel was overcome by the
Babylonians. The enemy's way is always to weaken us first from within,
and where there is no real life within we are subject to all the
diseases from outside.
Israel comes back from the Babylonian Captivity, rebuilds and restores,
and in due time the Lord Jesus comes to offer Himself to them as their
King; but they could not recognize the One they had cried for for so
long. However orthodox they were in their interpretations, they did not
have the spiritual eye to see, and so we find them today dispersed
throughout the world. But we have a promise in Deuteronomy 30:3: "Then
the Lord thy God will turn thy captivity, and have compassion upon
thee, and will return and gather thee from all the nations, whither the
Lord thy God hath scattered thee." This does not mean that they
will merely be brought back from captivity, but they will be turned
again to another captivity -- the one up above.
There is the background. Do you not see that the tendency of man is to
get delivered from, and then to settle down at ease? People who
move from one experience to another experience, or from one lovely
doctrine to another doctrine, are so prone to settle down at ease. Do
you not see that if Israel had moved up to the upper plane God could
have taken them on into all that they needed to see? Jesus had said: "I
am the Life; I am the Way; and I am the Truth." I
do not know how to explain what I see of entering into this captivity
by which He becomes my life, my whole way and the very reality
of everything, but are you not glad that God is very sovereign? He gets
His way in spite of us.
Is there someone here who wonders why their spiritual life has come to
a stalemate? Even when you read God's Word it does not seem to speak to
you as it once did, and in praying God seems so very far away. If God
would bring you out from some captivity, would you say with your whole
heart: 'Lord, I choose to see and move unto your fullest purpose'? I
believe I have learned by sad experience that, while the lower plane
seems to be the easier way, the upper plane is the way. I
believe I can see that in my earlier life there was such a period of
wilderness-wandering when God was changing the appetites, and then a
period when I was so prone to be yoked with men for rest and security,
and I got all mixed up in the denominations. You forgive me -- but
there are many kinds of nations with which we become entangled! But
God's highway is the way of identification with Him.
In closing, listen again to what God says in Jeremiah 48:11: "Moab hath
been at ease from his youth, and he hath settled on his lees." So many
of God's children wonder why God takes them through the crucibles of
life, but with all the Moabites they live on at ease. If you are a
Moabite, all right, but if you are one of God's own, He stirs you up to
keep you from settling down at ease. Oh, how many times I have groaned
in being poured from vessel to vessel! It seems that God says to Moab
that he has not gone into captivity, but he is not really free. There
is a much worse captivity! There are people who say they are captives
of the Lord, but when I live close to them, I see that their tastes
have not been changed. You see, if we are captive to the Lord we smell
of His fragrance, but if we are in this imposed captivity, we smell of
the flesh, we have the odour of entanglements, and we are those who are
defeated, without a real ministry unto the Lord.
Finally, we are either deliverance-centred (or salvation-centred), or
we become purpose-conscious. DeV. F.
The acknowledgement of gifts received during October and November 1967,
is being held over until the next issue, due to lack of space. These
gifts, apart from those sent anonymously, have all been acknowledged to
the individual donors and we are grateful to them and to the Lord for
this faithful ministry. [8/9]
"THINE IS THE KINGDOM, AND THE POWER,
AND THE GLORY, FOR EVER"
1. WHAT IS THE KINGDOM?
"Verily I say unto you, There be some of them that stand
here, which shall in no wise taste of death, till they see the Son of
man coming in his kingdom" (Matthew 16:28).
"To whom he also shewed himself alive after his passion
by many proofs, appearing unto them by the space of forty days, and
speaking the things concerning the kingdom of God" (Acts 1:3).
"But when they believed Philip preaching good tidings
concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were
baptized, both men and women" (Acts 8:12).
"And he entered into the synagogue, and spake boldly for
the space of three months, reasoning and persuading as to the things
concerning the kingdom of God" (Acts 19:8).
"And now, behold, I know that ye all, among whom I went
about preaching the kingdom, shall see my face no more" (Acts
"And when they had appointed him a day, they came to him
into his lodging in great number; to whom he expounded the matter,
testifying the kingdom of God, and persuading them concerning Jesus,
both from the law of Moses and from the prophets, from morning till
evening. And some believed the things which were spoken, and some
disbelieved" (Acts 28:23-24).
"Then cometh the end, when he shall deliver up the
kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have abolished all rule
and all authority and power. For he must reign, till he hath put all
his enemies under his feet" (1 Corinthians 15:23-24).
"After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father, which
art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come ... And bring us
not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For thine is the
kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen" (Matthew
6:9, 10, 13).
I DO not know what version of the Bible you have in your hand, but if
you have a modern translation you will find that the second half of
Matthew 6:13 is not there. However, the people who made this version
from which I am reading put a footnote, which says: "Many authorities,
some ancient, add For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the
glory, for ever. Amen. " Now, I am not going to have any argument
with the authorities, but I believe we have very good reason for
retaining the second half of that verse, and I think that the ministry
that the Lord has given me for this week is based upon that questioned
half-verse. I am going to speak about something in the Bible that some
men say is not in the Bible: "Thine is the Kingdom, and the power, and
the glory, for ever."
WHY SHOULD THOSE WORDS BE RETAINED?
Before we can go on any further we must state why we believe that that
half-verse ought to be there. The whole Bible, especially the New
Testament, is built upon those three words: "Thine is the Kingdom"
stands over the whole Bible; "and the power" stands over the
whole Bible; "and the glory " -- all the Bible is gathered into
that. The New Testament is especially true to those three words, so
that half-verse which is questioned is justified by the whole Bible.
