REGARDING the intercommunion of assemblies, everything possible should be done to preserve fellowship and to promote happy relations between one meeting and another. Our aim surely ought to be to have as much fellowship as is scripturally possible with all assemblies gathered in accordance with the Word. To the best of their ability, brethren who have the care of an assembly should eschew everything calculated to wound the consciences of saints in neighbouring assemblies. All considered, what can be a recompense for the loss of their confidence and wholehearted good-will? On the other hand, it should be borne in mind that in the last analysis, each assembly is autonomous, is responsible to the Lord alone, and that no assembly or number of assemblies has any jurisdiction over another assembly. It should be remembered, too, that there is ever the danger of magnifying differences out of all proportion and of making mountains out of molehills. As for the “cutting off’’ of a church by another church or group of churches, because of an error in judgment or discipline, it is an idea which has no Scripture warrant, and is, we believe, a serious departure from the teaching of the Apostles. Yet how often this form of excommunication has been exercised in some quarters! Speaking of this in his “Notes on First Corinthians,” Wm. Rodgers has said, “There are still many who treat the matter all too lightly, and who seem willing to break up an assembly of the saints, or to cause a division between assemblies, for but little reason, other than to preserve their own dignity, or to get their own way. Of course, in such cases we usually hear much about “standing for the truth,” and so on, with a view to silencing all remonstrance. Well, it is good to stand for truth, and there are occasions when it becomes very necessary to do so, even to the extent of severing dearest ties of friendship. But there is a snare here wherein Satan excels in his ability to deceive us. He causes us to believe that we are standing for truth and for the glory of God, when we are simply standing for self.”
In his “Charter of the Church,” J. R. Caldwell speaks similarly. “Alas,” he says, “division is becoming the ready short cut out of troubles that God permits, in order that our faith and His grace may be proved. It is Satan’s device, ever present in times of difficulty to the carnal mind, a door of exit from the trial always open; but which instead of healing, tends to multiply and propagate the mischief far and near. We do not say that division is never necessary. It is written, ‘There must also be schisms among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you’ (Ch. 11:19). But we are persuaded that in most such cases, had there been a breaking down before God, a realising of the awful sin and dishonour thus done to His name, and a waiting upon Him for light and grace, most of these sorrows that rend the very hearts of the faithful might have been averted” (our emphasis).
Paul and the Corinthians
No open break had yet taken place at Corinth, but it is impossible to read through the Corinthian Epistles without being impressed by the blight which the party spirit had cast over that assembly. One thing, however, is clear, Paul kept himself above all their schisms. He was no more lenient with the section which claimed to be his followers, and which no doubt favoured his line of teaching, than with the others. He was no party man, and in this he is a pattern for every servant of Christ. The godly minister of the Word will not align himself with any clique. He will preserve an open and unbiased mind, and treat every case upon its own merits. His aim will be to give ministry which will bind the hearts of God’s people together, rather than divide them. He will encourage them to avoid unscriptural extremes, to keep trouble in as narrow a circle as possible, to remember that ‘a stitch in time saves nine,’ to look at matters in their true perspective, to take the long view of things, to be tolerant where scriptural principle is not involved, and patient even where it is, and to explore every possible avenue towards peace when trouble threatens. Above all, he will draw out the hearts of the saints to our adorable Lord, knowing that the nearer we come to the centre, the nearer we shall always come to one another.
