MOST believers to-day are acquainted in a fair measure with two of the three Persons of the Holy Trinity, namely, the Father and the Son—the Father because He is presented to us so frequently in the Old Testament, especially in His dealings with Israel, as Jehovah or Yahweh—The Son because He is the main subject of the New Testament. But of the Holy Spirit our knowledge is more fragmentary. The mention of His activity is scattered throughout the whole Bible. As a result His Person and work are neglected by many believers, and not often treated of as fully as they might be, both in oral and in written ministry. It is profitable for us to learn more about the Holy Spirit, lest we fall into the danger of relegating Him to an inferior position in the Godhead.
He who seeks to understand more of the truth about the Holy Spirit finds himself up against almost insuperable difficulties, especially the problem of a finite mind trying to comprehend One who is infinite.
First, we do well to consider the Personality of the Holy Spirit. When we use the word “personality” we think of one possessing a will, a mind, emotions, and power to exercise the functions of these three attributes. As applied to the Holy Spirit this would mean an infinite will and mind guiding omnipotence towards man’s blessing.
It is important to hold to the Personality of the Spirit. If the Holy Spirit is merely an influence, a power, or an attribute we would think in terms of how much we would use the Spirit. This would lead to self-exaltation, as though the ultimate decision was ours. On the other hand, if we appreciate that the Holy Spirit is a Person we would reckon how much He could use us, leading to self-humiliation and dependence on the Spirit of God for His control and blessing.
One of the reasons why men tend to think of the Holy Spirit as an impersonal attribute rather than a specific Person is because the Greek word translated “Spirit” in English is a neuter word, and the Authorised Version renders the corresponding pronoun neuter in apposition “itself” (Rom. 1:16, 26). This is grammatically correct, but doctrinally wrong. The Revisers in each place translate this pronoun “Himself”, to obviate this error, and to accord personality to the Holy Spirit. Note how the Lord Jesus referred to the Spirit by the masculine “Himself” (John 16:13).
There are many and varied proofs of the Personality of the Spirit of God. When the Lord announced the coming of the Holy Spirit upon His disciples consequent on His leaving them He spoke of the Spirit as a Person—another Comforter (John 14:16). The word for “another” here implies another of the same kind, that is, One sent as was the Lord Jesus Christ—by the Father, and from the presence of the Father. Speaking of the Holy Spirit the Lord referred to Him as “He”, the Greek word being a masculine pronoun (John 15:26).
The scriptures give us abundant evidence of the operations of the Holy Spirit—of His will, in the distribution to believers of spiritual gifts (1 Cor. 12:11); of His mind, in making intercession for believers approaching God in prayer (Rom. 8:27); of His ability to do things for men, as He searches all things, even the deep things of God (1 Cor. 2:10). His personality is stamped with His emotions—of love, to the people of God (Rom. 15:30); of joy, which He bestows on believers (1 Thess. 1:6); of delight, in the decisions of elders (Acts 15:28); of grief, at the unseemly ways of believers (Eph. 4:30). He kindles like emotions in believers —love, spread abroad in their hearts (Rom. 5:5); joy, experienced by the Lord Jesus through the Holy Spirit (Luke 10:21, RVm); peace, through the Spirit’s control of the mind (Rom. 8:6); sympathy, evoked by the Spirit’s prophecy of famine (Acts 11:28); anger, as when Saul was thus moved by the Spirit at the news of the ill-treatment of others (1 Sam. 11:6).
The activity of the Holy Spirit indicates His Personality. He is called the Comforter, as like the Lord Jesus, He pours consolation into the heavy hearts of suffering humanity (John 14:16, Acts 9:31). As the Paraclete He also instructs believers in all things, especially in the remembrance of the words of Christ (John 14:26). Compare also Neh. 9:20. As the Spirit of Truth He is a reliable witness concerning Christ (John 15:26), and One who will guide men into all truth (John 16:13). He reproves men of sin (John 16:8); He would speak, and declare future things (John 16:13); He would glorify Christ, as He declares the things of Christ (John 16:14). He gives strength (Ezek. 3:24); He causes men to prophecy (Ezek. 11:5); He calls men to missionary service (Acts 13:2); He forbids believers to preach in places of their own choosing (Acts 16:6); He appoints overseers (Acts 20:28); He reveals things to believers (1 Cor. 2:10); He bore men along as they wrote the Holy Scriptures (2 Pet. 1:21). This manifold activity could only be predicated on One who was a distinct Person, for all these were works that imply the exercise of the will and the intelligence.