We read that wonderful word in 1 Corinthians 15:23, which looks right
on to the end of the Bible. It says: "Then cometh the end, when he (the
Son) shall deliver up the kingdom to the Father." The Kingdom belongs
to the Father, and Jesus included Himself in that prayer: "Our Father,
which art in heaven ... Thy Kingdom come." In the end the Son will
deliver up the Kingdom to the Father: when He has done the work of the
Kingdom He will hand it to its right owner. You will notice that this
is very comprehensive: "Then cometh the end ... when he shall have
abolished all rule and all authority and power." Those are three very
rich words: all rule, all authority , and all power.
You cannot get outside of that! That comprehends every form of
opposition to the will of God, and it says that all that opposition
will at last be subjected and subdued. In a minute we are going to ask
the question: 'What is the Kingdom?', but here we begin with this very
comprehensive thing: "Our Father, which art in heaven ... Thy Kingdom
come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so on earth ... For thine is
the kingdom." The Kingdom is that which is above all other rule and
authority and power that is against the will of God. 1 Corinthians
15:23 says: "Then cometh the end." The end of what? Everything
that is opposed to the will of God. That little word: "Thy will" is a
tremendous word! It reaches out to the uttermost bounds of everything
opposed to the will of God. [9/10]
Now the Lord Jesus knew what He was talking about. I expect you have
used those words many, many times, for they are called 'The Lord's
Prayer'. Whether that is the right title or not we will not discuss,
but it came out of a vast spiritual knowledge; and this is one of the
things, dear friends, that we must recognize in order to get an
enlarged spiritual understanding: that in every small fragment that
came through the lips of the Lord Jesus there was a whole universe of
meaning. When we use these words: "'Thy will be done", how little we
understand of what we are saying!
THE BATTLE FOR THE KINGDOM OF THIS UNIVERSE
Let us see something of the range of that one fragment -- "Thy will be
From before the foundation of this world, and all through the ages,
there has been an immense cosmic conflict, and that conflict always had
one issue: 'Who shall have the kingdom of this universe?' There was the
One to whom the kingdom belonged, and it belonged to Him for ever and
ever; and then there was the other one who aspired to have possession
of that kingdom, and whose ambition was to be the "god", the "prince"
of this world. And so, at some point, this great conflict commenced,
this great cosmic conflict for the control of this universe. Once again
we go back to 1 Corinthians 15: 'He must reign till He has put down
all rule, and authority, and power' -- and that is what is going on
now, and we are involved in that conflict. That will explain a very
We have a kind of microcosm of this whole conflict. In our arrangement
of the Bible it is contained in twenty-eight chapters. It is only a
little pamphlet, called "The Book of the Acts of the Apostles", but the
Apostles never gave it that name! I would like to know what they would
have called it. I know what I would call it, but that title is far too
big and far too difficult: "A Microcosm of the Conflict of all the
Ages." We think that the Book of the Acts is just a history of
apostolic times. Well, it is that, but oh! it is the story of the
conflict of the ages. In this little book heaven and hell are in deadly
conflict, and the conflict concerns the kingdom. It is very impressive
that this book begins with the kingdom and ends with
the kingdom. It begins by saying that Jesus, after He was risen,
appeared Unto His disciples "by the space of forty days, and speaking
the things concerning the kingdom of God" (1:3), and in chapter 28:31,
the end of the book, the Jews were crowding into the little apartment
of the Apostle Paul and he was "preaching the kingdom of God". These
three words stand wonderfully over this little book! The Apostles and
all the workers in that book were fighting the battle of the kingdom.
They never arrived at any place in the world that then was but that
this battle commenced. They went everywhere 'preaching the kingdom of
God', and their arrival in every place was always anticipated by the
rival to the kingdom of God. They were working out this little
fragment: "Thine is the kingdom." It was not just a little bit of
ritual, or a formal prayer: it was the battleground of the universe.
Now where in the New Testament did this real battle begin? It really
began almost immediately after the Lord Jesus had said to His
disciples: "There be some of them that stand here, which shall in no
wise taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his
kingdom," though perhaps I ought to say that it entered upon a more
intensive phase from that time. There ought to be no chapter division
between Matthew 16 and 17, for after that verse it goes immediate]y on
to say: " And after six days Jesus taketh with him Peter, and James,
and John his brother, and bringeth them up into a high mountain apart:
and he was transfigured before them." Now there are those people and
teachers who think that the Transfiguration was the fulfilment of those
words: "the Son of man coming in his kingdom", but that is only half
the truth. What was the meaning of the Transfiguration? The Gospel by
Matthew, as you know, is the Gospel of the Kingdom, and the
Transfiguration was the manifestation of the King in His glory. You
must have a king before you have a kingdom, so in the Transfiguration
you have a foreshadowing of the King in glory. The Kingdom is vested in
the King. They came down from the mountain -- and what would you expect
to happen? Well, you would expect that those men would go out into the
world and say: 'We have seen the King in His glory', but Jesus said
emphatically: "Tell the vision to no man until ...". Until when? "Until
the Son of man be risen from the dead."
Now link together two little words. "Tell the vision to no man until
...". Then He said: "Tarry ye in the city (Jerusalem) until ye
be clothed with power from on high" (Luke 24:49), and until 'ye
receive the promise of the Father' (Acts 1:4). That little word 'until'
links two things together. "Until the Son of man be risen" -- that
involves the Cross. 'Until ye receive the promise of the Father' --
that involves Pentecost. The Cross and Pentecost introduce the Kingdom.
Before the Cross it was: 'Tell no man!' After the Cross and Pentecost
they went everywhere preaching the kingdom. [10/11]
We are answering the question: 'What is the Kingdom?' I hope I am not
tiring you. I am only laying a foundation, and in a few minutes I will
be saying something which I think will be helpful, but we must be clear
as to what the Kingdom is.
