The Lord Jesus is greater than Isaac in heirship, (1,2); than angels in Sonship and relationship (1,4; vv. 11-14); than Adam in rulership (2, 5-9); than Moses in apostleship and stewardship (ch. 3), and now greater than Joshua in Leadership (ch. 4). Christ is the Sanctuary rest, the true Rest-Giver (Matt. 11, 28-30). He is greater than Joshua in His victory (v. 8, Josh. 23, 1), the Victorious One. Greater than David in the Sanctuary (v. 7; Ps. 95, 6-11; 132), the Gracious One. Greater than Caleb in His consistency (3, 16b), the Faithful One; and greater than Solomon in His clemency, (4, 16), the Merciful One.
The Rest of God (vv. 1-11) To save us from wandering
The Call to Rest (v. 1, 2). Exhortation to godly fear. The promise of entering the “Rest” of God remains open and this calls for faith. No earthly Canaan could exhaust the meaning of that rest. Israelites missed Canaan because they did not add faith to the promises of God (v. 2). The application is made to us in verse 2. God always works on the principle of faith. It is exemplified in the offering of Abel, the obedience of Abraham and the choice of Moses, and in each case faith was rewarded by the blessing of God.
These “Hebrews” are exhorted not to come short of it as Israel did in their day (vv. 1,11). Some of the promises are given in Exodus 23, 20-33, and they needed to be received by an obedient faith. Genuine faith is always obedient and persistent. The Rest God provided was preached unto them and unto us (v. 2).
The Character of Rest (v. 3-10). In verse 4 we have Creation rest. God rested after the work of creation was completed, this is rest typified because of a work done. In verse 3 it is Christian rest, rest realised because of faith exercised; faith is the key that opens the door. In verse 8 it is Canaan rest, rest prophesied, because of victory won. Some Israelites did enter Canaan with Joshua, but even these did not enjoy the final rest which God has prepared for those who love Him. Verse 9 is Celestial rest, this is anticipated because of the work of redemption; God rested after His work of creation (v. 4); Christ rested after His work of redemption (1,3); Rest is not cessation from work, nor inaction but the perfecting of activity. Exodus 31:17 reminds us that the Sabbath is a sign between God and the children of Israel for ever. He called Israel to share His rest in creation, by appointing the seventh day as a sign between Himself and them. Creation did not exhaust God’s rest, because He spake by Moses to Israel of a rest long after creation was finished. This description of His rest is connected with Canaan for this was His purpose for them. They failed to enter (v. 5), so God spake of another day of rest, which is deeper and more spiritual— a Sabbath rest, ceasing from one’s own works. This promise was made five hundred years after Joshua, (v. 8), had given some rest.
We enjoy today the rest of salvation of the forgiven sinner —entered in the past (Matthew 11, 28). The rest of service, of the willing servant—enjoyed in the present and the rest of satisfaction, as glorified saints—experienced in the future (Hebrews 4:9) all through the gateway of faith in God. Compare this chapter with the teaching of Leviticus chapters 23 and 25. The Sabbath day—rest from physical toil (Lev. 23:1-3); the Sabbatic week—rest in spiritual life and labour (23:10-22); the Sabbatic month—rest in spiritual worship (23:24-33); the Sabbatic seventh month—rest in spiritual frames of mind (v. 34-44); the Sabbatic seventh year—rest in spiritual freedom (Lev. 25:4-7); and the Sabbatic Jubilee— rest in spiritual hope (25:8-55).
Rest in Christ (v. 9,10). Moses led Israel to the border of the land of promise; but Joshua introduced them to the rest of Canaan. So the law led only up to Christ, it is Christ alone who leads us into the heavenly rest.
There is rest from weariness, sorrow and sin (v. 8); and rest in the completion of God’s new creation (v. 9); this rest will never end.
In that eternal rest we will worship and serve our God, but without fatigue, distress, affliction or persecution. In that day we will gladly acknowledge that our entrance in to that rest depends entirely upon the redemptive achievement of Christ. Jesus is better than Joshua since He provides a better rest than Joshua did. Joshua in his life and work is a good illustration if not a type of Christ. There are many similarities, but Christ is greater in many ways. Better because of His Distinct Sonship, diligence in service, dependance upon God, devotion to duty and displacement of all other servants. Unlike Joshua He never depended upon flesh and blood (Numbers 13); was never directed by human wisdom (Joshua 3:3,4); never dismayed by superior forces (Joshua 8,1; 7,6; 10,2); and never deceived by any enemies (Joshua 9,4) nor ever defeated in any conflict.
Thus our Lord is the introducing Christ, leading us to rest and victory. God desires from us now, for present enjoyment, an attitude of soul which will give us glorious rest of heart and produce in us loyalty of conduct and character.
Our Response to His Rest (v. 11 R.V.). Here is the application of the argument of the previous verses, “Let us give diligence” and “today.” For us God’s “today” has arrived. The works of Judaism avail nothing so we should be diligent to enjoy God’s rest provided in Christ. The spirit of disobedience that marked the people of Israel in refusing to enter the land of Canaan is a warning to us today. Unbelief leads to disaster and Israel’s attitude betrayed an indescribable hardness of heart a wilful rebellion of spirit and a strange narrowness of mind. The warning closes with a twofold reminder, first about the Word of God (v. 12), and then about God Himself (v. 13). The judicial power of the Word of God is seen here. It doomed the disobedient Israelites to exclusion from Canaan and shall exclude the unbelieving from heaven. Their disobedience was direct opposition to the Will of God.
