THE LEADING OF THE SPIRIT
by Dr. J. Boyd
PAUL AND JEREMIAH
by J. C. R. Tambling
CHRIST IN THE HEBREWS
by J. B. Hewitt
by John Cowan
by J. G. Good
STUDIES IN SOLOMON’S TEMPLE
by J. B. D. Page
NEW TESTAMENT PRIESTHOOD
by E. Robinson
by DR. JOHN BOYD (Concluded)
Let us now consider a particular leading of the Spirit— that pertaining to the Breaking of Bread meeting. Here we do well to enquire whether or not it is scriptural for several to take audible part at this gathering, necessitating the direction of the Spirit. Our knowledge of the functioning of a Remembrance Feast is confirmed in Scripture to two portions, Acts 20:7-12, and 1 Corinthians 11-14.
In Acts 20 Paul appears to have been the sole speaker. This was, however, a special occasion, when the company desired to obtain the maximum benefit from the Apostle’s visit. The Holy Spirit was using one with an outstanding gift—who could edify the church, and glorify God. The circumstances guided them as to the Spirit’s leading—that Paul should have the monopoly on this occasion.
Chapters 11-14 of 1 Corinthians are concerned with the normal functioning of the Lord’s Supper, and are left for our present-day instruction. The frequent use of the expression, ‘when ye come together’ in chs. 11 and 14, indicate that both chapters refer to the same meeting. Thus, at the Lord’s Supper in Paul’s day there was an opportunity for thanksgiving (14:16), singing, ministry, prophetic revelations, speaking in tongues and their interpretations (14:26). The exercise of these gifts was engaged in by several brethren (14:29). All gifts were not resident in one person (12:11).
Now the question arises, How does a brother know when to take part? How does he avoid confusion? Whilst there is no mention of the Holy Spirit in ch. 14 it is reasonable to suppose that He who had led the believers during the week, would not desert them at the Lord’s Supper. The Spirit leads in the gatherings of the saints precisely as He does in everyday living. His guidance is not a supernatural prompting; not an emotional crisis; not a sudden impulse. It comes not through feelings, but out of an intelligent assessment of what is suitable for the occasion; it is an exercise of the understanding (1 Corinthians 14:15); it is the consequence of coming to the meeting with a full basket—a mind stored with God’s Word, a heart filled with God’s worship. The Holy Spirit prepares the heart and mind before the meeting. He may or may not provide the opportunity at the meeting to use what He has given. The leading of the Spirit will indicate the opportunity when it presents itself.
Praying, singing, thanksgiving and speaking are all functions of the believer’s spirit. This is under the control of the man himself (1 Corinthians 14:32); it is the sphere of the Spirit’s operations (Romans 8:16).
How the Holy Spirit controls the spirits of the saints in these exercises is seen in 1 Corinthians 14, where several principles are given as to when one should take part. (1) His exercise should be for God’s glory (v. 25). (2) He should seek the profit of all — to their edification (vv. 26,31). (3) Several should take part (v. 29). (4) There should be waiting for one another—‘one by one’ (v.31); no undue haste; no unseemly rushing (1 Corinthians 11:33). (5) There should be nothing done that would lead to strife or confusion, but rather that which harmoniously fits in with what has already gone (v. 33). (6) A brother who, after commencing, realises that he is not being helped by the Spirit, should quietly take his seat again, that another whom the Spirit is guiding may find room (v. 30). (7) Each one must be activated by love—love that desires to profit others (13:1); love that does not envy another (13:4); love that seeks not the self-aggrandisement of the speaker (13:5).
The Spirit’s guidance at the Breaking of Bread meeting will be more readily appreciated if the believer has been consciously led by Him throughout the week; if he has not been walking after the flesh. How is the Saturday evening spent? If one is not then walking by the Spirit he cannot expect His leading on the Lord’s Day. Hatred, wrath, strife and envying amongst brethren are works of the flesh, and prevent the discernment of the Spirit’s leading. Such a brother would do well to obey the Lord’s injunction in Matt. 5:24. A conscious dependence on the Holy Spirit is essential, recognising one’s own unworthiness and inability. One wanting to take part must learn to distinguish between the leading of the Spirit and the promptings of the flesh. His own glory must not be considered—not what credit he can get out of what part he takes. Nor must he be bound by tradition, ‘We have always done this,’ ‘This is the best way to do it.’ Circumstances will often guide the believer as to what part, if any, the Holy Spirit would have him take.
Thus does the Spirit lead in the assemblies of God’s people. We should ever seek to walk by the Spirit, to be so led by Him in the secular life that church life will be but a continuance of that control. Thus in all things God will be glorified.
by J. C. R. TAMBLING
If Isaiah gives us in full measure the salvation of God, Jeremiah gives us an insight into the character of the man of God. Romans has a similar function, in relation to Christianity, to that of Isaiah: it establishes us in the Gospel, prior to our being taken on to the “mystery” of the Church. The Corinthian letters, following, give, very fully, an account of what the man of God, in the present dispensation, is like: hence these letters answer to Jeremiah. We find that Paul often seems to have Jeremiah in mind: he quotes the same passage from the prophecy in both letters.