The great remedy for all the ills that affected the Corinthians, or that can affect any assembly, is found in chap. 13. IT IS LOVE. It is the oil which makes the machinery of chap. 12 to move smoothly. Love is pre-eminent. If I “have not love, I am become sounding brass, or a clanging cymbal ... I am nothing ... it profiteth me nothing” (vs. 1-3, R.V.). Love is the greatest of all the commandments (Matt. 22:37-40). “Love is the fulfilling of the law” (Rom. 13:10). Of the nine graces of the Spirit enumerated in Gal. 5:22, 23, love, the queen of all graces, comes first. In 2nd Pet. 1:5-7 it is placed last, as the crown of all the other virtues. While in Col. 3:10-14 it is to be “put on” (as the great overcoat) “above all the things” which have been named, "for it is the bond of perfectness.” Like faith and hope, love will "abide” forever, but of these the “greatest is love” (1 Cor. 13:13), the reason being that “God is love.” O that this love, which is the true badge of discipleship (John 13:35), may so glow in all our souls that every hard and unkind feeling will be dissolved, and that we shall be drawn together in the bonds of devoted and affectionate Christian unity. When a famous bridge was being built some years ago, two of the main iron girders refused by some inches to come together for the bolts to be driven through them. Every known method to bring them together was tried but failed. Next day the sun was extremely hot, and beneath its genial rays the great masses of metal expanded, so that results were achieved which had defied all efforts of force. What a lesson for us! Truly, "love never faileth.”
A last Appeal
Ere bringing to a close these papers one would make a last loving appeal in the interest of Christian unity. If only assemblies had remained united what a mighty monument to the truth of God they would be today! Alas! the fine gold has become dim. Some of the most promising works by the Spirit of God have been shattered by discord and dissension. How this must grieve the heart of Him Who bled that His people might be one! O the pity of it, especially as most of the divisions have been over comparatively insignificant matters, and might with a little forbearance and patience have been averted. One has often felt like Paul when he exclaimed, “Is there not a wise man among you?” How do we feel about it all? The Age draws rapidly to a close. The Lord is at the door. The Judgment Seat lies before us. Is it not time, brethren, to confess our lack of love and courtesy, our uncharitable criticism and fault finding, our petty bickerings and tale bearing, our pride and obstinacy, our party-spirit and divisions? Surely the time is ripe to put away all bitterness, to forgive and forget, to renounce the unscriptural practices and worldly innovations which wound the consciences of our brethren, and to heal the breaches of past years. In the Lord’s name let us close our ranks and preserve an unbroken front before an ungodly world that staggers to its doom. “United we stand. Divided we fall.” One can say no more. Will this appeal meet with unresponsive hearts? Shall we admit that our divisions are our shame and then do nothing, except to continue to blame those from whom we differ? Rather let us arise, ere it is too late, and put our house in order.
May every exercised soul offer earnest and fervent prayer that it may be so. Then these papers shall not have been written in vain.
Exod. 28:31, 32; 1 Kings 3:16-27
“Lest it be rent, the Robe of Blue,
Its meaning e’er so fair, so true,
Its upper edge, 0 bind with care,
Its flowing folds, 0 gird with prayer.
If some would rend, do thou but bind,
And so fulfil the heavenly mind.
The King declared, ‘The case is plain,
The living child cut ye in twain.’
'Ah no!’ replied the mother true,
With heart all rent she then withdrew.
She yielded, all the cause was won,
And once again embraced her son.
0 yield again! 0 die anew!
But never rend the Robe of Blue.”
The entire series upon UNITY will (D.V.) be printed in booklet form.
A MAN who had a number of fruit trees in his garden and tended them assiduously and was rewarded with "much fruit,” tells how one pear tree especially pleased him by the quantity and quality of its fruit. Both in size and flavour, its pears were a joy to his heart and the admiration of his friends who were fortunate enough to taste them.
After a while, for some reason or other unknown to him, the pear tree did not thrive, the fruit came undersized and with little flavour, and altogether a puzzle and disappointment to the owner. He digged about his tree; he used fertilizers; he sprayed the leaves and blossoms; he did everything he could think of to remedy matters, but without avail.
One day a friend suggested the possibility of a tap-root, a central root forcing its way into unfriendly soil, which poisoned and starved, rather than nourished, the tree and its fruit.
Ah! he thought, is this the secret of the lack of prosperity in my pear tree? Is this the reason why I get small and flavourless fruit instead of the large luscious pears of other better days? Heroic measures must be taken. Digging about it and fertilizers were insufficient. Pruning withered branches did not correct the trouble. The axe must be put to the tap-root!
