The writer first became acquainted with these words, when, as a boy, the hymn written by James G. Deck was sung in the assembly with which his parents were in fellowship. The believers possessed very little materially, not owning houses, cars or expensive equipment in their homes. Brethren were often without employment but their hearts cried “Maran-atha” and they sang with fervour “A little while; Our Lord shall come, and we shall wander here no more”.
We do not sing often of the Lord’s coming nowadays. Perhaps we follow the world’s doings with too much interest and it is not in our thoughts or prayers to say, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus” Revelation 22:20.
The Lord Jesus used the words, “A little while” a number of times, as John’s Gospel shows and while the hymn centres mainly on the truth that it is “A little while” and He’ll come again, the Lord does not restrict the words to that one event. In John 7:33 the Lord seems to mean that there is only “A little while” during which to remain to show by signs that He is the very Christ v.26, sent by the Father v.28, and then He will go unto Him that sent Him. v.33.
In Ch. 12:35 the Lord is replying to the peoples’ questionings as to the Christ and again, the “little while” is the period remaining, during which the Light is with them. The signs did not convince, the Light was not seen, for God imposed blindness. following persistent unbelief and rejection of Divine Light, v.37-41.
The words. “A little while” next occur at John 13:33 and are addressed to His “dear children”. In washing the disciples’ feet the Lord revealed the character of the ministry He was soon to begin on high. He was troubled as the prayer of 12:27 shows, and He was concerned that those He was about to leave in a hostile world should not be troubled 14:1. In affectionate terms the Lord tells them He is to be with them “vet a little while.” Since He says “ye shall seek Me,” we think He cannot refer to death only, but looks beyond that, to His being glorified in resurrection and ascension to the Father. Verses 32, 33 and 14:2-4 seem to mean that the Lord is going to the Father by the way of death and resurrection.
John 14:19 is the next reference and the meaning is plain. The revelation to the world is for “a little while” and it seeth Him no longer. The world has not seen Him since He was put into the tomb, but His own would see Him. They saw the Lord after He was risen but more than this is meant by the words, “Ye see Me In verse 18 the Lord says, “I come to you” and in verse 19 the present tense is used again. “Ye see Me”. The reference to “that day” 14:20 and again at 16:23 and 16:26, with its deep spiritual experience, suggests privileges that could only be known after Pentecost, when the promised Spirit “dwelleth with you and shall be in you” 14:17.
The last time that these three words occur is in John 16. They are repeated five times between verses 16 and 19. First we read, “A little while and ye shall not see Me”, v.16, referring to the time when the Lord would be in the tomb. Then, “A little while and ye shall see Me”. The disciples could not understand the meaning of these words and the Lord explains. Sorrow on their part, while the world rejoiced, refers to His rejection and death. They would rejoice when the Lord would see them again and no-one would take away their joy. We read in John 20:20 “then were the disciples glad when they saw the Lord”, so the promise had early fulfilment but its scope was beyond the manifestations after Christ’s resurrection for the Lord had said at 16:16. “Because T go to the Father”, we are still living “In that day” 16:23 when the fullness of the Lord’s promises, spoken with such tender affection to those He loved to the uttermost 13:1, may be known in our lives.
The Lord’s words made a lifelong impression upon the apostle Peter, as we would that they do upon us, and as an older man wrote, “But the God of all grace who hath called us unto His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered “a little while”, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle-you, To Him be glory and dominion for ever and ever, Amen”. 1Pet. 5:10-11 Newberry margin, He directs us to “a little while” of suffering which God will use for our spiritual development and then His eternal glory. The glory that men give for distinction in different spheres of life is as nothing compared to the glory that shall be revealed. 1 Pet. 5:1.
One last reference is Heb. 10:37. In an earlier verse the believers are urged to hold fast their confession of hope without wavering; (for He is faithful that promised) and now (v.36) are reminded of the need for endurance that, after they have done the will of God, they might receive the promise. The writer would mean that they might experience its fulfilment. The promise was written in the Old Testament and its nearness of realisation is stressed when written literally thus; “For yet a little while, how little, how little, and He that shall come, will come, and will not tarry”.
The Lord’s “little while” of testimony down here brought rejection. He endured the cross, despising shame and was for “a little while” hidden in the tomb but now, crowned with glory and honour, He is hidden above. “A little while, how little, how little” and we shall see Him, be like Him and with Him for ever.