The Word of God (v. 12-13) To save us from wilfulness
The “Word” of God is personified here, and endowed with all the attributes of God Himself, with whom it’s identified, v. 13. The identification, however, is with God, not with the Son, for there is no trace of the Personal Word or Logos here. The Word of God is a minister of death to those who reject it and of life to those who receive it (2 Corinthians 2, 15, 16). The word is living, it possesses life, power and efficiency, is actively alive, constantly active. It is active— it possesses energy, energetically efficacious; as such it is meaningful to us, applicable to our lives. It is “sharper,” it has power, it has an incisive and penetrating quality. It lays bare self-delusions, judges the unseen motives of the heart. “Piercing” means to “go through,” signifying that the Word penetrates to the inmost recesses of our spiritual being. “Dividing” piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow. The reference may be to the knife of the priest as he tested the lamb for sacrifice. “Discemer” or “critical of” gives the idea of discrimination and judgement blended together. It takes cognisance of the emotions and purposes, as well as the actions which they produce. This word sits in judgement, upon us and upon unbelief which leads to departure from God.
In view of its power it is perilous to trifle with it. The Word of God convicts (Hebrews 4, 12); it converts (Psalm 19,7); it cleanses (John 15,3); it corrects (2 Timothy 3,16); it confirms (John 8,31); it consecrates (John 17, 17) and it comforts (Psalm 119:30,54). The Word that searches, expresses and represents God Who is Omniscient and is our Judge. From Him there is nothing concealed — all things are naked in His sight. There is no covering possible, either natural or artificial, that can hide us from the eyes of God (Genesis 3:7,10,13).
Everything revealed, the word “laid open” means ‘having the throat exposed’ with the head bent back. This may be a reference to the sacrificial victim slain for the altar. Nothing escapes the notice of God, He is absolutely Omniscient. There is a day of reckoning coming, and we will have to give account to God of our life.
May we live each day in the light of “that day” and test our living by allowing the Word of God to criticise us, may we tremble at His Word. It will keep our thoughts and affections subjected to the Will of God and it will help us to appreciate the Lord Jesus, Who represents us before the Throne of God. We have a Priest there to save us from weakness.
Having considered this unassailable ground of peace; we most earnestly pray you to ponder it. If you are really anxious about your soul’s salvation, you need not lay down this paper until you possess divine certainty that you are justified, and that God is your Justifier. Blessed certainty! May you know it now, through simply believing on Him who justifieth the ungodly, and you will then be able to follow us with intelligence and comfort while we dwell, in the second place, on
GOD OUR HIDING-PLACE.
It is a remarkable fact, that so long as the sinner is at enmity with God, he is at peace with himself; at peace with the world; at peace with the devil; but the moment he is brought into full peace with God, he is at enmity with himself, with the world, and with the devil. Hence, no sooner do I know God as my Justifier than I have to cope with a host of spiritual enemies, within and around. This makes me conscious of another need; I want a hiding-place into which I may retreat at all times, nay, rather out of which I may never venture to shew myself. Now, God is this Hiding-place. “Thou art my hiding-place; thou shalt preserve me from trouble; thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance.” What a difference between the condition of the soul here and in the third and fourth verses! “When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long. For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer.” What a contrast between the “roaring” of a sin-burdened soul fearing judgement, and the “songs of deliverance” of a justified soul, hidden in God! And yet it is far better to roar in disquietude of spirit, than to cry, Peace, where there is no peace. True anxiety is vastly to be preferred to a false peace. But the believer has neither the one nor the other. His anxiety has been hushed into truthful repose by the knowledge of God as his Justifier and Hiding-place; and therefore instead of the roarings of disquietude, he can sing songs of deliverance. Blessed exchange! Instead of crying out, “Oh! the wretchedness!” he can sing aloud “Oh! the blessedness!” “Thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance.” “If God be for us, who can be against us!” “Thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” “Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place.”
These are some of the “songs of deliverance” with which a Saviour-God doth compass about His justified and hidden ones. Would that we were more filled with them! Alas! that we should be more characterised by murmurings and complainings than by songs of triumph. Surely, if we would but ponder our mercies and blessings more deeply, our songs would be more abundant. Who have such reason to be glad as those who are justified by, and perfectly hidden in, God?
But we must close this paper by a brief reference to the third point in this lovely scripture, namely,
GOD OUR GUIDE.
This we may truly say is a grand reality. Yes, and we want it as we pass along through the labyrinths of this wilderness-world, in this day of perplexity and confusion. We want a Guide and God has undertaken to fill that office for us. “I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye.” What precious grace! It is as though our God would meet us at each stage of our path and manifest Himself in the very character in which we need Him. When bowed down with guilt, and roaring in disquietude, our bones waxing old, and our moisture dried up, He shines before us as our Justifier—our Saviour-God— pardoning our transgressions and covering our sins. When surrounded by hosts of spiritual enemies, who would crush us in a moment, He opens His bosom to us, and invites us to find, in Himself, a retreat and a hiding-place from them all; so that, instead of feeling ourselves compassed with foes, we are compassed with songs. And, finally, when called to pass through scenes of confusion and perplexity, He, in infinite grace, stands before us and says, “I will guide thee.” What grace! What nearness! What intimacy!