So one day, with spade and axe he went at it. With the spade he exposed the tap-root; and then with the axe he severed it from the tree. The result was marvellous. Once more the tree responded to the kindly treatment of its owner. Once more he rested in its leafy shade and ate of its luscious fruit. Once more his friends and neighbours enjoyed with him the fruit of his toil! The pear tree, drawing its needful nourishment from its proper soil, and unhindered by that which could not and did not minister to its profit, was thus restored to its former place of usefulness in its master’s garden.
Of late years we have been seeing a strong resemblance between the story of the pear tree and the spiritual condition of many individuals and some assemblies we know. There is evidently a tap-root somewhere. The simile is not a forced one, for Paul says to the saints of God: "Ye are God’s husbandry” (1 Cor. 3:9). As His husbandry He tends with special care each individual plant or tree, that it might give His heart joy by bringing forth that which His Word calls “the fruit of the Spirit.”
To this end the ministry His Word is given—whether it be a word of exhortation, or teaching, rebuke or comfort, humbling or lifting up. To this end also are His providential dealings—prosperity or adversity; joy or sorrow; health or sickness, that from time to time are the lot of His people—all working together with an object in view: the bringing forth of the peaceable fruit of righteousness in those who are exercised thereby (Heb. 12:11). Like the digging around the pear-tree, the intent of the Master is to cause more and better fruit for His enjoyment; but does it accomplish this? If not, is there a tap-root?
Alas! how meager the response to all His activity on our behalf! How often, when before God, we are forced to own our leanness and the leanness of those around us! Have you noticed how the elder ones amongst us become at times reminiscent, and speak of days gone by, when “the candle of the Lord shone upon the darkness” (Job. 29:3)? When, in other words, they had power to walk in light before God, separate from the world, and He blessed them! Now, the reason that they need to look back for good times is surely an admission that they are not presently being enjoyed. But “is there not a cause?” If so, what is the cause and what is the remedy? The change is not in God or His Christ, nor is it in the Holy Spirit, Who ever stands ready to feed and lead, to enlighten and empower His people, as of yore. Where lies the trouble? We solemnly believe it is because there are tap-roots of worldliness and world conformity, starving instead of nourishing, God’s people.
A FEATURE common to all true leaders of God’s people is that they have deep concern as to who will become their successors. No doubt this exercise arises from the God-given care which dwells in their hearts for the well-being of the saints. Two outstanding examples of this spirit are Moses and Paul, and with them we might well link David, for in this, as in many other respects, he was not behind the chiefest of leaders. It was, therefore, no small favour that God granted to his dying servant when he allowed him to see the responsibilities he was compelled to relinquish, being firmly grasped by his son Solomon.
David’s abdication of the throne, in favour of the new king, must ever rank amongst the greatest services rendered to the nation by that illustrious monarch. Undoubtedly the man of God’s choice would eventually have acquired the kingship, but we might well shudder as we try to imagine the price that would have been paid in blood-shedding had Adonijah been allowed to proceed with his crafty plans. This noble example of David’s, if followed in assemblies today, might save much of the trouble and quarrelling which often arises after trusted and faithful guides are taken home. No God-fearing assembly desires to strip any respected leader of his responsibilities, any more than the nation of Israel wished to rob David of his crown, yet, prudent indeed is the guide who has sufficient wisdom to know when his shoulders are no longer able to bear the burdens of oversight, and who makes arrangements for others, fitted beforehand by God, to take his place. Of one thing we can be sure, if matters are allowed to drift, the door is left open for carnal and forward men to step into positions of which they are not capable. Past experience shows clearly that they are not slow to take advantage of such a difficult situation.