Bella suffered great persecution after she was converted. Her parents and her brothers were all up in arms against her. But her soul was happy in the love of Jesus. The devil’s frown only makes us cling closer to Jesus, and his roar drives us nearer to our Beloved. One night her brother in anger lifted his foot and kicked her downstairs. She did weep, but not so much for the blow as the heartlessness of her brother. Then, for simply being a Christian, and obeying the Word of God, she was turned out of her father’s house. It was hard to bear, no doubt; but the Lord stood by her, and He kept her extremely happy. She had the consciousness that it was for Christ she was suffering, and she took it patiently. Satan saw he was defeated, and so he changed his plans. Open persecution and suffering would not drive her from the path of obedience to the Lord; but, perhaps she might be drawn from it by a bait skilfully thrown out. Her parents sent a message asking her to come home and they would treat her kindly. She went, and was well received. They gave her liberty to read her Bible and attend the meetings. Her brother who had kicked her was especially kind. One night he brought her home a new dress. She was delighted, yes, and thrown off her guard too; for poor Bella did not see that it was the devil’s plan to draw her into the world. The dress was fitted on, and Bella looked well. But her soul was happier the night she was turned out of her father’s house a homeless sufferer for Christ, than it was when she sat among her unsaved relatives caressed and admired, for her eye was off the Lord, and she was unconsciously being drawn into the net. The next thing was, Bella was asked by her brother to go with him to the “picnic and she thought it would not be gracious to refuse after his gift. So off she went. The world was there—the sinner’s laugh—the dance—the song. They were all delighted to welcome Bella back again; although, when she promised to go, she never meant to mingle with them. But her feet were in the snare; the devil had gained the victory, and Bella once in the company of the ungodly had no power to resist the devil, and down went her colours, she joined the sports; and Bella is a miserable backslider in the world today. Last time I met her she would not look me in the face, she turned away. Young believer, beware of Satan’s smiles. They are more dangerous than his frowns; and the world’s caresses than its scorn. Watch and pray, lest you be drawn into the snare of the devil.
Devotional Reading, Repentant Prayer, Then Revelation
It is very evident that Israel as a nation is still in transgression though the expiatory sacrifice has been made for them, and the righteousness of the ages has not yet been brought to Israel. Paul explains, quoting from Isaiah 59:20, “a hardening in part hath befallen Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in; and so all Israel shall be saved” Romans 11:25, 26. At His coming in great glory as foretold in 2 Thessalonians 1:7, 8, the Lord says “they shall look on Me whom they have pierced ... and I will hear them say “The Lord is my God” (Zechariah 12:10 and 13:9). Thus the 490 years period is halted at the 69th week, until God has completed His work of grace apart from His covenant promises to Israel, that is, the completion of His gathering of the Church from Gentile and Jew with no distinction, for the middle wall of partition has been broken down. When the Lord has taken His complete Church up to be with Him (1 Thessalonians 4:15-17) then His dealings with Israel will be resumed. This is suggested by the fact that the seventy “weeks” are divided into three groups, seven, sixty-two, and then the final seventieth week. The first Part, seven heptads, or forty-nine years is the time of rebuilding the city, building “even in troublous times” v. 25. These troublous years are described in more detail in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah, (Nehemiah 4:1-14, 6:1-19, 9:36, 37). The following sixty-two weeks, or 434 years lead up to the time when “the anointed One shall be cut off” (v. 26), leaving the final week of seven years for which much more detail is given in v. 26, 27.
It should be noted that “all nations, before the just length of the solar year was known, reckoned months by the course of the moon, and in making calenders for their festivals, they reckoned thirty days to a lunar month and twelve months to a lunar year.” (Sir Isaac Newton—quoted in “Astronomy of the Ancients”—G. C. Lewis). Thus in Genesis 7:14 and 8:3, 4, at the time of the deluge, the five months from the second to the seventh, the seventeenth day. of the month is given as one hundred and fifty days, it is important also to determine when this “seventy weeks decreed” should begin, and v. 25 gives the answer, “from the going forth of the commandment to restore and rebuild Jerusalem.” Therefore the period does not begin whilst Daniel was praying, nor can it begin with the proclamation made by Cyrus king of Persia, for as recorded in Ezra 1:1-2, this was a command to build the Temple, Ninety years later, in the reign of Artaxerxes Longimanus king of Persia, in the month Nisan, in the twentieth year of his reign, the command is given to Nehemiah. “Send me ... unto the city of my fathers,” sepulchres, that I may build it ... And the king granted me, according to the good hand of my God upon me” (Nehemiah 2:5, 8).
History clearly fixes this date of the 20th year of Artaxerxes as 445 B.C. In his book “Daniel in the Critics Den,” Sir Robert Anderson shows by careful calculation that from 445 B.C. to A.D. 32 (allowing extra days for leap years) leads to the precise day on which the Lord entered Jerusalem, the day on which the nation rejected Him, when He said “If thou hadst known, in this thy day, the things that belong to thy peace— but now they are hid from thine eyes” Luke 19:42. That is precisely 69 x 7 prophetic years of 360 days. “After the threescore and two weeks shall the Anointed One (Messiah the Prince A.V.) be cut off, and shall have nothing” v. 26. He was rejected by His own people; He did not at that time, when He was cut off, receive His Messianic kingdom.