And mark the way He guides. “I will guide thee with mine eye” This, as we know, is the most tender, delicate and affectionate description of guidance. We must be very intimate with a person and very near him, in order to be guided by the movement of his eye. It is a far more refined and exquisite sort of guidance than the movement of the hand or the sound of the voice. I must be gazing directly into a person’s face in order to catch the glance of his eye; and I must be intimately acquainted with his wishes and his ways, in order to interpret the glance and act upon it.
O that we entered more fully into all this! Would that the guidance of our Father’s eye were ever sufficient for us! Would that we could just place our hand in His, and, gazing up into His countenance, be ever guided by the movement of His eye! Then would our path be clear and safe, simple and happy. We should not, like the impetuous “horse,” or the obstinate “mule,” require the “bit and bridle” of circumstances; but through communion with His mind we should know His will. How often are we at a loss as to our path! How often are we ill at ease! And why? Because the guidance of the eye is not understood. We ask God for guidance in reference to movements which He does not want us to make, and as to paths in which He does not want us to tread. “I don’t know which way to turn,” said some one lately to a Christian friend. What was the reply? A very simple one. “Don’t turn at all.” Just so. If you don’t see your way as to moving, it is very obvious you should stand still.
May all the people of God be enabled, by His Spirit, to walk as justified ones, to abide in their Hiding-place, and follow their Guide!
It is our desire to take a look at the Tabernacle and, as guided by God the Spirit, to gather up for ourselves some of the riches of Spiritual thought that underlie the same.
We believe that a grounding in Tabernacle teaching provides a very substantial basis for a correct conception of the Assembly of the present day. The Spirit of God is able to engage, not merely our mind, but pictorially presenting to us, in picture form that, that is seen with the eye. Two senses are thereby engaged and the mental picture makes the grasping of Truth an easier task.
Before commencing to deal with the Tabernacle itself, we should like to look back a little and try to bring together some of the threads of Divine working and see how they are united together in this particular theme.
The Spiritual history of God’s ancient people did not commence with the Tabernacle, but commenced in Egypt. There, under the shelter of precious paschal blood they were delivered from the rigor of Pharaoh’s bondage and became in a night the people of the Lord, redeemed by precious blood. Here is the great truth of redemption, one moment under the bondage and slavery of Egypt, the next brought into the glorious liberty of the Sons of God. The message that Moses received from God for Pharaoh was, “Let my people go that they might serve me”: God cannot be served or worshipped in Egypt, so Egypt must be left behind. Thus, out of Egypt, through the Red Sea, into the wilderness and unto God they come; and as God had said, “You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles’ wings and brought you unto myself” (Exodus 19. 4).
The word of God gives us a look at God’s people in three different spheres, which, in the development of Divine purpose, bring us to the ultimate of God for His people. In Egypt they are under the Blood. In the wilderness they are under the Cloud, and in the land, each one is under his own vine and fig tree. From being prisoners in Egypt, they become pilgrims in the wilderness, and in the fullness of Divine purpose, become possessors in the Land—Redemption, Relationship, Reward. In Genesis there is no established economy in a collective way; it is only when we come to Exodus that the streams of Divine development begin to broaden out. All the seemingly different streamlets found in Genesis begin to run together, and to run into the widening river of Divine purpose, thus proving that what he has promised he is able also to perform. Not only has God now, a Redeemed people, but wonder of wonders, he wants to dwell in the midst of them. Thus, at this early date, we see the expectation of God from His people, seen in principle typically here, practically with the assembly of today and permanently in the Glory of eternity. “Behold the Tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people and God himself shall be with them, their God” (Revelation 21. 3). This then would bring us to our present study wherein we want to take a look at the Typical Tabernacle and gather up for ourselves, under the guidance of God the Spirit, some of the excellencies of Christ, as they are displayed for us in this typical way.
Psalm 29 says “Every whit of it uttereth His Glory,” i.e. the Glory of Jehovah. It is worth while contrasting the Glory of Psalm 19 with the Glory of Psalm 29. In Psalm 19, the heavens declare the Glory of God, Elohim, The God of Creation, and upon this Glory every creature of God, without distinction, is allowed to feast themselves upon the wonder of His Creatorial work. There is a distinct difference in the Glory of Psalm 29. There it is the Glory of Jehovah, the God of Covenant relationship, and only those in Covenant relationship with Him are permitted to behold. This typical Tabernacle is a display of the Glory and Grandeur of the Lord Jesus in the variegated excellence and the multicoloured beauty of His own person and work as it has been assimilated by His Saints, and now to be expressed by them as a Dwelling Place for God. God’s people are now in the good of a Remembrance of a Past Transaction associated with His Sufferings, and are resting in a Present Trust associated with His Sufficiency, and are rejoicing in a Prospective Triumph associated with His Supremacy.
