John 15:8 “Herein is My Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit.”
John 17:4 “I have glorified Thee on the earth”
All that God created was intended to give Him pleasure (Rev. 4:11); all His works shall praise Him (Ps. 145:10); the heavens declare the glory of God (Ps. 19:1) and everything that has breath is called upon to praise the Lord (Ps. 150:6) but sin has so marred God’s purpose, that, so far as unregenerate man is concerned, he in no way glorifies God. He is out of the way, unprofitable, and does not, of himself, seek after God (Rom. 3:11-12). The time is coming, however, when God’s glory will be revealed universally. The prayer of Ps. 72:19 will be answered and the whole earth shall be filled with His glory (Isa. 11:9 and 60:2). God’s glory will be seen in the church throughout all ages, world without end (Eph. 3:21) and indeed, in the consummation of His purposes, He will be glorified in all things (Rom 11:36).
Only One has been able to say to God, “I have glorified Thee on the earth.” Many true believers from the patriarchs onward, have desired to glorify God. Enoch, Job, Abraham, Moses and David all receive praise from God in regard to their character, ways or words, and doubtless many others since their times have sought to “live unto God” and have in measure, glorified God. To do this was not merely a feature of the Lord’s life; it described His life in its entirety. There were no lapses, no times of self-pleasing; there was no hidden resentment in this Unique Man Who delighted to do God’s will and Who always did those things that pleased the Father. The head, the fat, His inwards and His legs were all burnt on the altar, an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto Jehovah (Lev. 1:8-9).
There has been One, but only One, Who perfectly and entirely, glorified God on the earth and how it should produce worship when we remember that the Lord Jesus has given to God that which we never could have given.
John 16:14 “He shall glorify Me.”
The Lord Jesus was a Comforter, to use the word in the Authorised Version and John 14:18 has this thought, “I will not leave you comfortless.” He spoke of “another Comforter” (John 14:16) and revealed the Spirit’s ministry, as it concerned the world (John 16:8-11) and His own (John 14:15-16) and the words, “He shall glorify Me” would seem to summarize the entire object in the Holy Spirit’s coming.
The word translated “Comforter,” by which the Spirit is described in John’s Gospel, is applied to the Lord Jesus in John’s first epistle (2:1) and is translated “Advocate.”
The Spirit does on earth, what the Lord Jesus did when He was with His disciples, and now continues to do “with the Father.” The Lord Jesus came in the Father’s Name (John 5:43; 8:42) and the Spirit was sent in Christ’s Name (John 14:26).
Christ revealed and glorified the Father (John 14:9).
The Holy Spirit reveals and glorifies Christ (John 15:26 and 16:14).
The Lord Jesus received from the Father, the things He declared (John 7:16 and 17:8).
The Spirit received from Christ, the things He communicated (John 16:13-15).
He is called “the Spirit of Truth” (John 14:17, 15:26, 16:13) so that His help and ministry are infallible. He reveals truth and enables us to detect error. The words of John 16:12-13, spoken before the coming of the Spirit, had special meaning for the Apostles, to whom truth was revealed which is now incorporated in the New Testament, but the Spirit’s ministry to them and to all who follow, has as its object, the glorifying of Christ. As we now come to the Scriptures, He still teaches us all things and guides into all truth, and in taking of the things that the Father hath, that the Lord said “are Mine,” He glorifies Christ. This clear indication of the object in the Spirit’s ministry, enables us to know when the words of a believer, or of a professing believer, are of the Spirit.
If a man seeks admiration, by displays of cleverness, or in boasting of his service, or by personal vanity, he evidently desires his own glory, and if a man speaks or writes with a view to claiming the pre-eminent place for the Holy Spirit in the Holy Godhead, his testimony is of error. One reverently believes, although the truth is beyond one’s understanding, that the three persons of the Divine Trinity are One, yet for the accomplishing of their purposes in redemption, the Holy Son and the Holy Spirit have both been “Sent.” (John 10:36, 20:21, 15:26, 16:7).
John 15:8“Herein is My Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit”
The Lord is recorded in John’s Gospel as speaking three times of the evidences of true discipleship. In John 8:31 He said that they should continue or abide in His Word. In John 13:35 He said that their profession would be known by all men, to be real, if they were seen to love one another. How we fail in this evidence! Unkind criticism of believers is spoken not before believers only but before unbelievers. How guarded we need to be in the home where injurious talk about other believers harms them and the spiritual welfare of our children who hear us. To see that Christian love and fellowship are not genuine, greatly stumbles children and may turn them away from the assembly.