All this is now fulfilled prophecy, but whilst the next part of the sentence had a partial fulfilment nearly forty years later when the Roman army under Titus destroyed the city and the sanctuary, and desolation is still evident, the judgment upon the “prince that shall come ... his end shall be with a flood” is yet future. With the cutting off of the Anointed One, the prophetic reckoning was suspended. “Until the end shall be war; desolation” v. 26 and this the Lord Himself confirmed—“for there shall be great distress upon the land, and wrath unto this people. And they shall fall by the edge of the sword ... and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled” (Luke 21:23, 24). Meanwhile in this period of unspecified length, whilst God’s earthly people Israel are alienated from Him, He is calling out a heavenly people, the Church, and when that is completed, the final week of the seventy will begin. This mystery was entirely unknown in Old Testament times, so that there is no hint of such a gap, but, as stated before, the Lord knew of it when He spoke in the synagogue at Nazareth, “and He closed the book” (Luke 4:20), showing that the acceptable year of the Lord had come, but not yet the day of vengeance of our God.
When God’s purposes for the Church on earth are completed at the Rapture, to His abode, the 70th week will begin. This sudden withdrawal of the Lord’s people will startle the world, but with the Holy Spirit, the Restrainer (2 Thessalonians 2:7) withdrawn, men’s hearts will soon be enslaved. The God of Israel will then soon restore the position of privilege to His people which they forfeited when they rejected Him at the end of 69th week, a remnant in their midst will be awakened (probably by the rapture) and converted to their God at this time, and these will be strengthened by the “two witness” who will be raised up for the period of three and half years (Revelation 11:3-12). It was Roman legions which fulfilled the phrase in Daniel 9:26, destroying the city and the sanctuary. There must therefore be a reviving of an empire or confederation such as the Roman empire was, with an authoritative ruler described as “the prince that shall come,” the ruthless blasphemous despot described in Revelation 13:4-8 and 17:12 as the “beast” and in Daniel 7 as the “little horn.” This mighty ruler will make a seven year covenant “with the many,” that is with the vast majority of Israel; the tiny remnant will remain faithful and undergo fierce persecution. No detail of the nature of the covenant is given, but as the remainder of the sentence implies that worship in the Temple was restored, it would appear that the covenant concerned protection and permission to restore such worship. Though it is said that the firm covenant is “with many” Daniel’s vision of chapter seven would show that “the many” are yet weak and helpless in the hand of the dominating power.
The covenant can therefore be considered as an attempt to grasp, as a desperate hope, or as Isaiah describes it “a covenant with death” sought as a hope of protection so that when “the overflowing scourge shall pass through, it shall not come unto us” (Isaiah 28:15). The same prophet had spoken before concerning this scourge as “the king of Assyria and all his glory ... he shall sweep onward into Judah, he shall overflow and pass through” Isaiah 8:7-8, in fact he describes this one, the Assyrian as God’s instrument of judgment. “Ho Assyrian, the rod of Mine anger ... I will send him against a profane nation ... to tread them down like the mire of the streets” (Isaiah 10:5-6). Thus the Jews in the land, dominated by the revived Roman power, fearful of mighty forces to the North, yet hoping to resume the form of their early worship, enter into the seven year covenant. Truly this will be an agreement with hell, for after half the period, this despot endued with Satanic power as described in Revelation 13:2, 4 and in league with am other awful power described in ch. 11:36-39, the Antichrist, breaks the covenant and stops all worship, enforcing worship of the Satanic beings. The “little horn” of Daniel 7, the head of the Roman power will be set up as an object of universal worship, (Revelation 13:12). This is enforced by the blasphemous power of the apostate Jew, the Antichrist, (Revelation 13:11-17), power which is given for forty two months. This period is the awful time fore-told by many prophets and spoken by the Lord, the time of Jacob’s trouble.
But though “the many” of the people entered into the covenant for fear of “the Assyrian—the king of the north” in the midst of their fearful idolatry in worshipping the beast, they will be harassed continually by this scourge for Daniel 9 closes with the prophecy concerning the “wing of abomination” viz.—idolatry—“shall come one that maketh desolate: even unto the consummation, and that determined, shall wrath be poured out upon the desolator.” Finally, the desolator, with other enemies of God’s stricken people will undergo the wrath of God when the Lord Himself appears in power and glory to avenge.