The sweetness of our Present Enjoyment is supported by our Past Experience and sustained by our Prospective Expectation. Our love is now appreciating what our faith has appropriated, and our hope anticipates. In Exodus 24. 15-16 we have God calling to Moses out of the Cloud and saying unto him: Speak unto the Sons of Israel that they take for me an offering (a heave offering) of every man that giveth it willingly with his heart, ye shall take my offering and this is the offering ye shall take from them, Gold, Silver, Copper, Blue, Purple, Scarlet and Fine Twined Linen and Goats’ hair. Rams’ Skins dyed Red and Badgers’ Skins, and Shittim Wood, Oil for the Light, Spices for the Ointment and for the Sweet Incense, Onyx Stones to be set in the Ephod and the Breastplate, and let them make for me a Sanctuary that I might dwell in the midst of them, according to all I shew thee. The pattern of the Tabernacle and the pattern of all the instruments thereof, even so shall ye make. This is the third occasion in Exodus that God has called unto Moses in this particular way. First he called him out of the Bush (Exodus 3. 4), a Messenger on a Mission of Deliverance, then out of the Mountain (Exodus 19. 3), a Mediator with a Mandate of Demand. Now, it is out of the Cloud (Exodus 24. 15), a Master Workman with a Model of a Dwelling and the stern injunction to see that he makes it according to the pattern shewn him on the Mount.
Some idea of the wealth of Divine instruction contained in this wonderful structure might be gathered from the coverage that God gives it in His Word. Creation with all its wonder is dismissed by God with a few verses, yet, such is the Glory of the Tabernacle, that God is able to fill a number of books with its amazing detail, even down to its smallest pin, for every whit of it uttereth His Glory, the Glory of His Matchless Son.
Exodus then gives us the material of which it consists. Leviticus gives us the Ministry it contains, Numbers gives us the Movement it controls, while Hebrews gives us the Meaning it conveys. Let us look then briefly at the Material, every particle of which is an expression of Christ, not Christ personally, but as he is seen in the Saints, and it is this that God requires to make a dwelling place for Him. Those excellencies and Glories that belong to Christ, but which have been apprehended and assimilated by His people He now requires, and opportunity is now given, that from devoted hearts driven by affection, there may be yielded up to Him, those preciousnesses in the abandon of Devoting love. This offering was not to be exacted by compulsion, nor to be regulated by prescription, but was to be the outfow of appreciative hearts; hearts driven by affection and made willing to yield up gladly and gratefully the expression of their gratitude and love.
This perhaps is the idea of the heave offering and conveys the thought that after every legitimate claim has been met, from that that remains, that, that could be claimed now as one’s very own, even from that, one is prepared to gladly surrender to the claims of devoting love. This is seen in David in 1 Chronicles 29. 3, where he says, “Moreover, because I have set my affection to the House of my God, I have of mine own proper good (that, that remains) of Gold and Silver, I have given to the House of my God and above all that I prepared for the Holy House.” This then is what God is prepared to accept, that, that speaks of Christ in the material described and given to God in the manner prescribed. To be acceptable, the material and the manner must coincide, for the Lord loveth a cheerful giver. Let us look then at the injunction given “Take for me” and “Make for me” — what words of condescending Grace. The Mighty God whose Glory fills the heavens desires now to find a habitation in the midst of His Redeemed people, saved by wondrous Grace.
Leprosy in the Scriptures is a type of sin, reminding us that sin corrupts and pollutes, it is true that we received a once for all cleansing, when as sinners we accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour, but we must never forget that the danger of contracting defilement is a possibility, as we move through this world, which has become a vortex of iniquity. We need to know the daily cleansing of the laver of the Word (Psalm 119:9). Our daily salvation depends upon the regularity of our coming, unto God by Him (Heb. 7:25). The ministry of the High Priest is preventative, “to keep us from falling” (Jude 24), the work of the Advocate is restorative, “if any man sin” (1John 2:1). We associate leprosy with the sin problem, in the presentation of the Gospel, this can equally be applied to the saints, who become leprous by pursuing a path of disobedience to the revealed Will of God as made known in His Word. Lessons can be learned as we look at individuals, who, acting independently of God, were subject to the government of God, and became leprous as a mark of Divine displeasure. Surely, the record of Holy Scripture, has been preserved for our warning and instruction (1Cor. 10:11).
Miriam, the Leprosy of Evil Speaking. (Numbers 12:10).
“Were you not afraid to speak against My servant” (Numbers 12:8), this indeed is a solemn warning to any who would indulge in this practice of slandering the servants of God, or their fellow believers. Paul in Gal. 5:15 warned of the dangers which would attend such actions, “biting and devouring one another” the opposing factions in the churches of Galatia, i.e. those who supported the legalisers and the others who were on the side of the libertines, both were equally engaged in this pernicious warfare. When we think of the dear saints who have suffered insults and abuses, the victims of backbiting, as a result of which, many have turned aside, this type of behaviour is indeed shameful, and can bring nothing but reproach in its wake. Psalm 15:2 speaks of the WALK, WORKS, and WORDS of a citizen of Zion! Are we displaying them in our individual lives, as citizens of no mean city?