The attitude of men towards the Holy Spirit as indicated in scripture show that they regarded Him as a Person. They blasphemed Him, saying evil things of Him (Matt. 12:31). When Peter accused Ananias and Sapphira of withholding part of the money from the sale of their land he spoke of it as telling lies to the Holy Ghost, though possibly Ananias and Sapphira did not realise the nature of their action. They may not have appreciated the Personality of the Spirit (Acts 5:3). The Holy Spirit can be grieved, to the point of His taking retaliatory action (Isa. 63:10). Like the Son of God He may be despised, even though He acts in grace towards His enemies (Heb. 10:29). The Spirit can be quenched, that is, His works can be hindered in another believer (1 Thess. 5:19); He can be resisted, or opposed by sinful men (Acts 7:51). Believers can have fellowship with the Holy Spirit (2 Cor. 13:14).
The Spirit of God is undoubtedly a Person, an Individual, a Being capable of exercising the functions of the will, the mind, the emotions, and capable of demonstrating His ability to do things. His Personality shines out. He is not merely an influence, or an attribute, but a real Person.
1 Kings 5:17, “. . . the foundation of the House.”
FOR building the Temple and the Courts, the summit of Mount Moriah was not large enough in area, and so the surrounding ground had to be raised to the same level. This necessitated the building of four retaining walls, the making up of the ground within, and the constructing of a foundation raft or platform. For these foundation retaining walls, “stones of ten cubits, and stones of eight cubits” were used (1 Ki. 7:10)—that is, stones about 20 ft. and 16 ft. in length. Excavations have revealed that the foundation retaining walls rose in some places to a height of about 200 ft. above the surrounding ground level, which shows the enormity of the structure and of the work undertaken by Solomon.
Where temple imagery is used of the church, there are references to the foundation. The universal church is “built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets” Eph. 2:20. Does it mean that “the apostles and prophets” were foundation members? If so, they were but men, and so they could not be a firm foundation. Here, the foundation does not consist of, but was laid by, them, as W. E. Vine rightly says. The foundation consists of the doctrines taught by them.
In founding a local assembly, the “foundation” should be “Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 3:11), which means the doctrines concerning the Person and work of Christ.
For any building, foundation work is important, because the future stability of a building depends upon it, and likewise the foundation of a “spiritual house” is of equal importance. For the foundation of the temple, Solomon used “great stones, costly stones and hewed stones” (1 Ki. 5:17), and these three types of stones are figurative of various aspects of Bible teaching required for the laying of a firm foundation of an assembly.
The “great stones” are suggestive of the great doctrines of Scripture, which are fundamental to the Christian faith. The first assembly of the present era of grace was founded upon, and continued in, “the apostles’ doctrine” (Ac. 2:42). Although not stated, such doctrine undoubtedly included man’s need and God’s provision of salvation by grace besides the principle and practice of believers assembling themselves together.
The “costly stones” surely point us to the Person and work of Christ. God’s purpose for us is “to be conformed to the image of His Son” and, for this, we need to search the Scriptures which testify of Christ. With the two disciples on the Emmaus road, the risen Lord “expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning Himself” (Lu. 24:27). For us, some Christological studies would be to search Genesis and Exodus for types of Christ, explore Isaiah and Zechariah for cameos of Christ, and Revelation for an unveiling of Christ.
Solomon used also “hewed stones.” From the quarry of Scripture, we need to hew out the “prophetic stones.” It is estimated that about one-third of the Scriptures relates to the Second Coming of Christ, which embraces His return to the air for the saints, and His subsequent coming to the earth with the saints to set up His millennial kingdom when Israel will be re-born spiritually, followed by His reign of righteousness. In prophetic teaching, there is no need to be controversial but it is necessary to be Scriptural, and no subject is so stimulating spiritually, but the lack of such a stimulus results in a spiritual stalemate or even declension. Teaching of the Lord’s Return has a purifying effect on the hearts and minds of believers besides stirring them to be more zealous for their Lord.
It is apparent that these three types of stones for the temple foundation are suggestive of doctrinal, Christological and prophetical Bible study which is needed for believers, both as individuals and an assembly, to be well founded in the faith.
Whilst we should be zealous in seeking souls, it should not be at the expense of edifying the saints. Both are needful, but doctrinal instruction is a necessary pre-requisite for evangelism. In both personal and public evangelism, we need to be well versed in such doctrines as justification by faith and salvation through grace.
Upon this foundation, Solomon built the Temple and after several centuries it was destroyed. Although nothing of the building still stands, the foundation remains to the present day. Apparently, the so-called “Wailing Wall” is the retaining wall on the west side of the foundation platform built by Solomon. When applied to the church, it illustrates how “the foundation of God standeth firm” (2Tim. 2:19, RV). If, in the founding of an assembly, New Testament principles are taught, then the assembly is less likely to founder in the days ahead. If the foundation is weak and not truly of God, then the future of an assembly is uncertain. This is applicable not only to believers collectively but also individually.
IN India a Christian would generally be understood to be one born in what is considered a Christian country, or one who belongs to a race associated with the Christian religion. To many in Great Britain the term is used to indicate one who repudiates other religious systems; and the answer given to the question, “Are you a Christian?” is sometimes “Do you think I am a heathen?” There are many, too, who believe that some form of baptism in infancy makes a person a Christian. The majority of people make no reference to the Bible, the Book on which all true Christians base their faith.