The passage in Jeremiah runs thus :
- “Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches, but let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth, and knoweth Me, that I am the Lord, which exercise lovingkindness, judgement and righteousness in the earth, for in these things I delight, saith the Lord” (Jeremiah 9:23, 24).
We are grateful to see that the first quality He exercises is lovingkindness: He is always the same in that! Paul uses the verses, firstly in 1Corinthians 1:21, and there the verses seem to be in his mind from at least v. 26 of the chapter. We get there the wise, the mighty and the noble, (Jeremiah’s “the rich”), all these God has set aside to bring in Christ, the Wisdom of God, made to believers all that we need, so we are taken out of ourselves to recognise, in v. 30, the glorious fulness of Christ, made unto us wisdom — even righteousness, sanctification and redemption — wisdom including these other things: such I believe to be the thought of the verse. Then again, he uses Jeremiah in the second letter (ch. 10:17), this time in a very different content. Whereas in the first letter, Paul quotes to show that natural gifts and qualities are irrelevant in comparison with the gain of knowing the Lord, in the second letter, with his apostle-ship challenged, he is indicating to us that God confers spiritual gifts—spiritual wisdom (compare 10:5), might (see 10:10) and riches (see 10:15), and that these may be a great blessing, as in the hands of Paul, but they are not to be the ground of boasting. Rather, it is the God Who is the source of all these blessings Who is to be the One delighted in.
And how these things work out in the experience of Jeremiah! In his case, as in Paul’s, he lived to see everything taken away from him, so that he was left only with the Lord. “Thou Lord, remainest for ever,” are some of his last recorded words (Lamentations 5:19).
The dual use of Jeremiah’s words in Corinthians suggests a line of inquiry, in trying to compare the lives of these two men of God. First and Second Corinthians tell us much about Paul, but we will not restrict ourselves to any one letter. We will trace some of the correspondences via Jeremiah’s prophecy; suggesting references for further study.
- “Before I formed thee in the womb I knew thee”—v. 5.
- “Separated me from my mother’s womb” — Gal. 1:15.
Prophet to the nations—v. 5. Note, especially comparing 25:17,18, that Judah is regarded as but one of the nations, it being set aside as God’s people. Paul’s first miracle—the blinding of Elymas, in Acts 13, is prophetic of the setting aside of Israel “for a season”—Acts 13:11. With Jeremiah as the prophet to the nations, compare Paul as the “apostle to the Gentiles.” Rom. 11:13. Both were called to act for God in a sphere which would need them both to enlarge their hearts.
- Jeremiah—hated by the Jews, v. 19.
- Paul—“perils by mine own race”—2 Cor. 11:26.
We can contrast the way that God lays a warning on Jeremiah in v. 17 with the way in which He deals with us now in a dispensation of grace.
Note here Jeremiah’s death being plotted at Anathoth, (vvs. 19-23). Anathoth was the place where his parents came from, and the place where his portion was. Similarly, Paul seems to have had the loss of all things connected with home —“for Whom I have suffered the loss of all things.” (Philippians 3:8).
- Prophesying with tears—v. 7.
- First Corinthians was written “with many tears,” (2 Cor. 2:4).
Jeremiah has been interceding for the people in 14:18-22; he gets his answer here in v. 1. He had already been told not to pray for them, 14:11, but his love for them was greater than could be contained.
Paul—“I could wish myself accursed”—Romans 9:1—the Apostle’s language as he thinks of the Jews’ refusal to take the Gospel. His heart’s desire and prayer unto God was that they might be saved.
v. 16—note “the weeping prophet’s” joy, and its source. Paul — “as sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing” (2 Cor. 6:10).
Jeremiah is here seen as the unmarried prophet. Not taking a wife was part of his service for the Lord. With Paul, he might say, “have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife,” (1 Corinthians 9:5), but his exercise in the Lord’s work meant that he did not.
- “The sin of Judah is written with a pen of iron, and with the point of a diamond: it is graven on the tables of their hearts ...” —v. 1.
- “Ye are manifestly declared to be an epistle (not epistles) of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tables of stone, but on fleshly tables of the heart.”—(2 Corinthians 3:3).
Compare with this Jeremiah 31:33 (and see below), and note the contrast between the ministry of the prophet in days of law, and the new covenant ministry of Paul: to be the Spirit’s script-writer in inscribing some impression of Christ on the renewed — heart-of-flesh, not heart-of-stone — heart. “That which came out of my lips was right before Thee” —v. 16 “We labour, that whether present or absent, we may be well-pleasing unto Him.” (2 Corinthians 5:9, R.V.). Chapters 18, 19.
Israel as clay in the potter’s hand—18:6, to be destroyed, 19:11. Paul — “Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another to dishonour?” (Romans 9:21). Israel is pictured in that chapter as “vessels of wrath, fitted to destruction.”
- Put in the stocks;
- Paul is put in the stocks, (Acts 16:24)
- Note Jeremiah’s extreme depression, v. 7.
- Compare Paul’s depression—e.g. (2 Cor. 2:12,13, 7:5).
- “The Lord our Righteousness” — v. 6.
- “Christ is made unto us wisdom from God, even righteousness ...” (1 Corinthians 1:30)
“I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran” — v. 21. “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:13) Chapter 26.
Compare Jeremiah’s experience in the house of the Lord from v. 8 onwards with Acts 21:27 to end.