There were no feelings of retaliation on the part of Moses, rather the reverse, verse 13, Moses prayed for Miriam, the meekness of Moses shines through in this incident. “Now the (great man) man Moses was very meek, above all the (mean men) men which were upon the face of the earth” (Num. 12:3). Moses, character wise, had a right to be proud, speaking after the manner of men, but the reverse was true, he was very meek. How solemn to think, that his strong point, under testing became his weak point. (Num. 20:10).
Gehazi, the Leprosy of Covetousness. (2 Kings 5:27).
It was too much for Gehaz1The servant, to see his master Elisha refuse the wealth of Naaman, and he said, “I will run after him” verse 20, is this not the language of a covetous heart, a desire to acquire and possess that which is not our own. If ever there was a besetting sin afflicting the people of God, it is this sin of covetousness. What a contrast to Gehazi is Abram in Gen. 14:23 who refused the gifts of the King of Sodom, and as a result had the promise of God, (Gen. 15:1), “Fear not Abram, I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.” We find kindred truth in the letter to the Hebrews, Chapter 13:5, where the Hebrew believers are exhorted “Let your manner of life be without love of silver” (Newberry) “and be content with such things as ye have.” What had they? The bands of the wicked had robbed them, they had taken joyfully the spoiling of their goods. Yes they had lost material things, but the writer would remind them, that eternal blessings were theirs which they could never lose. “We HAVE in heaven a great High Priest” (Ch. 4:14). “Which hope we HAVE as an anchor of the soul” (Ch. 6:19). “Ye HAVE in heaven a better and an enduring substance” (Ch. 10:34). Surely the promise of the protection and presence of the Lord with us is the only anti-dote for covetousness.
Uzziah, the Leprosy of Presumption (2 Chron. 26:19).
The tragic record of a king, who moved out of his sphere, and sought to officiate as a priest, swift judgement following from the hand of God. God had reserved this dual office for One only, and that the Person of His beloved Son. Melchi-sedec was a king-priest, the Lord Jesus alone is the priest-king, Zech. 6:14 would remind us “For He shall be a priest upon His throne.” When Isaiah in Ch. 6 has the vision of the Lord high and lifted up, the Spirit of God is careful to record that “it was in the year that king Uzziah died, the earthly throne vacated but the heavenly throne filled, by One who abides for ever. The seraphim or burning ones displayed features non-existent in king Uzziah. “Each one had six wings, with twain he covered his face, (Reverence) with twain he covered his feet, (Humility) and with twain he did fly” (Obedience) four wings for worship and two for service, God must have His portion first. A true worshipper knowing the holy character of God, will never be guilty of presumption in the presence of God! Presumption is a heinous sin in the sight of God, and is to be deplored when recognised among the people of God. “Neither do I exercise myself in great matters, or in things too high for me” (Psalm 131:1).
O that this lesson was indelibly written on our hearts that we might know our allotted place and sphere and to rejoice there in for His Glory.
This is phrase only associated by many with the Holy Spirit guiding believers as to what part they may take at the Remembrance Feast on the Lord’s Day morning, in a prayer meeting, or at an ‘open conference,’ as though these were its only expression. We do well therefore to examine its occurrence in the New Testament to find out its meaning, and to learn its true application to the gatherings of the saints.
The term ‘led of the Spirit’ is used in the New Testament four times altogether—twice of the Lord (Matt. 4:1, Luke 4:1), and twice of believers (Rom. 8:14, Gal. 5:18). IN NO INSTANCE IS IT APPLIED SPECIFICALLY OR EXCLUSIVELY TO THE FUNCTIONING OF THE BELIEVER AT THE BREAKING OF BREAD MEETING Notice first the leading of the Lord Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit. Here we are on holy ground, and we must tread softly—One Person of the triune Godhead is leading Another. But we can learn much from the temptation of the Lord in the wilderness of what is implied in the believer being led by the Spirit. Note the three expressions used of the Lord’s going into the Temptation—Matthew 4:1, He was ‘led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil’; Mark 1:12, ‘the Spirit driveth Him into the wilderness’; Luke 4:1, ‘Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost... was led by the Spirit into (RV in) the wilderness’.
Matthew’s account stresses the Lord’s submission to the Holy Spirit, and co-operation with Him. Jesus was led for a special task—‘to be tempted of the devil.’ It would seem from the word Mark uses—‘driveth’—that the Lord went in the irresistible impulse of the Holy Spirit. From Luke’s account we notice that the leading goes side by side with being full of the Spirit. Note, too, that Luke says Jesus was led in (RV) the wilderness. Not only was the initial move indicated by the Spirit, but every succeeding step was directed by Him. The verb ‘led’ in Luke is in the imperfect tense—He was constantly being led. Even after the temptation the Lord returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee (Luke 4:14).
Let us apply the Lord’s example to the believer to-day. As the Holy Spirit directed the Lord to the wilderness, so does He teach the believer His will. To be assured of His leading one should be filled with the Spirit—continually seeking to walk in his control. The Spirit’s direction will be easily appreciated if one is constantly listening for it. A readiness to co-operate with the Holy Spirit is essential, even though the task be difficult, or to the flesh unpleasant. Not only will the Spirit indicate when one should commence an undertaking, but He will continue to support and direct in that task.