Vs. 32. “Pomegranates round about the hem” “Bells of gold between them round about” “Upon the hem of the robe round about The first purpose of these is expressly stated, “His sound shall be heard ... that he die not”. Here the type breaks down, for it cannot possibly allude to Him who “Lives in the power of an indissoluble life”.
The people might hear the sound,—that is doubtful,—but it is not for them. It has to do with him “When he goeth in and when he cometh out”.
Is this a hint of a further ministry of our Lord Jesus as our great High Priest? NO, for we must bear in mind that these things on the hem of Aaron’s robe were there for a very different purpose to, and meaning, of robes our Lord Jesus might wear. For He needed, nor needs yet any protection— “It is manifest that He liveth Heb. 7. 8. “Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more.” Romans 6:9.
This, in the epistle to the Hebrews is the very point at which the Melchisedec-order of our Lord Jesus is seen to be superior to that of Aaron. “Not suffered to continue by reason of death: But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood. Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.
Vs. 35. Steps to the altar were forbidden (Ch. 20. 26), in these instructions trousers for the priests are requisite “That they bear not iniquity and die”. Vs. 43. These bells and pomegranates would serve them to weigh the garment down. But that could not be their only purpose, or why bells and pomegranates? In any case the vest of byssus would be underneath, and longer than the robe of blue.
It has been said that the holiness of God is something we can neither stand nor understand, and to have a man, prior to Calvary, and still in this “Vile body” Phil. 3. 21, in close proximity to Himself every day required on God’s side, complete covering and on Aaron’s side, complete protection.
Because the garments were for “Glory and for beauty” it had to be bells and pomegranates, not just something which made a sound, or weighed the robe down.
When God no longer dwelt between the cherubim appearing in fire and blinding light, when He had laid aside for a time these outward insignia of His presence, then men and women could dare to stand before Him, walk beside Him, handle Him.
But we, knowing now what we know of Him, could not bear Him near, save as faith can enjoy the Spirit’s work to make Him near. We shall need to be “Changed” 1. Cor. 15. 51. “Our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, shall change our vile bodies that it may be conformed to the body of His glory” Phil. 3. 21, (Newb. Marg.), before we “See His face”. Rev. 22. 4.
Vs. 35. Now, we have abundant scriptural evidence to tell us what we are to understand by “Gold”, “Silver”, “Brass”, “Blue, Purple, Scarlet, and fine twined linen” etc. But it is risky, and not really helpful to spiritualise things like bells and pomegranates. One is therefore, inclined to accept that these were both precautionary, and an embellishment of these robes. Our Lord Jesus Christ in His priestly function for us, needs neither.
Vs. 36. The mitre is a very different thing though it covered the head, and the N.T. tells us what that would mean. 1. Cor. 11. 3. For our Lord Jesus Christ Himself too, has taken the subject place, “The head of Christ is God”. As long as there is a mediatorial kingdom to administer, needs of man in relation to God to be met, that will always be so. The mitre tells us this, but the plate of pure gold goes further. One cannot advance on the delightful comment of F.W. Grant on this matter.
“In Him Who stooped to the uttermost requirement of holiness upon the cross, holiness is indeed a crown”.
“He with Whom in that darkest hour of all that ever was could be left the responsibility of the accomplishment of all God’s counsels of blessing for eternity, can be safely entrusted with all the care of the holy things”.
There is then in these robes, indication of the three-fold need we have, and the suitability and competence of our Lord Jesus to meet us in that need.
Vs. 39. The onyx stones have to do with our security, the breastplate with our succour, the mitre and plate with our service. We have all three in John 17; verse 12 of that passage answers to the onyx stones. Verses 9-11 is surely the breastplate, and verses 16-20, the mitre and plate of pure gold. Or, if you will, John 10:27-30 is the onyx stones, Heb. 4:14-16 is the breastplate, and Rev. 8:3-4 tell of the mitre and plate on the head of Him who alone is worthy to wear it.
Linen is the material here, no wool; frail, but pure and cool it would serve well this purpose.
Again that word “Unto Me” we shall hear it again yet, for the Holy Spirit of God is shewing us particularly in these three chapters, 28, 29 and 30, what is God’s holy intent for us. If we can learn this, we shall indeed “Apprehend that for which I am apprehended”.
For Paul, it was not enough to be forgiven, have peace, be on his way to heaven; he wanted above all to find out in its fullness, the reason for which God had saved him. We too, will find it in these pages if we have hearts to receive it.
A new word is now used, “Consecrate”, a word, which in our language can well express the true meaning. But it has nothing directly to do with service in the world and busyness in “Christian” activity is often mistaken for it. Some will work to a point of exhaustion on a stunt, but are never present at a prayer meeting. Many are very active, here, there, and everywhere, but have no knowledge of His mind.