First of all, the Kingdom is not a realm, but the personal rule of a
Person. It is the dominion of a Person, that which belongs to that
Person. You see, you must be very clear about that, because the whole
conflict centres in the question of to whom the Kingdom belongs. The
Kingdom is the sovereign government of God over all. It is the will of
God deciding everything eventually. Only in a secondary way is the
Kingdom a sphere, or a realm, and it is the realm in which God's will
is absolutely sovereign: "Thy will be done, as in heaven, so on earth."
God is absolutely sovereign in heaven, and there no one ever challenges
His will. Angels and archangels bow in adoration and submission to the
will of God in heaven, and if the Kingdom becomes a realm, it is only
the realm in which it is like that.
You will be able to tell from that whether you are in the Kingdom. It
is so easy to talk about the Kingdom, and to say "Thy kingdom come",
and "Thine is the kingdom", but the fiercest battle that ever raged in
the history of this world rages over that Kingdom.
THE KINGDOM OF GOD AND THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN
Perhaps some of you are not quite sure of the difference between the
Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of heaven. I have often been asked that
question. Well, I think the answer is quite simple. If you look in the
Gospel by Matthew, and remember that that Gospel was written for
Hebrews, the phrase is usually "The kingdom of heaven", but if you look
where it was written in Greek you will find that it is "The kingdom of
God". This is not always so, because there were always some Hebrews
even amongst the Greeks, but it's a general distinction. To the Jews it
was the Kingdom of heaven. Well, the Jews understood heaven, and the
Greeks did not, but they quite understood deities. They had 'gods
many', and 'god' was a kind of comprehensive term for them. So "The
Kingdom of heaven" was all right for Jews, for they understood, and the
Greeks understood "The Kingdom of God".
Well, that is only a technicality, and it has not helped you very much,
but it is part of the answer, at least, to what is the difference
between the Kingdom of heaven and the Kingdom of God.
THE KINGDOM IN THE HANDS OF THE ENTHRONED KING
Let us try to come to a close with something quite helpful. What have
we been saying? The dominion belongs to God: "Thine is the kingdom."
The securing of that Kingdom for the Father was committed to the Son,
so that the Lord Jesus has the Kingdom of God vested in Himself, and as
He moved from His Cross He said: "All authority hath been given unto me
in heaven and on earth" (Matthew 28:18). So after the Cross, in the
Book of the Acts, the Kingdom is in the hands of the enthroned King,
Now your problem arises, and here is something that is going to test
every one of you. It has been my problem many times. If Jesus is on the
throne of the Kingdom, and all authority is committed unto Him, what
about things like this?
"Are they ministers of Christ? ... I more: in labours
more abundantly, in stripes above measure, in deaths oft. Of the Jews
five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with
rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day
have I been in the deep: in journeyings often, in perils of rivers, in
perils of robbers, in perils from my countrymen, in perils from the
Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils
in the sea, in perils among false brethren: in labour and travail, in
watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and
nakedness. Beside those things that are without, there is that which
presseth upon me daily, anxiety for all the churches" (2
And Jesus is on the throne! I venture to say that if you were in any
one of those things you would ask the question: Is Jesus really on the
throne? If all authority is in the hands of Jesus, why all this? And
this is not the only list of Paul's troubles! Now, Paul, are you quite
sure that the Kingdom belongs to Jesus? When something goes wrong, some
tragedy enters into our life, when some great sorrow overtakes us, is
not our first temptation to ask the question: Is the Lord really Lord?
Please, Paul, answer my question! And Paul will answer by saying: 'This
is all the battle of the Kingdom. Oh, no, things have not gone wrong.
They are all going right, for this all says that the devil does not
like what we are doing. If you will only wait until the end, you will
see.' And it was this Paul who wrote: "Then cometh the end ... when he
shall have abolished all rule and all authority and power." You see, we
just look at the things of the present, but Paul looked through the
present to the end.
Well, were all these sufferings for nothing? Was [11/12]
Satan lord after all? What are we doing here tonight? Millions and
millions have come this way and owe their debt to the Lord through this
Apostle Paul. I can see a picture: a great multitude which no man can
number, out of every nation and tribe and tongue, and the Lord Jesus
standing with His arm around His Apostle Paul and saying: 'Look, Paul,
do you see this great multitude? Do you remember that night when you
were shipwrecked, and that day when they beat you with rods? Paul, this
is all the fruit of that. The Kingdom has come and your sufferings have
brought the Kingdom in.' That may be a bit of imagination, but I
believe there is a lot of truth in it.
It depends on how we look at things. Do we interpret these adversities
as the victory of Satan, or do we interpret them as the way of the
Kingdom and look through to that day when He shall have subdued all
rule and authority?
Well, we have got out into a big realm! How much more there is in "Thy
kingdom come. Thy will be done"!
(To be continued)
FOR BOYS AND GIRLS
THE WILL AND THE DEED
THE oboe is a rather unusual reed instrument and is difficult to play,
but little Leon's father and mother had very special reasons for
wanting him to learn to play it. Their reason had started because of
the grandfather's wish, but they had taken up the idea wholeheartedly
and made it their own.
Leon was still very young, but already he had shown signs of musical
instincts. The problem was how to get him interested enough to go
through with all the discipline and effort which would be needed if he
were to make the grade as a good oboe player. They felt that he needed
the will first if it were to be followed by the deed.