Consider now the other two references to the leading of the Spirit. First, that in Romans 8:14 is in the middle of a section which teaches that though those in Christ Jesus are not under condemnation, yet in them are two conflicting powers—the flesh and the Spirit. The believer lives either ‘after the flesh’ or ‘after the Spirit.’ The former is opposed to God, and submission to it cannot please God.
The believer ought not to walk after the flesh, but after the Spirit. Paul gives a three-fold reason for this. (1) Those who are after the flesh are dead as far as communion with God is concerned (v. 13). Compare also the widow in 1Timothy 5:6. (2) Those who are led by the Spirit manifest the dignity of sons of God (v. 14). The Son of God was led by the Spirit, and so may the sons of God. (3) Those who are born again have received the position of adopted sons (v. 15). The believer should rejoice in his dignity as a son, and manifest it by submission to the leading of the Spirit rather than to the dictates of the flesh.
The last reference is in Galatians 5:18. In 5:13 Paul envisages the believer as one freed from bondage—of the law in the case of the Jew (4:5), and of idolatry in the case of the Gentile (4:9). Both of these were fleshly activities. Paul was concerned lest the Galatians should be again entangled by the flesh in submitting to legal ordinances. If they walked by the Spirit they would overcome the tendency to fleshly desires, for the flesh and Spirit are irreconcilable opposites in their lives. Walking by the Spirit means that the whole round of the Christian’s activities is directed by the Holy Spirit. One who willingly submits to being led by the Spirit is controlled by a different power from that of obedience to the law. A picture of this is seen in the life of Rebecca. When she placed herself under the control of Abraham’s servant for the wilderness journey she was no longer under the compulsion of the law, either of her family, or her city (Genesis 24:10).
Thus the leading of the Spirit takes us out of the realm either of fleshly desires, or legal impositions. We must dispense with these. Instead of engaging in the works of the flesh we should display the fruit of the Spirit. Paul sums up in a practical way in 5:25-26. Seeing that we have life through the Spirit we ought to keep step with the Spirit, and so with each other. This will prevent self-seeking, or envying others.
When His guidance is sought the Holy Spirit leads in every department of our lives. The Lord who told Peter where to find fish (John 21:6) still enables His children to make business decisions. The Spirit guides in family matters (Genesis 24:40) He advances in secular life those who put God’s kingdom first (Daniel 6:28); He gives directions in church matters (Acts 13:2).
The question will now be asked, How can the leading of the Spirit be known? Paul deals with this in 1 Corinthians 2:9-16. It is spiritually discerned—a faculty that comes with conversion. It is comprehended by faith. He who unreservedly casts himself on the Holy Spirit for His leading will ultimately recognise that he has been so led. Note the testimony of Abraham’s servant, ‘I being in the way, the Lord led me’ (Genesis 24:27). It can be asserted after the event has taken place, even if not fully appreciated during the process of the leading.
THIS GUIDANCE IS NEVER AT VARIANCE WITH THE WORD OF GOD, FOR THE HOLY SPIRIT WILL NOT CONTRADICT HIMSELF. He speaks through the Word (Hebrews 3:7), and leads in accordance with what is written therein. For example, the Holy Spirit will not lead a believer into an unequal yoke with an unbeliever, in view of 2 Cor. 6:14. A mind stored with the Word of God will know how the Spirit is likely to lead, and will be quick to discern His guidance.
In Acts 16:6-10 divine guidance is illustrated. Note the expressions —‘were forbidden of the Holy Ghost’ (v. 6); ‘the Spirit suffered them not’ (v. 7); ‘they came down to Troas’ (v. 8); ‘a vision appeared to Paul’ (v. 9). How they came to know God’s call is indicated in the words ‘assuredly gathering,’ lit., joining things together (v. 10). Thus the concourse of circumstances often points to the Spirit's leading.
What must one do to expect the leading of the Spirit? It is given in response to prayer, as David requested, ‘Let Thy good Spirit lead me’ (Psalm 143:10, RVm.). The Lord said that the Father would give ‘the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him’ (Luke 11:13). This is explained by comparing it with the parallel passage in Matthew 7:11, where Matthew uses the words, ‘good things’ instead of ‘the Holy Spirit.’ The gift of Luke 11:13 is the ‘good things that pertain to the Holy Spirit—His guidance and His instruction.
Again, those will be guided who are filled wth the Spirit, and live in the conscious enjoyment of His presence. As the Spirit is opposed to the flesh, the believer cannot expect to be led by the Holy Spirit if he is controlled by the lusts of the flesh. These must be avoided. The flesh—the old sinful, selfish nature in us—has been crucified at conversion, and must constantly be reckoned so. The desires to which natural appetites impel us must be subdued.
Appreciation of Christ should be our constant occupation. He is the source of all that we need in this scene below and will be the object of our praise and adoration in a day to come. The Father found delight in Him, in Him “whose delights were with the sons of men” (Proverbs 8:31). If, as His people, we desire to find delight and pleasure in our adorable Saviour, then our best course of action is to live near to Him. For they who live nearest to Him see most beauties in Him.