News of the revolt of Adonijah seemed to stir David deeply and in spite of the fact that his physical ability was wearing rapidly, his spirit was as vigorous as ever it had been. Bath-sheba, followed by Nathan, brought to his bedside the solemn tidings. Both had shared the king’s mind concerning the kingdom and knew that Solomon was destined to be king, but were eagerly interested to learn what steps he would take to establish his purpose. With surprising alertness David gave them the details of the coronation ceremony. Nathan the prophet, Zadok the priest, and Benaiah, the commander-in-chief, were directed to bring the prince down to the stream at Gihon. There the priest was to anoint him by pouring oil from the Tabernacle upon his head, and proclaim him king. No doubt each of the details of that great event has a spiritual lesson to teach. Perhaps the stream of Gihon suggests the continuous life of the kingdom, the horn of oil, the spiritual power needed to rule the nation, and the blowing of the trumpet, that the people were to gather round their new king and rejoice in his triumph. It is to be noted that David was very particular that Solomon should occupy the Royal station, even to the smallest detail of riding upon the king’s mule. Half measures on that occasion would have been altogether out of place. The people of Israel were not slow to acclaim the true king when he was pointed out to them. All- that was required to rouse their loyalty to him was an act of true leadership. Then, in no uncertain manner they demonstrated their delight in the man of God’s choice. So great was the shout of their jubilance that the earth resounded with its echo. Human reasoning might have suggested that, since Adonijah had been anointed king behind-hand, it might be just as well, for the sake of peace, to let him keep the crown. After all two kings in Israel would be a bad testimony amongst the nations, and would peace not be more important than having a position filled by the wrong person? David, however, did not think so, and the outcome shows that his action, instead of dividing the people, led to their unification. It ever is so. Yielding to wrong for the sake of peace will always lead to trouble, but upholding what is of God and for his glory will bring blessing to everyone.
It is difficult for us to visualize Solomon, a young man of scarcely twenty years old, wearing the crown and reigning over one of the greatest nations then existent. Only God could have enabled him to “keep his head” in such an exalted position. No wonder he confessed himself to be but “a little child,” and yet his father was not slow to exhort him to play the man. Although he was young he was not to be childish. The responsibilities he had been called upon to bear were not of his own seeking, therefore he could rely upon God, Who had given them to him, to help him to carry them successfully. It is noteworthy that he was completely passive in all that transpired on that momentous day. Perhaps the grim reality of it all sealed his lips, for he was wise enough to know that ability to fill a position is more important than the mere occupation of it. Strange as it may seem to us, he was more fitted to rule at the age of twenty than at fifty. Age does not always improve God’s servants. Alas, not a few buy truth in their youth and sell it in their latter years, while others still believe what they learned when young, but because of break-downs by the way are no longer able to teach it with power.
It is all but needless to point out that this coronation scene is typical of an even more glorious event in Israel, when Christ, “the greater than Solomon,” will be enthroned in Jerusalem. In that day He will be opposed by the Antichrist, who will be the usurper reigning in association with the Beast, the last head of the Roman Empire. Thousands of apostates will own their allegiance to the false king by wearing the mark of the Beast. Then, too, as in Solomon’s case, the Father’s purpose will be manifest and the words of Ps. 2 fulfilled, “Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion.” Happy the lot of those in Israel who refused Adonijah’s feast, and thrice blessed indeed will be the portion of all them, who in hope of the return of their Messiah, will refuse the mark of the Beast. Their fidelity will cost not a few of them their lives, but how much better it will be to “die in the Lord” than be doomed with the Antichrist!
No theme more fascinated the minds of the prophets and thrilled their souls than their anticipation of Christ’s kingly glory. Down through the ages the spiritual and tried of God’s people have stirred their hearts at the thought of the bright prospects of that great Day. We, although called to share in a more heavenly aspect of the kingdom, are no less interested in these things and can truthfully sing in view of them:
“When He comes in bright array,
And leads the conquering line;
It will be glory then to say
That He’s a friend of mine.”
Earth’s wars and groans will then be terminated, and "righteousness will cover the earth as waters cover the sea.” Evil-workers, typified in Shemei, Joab and Abiather, will be judged, and prosperity, unknown as yet, will ensue.