Vs. 41. Note the order again. “Put them, (the garments), on ... anoint them ... fill their hand and sanctify them that they may minister unto Me”. It is to be feared that this is not our code of priorities.
Character and unction do not precede our concept of consecration, nor do we usually regard sanctification as anything less than spiritual extravagance. As for ministering unto God, in most of our minds it is just not realistic. But it is in His; for this very purpose, He planned in a past eternity to bring us to Himself; pity, having been brought, we fob Him off with “Christian service”. God alone knows, there are few doing even that, most think that is for gifted preachers, but these words tell of God’s intent for every child of His.
Vs. 43. “The flesh shall not glory in His presence”. It tries to, it invades our holiest moments, it often mars our collective exercise in many ways, robbing us of the sense of His presence when it intrudes.
Carnal-minded men, determined to have their own way in the assembly, and behaving like spoilt children when they cannot, will learn one day, when it is too late, the gravity of the thing.
“Quench not the Spirit” is an admonition which has the company in view, though the quenching be done by one, or two, or more. For the Holy Spirit’s work, to which He ever eagerly bends, is to implement amongst His own, just what these lines tell of.
For an understanding of the spiritual significance of Solomon’s Temple, its location in the land when compared with that of the Tabernacle in the wilderness, is important.
Sketch Plan of Solomon's Temple
Scale: 1" = 80 cubits
Entrance doors to the Courts
Porch to the Temple
Holy Place with Golden Altars ten lampstands and ten Tables
Most Holy (or, Holy of Holies) with two cherubim overshadowing the ark
Brass Pillars: Jachin & Boaz
The Tabernacle, although beautiful inside with embroidered linen for the ceiling and gold covered boards for the walls, was drab outside with a covering of badger skins, and its location was always in the wilderness. It is figurative of the Church sojourning in the wilderness of this world where man sees it as unattractive. The true beauty of the Church is within, unseen by the world but seen by the Lord.
In contrast, the Temple, overlaid with gold both inside and out, was truly magnificent, and it was built in the Land. Canaan’s fair land is not a type of heaven, which is the sentiment of hymn-writers, but it typifies “the heavenlies”. Heaven is the future abode of believers, but “the heavenlies” is a spiritual realm, which is the present position of believers (Eph. 2:6). Therefore, the Temple is a type of the true Church as God sees it in Christ with all its spiritual and moral glory which is of Christ, and positionally in a realm above the world.
Whilst this appears to be the primary spiritual significance of the Temple, there are also foreshadowings of the future glory of the Church, which will be revealed at the Lord’s return.
“Solomon began to build the House of the Lord at Jerusalem in Mount Moriah ... in the place that David had prepared in the threshingfloor of Oman the Jebusite” (2Chron. 3:1), and so, long before Solomon began to build, David acquired the site.
Through Gad, the prophet, God commanded David to build an altar on the threshingfloor of Oman the Jebusite, and so David went and met Oman, with whom he agreed to purchase the threshingfloor together with the oxen and threshing implements for 50 shekels of silver (2Sam. 24:18, 24). Then David negotiated with Oman to purchase the land surrounding the threshingfloor for 600 shekels of gold (1Chron. 21:25). In acquiring the whole site, David negotiated two sales, using silver and then gold for the purchase monies.
On the site where Oman’s threshingfloor stood, the Brazen Altar for the temple was later built, and David paid for it with silver, which is suggestive of “the sufferings of Christ”. On the ground around the threshingfloor, the Temple and the Courts were built, and David paid for it with gold, which is a symbol of “the glory that should follow” (1Pe. 1:11).
The Temple site was upon Mount Moriah, and the name of this mount means a “manifestation of the Lord”, or a “vision of the Lord It was upon this mount that Abraham offered up his only begotten son, Isaac, and the Lord manifested Himself in providing a ram in place of the lad (Gen. 22:1-14). At the same spot, Oman’s threshingfloor stood, where David built an altar and offered burnt offerings to the Lord, who responded by manifesting Himself from heaven by fire upon the altar (1Chron. 21:26). Upon the same site, the Temple was built and, after Solomon’s dedicatory prayer, the Lord yet again manifested Himself by fire coming down from heaven which consumed the burnt offering and sacrifices (2Chron. 7:1). Leaping over the centuries to the Day of Pentecost when the building of a spiritual temple was started, there was a manifestation of the Lord as “cloven tongues of fire” appeared to all assembled in the upper room (Acts 2:2).