Luke’s gospel would point this fact out to us. Luke tells
us of four people who had the inestimable privilege of sitting at the feet of the Lord in appreciation.
THE WOMAN WHO WAS A SINNER (Luke 7:36-50)
This narrative possesses all the lessons for us to copy if we also would appreciate the Saviour. She heard He was in the house of the Pharisee and she brought an “alabaster box of ointment” no doubt costly and sacrificial. Determined that she was going to anoint His feet. His personality must have touched her heart for she began to weep and with those tears she washed His feet, then kissed them, then anointed them with the ointment. The most memorable day in her history—the day her sins were forgiven—the day her faith saved her. The Lord reproved the Pharisee for not providing the common courtesies and thereby no doubt missed the Lord’s blessing. Our appreciation of the Saviour will teach us that we must appreciate one another, that we “ought to esteem other better than ourselves” (Phil. 2:3), that we should have due regard to uphold the common courtesies of Christian living, and no doubt such practices will lead to greater love for the people of God. How have we fared since that day when our sins were forgiven? Is He still to us the Incomparable Christ? Is He still head and shoulders above the rest? Is He still the real “I am?”.
THE MAN WHO WAS DEMON POSSESSED (Luke 8:26-36)
The people who witnessed this miracle were ready to tell others about it (v. 36). They saw the wonderful change in the man. That “Change” that took place in our lives should always be in evidence. This was always the case with the Apostle Paul and his conclusion on this particular point was the advice he gave to the Corinthian believers (2 Cor. 4:10) “Always bear about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.” When the Lord rid the demon possessed man, he was found sitting at the feet of Jesus clothed and in his right mind” (v. 35). Surely, the spiritual lesson here for the saints is this. When we are in our “Right Minds” is when we cultivate the “Mind of Christ” (Phil. 2:5). Lowliness, Self-Abasement, Humility. These qualities characterized the Lord. Should not we emulate Him. They marked the writer to the
Phillipians. The only follower of the Lord who dared to say “be ye followers of me even as I also am of Christ” (1Cor. 11:1). Since we trusted our Saviour for Salvation every one of us can testify to the “Lines,” the “Pleasant Places,” the “Goodly Heritage” of Psalm 16:6. We owe it all to Him. May our appreciation of Him grow daily. May we never allow it to become “dim” through worldly pursuits. An impoverished soul is an unhappy one. Meditation of Him will be sweet.
MARY.... AND THAT GOOD PART (Luke 10:38-42)
Mary was found sitting at the feet of the Lord listening and learning. Her sister was “cumbered with much serving.” The Lord did not condemn her for that, but pointed out to Martha that Mary had chosen that “good part” “which shall not be taken away from her.” The inference is obvious. Sitting at the Saviour’s feet should be for us a daily exercise and experience. This is the place of safety and enjoyment. How easy it is to become tied to all kinds of good work. Works of mercy, activities perhaps with secular societies, with the moral welfare of man at heart, but nothing can compare with that ‘good part.’ We must set aside time each day to engage our hearts with that One who said: “Take my yoke upon you and learn of ME for I am meek and lowly in heart and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” “For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matt. 11:29-30). Most of us deprecate and deplore the low spiritual state which has overtaken the people of God, but here is the way to recovery —developing a greater appreciation of the One who has blessed us beyond estimation.
THE CLEANSED LEPER(Luke 17:11-19)
Ten lepers cried for mercy (v. 13). On their way to the priest they were healed, but only one returned to give God thanks. With “a loud voice he glorified God and fell down on his face at the feet of Jesus.” No appreciation on the part of the nine—only one gave thanks. The charge of human failure could be attributed to the nine. But can that charge be levelled at the saints? Have we forgotten that “in Him we live, move and have our being?” (Acts 17:28). “What hast thou that thou didst not receive?... why dost thou glory as if thou didst not receive it?” (1Cor. 4:17).
Beloved brethren, let us see to it that our appreciation of our Lord and Saviour never wanes but increases, so much so that traits of His character can be readily recognised in us. May the Lord satisfy our hearts so that we can constantly exult in Him enabling Him to become nearer and dearer to us. You will observe that these four people were all found at the ‘Feet of Jesus’ teaching us that humility is the ground of our appreciation. May we ever keep humble and say like John (Ch. 3:30) “He must increase and I must decrease.”
The Ark of the Covenant, the only piece of furniture taken from the Tabernacle into the Temple, was placed by the priests in the Holy of Holies and put under the outstretched wings of the two large cherubim which covered it. The priests drew out the staves from the Ark, placing them behind the Ark (2Chronicles 5:7-9, 1Kings 8:6-8). The Ark is described in Exodus 25:10-22, and of course, not in Kings or Chronicles.
By bringing the Ark, which was of timber overlaid with “pure gold,” into the Temple, it meant the introduction of “shittim wood,” a wood of the wilderness whilst only wood of the Land had been used in the temple and for its furniture. The shittah tree grows in seasonally dried up river beds of the wilderness, and so it is not a majestic tree like a cedar but stunted in growth with its roots protruding above ground. Apparently, an allusion to the shittah tree is in Isaiah 53:2, where we read that the Servant of Jehovah “shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, and a root out of dry ground; He hath no form nor comeliness...” Therefore, the shittah tree and its timber, shittim wood, depict the great stoop from Godhood to the lowest rank of Manhood even that of a slave, which the Lord Jesus became (Phil. 2:6-8).