Chapters 28, 29.
Here we find Jeremiah opposed by false prophets, Hananiahm and Shemaiah. In Paul’s case, he was opposed by Elymas, (Acts 13:8), or “a certain orator called Tertullus,” (Acts 24:1; see also 2 Corinthians 11:13).
In 29:26, Jeremiah is called mad. Compare Acts 26:24, and 2 Corinthians 5:13. “For whether we be beside ourselves, it is unto God.” An identical accusation was made about the Lord, (Mark 3:21).
In the period of the “times of the Gentiles” — the period beginning with Nebuchadnezzar’s complete control of Jerusalem—Jeremiah 25, and Daniel 2 give us the beginning of it all—Jeremiah bids the remnant who have gone to Babylon to pray for the peace of Babylon “for in the peace thereof ye shall have peace” (ch. 29:7). Identical instructions are given by Paul (in 1 Timothy 2:1-4), that we should pray for all kings, and for all in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life, in all godliness and honesty. The spiritual course of action is not to be seen in the voting booth, or in political involvement: it is simply to pray for the powers that be; however opposed to the people of God they may appear to be. Paul could hardly have expected Nero to give him any help, but he exhorts that prayers be made on his behalf.
Compare the way that the Lord comforts Jeremiah, v. 26, with the “comfort of God” that Paul received (2 Corinthians 1:3,4, 7:6).
From v. 31 onwards, Jeremiah announces the new covenant to be made with Judah and with Israel.
“God ... hath made us able ministers of a new covenant, not of letter, but of spirit,” (2 Corinthians 3:6). Paul is seen in Second Corinthians as a competent new covenant minister, but he is dealing with the spirit of the new covenant, not ministering the literal truth of it, which clearly has to do with Israel in the future. The spirit of the covenant is that God is giving to His people—see the “I will”s of Jeremiah 31—not demanding from them, as He was in the old covenant of Exodus 24. What God is doing for His own is the glorious theme of the first seven chapters of 2 Corinthians. Our hearts are being written on, (3:3), so that the local assembly in which we meet is constituted an epistle of Christ. We all—again note this is for all the assembly,—are being changed, (3:18). Then, too, God has shone in our hearts, (4:6). What has He shone in? Paul calls it “this treasure” in the next verse. We would probably find it difficult to define what that “treasure” was, as we would find it difficult to define what is “the unspeakable free gift” of ch. 9:15. Enough to say that we are in the realm of God’s unspeakable gift—that we have God FOR us! The truth of these things, Paul, as a new covenant minister, gives us.
Chapters 36, 37, 38.
Here, as elsewhere, we see Jeremiah in prison. Compare “in prisons more frequent,” (2 Corinthians 11:23).
In 38:13, we see the prophet taken up out of the prison and the mire by cords. In 2 Corinthians 11:33, Paul tells us how he was let down out of a window by a basket. Truly, neither servant could stand on his dignity! But the flesh, its comfort, and pride, has to be mortified. And the man who was let down, tells us, in his next chapter, how he was “caught up” —the glorious answer to suffering, as it will be for each of us in a coming day! (1 Thessalonians 4:17).
Jeremiah is taken to Egypt, and dies there, out of the land of promise. The great Apostle ends his days in Rome. What inglorious deaths! And yet what destinies these men wielded! One is set over nations, to root out and to pull down, to build and to plant: kingdoms thus entrusted to him. The other pronounces the final word over Israel’s being set aside, in the purposes of God, (Acts 28:25-28), and brings in something more glorious, the Church, the truth of which he ministers (Colossians 1:25, 26), the vessel that God has designed to display His glory throughout eternity. Jewish tradition, of uncertain reliability, says that Jeremiah was stoned to death. Compare Hebrews 11:37. Paul says, “Once I was stoned,” (2 Corinthians 11:25).
Giants in their times in the things that they did for God— yet the point is that they were men of God, and these things were written for our learning. They could not have been what they were if they had not had a secret history with God. And of that we learn, as we compare their ministries.
by J. B. HEWITT, Chesterfield
“The Inaugurating Christ” Chapters 4:14—5:10
This portion introduces us to the main part of the great theme of the book. Chapters 5, 6 and 7 bring before us the supremacy of the true Priest Himself. Chapter 8 the sphere and ministry of the Priest as the Mediator of a better covenant. Chapters 9 and 10, the sufficiency of His Work in dealing with sin and opening the way into the holiest of all.
The word “High Priest” does not occur in any other Epistle “High Priest” and “Great High Priest” are referred to seventeen times in Hebrews. “Priest” and “priests” ten times; “Priesthood,” five times. The subject of Priesthood introduced in ch. 2. 17,18 is developed in ch. 4:14—5:10. Here it is compared with Aaron’s; in chapter 7 it is contrasted by being likened to Melchisedek’s. Jesus is presented as being a merciful and faithful “High Priest” (2:17). His faithfulness is discussed in 3:1-6. Here he deals with His gracious and sympathetic nature (4:14-16). In ch. 5:1-4 we see the general qualifications of priesthood and how Christ excellently satisfies these qualifications (5:5-10).