This expression has in view “Sonship” as defined in scripture and a careful reading of all the contexts as above will shew us a different view from that often taken and explanations given, (some of them extremely ridiculous). “Abba” is not a “baby cry,” but was the name given to the father by a true born son as opposed to one who was simply adopted into the family (as we are told was the case in Roman days, even in Imperial circles, Whereby even a Caesar who was an adopted son, even a one-time slave, could inherit the kingdom, having been set free and adopted). He would use the name “Father” for his benefactor, but not the name “Abba”. So, “Abba Father” was addressed by one who was a true born son having come to years and inheritance.
Before this time, this son could have been taken care of by slaves and taken to school, which slave could be “over” the son until that time. (“school master” is an unfortunate mistranslation in Galatians, see other versions.) Also “to bring as to Christ” means historically, not to conduct us to Christ. We might translate it “up to Christ When the son had grown up and come to maturity, he would be no longer under the slave servant but over him, and no longer under any kind of bondage or tutelage.
This was the position of all who were under the law, from which we have now been set free; though Gentiles were never actually under law, Paul was speaking to those who “knew law” and had been under it and to Gentiles who were now being misled by legalistic teachers of law, “understanding not what they said nor so strenuously affirmed ...” Paul being considered by them a law breaker and who regarded Paul as an heretic saying that the Lord Jesus had never taught such things.
It will be seen that this all affects the subject of “Adoption” which is another subject little understood as shewn in scripture, where it means the one, already a son, attained his “majority” that is why the Spirit is called in these scriptures the Spirit of sonship (See also Ephesians 1, 5, and Scoffield’s valuable note at that point). Many speak as if we are merely adopted into God’s family but this is far short of the meaning, but rather that we, who are already children by the new birth, have also the placing of adult sons, especially now that we have a risen and glorified Christ, Who sent forth the Spirit whereby we cry “Abba Father” (or rather the Father did this) sealing us unto the day of redemption (of the body), the Holy Spirit being the permanent Indweller.
We must now face the question of Circumcision apart from which no Israelite could even commence to keep the law of Moses, though it was precedent to the Law, given to Abram when the “flesh” in him had produced its own peculiar fruit in his life, and after this act which produced Ishmael, but this circumcision be it noted was AFTER he had been justified by faith, so he knew justification before circumcision and long before the law was imposed. This is worked out for us in the following scriptures, Genesis, 15; 6; quoted Romans 3 and vv 9-12. The law teachers were demanding that their disciples be circumcised and keep the law, see Paul’s comments on this, Galatians, 5; 2-4 and Colossians 2; 11-13 and 3, 11; wherein he claims a spiritual “circumcision” taking the place of a fleshly.
Let those who teach that the believer is under the law consider these facts and beware that he teach not that which is unscriptural. It may be pointed out that although the law is given its proper place (that of condemning the flesh) in the early chapters of Romans, and that clearly, decisively and distinctly, yet in a later chapter it is quoted as if the believer is still under it. (See ch. 13; 9.) Now scripture does not contradict itself, in spite of the way some use or misuse it, and it must be observed that in this passage the apostle is not quoting all the law of Moses, as some appear to think, but only those commands which militate against love, which is the subject of this passage, vv 8-10, mentioned there five times and in which he quotes five of the commandments only which militate against love to our fellowmen, he is not therefore putting the believer back under the law of Moses but bringing some of it in as a witness against certain things, which in the next epistle (a corrective one) he shews to be ruining the walk of the saint. It might be noted here that the two epistles which follow Romans are both corrective and related to Romans, one dealing specifically with the motions of the flesh and the other with the bondage of the law. Such is the beautiful order and completeness of the Word of God, sufficient for all time and all believers.
Now it has been said that to teach these truths of freedom from the law will lead Christians into loose living and moral bankruptcy, but it must now be asked, “Did the absence of the law” so lead the saints of old Who lived before it was given?”. Or we will put it this way. Did Abel become a sinful man indulging in fleshly behaviour because he was net under the law of Moses, or did Noah a “perfect man” or Abraham, or godly Joseph and ethers who lived previous to the law being given? To ask the question is to answer it.
No indeed, and we would earnestly ask the reader to turn to the Epistles to Which we have referred, i.e. to Romans, and turn up the many references to the law and see what the Spirit of God says about it, and also to that to the Galatians in like manner. The Holy Spirit is the only one Who can keep the true believer from sinning; and He is the One Who is mostly left out of account when Christians talk loosely about the believers freedom from the law, “encouraging him to sin”. No; the very reverse is the case, he relies upon the indwelling Spirit of God, Who was not “given” till Jesus was glorified to keep him from sinning and to inculcate true holiness and the power to live to the glory of God. These things are only too clearly enunciated and taught in these two epistles of Paul, the whole argument of Galatians especially hinging upon these two facts, the law fulfilled in the Death of Christ and the imparted Holy Spirit consequent upon this fact. See Gal 2:16 to 4:7, where Paul works carefully through the Whole argument in detail, finalising under the references to the Spirit of God.