Although these great events are still future, we must remember that the principles associated with them are in operation today. Satan’s master plan is to push, if at all possible, unsaved or carnal men into position in the assembly, so that he may exercise his influence over the whole company, but if such gain control, there can be no likelihood of peace being enjoyed amongst the saints. We might as well expect peace on earth while the Prince of peace is rejected, as to expect peace in an assembly where spiritual guides are despised and worldly men are in power. "He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God.” When God sets apart men for the work of oversight, He fits and preserves them for the responsibilities involved. It is, therefore, our wisdom to “know such and to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake.” In the world today the popular craze is "Democracy,” but let us not forget that, although we have left the places where “one man rule” operates, we have no Scriptural authority to swing to the other extreme, and advocate “everyman rule.” The modern idea that "Jack is as good as his master” is foreign to both Old and New Testaments. No doubt the burden of assembly care has worn out not a few godly men and it is a shame if such do not receive from the saints that honour that is due to them. Certainly the Lord values their work and will reward it with a crown of glory in ‘that Day.’
"JEHOVAH JIREH”(The Lord will provide), Gen. 22:14
THE above is one of the many titles of God, given us in the Bible, and like many other familiar portions of the Word, it is usually applied in a very limited way. Many of the Lord’s people seem only to think of "Jehovah Jireh” in regard to material things, and go little further than to use it as a motto for the walls of the dining-room, and in connection with what we shall eat and drink or wherewithal we may be clothed.
We do not find fault with Christians applying the title “Jehovah Jireh” in this way, but in reading Genesis 22 where the words occur, we see it has a much wider and fuller meaning.
The chapter is one of deepest interest and records the greatest trial of Abraham’s life. He has had many severe trials previously but this is the hardest of all. Where there is genuine faith it must be tested; as D. L. Moody said, “God builds no ships but what He puts out to sea.” Here Abraham is told to take his only son Isaac, whom he loves, and offer him up as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of Moriah.
We see Abraham’s ready and willing obedience to the command of God, in that “he rose up early in the morning,” and after making all necessary preparation, started out on that eventful journey to the place of which God had told him.
On the third day he saw the place afar off and leaving the young men with the ass he said, “abide ye here . . . and I and the lad will go yonder and worship AND COME AGAIN TO YOU.” Abraham and Isaac now journey together, both wrapt in deep thought and meditation. Isaac, without having the slightest idea that he himself is to be the sacrifice, now breaks the silence of that lonely walk with the question, “My Father, behold the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” Then we have Abraham’s marvellous reply, truly a wonderful prophecy, “My son, God will provide Himself the (R.V.) Lamb for a burnt offering.” It would seem as if Abraham’s faith never wavered, believing that even if Isaac were offered on the altar as a burnt offering, God was able to raise him up again (see Heb. 11: 19).
He builds the altar, lays the wood in order, binds Isaac and lays him upon the wood, and taking the knife, was about to carry out the command of God, when a voice from heaven intervened and Isaac was spared.
Looking behind him, Abraham sees a ram caught in the thicket by its horns, and taking it, he offers it in the stead of his son. He then calls the place “Jehovah Jireh.”
Let us notice particularly the words of verse 8: "My son, God will provide Himself the (R.V.) Lamb for a burnt offering.” These words cannot be applied exclusively to the scene on Mount Moriah, since it was “a ram” God provided, not “a lamb.” The wording, too, of verse 8 is very significant. It is not, "God Himself will provide a Lamb,” but God will provide Himself, i.e. for Himself, a Lamb for a burnt offering.”
Under the Levitical economy, which God instituted later, millions and millions of sacrifices were offered, and rivers of blood must have flowed, all pointing forward to the one great sacrifice to be offered on the cross of Calvary. What a day that was when at last Jesus appeared on the banks of the Jordan, and John the Baptist exclaimed, "Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).
Here we have the fulfilment of the prophecy of Abraham, uttered about 2,000 years before—"God will provide Himself the Lamb for a burnt offering.” Christ is God’s Lamb, provided by God Himself; thus what God’s own Throne demanded, His hand in love provided. God’s claims and our need are divinely met in the Lamb He provided for Himself.
"Jehovah Jireh” therefore means infinitely more than that God provides for us in regard to material things. "He that spared not His own Son but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” (Rom. 8:32).