The Encouragement of His Priesthood 4.14-16 Its Comfort
The subjects “Jesus” and “Son of God” are now combined in this section. Our Lord is called “great” telling us of His dignity. He is great personally and officially. Great because of His divine nature (1:1-2, 3:6). He is the great resource of His needy people in the wilderness, He is able to keep us from falling. Being a person of high distinction and power, He eclipses Aaron and that order of priesthood. “High”—authority pre-eminent in His office, not a subordinate. Israel had many high priests, but none was ever called “Great.”
“Priest” tells us of sympathy, of One who cares, comforts and welcomes all who approach Him. He is perfectly able and perfectly willing to intercede for us. “Passed through the heavens,” tells of victory and refers to His exaltation (1:3; 2:9). Thus His ministry excels the Aaronic for it takes place not in an earthly tabernacle but in the very Presence of God. It infers that all earthly priesthood and ceremony are abandoned by God, set aside for ever. These heavens were the Veil which our High Priest “passed through” into the heaven of heavens, the immediate Presence of God.
“Jesus”—His nearness, oneness, and sympathy with us because of His humanity and His earthly history (2:9). Jesus did not come out of the race of men, He came into it; God prepared for Him a body (2:16; 10:7).
“Son of God”—His Diety and sufficiency. He has absolute power and overthrew satan and demons who attempted to impede His progress to the Throne of God (ch. 2:14, Col. 2:15). The bringing together of the human and divine natures was to encourage the readers to “hold fast” their confession. He has ability “touched” because He suffered like us, and also suffers when we suffer. Had He never become incarnate, He might have pitied us, but He could not have sympathised with His people. The double negative is equal to a strong affirmation, it is impossible for Him not to sympathise. Not only feeling FOR US, but feeling WITH US.
“Infirmities,” do not necessarily refer to sin here, nor are they limited to sufferings, they cover all the frailties of human nature. The Lord not only came out of all His trials sinless; in Him sin did not exist. He came through all His temptations victorious (12:2). His sinless nature contained nothing that responded to temptation, as does ours (John 14:30). We have two things to help us: (1) consciousness of possession—“having” present participle indicates that He exists and acts at Priest continuously without intermission. Our worship is now carried on in the heavenly sanctuary alone. (Heb 10.19; Phil. 3.3). (2) Contact with the Throne “draw near.” Keep on drawing near. Mercy for justification. Grace for sanctification. The mercy available to man and obtainable from the Throne of grace is ministered by the High Priest.
Coming with confidence and freedom of speech. Today there is no separating vail — no isolating distance — no thunder and fire. We enjoy nearness, intimacy and abundance of grace and mercy through Christ. Our approach should become a daily spiritual exercise. The message for our conscience, “hold fast.” Keep clinging to it and never give it up. A word for the heart, “Come right up,” He understands and undertakes.
The Excellency of His Priesthood 5.1-10 His Credentials
From the Supremacy of Christ as Priest, (4.14-16), we turn to His Suitability for the Priesthood (5:1-4) and His Sufficiency as Priest (v. 5-10).
The Qualifications of a True Priest, v. 1-4
The opening word “for” is almost equivalent to “now,” giving an additional fact and demonstrating that whatever was essential to the office of a high priest is found in Christ. He had all the characteristics and qualifications of a High Priest, but had none of the imperfections of the Aaronic order. The essentials of priesthood are fellowship with man, sympathy with infirmity and appointment from God.
Ordination, v. 1. He must resemble man and be human. He must reveal God and be holy. This chapter is wholly given to interpreting the purpose and principles of the sacred office. Selected from among men, — no stranger to those whom He represents. Serves on behalf of men, in their relations with God.
Compassion v. 2. Individual of wide sympathy and compassion, moderate in his feelings. Neither too severe nor too lenient because he knows what weakness is. But this measured mildness cannot be compared with the unlimited sympathy which the sinless Son of God feels for those who have wandered from the way (4:15).
Representation, v. 3. Verse 2 is the priest manward— sympathy; verse 3 is Godward, acting for the people, especially on the Day of Atonement when he identified himself with the people and offered for himself and the nation an expiating sacrifice. Mediation before God, ministering blessing to men. Christ’s sacrifice absolute and final (ch. 10:10). Under the old covenant no sacrifice was offered for wilful and persistent sin and this is also true under the new. This is a basic principle in the Epistle (Num. 15:22-31).
Call and Consecration (v. 4). No man lawfully assumes the office of high priest unless divinely called to it. Any assuming the office were judged as was Korah, Dathan and Abiram. Only Aaron and his sons were called of God. Aaron’s call honoured him v. 4, Christ’s call glorified Him v. 5, Christ had Divine appointment v. 4, Divine approval v. 1-2 and Divine anointing v. 10.
To verify His appointment two quotations are made from the Psalms to prove that He not only bears the insignia of the Priest in His character, but in addition, He receives His investiture through a heavenly calling. In Psalm 2, He is heralded as Son at the Incarnation, and in Psalm 110 honoured as Priest at His Ascension. God bestowed upon Christ the title, function and dignity of this priesthood.