In the New Testament there are three occurrences of the name “Christian.” It first occurs in Acts 11:26. “The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.” The name was therefore not taken by the disciples themselves: it was given to them by others. The Jews who had disallowed the claims of Jesus, the Lord of those disciples, to be the Christ, the Messiah, would not give them that name. So it was probably a nickname, a term of reproach fastened on the disciples by their pagan neighbours. A Christian is a disciple, or follower, or learner, of the “Christ,” the Anointed One, and those called by that name were themselves anointed by the Spirit of God.
It was in Antioch, where the first Gentile Christian church was formed, that the disciples received that cognomen. Antioch was the capital of Syria, the third city of the Roman Empire, and boasted in the title—“Queen of the East.” The three chief cities of the Empire, in order of rank, were Rome in Europe, Alexandria in Africa, and Antioch in Asia. Antioch was a centre of commerce and culture, a cosmopolitan city, and a cesspool of commercialised vice and carnality. The temple of Zeus (the Roman god Jupiter or Jove) on the slopes of Mount Silpius overlooked the city through which flowed the River Orontes, with the shrine of the Nymphs on its banks.
The living and true God found no delight in the city’s magnificence, its temple and its shrines, but there was a company of people called “disciples,” who owned His Son as their Saviour and Lord and met regularly to worship Him and have fellowship one with the other, on which He looked with pleasure. How did that group of disciples come to love and follow the living Christ, Jesus the Son of God, in that wicked city? It happened that one day, about eight years after the ascension of Jesus into Heaven and the descent of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, a band of fugitives, scattered by persecution, arrived in Antioch and began to promulgate the glorious message God had entrusted to them. Their names are not given in the sacred record, but some of them had travelled from Cyprus, others from Cyrene, Jewish believers with a message for both Jews and Gentiles. They could not hire a building, arrange a campaign or advertise special meetings, as is done today. There were no big placards, no photographs or eulogistic reports of the preachers. There were just a few simple believers who spoke to the people and evangelised, bringing them the word of the Gospel. There was a ready response in the form of repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and a large number were converted.
Those disciples were thus GROUNDED IN THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST. A disciple is a learner: for the Greek term used for both is from the same root: and the first thing he learns is the Gospel. A new community had come into being as people of different races and diverse backgrounds shared a common allegiance to the Lord Jesus Christ, who had said in the days of His ministry on earth, “Take my yoke upon you and learn of Me.” (Matt. 11:29).
Just eight years prior to what happened in Antioch there had been a great work of grace among Jews in Jerusalem and a large Christian church had been formed. The disciples there heard of the conversion of many Gentiles in Antioch, and a brother named Barnabas went from Jerusalem at the request of the church there to give them spiritual help and instruction. The saints in the church at Jerusalem could not have chosen a more suitable man, for Barnabas was a Cypriot, as were many of the men who had evangelised in Antioch. He was “a good man,” one of two so described in the New Testament, and was “full of the Holy Spirit and of faith.” On his arrival in Antioch he discovered with joy that the disciples there had been GROWING IN THE GRACE OF GOD. True to the meaning of his name, he exhorted them to cleave to the Lord with resolution and purpose.
Barnabas too had grown in grace. He might have settled among them and claimed the monopoly of leadership in the church, as appointed to the job by the church at Jerusalem; but he recognized that the believers were but learners who needed instruction in the ways and purposes of God in Christ. They needed a teacher, so, realising his own limitations and ability to exhort and encourage, he went to Tarsus to hunt for Saul and bring him along to Antioch. The disciples then learnt much from a year of combined ministry by Barnabas and Saul. One of the things they learnt was the grace of giving. So, when days of scarcity and famine in that part of the world was bringing financial straitness and hard times to their brethren in Jerusalem; they were GENEROUS IN THEIR GIVING TO THE LORD. Their giving was spontaneous, for “they determined” of their own volition to send relief to their brethren. It was also systematic, for each gave his donation according to his ability: and it was symptomatic, for, if they proved their liberality toward brethren 300 miles away whom they had never met, it augured well for their care for their own ministering brethren who were to respond to the call of the Lord and carry the gospel to the regions beyond them. (Acts 13:1-4).
There is little doubt that, from the ministry of Barnabas and Saul, they learnt also that the Lord Jesus Christ had in ascending on high, given spiritual gifts to His church. These very gifts God raised up among them to lead in their worship when gathered together in the church, and to instruct them in divine truth. Thus they were GARNISHED WITH THE GIFTS OF CHRIST (Acts 13:1). The mutual relationship among the ministering brethren in the church at Antioch was admirable. There was no colour bar, no racial distinction, among them, for one of them was Niger, a black man. Neither was there any social barrier, for one of their number, Manaen, had been brought up in a royal palace. Nor did green-eyed jealousy show its ugly face among them, for all were filled with joy when the Lord chose two of their number for promotion to service abroad in fulfilment of Christ’s commission. Thus those Christians gave themselves to Him Who had given Himself for them, their gifts to His people who were in need, and their gifted brethren to the needy world of perishing souls. They were indeed disciples, LEARNING OF CHRIST.