WHEN God brought His people into the wilderness there was no baker’s shop to supply them with bread. He opened the windows of heaven and rained the manna down—fed them with angel’s food—corn from heaven. This was to them like honey, at the start—then they fell a lusting after the flesh of Egypt, the cucumbers and the melons, and the leeks and the onions and the garlic. There was nothing before their eyes but the manna. They must invent something to make it more to their taste. They took the food of angels and “ground it in mills, or beat it in a mortar, and baked it in pans and made cakes of it.” Today there has been a lusting after the food of Egypt. Christ has been despised, as the food of His people. They do many things to make Him more to their taste. Think of the professing people of God adding things to Christ! Look at the advertisements of Christendom today, to attract those who have no appetite for Christ. God forgave Israel, but took vengeance on their inventions.
David’s Invention, 1 Chron. 13.
The Philistines, in returning the ark, put it on a new cart. God never dealt with them for this—they were not His people, and they had no Book to guide them. But when David, the king, borrowed their idea of a new cart, when he should have known better, God would not allow his invention to pass unnoticed. The ark had been lost for a long time and David wanted it back in its proper place, but he did not bring it in “the due order." He gathered all the captains and military men, but never called the Levites, who were to bear the ark. Instead he put it on a new cart which he had made, and soon found two men to drive it. You can always find two men to drive an invention. Things went well until they came to the threshing floor, the place of testing. The oxen stumbled there. Uzza put out his hand to steady the ark, as if God needed any human hand to support His testimony; and He smote Uzza. David was displeased when God would not countenance his invention, but David must read God’s book, judge himself, and go by the instructions given as to carrying the ark. There he found that the Levites were to carry it. God forgave him, but He took vengeance of his invention. Do not copy the Philistines, or God will take vengeance of your invention.
Peter’s Invention, Luke 9.
The Lord took three men up into the mount of glory with Him. As the Lord prayed, He was changed, Two men appeared with Him, talking of His death. What a scene: The Lord changed, His garments sparkling, Moses and Elias talking with Him. Could any man think of an invention now? Yes, here comes Peter with new thoughts. He has been asleep; now he talks at random. “Let us make three tabernacles,” etc. There was only one tabernacle in the wilderness and every whit of it spoke of Christ’s glory. Now Peter wants three. The cloud which had followed the tabernacle appears, and overshadows them, and the Father speaks. His words show that he will take vengeance on Peter’s invention, for the worthies of the Old Testament cannot be put on the same level as His Son. God speaks to them of the preciousness of His Son to Him.
The ground of gathering has been given up by them. In the early days of the history of the church, they came together as disciples, calling upon the name of the Lord. Soon they began to say, “I am of Paul, and I of Apollos, and I of Cephas,” etc. As the Lord’s garment was parted into four, so the church at Corinth was divided into four. We see on all hands today parties and sects. They use the names of men, who become the heads of their parties. We put up signs “Christians gathered to the name of the Lord Jesus meet here.” We must be on our guard against making the name of Christ the name of a party.
Christendom has failed to recognize the gifts which the ascended Christ has given, and say that they are centred in one man. In the church the Holy Spirit “divides to every man, severally as He wills,” to one the word of wisdom, to another the word of knowledge,” etc. (1 Cor. 12:7-11). Clerisy is a sin against the Holy Spirit. But we, too, are in danger, for we have an every man ministry. No man has a right to speak in the church, unless he “speaks as the oracles of God” (1 Pet. 4:11). We need to guard against an every man ministry, as much as against a one man ministry.
Christendom has its groups of confederate churches, called denominations. There are hundreds of such groups. In the apostolic days saints were welcomed into the one church. Leaving one place and going to another they carried letters to inspire confidence. Where have you a Scripture for cutting off a company who carry out divine principles, who are sound in doctrine, and morally clean? Do they hold the doctrine of Christ? That is the test.
Wherein we have departed from God, and from His Word, let us confess it. He is gracious, and will forgive us, but He will take vengeance on our inventions.