The double glory of Kingship and Priesthood as seen in Melchisedec is stated here. The glory of Kingship is Christ’s (1:3; 2:9) and now the glory of Priesthood (5:5), both of them received from His Father. His appointment is better in source—by God; in relationship—“My Son” and better in order—“of Melchisedec.” He was greeted in glory in the greatness of Sonship, and saluted in the Heavenly Sanctuary as Priest. He has all the credentials of high rank and noble office. Psalm 110 describes Messiah as King (v. 1-3); Priest (v. 4); and Conqueror (v. 5-7). Trace the references to this Psalm in the N.T. In His experience He encountered to the full the abandonment of obedience, the agony of suffering and the anguish of death v. 7.
His prayer for deliverance was heard and His resurrection was the answer. May we worship as we muse on the indescribable wonder of His humanity, of the Divine will which directed His movements, the amazing sympathy which surrounded His steps, His earnest supplication, His instruction through suffering and His official perfection for His office v. 9.
His Distinction as Priest v. 10. When compared with Aaron:— Better in qualification. “The Son” not a Son. Like Aaron He was called, and like Phinehas He acquired a title to it, (Numbers 25). Divinely chosen by God His Father v. 5. Better in His consecration v. 6. Aaron’s was partial, called, washed, robed and anointed. Christ’s priesthood is eternal (7.28). The period of the work of Aaron is transient, but Christ’s is permanent. Greater in His identification v. 7. In His humanity, humility and the intensity of His prayer life. His sinless suffering manhood, “in the days of His flesh.” Greater in devotion v. 8, His godly piety, learned obedience experimentally, always subject to His Father’s will. Greater in His accomplishment v. 9. He obtained eternal salvation. Greater in recognition v. 10. Saluted by God as Priest in resurrection and ascension. Greater in His resources v. 10, Order of Priesthood eternal. Never any depletion of His resources (4.14-15; 7.25). Better in instruction (Mal. 2.7). His teaching for us today includes disciplining and directing to make us partakers of His holiness. He is better in Intercession which sustains and succours us (ch. 7, John 17). Better in His benediction (Nu. 6. 25-27 with Luke 24.50). He gives us abundant life, abiding rest and abounding joy. May we consider how great He is, how gracious He is and how generous He is.
by the late JOHN COWAN
“Let them make me a Sanctuary that I may dwell in the midst of them according to all that I shew thee, the pattern of the Tabernacle and the instruments thereof.” (Exodus 25, 8-9).
Here we have
- Gods Desire: Let them. Make Me a Sanctuary:
- Gods Determined Dwelling Place: That I might dwell in the midst of them:
- Gods Design: According to the pattern I will shew thee.
Previous to this, God’s dealings had been with individuals, but now on the ground of Redemption wrought, a people have been prepared, which in a typical way, will be able to express the great purpose of the heart of God. His delights were with the sons of men, and, delighting in them, He delivered them, for said He: “This is my rest forever, here will I dwell, for I have desired it. (Psalm 132-14). Not that this people deserved it, but because that God had desired it: Kow this opens up for us the wondrous purpose of the counsel chambers of eternity, with the desires determined, which, in time, should be displayed.
Let Them: Make Me. Their Camp and His Courts are now to be linked together, a people whom He had purchased and purged are now to provide the Sanctuary of His Desire.
Gather My Saints together, those that have made a covenant with Me by sacrifice: a Holy God in the midst of His Holy Ones, those whom He has Saved and Sanctified, a pilgrim people, journeying homeward, having the pleasure and protection of His Presence as they journey home, yet having the present joy as a habitation of God, of satisfying Him in a Sanctified Service, of grateful worship and adoring love.
This then is what God has envisaged, and so, from hearts now freed from Egypt’s bondage, in the joyous liberty of the Sons of God, their liberty to be the spring of their liberality and labour, in constructing that, that God desires, a Sanctuary in the midst of them.
Not only has God desired this dwelling place, but it must conform strictly to His Design; there is nothing left for human opinion, the pattern has been clearly shown, and if every whit of it has to utter His Glory, then every whit of it must conform to the pattern given.
Could we, perhaps, just pause a little here? Is this not where so many Saints of present day experience have failed? Instead of loyally and lovingly conforming to His Word and Will, they have introduced that, that panders to their pleasure, the selfish interests of the human heart, instead of that which will minister to His interests and be for His pleasure.
I am quite sure that much that is seen today could never stand comparison with the pattern given, yet such is the depravity of the human heart, and the determination of its self-will, that, even when attention is drawn to such things, there is the persistence to pursue the bent of natural desire instead of that so clearly taught in Holy Writ. The Tabernacle of a past day, typically expressed the Dwelling Place of God, and when we relate this to present day experience, is a pictorial presentation of the Church of God today. We are not taught the doctrine of today by the light of the type, but in the light of the doctrine of today, the type can be clearly understood. Shadows may give us outlines, but it is the substance that fills the detail in, and so, if these typical teachings are to be helpful for us, we must view them in the light of the doctrine of today, “the Holy Spirit’s parable for the times now present.”
The material from which the Tabernacle has to be constructed has been Purchased by Christ, Processed by the Holy Spirit, until finally it is to be Possessed by God Himself, and so with that which has been purchased and procured from Egypt, the work begins. Willing hearts are yielding up in the willingness of devoted love, the preciousnesses of Christ which they possess, while the wise-hearted are putting it together in conformity to the pattern given, as guided by the Spirit of God. That was the practice in that day, that is the practice still, and only that which conforms to the pattern can God accept.