Leon's father was himself a gifted musician, in fact, he conducted the
orchestra at the Opera House. It so happened that many of the operas
had oboe solo parts in them, and it was this that gave the father his
idea. As he thought the matter over, he decided on a plan which would
need his own orchestra and Leon's mother to work out. And this is what
Whenever there was a solo oboe part in the score, little Leon was taken
to hear the opera. His mother would tell him when the oboe part was
about to be played and get him specially interested in listening for
it. At first he could not follow it well, but little by little he came
to recognize the clear reed instrument, so that when he was warned to
watch for it he got very excited and was very pleased with himself for
being able to distinguish it.
As time went on he got better and better, so that in the end he did not
need his mother to tell him to listen for the oboe but proudly told her
as soon as he heard it. So it was that the months went by with the
constant visits to the opera, not so much to hear the rest of the music
as to listen for the oboe, which the boy Leon was learning to
appreciate and enjoy. In fact, the instrument was becoming one of the
main interests in his life.
Now, thought his father, the time has come for the next step. So on a
suitable occasion, when oboes were being mentioned, he asked Leon: "How
would you like to learn to play the oboe?" Like it! Leon could hardly
answer for excitement. There was nothing he would like more! It had
been such a joy to hear it, so much so that he could not think of a
greater unless it was to play it for himself.
So the lessons began. It was not easy. His longing to play did not take
the place of much hard work and constant exercise. But somehow work
seems easier when you want to do it. So it was that in due course Leon
not only learned to play the instrument but became a very great oboeist
Everything became possible once he wanted to do it, and his father had
very wisely worked to get him to want it before he worked to get him to
do it. So the family plan and pleasure became a fact.
This is a true story, and it is a good one for explaining the text
which says: "For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do
of his good pleasure" (Philippians 2:13). Our heavenly Father has a
plan for our lives, just as Leon's father had for Leon. And He also
begins by arousing in us a desire to do His pleasure. He works in us
"to will ...".
That is why we read the Bible if we are Christians. There we find how
the Lord Jesus lived, and the more we read it the more we shall find
ourselves [12/13] identifying Him, appreciating
Him, and in the end longing to be like Him. When God has aroused in us
the will to be like Christ then He is able to work in us to bring it to
pass. When Leon wanted to play the oboe he had taken the first step
towards playing it. This first step had to be followed by many others,
for it was not enough to "will" it; he had to "do" it. Too many
Christians wish to be like Christ but do not press on with the lessons
in daily life which will work the likeness into them. Our heavenly
Father is willing to teach us these lessons and to work out His will in
us if we really want Him to do so. H. F.
THE GREATNESS AND GLORY OF THE LORD
14. A TRAGIC AND INSTRUCTIVE EPISODE
Reading: 2 Samuel 6; 1 Chronicles 13, 16.
IN tracing the history of the Ark of the Testimony we have been deeply
impressed with its foreshadowing of the Testimony of Jesus in the New
Testament. What a varied and instructive history that has been! In its
journey from its formation to its ultimate and final rest in the House
of God and glory, what deep and important lessons it has taught! As it
sets forth the greatness and glory of the Lord Jesus the way of that
Testimony has been seen to touch the life and history of God's people
at every point in their pilgrimage. Both as positively for them
when their life was in keeping with it, and as against them
when it was otherwise. That is a first lesson of which we must take
notice in our relationship with the "Lord of Glory". The Testimony of
God in Jesus Christ is not just a doctrine, a system of truth, the
fundamentals of the Christian faith; but a vital relationship with a
living Person; a relationship jealously watched and checked by God the
Holy Spirit Himself. The greatness and glory of Jesus Christ is
something given to the custodianship of the Spirit of God, who has "the
seven eyes" of perfect spiritual intelligence and discernment, and who
never eventually overlooks any details which affect that Testimony, for
good or evil. This is what we have been seeing in these messages thus
In this present message we come to an episode which contains some of
the most vital, solemn, and instructive lessons for God's people
personally, and His Church universally and locally. Upon the lessons of
this incident hang -- for our own time -- issues as serious as was the
case when it actually happened. This is indeed a very real example of
the words: "The things which were written aforetime were written for
our learning" (Romans 15:4).
Let us, then, come to the elements of this episode.
David, after his chequered history, discipline, troubles, in
preparation for his anointed kingship, has at length been made king
after the tragic death of Saul -- man's choice (note) -- and Saul's
sons, including that fine man, Jonathan, who was caught between the two
regimes, a victim of divided loyalties. Upon this confirmed anointing
of David it is not long before his thoughts turn to the ark of God,
which still lingered on its way to fulness and finality. He had the
right idea as to what was due to that sacred figure. His motive was
sincere and true. The question was how to realize the Divine intention.
Let us pause there and look forward to what eventuated from the point
of that question. We will return there presently.
There has been a tragedy. Disaster has overtaken the enterprise and
venture. The ark is turned aside. One man closely associated with the
proceedings is dead, smitten by the hand of God. The people are in
consternation and confusion. David is dismayed and "angry". The whole
process has been cut short, and for a long time the atmosphere of
frustration hangs over everything. Arrest, death, abortion,
frustration, suspense, disappointment, confusion -- these are the
features which hang over the life of the people of God. They had, with
one accord, "made David king", first in Hebron, and then in Jerusalem.
That was a right and excellent thing, and the portents and
potentialities of that were very great. It was as God meant it, and
that was accompanied by much Divine favour. Hebron was "Fellowship".
Jerusalem was "His Foundation of Peace". But now "the radiant morn has
passed away, and spent too soon her golden store". Shadows have
descended. Disintegration of hearts, and bewilderment of purpose have
David is somewhere, first nursing his grievance and fretting his
spirit; murmuring against the [13/14] Lord's
non-co-operation with his good-intentioned purpose. The spirit of unity
and responsibility, as symbolized by David, is disconcerted and
paralysed. "And the time was long."