He has been “given” us because of the completeness of the work of Christ upon the cross and consequent upon His resurrection, ascension and glorification. We realise how difficult it was for Jewish believers to enter fully upon their new freedom, some challenging Peter himself for even going in to Gentiles and eating with them until he confirmed the fact that the Holy Spirit Himself had come upon them “as he was speaking But Peter himself had later to be taken to task by Paul when he jeopardised his reputation and the whole position he had previously adopted when he separated himself from Gentile believers in Antioch because certain had come from James (see the whole passage in Gal 2:1-18). This is indeed the whole argument of this whole epistle, written by Paul to the churches in Galatia which he had founded, who were now in grave danger of cutting themselves off from Grace and “crucifying Christ afresh”. Alas that today we see practically the whole of Christendom not only under this bondage but glorying in it. May the Lord deliver us from such and enable us to maintain the truth of God under all circumstances, and suffer reproach, that of the Cross, for His Name’s sake.
When you come to the other two passages Corinthians and Thessalonians, why is it that when the Lord is speaking of His coming for His people, He never hints that there will be any signs, or any tribulation, or any trouble. There is only one answer. The one coming will be in two stages. The one stage of His coming to Israel is comparable to the Son of Righteousness. His coming for the Church at the end of the New Testament is comparable to the bright and morning star. You must be careful to distinguish between these two. The star on one hand and the rising of the sun on the other.
It is not God’s will that His Church should be divided. If there is anything that is impressed upon us in the New Testament it is that nothing has to divide the body of Christ, because the Church is a body and there is to be no schism in the body. If you suggest that while part of the church is enjoying Christ in the heavenly places, and another part of it is passing through the tribulation (wrath of God) it is absurd— then the Church would be divided, but the Church is definitely not going to be divided.
The Church is here on earth now, and we preach the Gospel of the grace of God. In a day that is yet to come God will work amongst the Jewish people and many of them will be saved. Revelation Chapter 7 (144 thousand) and they will become the missionaries of that day, and they will preach the Gospel. There is only one Gospel and it is like the coming of the Lord, it has two different aspects. They will preach what is spoken of as the Gospel of the kingdom, and they will tell that the king is coming and that Israel will be the head of the nations. Supposing that the Church is on the earth at the same time, it would mean that there would be two distinct testimonies borne for God at the same time, and to say the least would be utter confusion, and therefore we believe that before these “missionaries” go out with their testimony, the Church will be with Christ in glory. I hope that you will keep these simple things in mind.
When the Great Tribulation breaks out, there will be apostasy (2nd Thessalonians 2) that which professes the name of Christ—modernism. The falling away, the giving up of those cardinal truths of the Christian faith. In that day it will be in full bloom.
It is Christendom that will go into apostasy and that is another reason for saying that the Church will not pass through the Great Tribulation.
The teaching that the Lord is coming is held before the Lord’s people as a great comfort. Would there be any comfort in telling God’s people that they would have to pass through the Great Tribulation. There would be no comfort in that.
All through the epistles the coming again of the Lord is something that is most imminent. We are to be watching, waiting, looking. It is most imminent, and what would be the sense of telling people to be watching and waiting if we know that the Great Tribulation is to come first.
In Revelation 1, 2 and 3—Church upon the earth is testimony. At the beginning of chapter 4 John hears a voice, and the voice says “come up” and John, the representative of the Church at the beginning of chapter 4 is caught up to heaven. That is what is going to take place, and the Church, just like John, will be caught up to heaven. Chapter 6-19— John sees all that will take place. From where does he see it? He sees it from heaven. Thank God we know that when that awful time of wrath comes to pass, the church is going to be with Christ.
It must be so, that when the Lord comes that scene in Enoch’s prophecy will be fulfilled. How can He come with His saints, if they are not called up to be with Himself, and so there is the simple order, and it is beautifully illustrated in Enoch, for Enoch is a picture of the pilgrim church. Enoch walked with God and so one day the Lord silentlv took Enoch home to be with Himself, and Enoch was translated that he would not see death. Then Noah preached, and the flood came, you see a picture of Great Tribulation that is going to come. The flood came and it covered all the earth, but before it came Enoch was translated. When the flood came God took care of Noah and He put rule and government into His hand. There is going to be a cleaned earth, and Israel is going to be head of the nations. There will be a cleansed earth, and perfect government, because Christ will reign.