Possibly, we could take a look at the materials required and try to gather up something of their Spiritual significance.
The Gold, the Silver, the Copper, three metals: the Blue, the Purple, the Scarlet, three colours. Fine Twined Linen and Goats’ hair, two fabrics. Shittim Wood, one kind of wood. Rams’ skins dyed red and Badgers’ skins, two kinds of skins. Oil, one kind, spices in variety, with Precious Stones of varying kinds. Eight kinds of material; eight is a new beginning, and so, there is commenced, to be completed, that which never had been seen on earth before, a habitation for God in the midst of His Redeemed People. In seeking to gather up the spiritual meaning of these materials, human speculation would be vain. It is only from the Word of God as their usage is traced therein that any idea could be formulated as to their spiritual signification, and so a careful tracing of their usage in the Word of God provides the clue.
Gold then has an ornamental usage and supplies both beauty and dignity to the user. Glory, possibly, could be its spiritual importance and as far as human values are concerned, in expressing dignity possessed, was expressive of its highest claims, i.e. “Thou are this head, this head of Gold.”
Silver has a commercial value and always seems to have the monetary side of things in view, “Current coin with the merchant man,” and is clearly seen as the price paid in full: Redemption by paying the price would be the theme, not redeemed with silver, but with precious blood.
Copper was the metal that had a utilitarian import: Ability to endure the fire, with a ductility that enabled it to be easily fashioned into the different vessels of common usage. Its inherent quality was endurance, particularly from the fire, and would be expressive of that Holiness that endures.
The colours always speak of the splendour of a thing and so we have the beauty of the Blue, the Splendour of Heaven, the Blend of the Purple, the Imperial Splendour of Dominion and power, then the Brilliance of the Scarlet, earthly glory and splendour, and when combined together are a display of variegated splendours and glories only seen in Him. Fine twined Linen is the righteousness of the Saints and is expressive of the righteousness of Conduct which those of Holy Character display. Goats’ Hair provides a degree of difficulty, as there are so few occasions where its mention is made. It is a fabricated material, the outcome of the women’s exercise and possibly the product of the tent. Rams’ skins dyed, the intensity of Priestly Consecration; Badgers’ Skins, the expression of Pilgrim Character; Shittim Wood, incorruptible in character, strong, straight and smooth, with an adaptability that fits the sinless character of the Blessed Lord.
Oil is always typical of the Spirit, His power to blend the fragrances of Christ, His power to shine and show the beauties that belong to him. Spices are the variegated fragrances so wonderfully expressive of qualities of excellence, pleasing in their character, and, when blended together by the apothecary’s art, present a piquance and a fragrance most unique; Precious Stones so varied in their character and colour and expressive of intrinsic qualities of priceless value, precious variegated excellencies of such wondrous worth.
These materials, with all their predominating qualities, expressive of the multi-coloured excellence and worth of Christ, as processed by the Spirit, in accordance with the pattern given, provide the Habitation of God desired by Him.
by J. G. GOOD
“IT IS WRITTEN” PERMANENTLY (Romans 3-10).
The Scriptures are numerous which direct us to the abiding character of the Word of God, “For ever, O Lord, Thy Word is settled in heaven” (Psalm 119:89). “For all flesh is as grass, ard all the glory of man as the flower of grass, the grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away, but the Word of the Lord endureth for ever” (1Peter 1:24). “Heaven and earth shall pass away but My words shall not pass away” (Matthew 24:35).
Surely this is a truth to lay hold upon, in a scene marked more than ever by change and decay, what a support, the unchanging, Word of the living God, a stronghold to the child of God in a day of moral and spiritual departure! God’s Word takes character from God Himself, eternal and immutable, O that this would grip our hearts. When our God legislates, no revising is required or change of policy contemplated, this particularly applies to the principles and practices of a New Testament church, it is dangerous to upset God’s order of things, (Heb. 8:5). “See saith He, that thou make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount.” To quote another passage from Malachi 4-4 “Remember ye the law of Moses My servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel,” still valid in Malachi’s day despite the fact that a thousand years or so had passed since the law had been given!
In Josiah’s day of revival, the book of the law was found in the house of the Lord (2 Kings 22-8). What follows the finding of the book? Reading and conviction of heart (verse 19), and a desire to honour and obey the truths contained therein, the emphasis being on that which was “written” (2 Kings 2-13; 23-3). Have we a “Thus saith the Lord,” it is good to reiterate and remind our hearts of that which is written, a digging of the old wells, (Gen. 26-18) a re-statement of old truths, to refresh and reinforce, both heart and mind!!
“IT IS FINISHED” PERFECTLY. (John 19-30).
The cry that reverberated through the courts of heaven and echoed in the vaults of hell, the cry of the Conqueror “It is finished.” The wrath of God exhausted, the righteousness of God vindicated, the claims of God satisfied. What a Work! What a Worker! Many have not been able to complete the work for which they were commissioned, because they were cut off in death, but the wonder of the glorious Cross work of our Lord Jesus Christ is that it was in Death that He finished the Work. “I have glorified thee on the earth, I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me to do” (John 17-4).