Although unattractive, the shittah tree produces a fine grain wood, hard and durable, which may be the reason for “shittim wood” in Exodus 25 and onwards being rendered “incorruptible wood” in the Septuagint Version, and it directs us to the sinless Manhood of the Lord Jesus.
The Ark of the Covenant is one of the most perfect types of the Person of Christ. The “shittim wood” speaks of His Manhood in humiliation and such wood signifies that, for His incarnation, the Son of God “was made in the likeness of men” and “in the likeness of sinful flesh” but sin apart (Phil. 2:7, Rom. 8:3). The “pure gold” is a symbol of His Deity. In the Person of Christ, “God was manifest in the flesh” (1Tim. 3:16). He was perfect God and perfect Man, and not partly divine and partly human. How God could become Man, and in His Manhood never cease to be God, and yet be one undivided Person, is beyond human comprehension, but it is the truth of Scripture. With the Ark in the temple, the “shittim wood” and the “pure gold,” symbols of His humanity and Deity respectively, are a constant reminder that God in Christ has identified Himself with us by way of incarnation, and yet remaining untainted by sin.
The Mercy Seat, which rested on the ark as a lid, was of “pure gold” (Exodus 25:17), and it was sprinkled with the blood of the sin offering by the high priest once a year (Lev. 16:14). Such a ritual under the Law prefigured how the claims of God’s righteousness have been met by the atoning death of Christ, and so the blood stained mercy seat becomes a place of mercy.
When placed in the Temple, there was nothing in the Ark except the two stone tablets inscribed with the ten commandments by the finger of God and put there by Moses at Horeb (1Kings 8:9, 2Chron. 5:10). The law, which was God-given, demands obedience of which the Scriptures speak three times concerning Christ. As Man, He was obedient unto righteousness whereby many are made righteous (Rom. 5:19). As a Son, He learned obedience in yielding to His Father’s will (Heb. 5:8). As a Servant, He humbled Himself and became obedient unto the death of the cross (Phil. 2:8). His path of obedience led ultimately to His exaltation.
Christ is now Lord and our submission to His Lordship requires obedience from us. Initially, it means “obedience to the faith” like that of a great company of priests in the early church (Rom. 1:5, Acts 6:7), and subsequently “bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2Cor. 10:5).
To the Old Testament saints, the mercy seat was the throne of God and the ark His footstool, for they beheld the Lord, symbolized by the Shekinah glory, sitting upon the mercy seat between the cherubim and reigning whilst they worshipped before the ark, His footstool (1Chron. 28:2, Psa. 99:1, 5). The writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews may have had such scriptures in mind when he says, “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in the time of need” (4:16).
The Lord is good unto them that wait for Him, to the soul that seeketh Him. (Lamentations 3:25). The Psalmist’s soul longings are expressed in (Psalm 27:8) When THOU saidst “Seek ye My face, my heart said unto THEE, THY face LORD will I seek”
We have a beautiful glimpse of a seeking soul in the 3rd Chapter of the Song of Solomon, verse 1,2, 3,4. Four times in these verses the spouse speaks of “Him Whom her soul loveth.” A fervent love, out of a yearning heart seeking after her Beloved is very lovely to behold. “I sought Him and found Him not” in the streets, and in the broadways she sought “Him Whom her soul loveth” and her cry is the language of a seeking soul in earnest, (verses 2, 3). It was Himself the Lover of her soul that she was seeking, no one, but her Beloved could satisfy her deep longings. No one could take His place!
So the LORD JESUS Himself is the object and centre of the heart’s affection. LORD JESUS! THOU art enough, the mind and heart to fill. “I have found Him Whom my soul loveth” (verse 4). Truly the LORD JESUS is the fountain of all joy to the soul that findeth Him, “he that seeketh findeth”
We have a precious reminder of the LORD’S gracious dealing with those first disciples in John’s Gospel (Chapter 1). When John the Baptist pointed them to the Lamb of God, and when they heard they followed Him. And the LORD saw them following, and said unto them “What seek ye” and they said unto Him “Where dwellest THOU?” And He said “Come and see” (verse 39). And what a blessed result through one of the seekers Andrew—“He findeth his own brother Simon and said “We have found the Messiah which is being interpreted the CHRIST (the Anointed) “And he brought him to JESUS ” (vs 41,42).
Another lovely scene in John’s Gospel chapter 20 is that of another seeking soul Mary Magdalene. Last at the Cross she was also first at the tomb seeking the One Whom her soul loveth. He was still precious to her heart! The Risen LORD Himself spoke to her “Whom seekest thou?” (v. 15).
She heard Him call her by name—“Mary,” and found Him Who was everything to her. The Lord knew her longing heart and she craved to be near to Him but it was expedient that “He must ascend unto His father” and He gently said “Touch me not for I am not yet ascended to My Father, but go to my brethren and say unto them, I ascend unto My Father and your Father and to My God and your God” (John 20:17). The ascension pointed her to a greater nearness to Himself by the coming of the Holy Spirit (John 14:16-17).