The Tribulation is expressly called the time of Jacob’s trouble. It is going to come at the time of Jacob’s trouble, not at the time of the Church’s trouble. I want you to remember that in Revelation 1, 2 and 3 we have a scene upon earth, and there in chanters 1. 2 and 3 the Church is seen in testimony for God. The word church occurs no fewer than 19 times. Leave chapter 3 and in chapter 4 and 5 there you have got a scene in heaven. In chapter 6 the Great Tribulation breaks out, and oh what a time it is. It is a chapter of judgement, that is the beginning of the Great Tribulation. Chapter 6 right to chapter 19, and in chapter 19 Christ comes. You have there the time of Jacob’s trouble, the wrath of God and the wrath of man, and the wrath of the devil. Oh what a time it will be on earth when man’s wickedness breaks out, and when Satan’s wrath will be seen, and not only will there be the wrath of man and Satan, but there will be the wrath of God: “Who shall be able to stand?”.
In these chapters you read about Jews and Gentiles. Why is it in these chapters you never once read about the Church? The scene on earth is in chapter 6, but the Church of God never occurs once. The answer is this, that before that awful time of wrath commences the Church is removed, and it will be with Christ in glory.
Not only so, but apart from that we have the express promise of our Lord. In Romans 5, 9 “We shall be saved from wrath through Him” 1st Thessalonians 5, 9 “God has not appointed us to wrath” 1st Thessalonians 1, 10 “Jesus the deliverer from the wrath to come”. Keep in mind this, that this time of tribulation will be a time when God’s wrath will be felt bv men here on this earth. But the promise of those passages is that you and T are not appointed unto wrath, and the promise is that we shall be saved from the wrath, and we are going to be saved by Jesus. That ought to satisfy us, that the Church will not have to pass through that time of God’s terrible wrath upon the earth.
The men that began the conversation in Matthew 24 were four Jews. Their names are given in Mark 14. You have the Son of Man coming down to deliver the Jews. Before he comes there will be signs, and he tells them that there is going lo be a Great Tribulation—they are to be ready for instant flight.
IN front of the Israelites—leaders, old men, women and children—lay the sea, on either side towered mountain ranges, and at their back came the Egyptians, “and behold the Egyptians marched after them” (Ex. 14:10). They were hemmed in, they were sore afraid and in their extremity bitter recriminations were made against Moses.
Many of God’s dear people today are hemmed in, their backs are to the wall and they are threatened by pressures of all kinds. Family troubles, financial troubles, job troubles, assembly troubles and personal failures. Attempts to escape only seem to make the pressure greater and how Satan excels at turning the screw that little bit tighter! In these circumstances the man of the world seeks to do something—to fight, to run, to give in! But the word to the Christian is unusual to say the least—it is ‘stand still.’
To the stricken Israelites, who no doubt had some impracticable ideas about their own salvation, Moses speaks. How re-assuring to hear a voice we recognise—in a busy crowd, at an accident, at times when the pressure builds up! Jesus said “My sheep hear my voice and they follow Me.” Satan may succeed in distracting the saint but through it all comes the sweet voice, that we have learned to recognise and love, saying “Fear not—stand still.” The ministry of the Lord Jesus here on earth was one of re-assurance. “Fear not,” “Be not afraid” were constantly on His lips then and indeed still are today.
Now comes the most difficult of all—stand still! This the flesh does not like to do, it is ever active; nor Satan who is always furiously going to and fro in the earth and walking up and down it. But child of God in sorrow, difficulty, bewilderment STAND STILL or “Be still and know that I am God.” “The Lord shall fight for you” (v. 14). He did then and He does now—leave it all to Him—“stand still and see the salvation of the Lord which He will show you today.” No one, not even yourself, knows any answer to your problems you may feel, but if only you would stand still here is One who knows an answer, the answer, the best answer and He is prepared to show it to you today. Stand Still.
Now the Lord does a simple yet marvellous thing “And the angel of the Lord which went before removed and went behind and came between the Egyptians and Israel.” The angel and the pillar interposed between the Israelites and their relentless pursuer, and this had the effect of replacing the sight of the ominous Egyptians with the sight of the Glory of God. In the light of His Glory and grace even our difficulties will look strangely dim. What the Christian needs is one to interpose between himself and the pressures and here is One who wonderfully does just that—the problems disappear and the Glory of God is seen in the face of Jesus Christ.
But now in the wake of this change for the better comes the instruction “Speak unto the children of Israel that they go forward ” (v. 15). Now that the pressures have eased and the Lord is victorious the great thing to do is to go forward. Here we remember Hebrews 6 “Let us go on” and its response “this we will do.”
The believer, so often uncertain, so used to doubting, now has a positive instruction, direction and purpose. It is not a re-tracing of steps, it is not an evasion of crises it is forward march. May these brief notes be helpful to any in perplexity —