I wonder whether, thus far, we are able to discern corresponding
features in the Church and the Testimony in our own times. Let us
pause, think, and ask the question!
Now we return to David where we left him before the tragedy. He is
thinking out a scheme, a plan, a programme, a method, a means,
for advancing the Testimony. It ought to "get a move on". Something
must be done to remove "stalemate". 'It has been in the house of that
man Abinadab too long.' So, to action to release the Testimony! 'Let's
have a committee. Let's confer with some men of substance.' 'I have an
idea,' said David. 'Do you remember how the Philistines returned the
ark after they had captured it, and God had so honoured it with
judgments? Why, God was in that . They were quite respectful
and made a perfectly new cart for the ark. They had common sense and
used their own good judgment. That's an idea for our work for God
!' So David instructed the carpenters and wheelwrights to make a new
cart such as the Philistines made. Best wood, well put together, wheels
well oiled, ornate coverings; some well-chosen beasts to be the power
and volition; and when we get going, let Ahio go in front, and -- in
case of difficulty -- let Uzza be nearby to steady things. Yes, man's
idea, man's creation, organization, technique; man's leadership, man's
custodianship, man's enthusiasm! Very well. Off we go! The shouting and
the singing and the dancing begin. The makebelieve and
artificiality. There is something hollow in it all. But, isn't it all
for God? Isn't the object and the end that we have what God wants?
Surely that is the guarantee of prosperity and success! Well, was it?
And is it?
All seems to go well for a time and everyone is enjoying the "New
But, oh, why are there such things as "threshing floors" in the Bible?
They have always been such testing places. They search for
reality as against makebelieve, grain and chaff. They stand for the
ultimate issue, what is of God and what is of man. At such a place
David's oxen stumbled, the new cart rocked, the ark was imperilled, and
-- you know the rest, for we have told it.
Here we return to David -- the spirit of responsibility.
Such a man as David could not remain indefinitely with a controversy
with God. God is waiting for him to come out of his cul-de-sac. So
David begins to run through the Bible which he had (which had been
there all the time ) and his eye is directed to:
"And thou shalt put the staves into the rings on the
sides of the ark, to bear the ark withal" (Exodus 25:14).
"And when Aaron and his sons have made an end of
covering the sanctuary, and all the furniture of the sanctuary, as the
camp is to set forward; after that, the sons of Kohath shall come to
bear it: but they shall not touch the sanctuary, lest they die. These
things are the burden of the sons of Kohath in the tent of meeting"
"But unto the sons of Kohath he gave none: because the
service of the sanctuary belonged unto them; they bare it upon their
shoulders" (Numbers 7:9).
As he looked he was startled, shocked, amazed, ashamed. Here was God's
own prescription and ordination for the transit of the Ark of
Testimony! As David read these Scriptures he must have called up his
knowledge of the history lying behind God's unchanging order. The new
cart faded from view, and in its place were some men who, through a
most testing and searching history with God, had qualified for this so
Although David did not have the prophecies of Malachi, God's speaking
there (Malachi 2:4 ...) was retrospective to Exodus 32:26-29, and
Numbers 25:12, 13. God's covenant with Levi and his sons, which
governed their service, and gave them responsibility in relation to His
Testimony, was because they were proved and approved men. In
New Testament terms they were 'spiritual' men, "approved of God,
workmen needing not to be ashamed". Yes, approved of God, and of His
people. Not chosen, voted for, appointed and given office by men! Men
of spiritual measure, "pillars of the church". In Christianity one of
the most sacred expressions of the Lord's Testimony is His Table. "The
Table of the Lord" is characterized as most holy: dangerous -- like the
ark -- to what is not wholly suitable to it, and most blessed to those
rightly related. Surely it is here that Levitical service is to find
its true expression. Those who serve at the Lord's Table ought to be
true "Levites" in the sense that they have -- under extended or
intensive trial and proving -- shown to the Lord and His people that
they are men of spiritual measure and quality! With reference to
"overseers" Paul said: "Not a novice." "Novice" means "one newly
planted". Surely this ought to apply to so sacred a function as serving
at the Lord's Table! To put an untried and unproved 'novice' into such
ministry is to put him into a false position, and even a dangerous one,
and also making the church and its elders [14/15]
very responsible. Levites may not now be an ecclesiastical
class or a ritualistic "Order", but the law of spiritual approvedness
and quality born of experience surely holds good for every ministry in
No, not a "new cart"! Not a man-conceived technique! Not -- with the
best of intentions and motives -- man's arrangement! It is possible for
man to get too close to the Lord's Testimony with his own
hand , like Uzza, and consequently find himself out of the living
fulness of the Divine goings and purpose. He may even be responsible
for arrested, retarded, and confused conditions in the work of God. To
put a hand on something that is of God as to purpose is surely --
sooner or later -- to meet God in stern disapproval, and to forfeit His
Of the various instructive things which arise so evidently from this
episode, not by any means the least is the solemn government of the
Word of God. David's disastrous course was due to his overlooking,
ignoring, and consequently violating the clear Word of the Lord. His
act -- if unintentionally -- implied superiority to the Scriptures.
This is always dangerous! It is particularly incumbent upon any who are
in a position of responsibility to familiarize themselves with God's
Word in relation to any course of action in which they may be involved.
We have written the above out of very long and wide experience in the
Lord's work, and we are sure that to give serious consideration to the
Bible's teaching in this episode would be to have the explanation of
much tragedy, would be a strong warning and corrective, and see the
Lord's Testimony freed to proceed.
Thank God, David recovered himself and had a happier end. This we shall
see in our next message.