Twenty years had elapsed after Paul and Barnabas left Antioch to go into all the world and preach the gospel. On three missionary journeys Paul had preached in Asia Minor, and Europe, and had returned to Jerusalem. Arrested there, he was taken, a prisoner, to Caesarea, to witness before kings and rulers. See him as he makes his defence before the last of the Herods, Agrippa, king of the Jews. The two men confront one another, Paul standing, Agrippa seated; Paul a prisoner, chained and arraigned, Agrippa, a king robed and enthroned; Paul delivered from sin’s doom and dominion, Agrippa a slave to sin’s defilement and degradation. Paul gives his testimony, preaches the gospel, and addresses the king: “King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know that you do.” Then came Agrippa’s answer in which he used the word “Christian.” He did not say, “I am almost persuaded, nearly ready to become a Christian.” That is not the meaning of his words. The Revised Version renders them, “In a short time you think to make me a Christian.” The sense is, “With a few words you are trying to make me act the Christian.” Paul the prisoner replied, “Whether in a short or a long time, whether by few words or many, I would to God that not only you but all who hear me this day might become as I am except for these chains.” “Such as I am”— what was Paul? He was a committed Christian. Since his remarkable conversion he had but one object in life, and that he summed up in writing a letter to the saints in Philippi, —“For to me to live is Christ.” A Christian is not only a person who is learning of Christ but one who is LIVING FOR CHRIST. Paul could write, “Be imitators of me even as I am of Christ.”
Could I be called a Christian if everybody knew.
My secret thoughts and feelings and everything I do?
Oh! could they see the likeness of Christ in me each day.
And could they hear Him speaking in every word I say?
Could I be called a Christian if other folk could know
That I am found in places where Jesus would not go?
Oh! could they hear His echo in every song I sing?
In eating, drinking, dressing—is Christ in everything?
Could I be called a Christian if judged by what I read,
By all my recreations, by every thought and deed?
Could I be counted Christlike as I now work and play—
Unselfish, kind, forgiving to others every day?
Suffering as a Christian is the context of Peter’s use of the word “Christian” in 1 Pet. 4:13-16. He is one who shares Christ’s sufferings and will rejoice when Christ’s glory is revealed: he is one who suffers reproach for the name of Christ and has the Spirit of glory resting on him: he is one who suffers as a Christian and in his suffering glorifies God. The Christian is willing to suffer reproach, persecution, ridicule, blows and even death because he is LOYAL TO CHRIST.
Did Peter recall his own disloyalty when, to escape reproach and suffering for the sake of Christ, he denied Him three times with oaths and curses? Yet, after the Lord’s ascension and the Holy Spirit’s descent at Pentecost, Peter, with the other apostles, rejoiced that he was counted worthy to suffer shame for His name (Acts 5:41). At conversion Paul was told that he must suffer great things for Christ’s sake. Jesus our Lord “suffered without the gate: “Therefore let us go forth unto Him without the camp, bearing His reproach.”
Outside the camp unto Thy dear name—this in Thy Word I see:
Unto that name—then I share in His shame—privileged place to be!
Feasting on Christ, His reproach to share—tempt not my soul away.
Nought can compare with the blessedness there, outside the camp to stay.
Outside the camp unto Thy dear name: Lord, may I here be found,
Weaned from the world with its pomp and its fame, resting on holy ground.
Outside the camp in Thy company till earth’s little day is o’er;
Then face to face, all Thy mercies to trace inside the veil evermore.
In the second or third century the following was written in a letter to Diognetus. The author of it is unknown.
“The Christians live, each in his native land, as though they were not really at home there. They share all the duties like citizens and suffer all the hardships like strangers. Every foreign land is for them a fatherland and every fatherland a foreign country. They dwell on earth and are citizens of Heaven. They obey the laws men make but their lives are better than the laws. Christians are scattered in every city of the world.”
What more eloquent, what more Scriptural, description of a Christian could be given than that?
Our readers will be interested to learn that our beloved Editor, Mr. A. M. S. Gooding, contemplates giving his whole time to the work of the Lord, in ministry of the Word to the Lord’s people. This decision is taken after prolonged and deep exercise before the Lord. He carries the commendation of his brethren in Kilmarnock, as well as others in Scotland, England and Ireland and across the Atlantic, where his past service has been highly appreciated by the saints. As he goes forth, we heartily commend him to the grace of our God, and pray that He may clearly lead, faithfully preserve, and richly bless His servant as he undertakes this service for the glory of God.