We glory in this blessed truth of the finished work of the Lord Jesus, once for all, needing no repetition, or addition, accomplished and perfected for ever to the eternal satisfaction of a thrice holy God!
- “Here we rest in wonder viewing,
- all our sins on Jesus laid,
- and a full redemption flowing,
- from the sacrifice He made”
Hebrews 9-14 reminds us “Who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God.” This sacrifice has been offered and accepted at the Bar of Eternal Justice. Satan has been rendered powerless, (Hebrews 2-14), death for the believer has been vanquished, (1Corinthians 15-57), “the vail of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom” (Matthew 27-51), He brought to an end the Leviti-cal order of things—no more need of temple worship. It was from the Top to the Bottom, all the movement was from God, we had no claim upon Him, God has come out in Grace in the person of His Son, in order that we might be fitted to go in! (Heb. 10-19).
“IT IS I” PERSONALLY (Mark 6-47).
What a beautiful picture of the High Priestly ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ, He was on the mountain top as the disciples were engaged in the arduous task of contending with contrary wind and waves. In times of stress and anxiety sometimes we wonder “My way is hid from the Lord” (Isaiah 40-27), being the language of despair. Never let us forget that He is on the mountain top, with a perfect knowledge of our pressing need! We do well to “Consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Christ Jesus” (Hebrews 3-1), as the Apostle, He is the SENT one, representing God before men, as the High Priest He is the SYMPATHISING one, representing men before God. We are upon His shoulders—the place of strength, and upon His breast— the place of affection!
We are in the fourth watch, the darkest hour of the night is the hour before dawn, the closing days of the dispensation of God’s grace are upon us, the next event on the prophetic calendar is the personal return of the Lord for His own. “It is I” the Lord Himself (1Thessalonians 4-16). The rapture of the Church is so important and precious that it cannot be entrusted to angel or archangel, the Lord Himself. As we contend with the contrary experiences of life may we hear His word assuring us of His presence in the trial “It is I.” Ere long we shall hear the trumpet sound, the assembling shout, we shall be with Him, “It is I” will be a reality and for eternity!
by JOHN B. D. PAGE
THE CONSECRATION OF THE TEMPLE
When finished, the Temple was consecrated to the Lord, as described in 1Kings, ch. 8 and more fully in 2Chronicles ch. 5-7.
Briefly, the consecration consisted of the Ark of the Covenant being taken from its tent and placed by the priests in the Oracle of the Temple when the House of the Lord was filled with His Glory. Outside, Solomon pronounced a short prayer of blessing upon a vast crowd of people assembled for the occasion, which was followed by his long dedicatory prayer to God, after which fire from heaven consumed the sacrifices upon the altar and all the people saw the Glory of the Lord upon the Temple.
Before considering the coming of the Glory of the Lord, we shall note Solomon’s short opening prayer when he said, “I have built an house for Thee, and a place for Thy dwelling for ever” (2Chron. 6:2). With the Ark placed in this newly built edifice, the Temple was “an habitation” for the Lord, prefiguring the spiritual temple of to-day as “the habitation of God” (Eph. 2:22).
Probably alluding to and contrasting the tent pitched at Jerusalem by his father, David, which afforded temporary cover for the Ark of God (2Chron. 1:4), Solomon prayed, “I have built Thee an house to dwell in, a settled place for Thee to abide in for ever,” as recorded in the corresponding passage of 1Kings 8:13. When the priests had placed the Ark in the Oracle, “they drew out the staves” (1Kings 8:8; 2Chron. 5:9), indicating the permanence of its position, and so the Temple became “a settled place” for the Ark of God in contrast to the tabernacle where the staves were not taken from the Ark (Exodus 25:15). A dwelling may be either temporary or permanent, and both shades of thought are found in the New Testament. Paul prayed “that Christ may dwell in your hearts . . .” (Eph. 3:17), or “that Christ may make His home in your hearts” (Wey); such a homely phrase conveys the thought of the permanence of Christ’s abode—He cannot and will not withdraw! The true Church, as “an holy temple in the Lord,” is “a settled place” for Christ “to abide in for ever” throughout time and eternity.
The Ark was not only placed in the Temple but it was put in the Holiest, the primary position where no other furniture was put. Both in our personal lives and in an assembly, Christ must have the foremost position and He is satisfied with nothing less. A tendency is to give Him a secondary position in our homes and to relegate Him to the background in our business lives, which often means that He does not have His rightful place in our assembly lives. Unless Christ is Lord of all, He is not Lord at all, as Hudson Taylor rightly said. We must acknowledge the Lordship of Christ in all spheres of life, both spiritual and secular. Failure to do so leads to spiritual defeat and unhappiness, but by doing so Christ is all in all to us and it means untold blessing.
The Finished Work:
It was not until “all the work that Solomon made for the House of the Lord was finished” that “the Glory of the Lord filled the House” (2Chron. 5:1,7-9,13f). The work had first to be finished, because an unfinished Temple could not be filled with the Glory of the Lord. Of the tabernacle, centuries earlier, the Scriptures state, “when Moses finished the work, then the cloud covered the tent ... , and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle” (Exodus 40:33f).