(To be continued)
"THE HOLY CITY, NEW JERUSALEM"
8. THE MANY-SIDED RICHES OF GOD'S GRACE IN JESUS CHRIST
"The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned
with all manner of precious stones" (Revelation 21:19).
The following passages are a commentary on that verse:
"Putting away therefore all wickedness, and all guile,
and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, as newborn babes,
long for the spiritual milk which is without guile, that ye may grow
thereby unto salvation; if ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious:
unto whom coming, a living stone, rejected indeed of men, but with God
elect, precious, ye also, as living stones, are built up a spiritual
house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices,
acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. Because it is contained in
Behold, I lay in Zion a chief corner
stone, elect, precious:
And he that believeth on him shall not
be put to shame.
For you therefore which believe is the preciousness"
(1 Peter 2:1-7).
"In whom we have our redemption through his blood, the
forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace"
"That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding
riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus"
"Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, was
this grace given, to preach ... the unsearchable riches of Christ"
"That he would grant you, according to the riches of his
glory, that ye may be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the
inward man" (Ephesians 3:16).
"Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and
forbearance and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God
leadeth thee to repentance?" (Romans 2:4).
"That he might make known the riches of his glory upon
vessels of mercy, which he afore prepared unto glory" (Romans 9:23).
"O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and the
knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgements, and his ways
past tracing out!" (Romans 11:33).
Now we have to come back to the first passage, in Revelation 21:9: "The
foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with all manner of
THAT TO WHICH GOD IS WORKING
SET FORTH IN THE BOOK OF THE REVELATION
I think you know that the order in which we have the books of the New
Testament is not the order in which they were written. The
chronological order [15/16] would be quite
different from the one which we have in our arrangement. The Book of
the Revelation was not the last book of the Bible to be written, but
there is a Divine order in the arrangement, and this is a very real
mark of the government of the Holy Spirit. When the books were put
together in the way in which we have them, perhaps the men did not know
what they were doing, but the Spirit of God, who inspired the writing,
also governed the arrangement, and everybody recognizes that this book
of the Revelation is in the right place. It is the summary and
consummation of all that is in the Bible, and its dominant note is the
coming again of the Lord Jesus. These words stand over every section of
this book: 'Behold, I come quickly', and almost the last words are:
"The Spirit and the bride say, Come" (22:17). It is the Person of the
Lord Jesus who stands supreme over this whole book, in all its
sections. He is given various names: The Word of God, the Faithful and
true Witness, King of kings and Lord of lords, and other names, all of
which only occur once, but there is a name which is repeated again and
again, and that name stands over every section of the book from the
beginning to the end, and that name is 'The Lamb'. Jesus as the Lamb of
God stands over this whole book, so that the book is a record of the
power, the authority and the glory of Jesus Christ in His cross. It is
His place of supremacy in the Church and in the nations by virtue of
This book is therefore a presentation of what Christ is through His
Cross, that is, through His suffering and death, and all that He is
through His suffering and death is here, in this book, reproduced in
the Church. The Church here, as we have been seeing, is represented in
the symbolism of the city, and that city is the Church embodying all
the features of what Christ is by His suffering and death.
I only have to remind you of those words in the letter to the Hebrews,
chapter 12:22, 23:
"But ye are come unto mount Zion, and unto the city of
the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable hosts of
angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are
enrolled in heaven."
You see, the city of the living God is the general assembly of the
firstborn, the Church of the firstborn ones whose names are enrolled in
heaven, in other words, whose names are in the Lamb's Book of Life. The
letter to the Hebrews corresponds to the book of the Revelation.
So this book of the Revelation, and especially these last chapters,
sets forth that to which God is working in the Church now. It tells us
what it is that God is seeking to do in believers now, and the goal to
which He is working, which is a full revelation of Christ in the Church
at the end. That statement is a very important statement for us, for it
means that if God has got hold of our lives, if we are truly under the
government of the Holy Spirit, He is doing a work in us throughout our
lives, and that work is that at the end all that is symbolically true
of the New Jerusalem will be found true in us.
"ALL MANNER OF PRECIOUS STONES"
Having already considered many aspects of this city, we have at last
come to the wall. We have read that "the foundations of the wall of the
city were adorned with all manner of precious stones", so that the wall
represents the many-sided riches of God's grace in Jesus Christ. We did
not read all these precious stones, but if you will just pass your eye
over them you will see how precious they are, and what a variety of
preciousness is represented here: the jasper, the sapphire, the
chalcedony, and so on, and you will notice that they finish with the
There was a little Methodist church in the country in England, and they
were having a conference. For the lesson an old farmer read this
twenty-first chapter of Revelation, and he came to the part about the
precious stones. Everybody saw his face getting more and more excited.
He started off: "The first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire;
the third, chalcedony ..." and he was getting more and more excited.
"... the fourth, emerald; the fifth ... and the sixth ... and the
seventh ... and the eighth ... and the ninth ... and the tenth ... and
the eleventh ... and the twelfth was a METHODIST!" Well, it is
something to be excited about. If we could put ourselves into the
description of an 'amethyst' it would indeed be something glorious!
We have said that all these stones set forth the many-sided riches of
God's grace brought to us in Jesus Christ. It is quite impossible for
us to comprehend the many aspects of God's grace, and that is why we
read all those passages about the riches of His grace, the riches of
His glory, the unsearchable riches of Christ, and also why we read
Peter: "For you therefore which believe is the preciousness."
But perhaps we can understand this a little better if we take note of
THE GRACE OF GOD FOR JACOB
It says here that there were twelve gates to the city, "and names
written thereon, which are the [16/17] names of
the twelve tribes of the children of Israel" (verse 12), and then it
says: "And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them
twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb" (verse 14). Now, you
Bible students, don't expect me to exhaust all the meaning of that! But
I want to suggest to you just one thing about those two verses.