We know that our readers will remember our brother in their regular prayers, and they will rejoice with us, to learn that our dear brother Gooding continues, in the will of our God, to edit our little paper. May our faithful God richly bless our brother as he goes forth “for he worketh the work of the Lord, as I (Paul) also do.” 1 Cor. 16:10.
On three occasions in Mark 10, our attention is drawn to those who are found, in company with the Lord Jesus, “in the way.”
In verse 17 we are introduced to a rich man (other gospel writers inform us that he was a ruler, and a young person), who literally comes running into the scene, intent on asking the Lord a question: “Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?”
It is evident that this young man had a high opinion of himself. He thought he could do something to inherit eternal life, and when reminded of certain commandments was pleased to reply readily, “all these have I observed from my youth.” Yet he was not satisfied, in spite of his record, his position and his possessions.. How many today have proved that these things do not give the joy and peace which those denied them feel they would!
The Lord was able discreetly to pin-point the great fault in this young man’s life. “Go thy way, sell ... give ... v. 21. Alas he thought more of what he had, than what God could give him! His way therefore, was to “go away” from the One who “loved him,” and who alone could in response to faith have given eternal life. How sad indeed, even a sadness that this young man evidently felt. May we be delivered from love of place and things, which would turn us away from following the Saviour.
In verse 32 we are again “in the way.” This time the Lord is with His disciples, and they are following Him, but they are “afraid!” Why is this? They are taken up with themselves, rather than with their Lord. Instead of entering into the revelation of the sufferings, death and resurrection of which He tells them, they are concerned rather with their own position. James and John wish to be associated with Christ in glory in a prominent place, and the rest of the disciples are, it seems, involved in a similar attitude, (see v. 41). What a gracious lesson the Lord teaches them in the following verses. He alone will be pre-eminent, but only because of the service He was willingly to undertake for His Father and for them, at such tremendous cost. In the previous chapter He had taught His disciples concerning His forthcoming death and resurrection. They understood not and were disputing in that very journey which of them should be the greatest! The Lord then gave them an object lesson (the child in 9, 36). How like us, so easily taken up with ourselves or one another, instead of with Him! This contrast between the Lord’s contemplation of His sufferings, and His followers’ contemplation of their prospects of “promotion,” comes before us yet again in Luke 22, where immediately after the sharing of the bread and wine at the last supper, the Lord announces His betrayal. Which of them, they ask could stoop so low? yet in the next verse (or breath, so it seems), they are considering who will reach the highest, and be considered the greatest! Once more, the Lord reminds them of the need to serve one another, rather than to seek supremacy, for the former is that which flows from true love and that which is really the greatest!
In the final verse of our chapter we are brought again to consider one following Jesus “in the way.” Blind Bartimaus, at first ignorant of the reason for the passing multitude, on finding out the reason proved to be much less ignorant than those who enlightened him, for they referred to the Lord as “Jesus of Nazareth,” Luke 18, 37, whilst he cried out, and that persistently, “Jesus, thou Son of David!” Conscious of his own need, and the mercy and power of the Lord, he receives his sight. Jesus tells him, “Go thy way.” What way is that to be? Why, none other but to follow Jesus in the way. What joy and rapture must have filled his heart as he willingly followed the Lord. Are we like this? Are we so conscious of the Lord’s blessing and deliverance, opening our blind eyes to see Him in all His glory that “our way” is the same as “His?” What a contrast with the rich young ruler and the disciples referred to earlier! Which category of company are we associated with? Are we so taken up with things of this life as to find that our way is opposite to that of Christ? Are we so taken up with our position as to be following Jesus and yet to be fearful, because our hearts are not where they should be? Should we not rather emulate the final example, where Christ so filled the new-found vision of Bartimaus, that he was found following Jesus in the way. May we be given grace thus to follow until we, indeed, “see him as he is.”
Chapter 11. History Declared Before—and yet to be.
“I have declared the former things of old; ... suddenly I did them, and they came to pass ... Therefore have I declared it to thee of old; before it came to pass I showed it Thee; lest thou should say, Mine idol hath done them, and my graven image hath commanded them.” (Isa. 48: vv.3,5). Whether it be mighty Kings, intriguing politicians, the learned scientists, or the scheming woman, puny mankind seeks to guide and control affairs, heedless so often, that over all is the “Mighty One,” the Holy One, “He that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; ... that bringeth Princes to nothing” who says “let them ... declare unto us what shall happen; ... or show things to come ... that we may know that ye are gods,” Isa. 40:22,23 and Ch. 41:22,23. Men may predict or anticipate, but the Everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the Earth, He alone whose Word is settled in Heaven can give the details of World events and petty schemings centuries before they come to pass.