A finished work followed by the glory is a principle found in the Scriptures, not only in connection with the tabernacle and the temple but also Christ and the Church. Having resolved to finish His Father’s work, to which He gave expression once to His disciples and then to the Jews (John 4:34, 3:36), our Lord prayed later, “I have finished the work ... , and now, O Father, glorify Thou Me . . .” (John 17:4f). From the cross, in the hour of apparent defeat, Christ cried triumphantly, “It is finished!” God then “raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory” (1Peter 1:21) by giving Him “a body of glory” (Phil. 2:21) and after the forty days He was “received up into glory” and was “crowned with glory and honour” (1Tim. 3:15, Heb. 2:9). Having finished is work on earth, He was glorified!
During the course of constructing the Temple, the Glory of the Lord was a prospect and likewise with the spiritual temple, which the Lord is now building, the glory is yet to come, even as Paul says, “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27). Whilst Christ now indwells His Church, the glory is a hope to be realised at the Lord’s return, and the work of building this “holy temple” will have been finished when each of us will be “a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed” (1Peter 5:1). We now “rejoice in the hope of the glory of God” (Rom. 5:2), but, when the last “living stone” will have been put into place, the work will be finished and then this “spiritual house” will be glorified, “having the glory of God” (cp. Rev. 21:11). Our prospect now will then become our possession! Until the dawning of that day, our present privilege is to “glorify God in our body” (1Cor. 6:20), by living lives that will bring glory to Christ.
by EDWARD ROBINSON, Exmouth, Devon.
The importation into the New Testament of Old Testament practices is a common feature to-day in Christendom. So widespread is it that it is generally accepted as perfectly normal without question. This is the more remarkable when we remember that the Church, originating at Pentecost, is not a continuation of Tabernacle service but an entirely new departure in the ways of God and, moreover, is not the subject of prophecy as is Israel. This is not to say, of course, that there is not much valuable instruction for us to-day in our study of the old economy. Its value is specially recognised when looked at, not merely historically, but retrospectively in the light of the New Testament truth. Paul, for instance, using the language of Genesis (2:23, 24) refers to the Church (the body of Christ) as ‘of His flesh and of His bones.' (Eph. 5:30).
This importation we have mentioned is high-lighted in the continuation in religious circles of a special class of priests whose credentials are vested in the laying on of hands. Some idea of the theory of apostolic succession would appear to be in the minds of many, which has no place in New Testament doctrine. Accompanying this conception of a particular section of Christians in whom is vested peculiarly divine authority is a use, especially in ‘high church’ circles, of so-called holy water, incense, etc. Special vestments heighten the appeal to the religious mind together with a system of hierarchy and a ritual order which ensures the smooth operation of the service of God. In one large section of christendom there is even the assumption by one in the office of priest to receive confession of sins and to extend remission, no doubt all in the Name of God. A study of the teaching of the New Testament will show clearly that for all these things there is no justification whatever.
For every true Christian the Scriptures are the first and final authority for doctrine and practice. Nowhere in them will be found, in spite of centuries of tradition, any idea of the office of the clergyman. It is an innovation, certainly not obtaining at Pentecost nor in apostolic times. Undoubtedly there have been many able, sincere and godly men following the vocation and a large proportion of Christians accepting the situation. Nevertheless, in such circumstances the full liberty of the Holy Spirit is thereby inhibited. His freedom to choose whom He will to use at any partcular time and occasion is frustrated by the system whereby He is confined to a designated person. His service in the Church has been likened to that of the Commander in the field of operations whilst the Field Marshal is at headquarters (Christ, the Head of the Church, in heaven). How thankful we should be for the presence here in the Church on earth of the Holy Spirit to ensure the continuance of the service of God and of the testimony unimpaired until the return of the Lord Jesus to take Himself His bride, the Church. What then does the New Testament teach concerning the priesthood for to-day?
It is quite evident from the New Testament that no special theological training and no human form of ordination are requirements for qualification for priesthood. On the contrary, it is the normal function of the believer in Christ as the apostle Peter, writing to the dispersed Jewish Christians, clearly shows in his first Epistle :—
- ‘To Whom (Christ) coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God and precious, ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.’ (chapter 2:4, 5).
- ‘But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priest hood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of Him Who hath called you out of darkness into His Marvellous light.’ (2:9).
These direct statements admit of no misunderstanding and are indeed reinforced by John in the book of Revelation (1:6, 5:10, 20:6) in terms very similar to those of Peter. It is the privilege and the responsibility of every Christian to be exercised to answer to the calling as we are exhorted ‘Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.’ (Heb. 12:28).
“How Shall He Not?”
- “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” — (Rom. 8:32).
- Did He once suffer agony
- On cruel Calvary,
- And shall He hear thy cry of pain
- And fail to comfort thee?
- Did He once weep for others’ woes
- And bind the broken heart.
- And shall He see thee bowed with grief
- And fail to share a part?
- Canst thou not trust His loving heart?
- Oh, gaze on Calvary!
- If He hath loved thee then so much,
- Shall He not care for thee?
- —E. Margaret Clarkson.
- “Lord, speak to me that I may speak
- In living echoes of Thy tone :
- As Thou has sought, so let me seek,
- The erring ones, the lost and lone.
- O teach me Lord, that I may teach
- The precious things Thou dost impart,
- And wing my words that they may reach
- The hidden depths of many a heart.