by T. Austin-Sparks

Chapter 4 - Zion's Wealth

Reading: Isa. 45:1-17; 60:5,6,9,11,17; Rev. 2:9; 3:18; Rom. 9:23; 11:12,33; Eph. 1:7,18; 2:7; 3:8,16,18;

"And my God shall supply every need of yours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus." Phil. 4:19.

"To whom God was pleased to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory" Col. 1:27.

We will continue in our meditation of the Lord's thoughts concerning Zion. Now we are going to contemplate Zion's wealth. The mentioned Scripture references are enough to form some foundation for a word on the wealth of Zion. In the previous chapter we started with the simple statement that the Lord's desire for Zion is that it should be a place of light. In this connection we can start today with the fact that the Lord's desire for Zion is wealth. You will probably read the psalms in future with a new light on the word 'Zion', Zion will have taken on some new meaning whenever you come upon the word, and you will be surprised how often you do come upon it, you will always look to see what the connection is, and you will see that it is connected with some features of the Lord's thought, very often along the line of spiritual wealth.

Now, in these passages which we have covered together, there are two kinds of riches represented. The passages are really divided into two classes. On the one side there are what we may call the riches of the Lord, and on the other side the riches of the nations. These passages which speak of His riches, the riches which are in Him, the riches of His grace, the riches of His wisdom and knowledge and glory - these are the Lord's riches. Then the others such as the wealth of the nations, the abundance of the sea, we want to consider these and see their representative characteristics. But first of all we must more clearly bring into view the meaning of Zion itself.

Zion is Christ in full expression. It does not do to speak of Zion only as a people. Zion is a peculiar people, a peculiar treasure, but that which makes Zion what it is, is Christ in the midst. He gives character to Zion and Zion takes its character from Him (Col. 1:27). The riches are connected with "Christ in you". Let us be quite clear that we do not want to put a people, a church, in the place of Christ Himself. The church is because of Christ, and is not without Christ, and what the church is depends entirely upon the place and measure occupied by Christ. If this is so for the church, it is to be a full and complete testimony; it demands a full and complete approximation to Christ.

Christ must be in full expression if the church is to justify its existence according to the thought of God. The church is always represented in the Scriptures as a perfect thing. In Ephesians you notice that the church is represented there in a perfect way; that is, from the Divine standpoint. God never allows incompleteness. It must come to a full expression of that thought, which is Christ. And He will have that full expression in Zion. Zion will be His peculiar treasure. Zion is Christ related in full expression to a people. Now, if that is so, and Christ in full expression is so closely related to riches, then taking the first of the two categories of riches, it means that the riches of Zion are there in Zion, in process of apprehension and appropriation. That may be too big to grasp in one statement. Of course all the riches of Christ are not appropriated or apprehended at once, but they are all there in Zion.

We know that in Christ we have got the wealth. We do not know all that that means, we do know that in having Him we have tremendous possessions. It is a mighty fact that we are going to know in a progressive way what we have got in Christ. There is a tremendous realm that is open to us, and if we go on we are going to make tremendous discoveries. There is always much more in front than behind. Zion is the place of riches, and they are there to be appropriated and apprehended.

Turn to Philippians 4:19. "In Christ Jesus" always means that it is for us. "He who spared not His own Son, shall He not freely give us all things?" It is as if the Lord says, "I have put in that House all My riches and now I invite you to live there." All the time you will be making fresh discoveries as to that wealth, but the moment you step outside you will leave it behind. You must live in that House by faith. Christ is that House. Anyone in Him will go on discovering the riches. We who live in Christ are moving about in the realm of His fullness. All our needs are met by the riches which God put into Him.

We discover progressively what the riches are. The riches of His grace: "My grace is sufficient for you". It is in Christ. How marvellous is the longsuffering of God. It is all of grace; all His dealings with us are in grace. Without Him we have no strength, no abilities, no merit, it is all by His grace. That grace is dealing with us to get us through to glory.

Then there are the riches of His wisdom and His knowledge. Now this carries things on beyond grace. Grace is something which comes in because sin abounds, and is the result of a sinful state. The riches of His wisdom go behind grace into the eternal counsels of God. Look at wisdom in Ephesians and you will see that it relates to the counsels of God in all eternity. Everything is being worked according to the eternal counsels. God is governed in His dealings with us in grace by the wisdom that relates to the eternal purposes. The cunning and cruel works of the devil are overruled by these counsels and turn out for the furtherance of God's will. Look at the cross itself. God never intended the cross as a part of His scheme in the first place. The cross became a necessity. It is the devil's work, but Christ crucified has become the wisdom of God. The devil's worst work in bringing about that cross was overruled by the wisdom of God.

Take the rod of Moses. The rod is the symbol of authority, and the serpent is the symbol of evil. Moses was commanded to take it up by its tail. In the name of the Lord we are to come after him and not always prevent and forestall him. The devil opens up the way to show the Divine power which will finally outwit him.

Then there are the riches of the full assurance of understanding. This represents influence. It is a very rich place. It represents power in the spiritual realm. You know that the Lord has taught you to know Him. You have got some measure of insight in the Lord's ways. It brings you into the strong place. The Lord is seeking to have that which is true of Himself as true in us. The majority of the Lord's people are living in the suburbs. They have never moved for years. "Let us go on"! Those who live in Zion know something of the riches of the Lord and are going on to know more.

Then there is the matter of the wealth of the nations being brought into Zion. There are spiritual factors governing this interpretation. The wealth of the nations may be brought into the historic Zion. The wealth of the nations will be brought into the heavenly Jerusalem. In Revelation we see some of the spiritual fulfilments. There is the spiritual counterpart. And I think the Lord would have it more so now. The Lord would have His people, represented by Zion, now bringing in the wealth of the nations. He would gather in the full inheritance from the nations: the wealth, resources and strength of the nations. I think it just means that the Lord will gather into the full vessel of His testimony, His Zion, His own inheritance (Eph. 1:18) the riches He is going to get out of the saints. Now look into the nations, the Lord takes a people out of the nations for Himself. He will seek to constitute for Himself a people containing spiritual values. He will bring those spiritual values to form for Him a vessel of expression.

Zion will not only receive riches but will also bring riches to the Lord. He has an inheritance in them. So many of the Lord's people are only living for what they can get from Him, and they do not trouble about what they can be to Him. He seeks a people who will bring to Him an inheritance. He seeks those who are living unto the Lord's satisfaction. I doubt whether it is possible to really apprehend the Lord's riches without bringing something back to Him. Zion has the portion of the Lord and Zion gives a portion to the Lord. The Lord's portion is His people! Zion is built by people of spiritual wealth and means, and those who want to be for the Lord come from the nations. The spiritual wealth of some draws out the others to the Lord. Rebecca was attracted by the wealth and riches of Isaac as displayed by his servant. Zion itself must have spiritual wealth to draw out the riches of the nations. The Lord only draws out when there is something to be drawn to, not when there is nothing. If we are going to be used to draw out for the Lord the wealth of the nations, it is only as we ourselves have the riches and wealth of the Lord. The necessity for Zion, those who represent and are the expression of Himself, is greater fullness.

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