Thus Ch. 11, vv. 2-35 portrays the intrigues and jostling for power of the world empires during the three centuries or more before the “abomination that maketh desolate” was set up in the temple at the time of the Maccabees a century and a half before the Lord of glory came in humility as a lowly babe. Comparing these Scriptures written so long before the event, seeing the minute details of history unfolding a commentary on God’s previously declared revelation, we must acknowledge that he who spake in times past can certainly declare things to come, and does so for those who will hear, for our instruction and our warning. The fulfilment of the prophecy expanding ch. 8 may be compared verse by verse.
v. 2.Three Kings in Persia: and the fourth shall wax strong through his riches, he shall stir up against Greece.
The three were Ahasuerus, Artaxerxes and Darius kings of Persia or as named in history, Cambyses, Smerdis, and Darius Hystapes who immediately followed the king Cyrus who reigned when the prophecy was spoken, the immense riches of the fourth, Xerxes, enabled him to assemble an enormous army of more than 2\ million men to invade Greece in 480 B.C., but then the might of Persia had passed its peak and none of the succeeding kings for a century and a half are mentioned.
v. 3.A mighty King shall rule with great dominion, and do according to His will. His kingdom shall be broken, and shall be divided the four winds of Heaven, but not to his posterity.
This king was Alexander the Great (the notable Horn of Ch. 8:5 whose dominion stretched over Persia, Egypt and India) 335 to 323 B.C. After Alexander’s death in 323 B.C., a period of uncertainty followed until after the Battle of Ipsus 301 B.C. the kingdom was divided between four of his generals. (Ch. 8:8,9). The fourfold division of the kingdom, was seen in ch. 8, page 10.
v. 5.The king of the South shall be strong, and one of his princes; and he shall be strong above him—and his dominion shall be a great dominion. The important divisions geographically have reference to God’s centre Palestine; thus the King of the South—Egypt, and the king of the North—Syria. The terms are used continuously of successive kings. At this time, the king of the south refers to Ptolemy Soter. One of his officers in earlier years was Seleucus Nicator who after the battle of Ipsus was given control of a large dominion subsequently stretching it across the North from India to the Hellespont,
v. 6.At the end of years they shall join themselves together; and the daughter of the king of the South shall come to the king of the North to make an agreement; but she shall not retain the strength of her arm—neither shall he stand—she shall be given up.
After half a century gap, an alliance was arranged by the marriage of the Egyptian princess Berenice, (daughter of Ptolemy II) to Antiochus Theos king of the North. The agreement was that Antiochus must divorce his wife Laodice, and that any child of Berenice would be the king’s heir, “but she did not retain power” for Ptolemy II died (247 B.C.) and thereupon Antiochus recalled his former wife, Berenice and her son were poisoned, and the son of Laodice installed as heir to the throne as Seleucus II.
v. 7.But out of a shoot from her roots shall one stand up in his place which shall come unto the Army—shall enter the fortress of the king of the North—and shall prevail
The brother of the murdered Berenice, (a branch of her roots), Ptolemy Euergetes avenged her death by conquering Syria, killing Laodice, seizing the port of Antioch and then subjugating the country.
v. 8, 9.Their gods, with their molton images—their goodly vessels of silver and gold shall he carry captive into Egypt; and he shall refrain some years— the king of the North shall come into the realm of the king of the south, but he shall return to his own land.
Ptolemy then returned to Egypt with 4000 talents of gold, 40,000 talents of silver and thousands of idols and vessels for idol worship. After a truce of a few years, Seleucus made an attempt to invade Egypt, but his fleet was destroyed in a storm and his forces were routed (240 B.C.)
v. 10.His sons shall war—they shall return the war even to his fortress.
His sons Seleucus III, and later Antiochus the Great, gathered a great force and successfully “overflowed and passed through Egypt” and took the fortress of Gaza (218 B.C)
v. 11,12.The king of the South shall be moved with choler— shall fight with the king of the North—and the multitude shall be given into his hand—his heart shall be exalted— but he shall not prevail.
Stung by the defeat, in the following year Ptolemy Philopator raised a great army including mercenaries, met the large army of Antiochus and surprisingly inflicted a crushing defeat. Thousands were slain or taken prisoner at the battle of Raphia. But Ptolemy Philopator was weak and indecisive; he failed to press home his advantage, he made a truce and then reverted to his former dissolute life and therefore did not prevail.
v. 13-15.The king of the North shall return and shall set forth a multitude greater than the former ... with much substance. Also the children of the violent among Thy people shall lift themselves up—but they shall fall.
After 14 years, Antiochus assembled an even greater army, and with the king of Macedon, came against Egypt again. In the successful warfare of the king of the North many Jews joined to help them. Thus “children of the violent” or (robbers of Thy people)” A.V.) helped those who were to be used as God’s instrument in the afflictions of the Jews,
v. 16.He that cometh against him shall do according to his will—and he shall stand in the glorious land and in his hand shall be destruction.
Antiochus pressed forward until the whole of Palestine was subject to him. Though the disobedience of His people had led to their suffering, a covenant keeping God still called the land “the glorious land.”
v. 17.He shall make equitable conditions (margin) and he shall do his pleasure; and he shall give him the daughter of women to corrupt her; but she shall not stand neither be for him.