ON completing another year of publication, we raise our Ebenezer in grateful acknowledgement of God’s gracious help experienced. We praise Him that notwithstanding our numerous defects, the magazine has been instrumental in bringing comfort, cheer, and edification to His beloved people in various lands. We also wish to express cordial thanks to our friends, many unknown to us by face, for their continued gifts, help in distribution, letters of appreciation, and above all, their prayers. In particular we thank our contributors for their excellent articles. Were it possible for them to see the numerous letters expressing appreciation which these elicit, they would feel well repaid for their labour of love.
For the world the prospect of 1958 is anything but bright. The year has opened in an atmosphere of much anxiety for statesmen. “Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness” (2 Pet. 3:13). This does not mean, however, that we are not to take a prayerful interest in world conditions. More than ever before we should remind our hearts of Paul’s exhortation that “supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men” (1 Tim. 2:1); and as we enter another year we should with increased resolve cleave to Him for grace, and give our best—our all—to Him in devoted service.
"Another year of service for the Master;
Another year, to bring us nearer Home;
Another year, then let our feet run faster,
In loving service ere our Lord doth come.
Another year, then let us all be watchful;
With loins girt up and with our staff in hand;
This year down here amid earth’s tribulation,
The next, perhaps with Him in glory Land.”
Let us remind readers that the work of publishing Assembly Testimony is carried on solely by the free-will offerings of the Lord’s people. Notwithstanding the increased cost of printing and ...
The Epistle to the Hebrews shows the believer brought into a place which was unknown to man until after the death of Christ. He is brought into the Holiest, as a worshipper. Shut in there with God, he sees things in His light, and estimates them not according to man’s view, but as God sees them. He has a home-judgment of things abroad, and needs not to ask the world to give any account of itself to him. The rent veil through which he passed to have access, affords him no egress to join in things belonging to this "present evil world.” He is separated from it by the Cross of Christ—from its religion as well as from its politics and pleasures. The history of every age tells that while many are willing to be a saved people, and ready to join a prosperous people, only a few are prepared to be a wholly separated people, a people walking as strangers here. The word to the redeemed is, “Come out from among them” (2 Cor. 6:17). This is very far from saying, ‘How much can I have in common with the world and yet be a follower of the Lord?’ It is the same world from which He was cast out, and in which He is still rejected. It knows not God. None can walk with God who chooses as his companions men who mock God with a false religion, and are strangers to His grace. There must be separation from the world, in its religion as in its sins, if we are to be worshippers within the Veil (ch. 10), and walkers with God outside the Camp (ch. 13).
“Jesus therefore, being wearied with His journey, sat thus on the well” ... Oh! to think of the Lord Himself, whom none of the princes of this world knew, but who was the Lord of glory, sitting weary on the well, thirsty, and dependent upon this world for a drink of water—the world that was made by Him, and knew Him not. He was the display, at all cost to Himself, of divine love to man.
I adore the love that led Him to be made sin for me. There was the full testing of the love that carried Him through all. It is deeply instructive, though very dreadful to see there what man is. What do I expect of my friends, if I am on trial? At least that they will not forsake me. “They all forsook Him and fled”! And what do I expect in a judge, if I am on trial? I expect him to protect innocence. Pilate washes his hands of the blood of this Just One and gives Him over to the people. And what do I expect in a priest? That he will intercede for the ignorant and for them that are out of the way. They urge the people to cry “Away with him, away with him.” Every man was the opposite of what was right, and that one Man was not only right, but in divine love He was going through it all.
His sorrows must ever be a depth into which we may look over from the edge with solemn awe ... It exalts His grace to the soul to look into that depth, and makes us feel that none but a divine Person (and one perfect in every way) could have been there.
“He looked for some to take pity, but there was none, and for comforters, but found none” . . . He was tested and tried to the last degree of human suffering and sorrow, standing alone in this, praying in agony and alone, none to sympathize with Him.
None of us can fathom what it was to One who had dwelt in the bosom of the Father to find His soul as a man forsaken of God. In the measure in which He knew what it was to be holy, He knew what it was to be made sin before God. In the measure in which He knew the love of God, He felt what it was to be forsaken of God.
He is the resurrection and the life. Wonderful that He, Master of death, Himself steps into death for us.