In John 15:8 the Lord says that we must bear fruit in order to become His disciples. Let us all be deeply exercised about this. Let us not be diverted into dwelling upon our reputation or upon how much we do or how much we carry but let us be concerned about fruitfulness for God. The verse says “much fruit.” It is in this that we glorify the Father. Yet we cannot produce it ourselves. The branch cannot bear fruit of itself (15:4).
We can however, so live, habitually abiding in Christ our Life and transformed as we dwell upon and are subject to, His words abiding in us, that the Father has fruit and is glorified. He has the right to be glorified in His children. Fruit for God is not to be measured by the number of engagements to preach nor by our claims to success, that we might assess as fruit. The Lord spoke in verse seven of the believers prayers being effectual and then followed with “Herein is My Father glorified.” Just here, He is not speaking of preaching but of fruit from the prayers of those who abide in Him. We are mistaken if we think that there must be more fruit from the life of the much travelled busy public preacher than from the unseen prayer ministry of the restricted believer confined to the room. The Lord has given us a service, to make known the Gospel and to do good and there are many ways in which we can fulfil the Lord’s will but the one object in it all is so to live as to glorify the Father and that those who see our lives may themselves glorify Him (Matt. 5:16). In living with this desire always before us, we are following His steps and like our Lord Jesus, giving pleasure to God in a scene that greatly dishonours Him.
I beseech young believers to accept that these things are as realistic to them as they are to the most responsible and mature. The life of faith is still that in which we walk with God and please God as Enoch did so long ago (Gen. 5:24, Heb. 11:5).
When the kingdom of heaven is set up in glory and power, at the return of the Lord Jesus to earth, Israel will occupy the central position amongst the nations. Then sorrow will give place to joy, disease and sickness will be practically shelved, death will be held in abeyance except for rebellion against the King, and men will speak one tongue (Isa. 35:5-10; 65: 20; Zeph 3:9). Tongues are for a sign (1Cor. 14:20-22), and the passage quoted (Isa. 28:11,12) refers prophetically to Israel in those future days immediately preceding the setting up of the kingdom. Consequently these miraculous sign gifts obviously point to the kingdom.
Matthew in his Gospel presents Christ as the promised Messiah, the King. In chap, iii., John the Baptist announces the approach of the kingdom. Then Christ, the King, issues His manifesto in the Sermon on the Mount, and displays His character and power by His miracles, defeating Satan, conquering death, healing diseases, and feeding the hungry. John sent from his prison two of his disciples to ask Him, “Art Thou He that should come?” (i.e. “Art Thou the Messiah?”). The Lord answered: “Go and show John again those things which ye do hear and see: the blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the Gospel preached to them. And blessed is he whosoever shall not be offended in Me” (Matt. 11:2-6). The Lord thus declared His miracles and other works to be His credentials as the Messiah.
Again, later on, when our Lord healed a blind and dumb demoniac, the multitudes were amazed and said, “Is not this the Son of David?” They arrived at that correct conclusion from the miracle. The Pharisees, refusing to accept Him as the Messiah, sought to account for the miracle in another way. Our Lord refuted their charge, and said to them, “If I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you.” In other words, the miracle pointed Him out as the King, and declared that the kingdom was nigh (Matt. 12:22-28).
Again, He sent forth His disciples to heal the sick and to declare the kingdom of God is come nigh unto you (Luke 10:9).
Notwithstanding that His miracles clearly accredited Him as their King, the Jews despised and rejected Him. They said, “We will not have this Man to reign over us,” and they handed Him over to the Cross.
Raised from the dead, He commissioned His disciples, who were all Jews, to disciple, baptise, and teach (Matt, 28:18-20). This commission covers more than the church dispensation, for it lasts until the present age of Gentile domination, and Jewish subjection terminate, by the return of Christ to enter on His reign. We read about miraculous signs in connection with this commission (Mark 16:15-20), which contains His disciples marching orders down to the kingdom, for which the Jews were longing. Those signs were in operation from the day of Pentecost (Acts 2) for a number of years, when they ceased, as we shall presently see, and they will be in exercise again after the rapture of the church and before the kingdom is set up (Rev. 11:3-6). Consequently those disciples offered the Jews up to the murder of Stephen Christ as their Messiah and Saviour (Acts. 3:19-21), and, though the offer of the kingdom may have been withdrawn then, Israel had still preferential treatment wherever the Gospel was carried, up to Paul’s imprisonment in Rome (Luke 24:47; Acts 3:26; 13:26, 46; 18:4-6; Rom. 1:16). From that time they were placed on a level with the Gentiles, and this will continue until the church is completed and removed to heaven.