On the gates were the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. Paul tells
us, about Israel, that "it is the remnant that shall be saved" (Romans
9:27). While all Israel may now be cast away, a remnant shall be saved.
Israel will be represented at the last, but why and how? This is what I
suggest to you to be a meaning: The twelve tribes of Israel sprang from
Jacob, and if ever there was a man who ought not to have had the
position that Jacob had, it was Jacob. No man of character has any
respect for Jacob. He was a deceiver, a man who was always "seeking to
get his own advantage at the expense of someone else. It did not matter
how much others had to lose or suffer so long as Jacob got what he
wanted. The earlier years of Jacob's life are a story that is not
pleasant to read. You say: What a mean and despicable man was Jacob!
And you agree with the prophet when he says: "Thou worm Jacob" (Isaiah
41:14). Jacob had very little naturally to commend him. Why, then,
should Jacob come to occupy the great place that he has in the Bible?
Why should his name be changed from Jacob to Israel, 'a prince with
God'? There is only one answer: Sovereign grace! God took hold of that
man to make him a "vessel of mercy". We know the mercy and the
grace of God when we see it taking hold of a character like that! "O
the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God!
how unsearchable are his judgements, and his ways past tracing out!"
THE GRACE OF GOD FOR THE TWELVE TRIBES
But not only the man, the twelve tribes. What a story of tragedy,
failure and shame is the story of the old Israel! God's patience was
tested to its utmost by that people. There was a time when He said to
Moses: 'Stand aside! Let Me destroy them and I will make of thee
another nation.' One day Moses himself cried: 'You rebels! Must we
bring water out of this rock for you?' Yes, it is a long and a terrible
story is the story of the twelve tribes of Israel, but their names are
on the gates of the New Jerusalem. Whatever other things this may mean,
I am quite sure that it means this: Here you have a wonderful,
wonderful testimony to the unspeakable grace of God in Jesus Christ.
"For you which believe is the preciousness." A remnant of Israel shall
believe and be found in the holy city. So that, whether it be Jacob
himself or his twelve sons and the tribes, here at the last is this
testimony to the sovereign grace of God.
THE GRACE OF GOD FOR US
Why is this written at the end of the Bible? Just to say that there is
hope for you, and there is hope for me. The grace of God for Jacob and
the twelve tribes is big enough for us. This Church city is a great
monument to the unsearchable riches of His grace.
There is always a note of warning in these things, and the Apostle Paul
warned Christians to beware of failing of the grace of God. We read
that verse in Romans 2:4: "Despisest thou the riches of his goodness
and forbearance and long suffering?" It must be a very terrible thing
to fail of this grace if it is so great! But let us proceed.
THE GRACE OF GOD FOR THE DISCIPLES
On the foundations of the wall were the names of the twelve apostles of
the Lamb. Now this means much more than I am going to say, but I am
quite sure that it means this one thing.
I read the story of those twelve men before Pentecost, and it is not a
very happy story. They were men who were constantly quarrelling with
one another, and they all had something of Jacob in them -- trying to
get an advantage for themselves at the expense of the others. Two of
them came round the back of the others with their mother. There has
been a little family conspiracy, and this mother was very ambitious for
her two sons, and the sons fell into her ambition, so that while the
other disciples were not looking (you see, this is Jacob!) they came
round to the Lord Jesus and the mother said: 'Master, I want to ask you
for something. Will you promise me something?' But Jesus was always
awake to anything like that -- 'You tell Me what you want and then I
will tell you if I will give it to you.' And so the mother said:
'Master, when you come into your kingdom, will you let this boy
be on your right hand, and this boy be on your left hand? Will
you let my two sons have the first two places in the kingdom?' Well,
Jesus just said: 'That is not Mine to give. That is for the Father.'
But it was not all over then -- the story does not end there. When the
others knew it they were very angry: 'They tried to steal our
Well, I could go on like that about these disciples [17/18]
-- and you know how that story ended! The chief one amongst them denied
the Lord Jesus three times, most vehemently. When it was said to him:
'You are one of them!' he said: 'I don't know what you are talking
about.' And then, when later on it was said to him: 'You were
with Him,' he said: 'I tell you, I know not the man!' We can hardly
believe that the leader of the Apostles should fall so low! Surely, we
would say, there is no hope for a man like that, and the others are not
much better, because it says that they all forsook Him and fled. All
right -- their names are on the foundation of the wall! The riches of
His grace are at last manifested in them. Peter needs grace in one way
-- I don't know whether he corresponds to the jasper -- and John needs
grace in another way -- perhaps he corresponds to the sapphire. But
they all needed some form of Divine grace in a special way.
And that is true of us all. My nature needs Divine grace in a special
way, and everyone here needs the grace of God in some particular way.
But the grace of God in Jesus Christ can meet every one of us in our
particular way, and right at last, whether it be an amethyst or a
'Methodist', we will be in the city.
We have only just touched the very fringe of the unsearchable riches of
grace, but may we from this time have a larger appreciation of this
wonderful grace of God in Jesus Christ.