Ptolemy Philopator had died and left an infant son Ptolemy Epiphanes. To further his ambition to gain control of all Egypt, Antiochus entered into a treaty whereby his infant daughter Cleopatra was betrothed to the child king Ptolemy. Cleopatra was so young that she was still under the care of her mother and grandmother (daughter of women). Though the marriage took place shortly after, the crafty scheme failed because Cleopatra remained loyal to her young husband and refused to stand for her father,
v. 18,19.After this shall he turn his face to the isles and shall take many; but a prince shall cause the reproach to cease—he shall cause his reproach to turn upon him. Then shall he turn his face to his own land, but he shall stumble and fall.
Enraged by the failure of his scheming, Antiochus turned to other fields of conquest, taking the islands of Rhodes, Samos and others, until he stirred up the anger of the growing power of Rome and was decisely beaten at the battle of Magnesia (190 B.C.) by the Roman commander Scipio. The humiliation of Antiochus was complete, and seeking means to meet the heavy fines imposed upon him, he plundered a temple fortress and he and his men were slain. “He shall stumble and fall and not be found.”
v. 20.Then shall stand up in his place one that shall cause an exactor to pass through the glory of the Kingdom—but he shall be destroyed—not in battle.
His son Seleucus Philopator had no restless desire for conquest, but throughout his reign was forced to levy taxes to meet the demand for 1,000 talents a year imposed upon his father by the Romans. His tax collector Heliodorus, was hated by the Jews, particularly after he attempted to plunder the temple at Jerusalem. Returning to Syria Heliodorus poisoned the King Seleucus who thus died “neither in anger nor in battle (176 B.C.)”
v. 21, 22.In his place shall stand up a contemptuous person— he shall obtain the Kingdom by flatteries,—they shall be swept away before him—also the prince of the Covenant. The contemptible person Antiochus overthrowing other usurpers and ignoring the rightful heir Demetrius, a hostage in Rome, murdered Heliodorus and seized the throne, gaining the support of the neighbouring Kings, of the Syrian people and even the Romans by bribes and flattering promises, Antiochus Epiphanes “obtained the Kingdom.” Truly he was a contemptible person, avaricious and cunning and so debased as to indulge his licentious passions in public. His nephew Ptolemy Philometer king of Egypt came against him to dispute the claim to the kingdom in view of the treaty concerning his mother Cleopatra but his forces were defeated “swept away before him, even the prince of the Covenant” of v. 17.
v. 23,24.After the league made with him, he shall work deceitfully, he shall become strong with a small people. In time of security shall he come even upon the fattest places of the Province and he shall do that which his fathers have not done, nor his fathers fathers—he shall devise his devices against the strongholds even for a time.
With the utmost deceit Antiochus made a treaty with Ptolemy but whilst feigning friendship, took a small army up the Nile, insinuating and taking control over the land as far as Memphis. Thence he plundered the rich fertile provinces of lower Egypt. By his methods of guile, he successfully gained control of wider areas of Egypt than his predecessors,
v. 25, 27.He shall stir up his power and his courage against the king of the South, with a great army and the king of the South shall war with an exceeding great and mighty army; but he shall not stand for they shall devise devices against him. They that eat of his meat shall destroy him — both these kings their heart shall be to do mischief, and they shall speak lies at one table; but it shall not prosper—for the end shall be at the time appointed.
After a delay for much careful preparations, Antiochus again entered Egypt with a mighty well equipped army, but Ptolemy had also prepared and met him with an equally enormous army. After a furious battle, Ptolemy was captured because of the treachery of his captains and courtiers and the mighty Egyptian army suffered great slaughter. Continuing the pretence of friendship, Antiochus joined in the scheming to restore Ptolemy Philometor to the throne which had been given by the Egyptian people to his brother Ptolemy Physcon. But both the schemers were set on mischief to the other, and their lies and duplicity led to the failure of their plans.
v. 28.Then shall he return into his land with great substance; and his heart shall be against the holy Covenant and he shall do his pleasure and return to his own land.
Returning from Egypt with the plundered wealth of victory Antiochus heard of disturbances in Palestine. Formerly Antiochus had replaced the high priest Jason, by one of his choice Menelaus. Hearing a rumour that Antiochus was dead, the Jews led by Jason hired a large army, captured Jerusalem and trapped Menelaus. These acts raised the fury of Antiochus “against the holy covenant” so that he marched with a great army, massacred and enslaved 80,000 Jews, committed fearful atrocities including the defiling of the temple, then returned to Syria.
The baptism with the Holy Spirit is a subject often discussed by Christians today. Various theories and shades of theories circulate. It is said that the baptism with the Spirit comes later than conversion. Some say to endow the Christian with power for service. Others say to sanctify the believer, even to the point of eradicating sin from his human nature. Yet others say that speaking with tongues is the sign that the baptism has taken place. But, “What saith the scripture?” (Romans 4:3).