(To be continued)
THE UNVEILING OF JESUS CHRIST
3. THE CONSUMMATION OF THE AGES
WE concluded our last chapter with the words: "The last movement before
'I come quickly' must be a Christ-movement." If this book of
"the Revelation" is finality, then it is -- in that very connection --
the book of the fulness and finality of Jesus Christ. Above we have
used the word 'consummation', the etymology of which is: 'to bring into
one sum, to perfect, to bring together'. This is exactly what this book
does. It is the summation of the ages. It comprehends the whole Bible
and bounds all history. It compasses creation, redemption, and
perdition. It embraces heaven, earth, and hell. It connects with God,
man, and Satan. In it there are no less than four hundred allusions to
the Old Testament. When all is said, the one question that arises is:
'Is there one thing -- one issue -- that interprets and explains
everything?' Yes, there is! The all-inclusive issue is
THE PURPOSE OF GOD IN THE ETERNAL GOVERNMENT OF THIS WORLD
In our other series of messages on the Holy City we are seeing that --
not only at the end of this book but at the end of all time --
universal government is represented by the City, both in fact and
nature. It is the symbol of universal authority vested in, and mediated
by Christ and His Church. It is the nature of the Son of God as Son of
Man. That is why "judgment begins at the house of God" (1 Peter 4:17)
as in the first chapters, representatively.
This inclusive issue is seen (in this book) to relate to the purpose of
1. in creation;
2. in redemption;
3. in His Son;
4. in Israel;
5. in the Church;
and that is the way in which to
read and study the book! The book is the revelation of final
restoration and recovery in Christ Jesus.
A revelation has been given in
(a) the Old Testament;
(b) the New Testament. (Brought to its
greatest fulness through the Apostles Paul and John.)
That revelation has been departed from, both by Israel and the Church.
Its greatest fulness was given through Paul to the churches in Asia;
hence it is there that the comprehensive message of judgment unto
recovery is focused. But that was intended to reach through all
time to the end, and that message shows that if recovery cannot -- or
will not -- be in entirety, it will be -- as always -- in a
Remnant. So, what we have seen in our first two chapters is a
fundamental presentation of God's Pattern and God's way, i.e. His Son
and the Cross.
The consummate issue, then, is brought into view in two ways:
1. A personal presentation of Christ; and
2. A comprehensive designation of Christ in
As to the latter we have: [18/19]
1. "Jesus Christ, the faithful witness" (1:5)
"Jesus" -- the Man. The title of His humanity before His exaltation.
When He is so called, almost invariably the connection is with His
earthly life before 'being glorified'. After that, as a rule,
there is added 'Lord' -- 'Lord Jesus', or 'Jesus, our Lord', etc. It is
quite a mistake now, as with a whole body of people, to say just
'Jesus, Jesus'. That title, or name, is used only to identify Him with
the designation that follows. This One who is majestically and
gloriously unveiled, is none other than the One who came into this
world at Bethlehem and lived a life as a man here.
"Christ" = Messiah, the Anointed. "This Jesus" was, by anointing, made
Prophet, Priest, and King, for all men, in the midst of God's new
Israel, the Church. 'Anointed' is His official title to carry out a
Divine mandate. It is God committed to Him.
2. "Faithful and True Witness"
"Witness" is the same as "Martyr", "Faithful unto death". His testimony
-- "the testimony of Jesus" -- is forever sealed with His own blood. A
vast amount of the Bible is gathered into this.
3. "The Firstborn of the dead"
This is position and relationship. Priority to be followed by others in
resurrection. There could be no resurrection for any until Jesus was
raised, but then 'a new and living hope' sprang to birth for all
4. "The ruler of the kings of the earth"
By His resurrection He won universal lordship. What Satan offered Him
on the ground of compromise, and He refused and declined, He has gained
through no compromise, but obedience unto death.
This brings us to the all-inclusive issue -- the issue which is greater
than Caesar and Satan -- His victory.
5. "The first and the last" (1:17)
Note the particular use of this title in relation to this book. This is
the end! The end is to see everything where, and as, God -- at the
beginning -- intended it to be. 'All things summed up in Christ'
(Colossians 1:16-20). Pause here with your New Testament open at
'Ephesians', 'Colossians', 'Hebrews'.
6. "The Living one" (1:18)
"I became dead" -- not 'I was killed'.
The Roman Empire, the Jewish nation, the kingdom of Satan, all
conspired to kill Him, but "No one taketh it from me. I lay it down of
myself. I have authority to lay it down, and to take it again. This
commandment received I from my Father" (John 10:18).
"I am alive unto the ages of the ages, and I have the keys of death and
Here we have two things:
(a) The purpose of His 'becoming dead'. His voluntary death.
This is in verse 5, and it is summed up in a mighty "us" -- "Loveth us"
-- "Loosed us" -- "Made us".
"Christ loved the Church."
Christ loosed the Church from Satan's
Christ made the Church a "Kingdom and
"The keys of death and Hades." The right and authority to deliver from
the sum of human sin and Satan's power thereby, which is death. Read in
here 1 Corinthians 15.
Death, and subsequent captivity -- imprisonment -- cannot prevail
against the Living Lord and His Church.
Death is the power, and Hades is the realm in which the system of death
operates. Christ has plundered both, and taken their power into His own
"He plunged in his imperial strength
To gulfs of darkness down;
He brought his trophy up at length;
The foiled usurper's crown."
Again, we have to place the Cross over the whole book!
The throne is the throne of the Lamb!
(b) The second thing intimated here is the one which relates to the
final issue in a primary way. It is going to be the ground of
the real controversy, connected with everything. Because it requires so
much consideration, we shall do no more than mention it now, and
reserve fuller attention till later. It is just what is the
meaning of our risen Lord's exultant cry: "I am alive for evermore."
Yes, that is it! The life of the ages. Life triumphant; life immortal!
You may be sorry that we break off there for the present; but this is
enough to bring us face to face with the mighty issue of this book --
even that of God's eternal counsels. [19/20]
(To be continued)
[This series was never continued.]
WITNESS AND TESTIMONY LITERATURE
Printed in Great Britain by Billing and
Sons Limited, Guildford and London [20/ibc]
[Inside back cover not available]
[Back cover not available]