The baptism with the Holy Spirit is mentioned seven times in the New Testament. Four of these references are parallel passages in the gospels, so we may say that the subject is dealt with four times.
1. The Prophecy of the Baptism
John the Baptist spoke prophetically of the baptism with the Holy Spirit (Matthew 3:11-12, Mark 1:8, Luke 3:16-17, John 1:29-34). Here John confesses that although his own baptism is but an outward form performed with water; nevertheless in a coming day the Lord Jesus Christ would perform a baptism of a deeply spiritual nature with the power of God’s own Spirit, “He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost” (Matthew 3:11). The spiritual significance of this baptism is portrayed as a farmer at harvest time gathering the precious grain into his barn (v. 12). This picture is used by our Lord in his parables to portray the gathering of His people into His kingdom, such as the parable of the tares and the wheat (Matthew 13:24-43).
Let us note in passing, that the baptism with fire, mentioned in the accounts of Matthew and Luke, speaks of judgement. “But he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire” (Matthew 3:12 and Luke 3:17). The baptism with fire has nothing to do with the believer.
2. The Promise of the Baptism.
After his resurrection, but before his ascension, our Lord spoke to his disciples concerning the baptism with the Holy Spirit, “Ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.” (Acts 1:5). This scripture informs us that the baptism had not yet taken place, but was about to take place within days. Surely none will quarrel with the assumption that this took place on the day of Pentecost, even though the phrase “baptism with the Spirit” is not used in Acts chapter two, where the events of that day are recorded.
3. The Performance of the Baptism.
As Peter preached the gospel to the Gentiles in the house of Cornelius, as they believed the message, the Holy Spirit was given to them. “While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word” (Acts 10:44). When Peter related these events to the brethren at Jerusalem, he said, “As I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning. Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, ‘John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost’” (Acts 11:15-16). Here the apostle tells us that the experiences of receiving the Holy Spirit and being baptized with the Holy Spirit are one and the same. Peter also informs us that acceptance of Christ is the condition to be fulfilled to receive this experience. “Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God?” (Acts 11:17). Thus we are informed that Christians received the Holy Spirit when they initially believed in Christ and that this experience is also known as baptism with the Holy Spirit. Therefore all believers have been baptized with the Holy Spirit.
4. The Purpose of the Baptism.
“For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:13). Here our simple deduction that all believers have been baptized with the Holy Spirit is plainly stated. This fact is stated to have no exceptions, “Jews or Gentiles ... bond or free,” and so we can add, pentecostals and non-pentecostals!
Now we see the fulfilment of John the Baptist’s prophetic picture of the farmer gathering the grain into his barn at harvest time. The Holy Spirit, by his indwelling of each believer, gathers them into the body of Christ.
The Holy Spirit also imparts to Christ and his people a two-fold unity like that found in the human body. Not only is each member of our bodies united to the head, but also, as each member obeys the head, they unite with each other in harmonious movement. For the purpose of the baptism with the Spirit is that each and every believer should be brought under obedience to his living Head, “All made to drink into one Spirit.” Also that each and every believer should be united to his fellows for united action, “By one Spirit are we all baptized into one body.”
Therefore the scriptures teach the following concerning the baptism with the Holy Spirit.
Christians receive the Holy Spirit at conversion, “You also, who ... have believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit” (Ephesians 1:13, R.S.V.).
Receiving the Holy Spirit and being baptized with the Holy Spirit are one and the same experience, “The Holy Ghost fell on them ... Then remembered I the word of the Lord ... ‘Ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost’” (Acts 11:15-16).
All Christians have been baptized with the Holy Spirit “For by one Spirit are we all baptized” (1 Corinthians 12:13).
Therefore for a Christian to seek the baptism with the Holy Spirit is a pointless exercise. “And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us” (1 John 3:24).
What the Christian is to seek is to be filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18), that is to live under the control of the Spirit whom he has already received. For if a person claims to be a Christian, he is claiming to have been baptized with the Holy Spirit. Therefore everyone has the right to see the fruits of that baptism with the Holy Spirit. “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23).
A man may preach from false motives. A man may write books, and make fine speeches, and seem diligent in good works, and yet be a Judas Iscariot. But a man seldom goes into the closet and pours out his soul before God in secret, unless he is in earnest. The Lord Himself has set His stamp on prayer as the best proof of a true conversion. When He sent Ananias to Saul in Damascus, He gave him no other evidence of his change of heart than this, “Behold, he prayeth.”
Isaiah 46:4 “Even to your old age I am He; and even to hoar hairs will I carry you ... and will deliver you.”
I have seen an earthly master cast off an old, faithful servant when his hair was grey and his back was bent and his arms were withered, and his once stalwart, iron frame was worn out in service. Blessed Lord, Thou didst never cast off any old servant or old soldier of Thine. —T.G.