God, on the other hand, who sees the end from the beginning, knew that the nation of Israel would not accept the Lord Jesus as their Messiah, and He commenced at Pentecost to gather out the church, though the disciples themselves were ignorant of it. At Pentecost they knew none of the special truth about the church, but after Stephen’s death God revealed His Son to His chosen vessel, Saul of Tarsus, afterwards Paul the apostle, and through Him, while the favoured nation position was still accorded to Israel, He gradually unfolded the truth about the church, but not in its fullness until the preferential treatment of Israel ceased (Acts 28:28), for it is in Ephesians and Colossians written after this, that we find the highest church truth.
The miraculous signs lasted until then (Acts 28:3-10), for they were given in connection with the presentation of the Messiah to Israel, and they will be renewed after the church is taken to heaven, for God will then renew His dealings with Israel, and in due course the kingdom will be established, to which all such miracles point, and during which disease and death will be practically shelved and the confusion of speech be healed.
There is no Scriptural evidence of any miraculous sign after Paul’s declaration to the Jews in Rome (Acts xxviii. 28). Tongues are last mentioned in 1Cor 14, which was written when Paul was in Ephesus (Acts 19). We know that after Paul made this declaration Epaphroditus (Phil 2:26,27), Timothy (1Tim 5:23), Trophimus (2Tim. 4:20), and Gaius (3John 2) were ill, all godly servants of Christ; but no gift of healing was used to restore them. Epaphroditus was restored in answer to prayer, and Timothy was ordered to take a little wine. It has been said that these sign gifts were not used in the case of believers, and that therefore these instances do not prove the cessation of these gifts. However, Scripture shows that those who had faith were miraculously healed and restored to life. Our Lord, for instance, healed Bartimaeus and the woman with the issue of blood, and He raised Lazarus from the dead. He sent His disciples out to perform miracles in His Name (Mark, 16:17-18). Their works were a continuation of what the Lord began to do (Acts 3:6,16; 4:7-12, 30; 9:34). Paul received his sight three days after his conversion (Acts 9:18), Dorcas was raised from the dead (Acts 9:36-41). Again, it was believers that were to be immune from injury by serpents (Mark 16:18), exemplified in Paul’s person (Acts 28:3-6). Tongues are for a sign to them that believe not (1Cor. 14:22), but they were used for the edification of the church (1Cor. 14:5, 6, 13, 27, 39). These gifts were signs to unbelievers, but they were used for the benefit of believers. Consequently, since they were not employed to heal Epaphroditus, Timothy, Trophimus, and Gaius, it is manifest that they had ceased to be.
Many people must have wondered why the Acts ends so abruptly. We are told nothing about Paul’s actions while in prison, his trial, release, subsequent movements; his second arrest, trial, and martyrdom. Why is this? Because the book is the history of God’s dealings with Israel until their preferential treatment at His hands ceased, and they were placed on a level with the Gentiles.
In 1Cor. 12, written while Paul was in Ephesus, and therefore years before these miraculous signs ceased, we have a list of gifts, and amongst them “tongues,” “healing,” “miracles.” In Ephesians, written after the event recorded in Acts 28:28, we have the list of permanent church gifts and all the sign-gifts are absent from it—a plain declaration of their transitory character.
The promise given to Israel in Exod. 15:26 is sometimes quoted as giving the believer warrant to expect entire immunity from diseases on rendering full obedience to God. But Israel in the wilderness was a type of the church under its present circumstances (1Cor. 10). Israel’s blessings were earthly, temporal, material; the church’s are heavenly, eternal, spiritual. Consequently, just as Egypt is a type of the world and Pharaoh, its king, a type of Satan, the prince of the world, so the promise in Exod. 15:26, of preservation from the diseases of the Egyptians on certain conditions, typifies our preservation from spiritual diseases on certain conditions. The manna that fed their bodies was a type of Christ our spiritual food. Their shoes and clothes lasted through the journey to Canaan (Deut. 29:5), so will our spiritual raiment until we reach heaven. Unless I am to expect the food for my body direct from heaven daily, and my bodily clothing to last without any renewal until I make my exit from earth, I ought not to expect to be kept free from bodily diseases.
In conclusion, I would refer briefly to James v. 15-16. This epistle was probably one the first portions of the New Testament to be written; in any case it was written several years before Paul was carried as a prisoner to Rome, and, therefore, while the sign-gifts were exercised. The sick one was restored in answer to prayer. The word for anoint is not that used for anointing kings—it is practically the equivalent of the modern term massage, and indicates means to be employed. The Christian finds in this passage the best advice for him when ill—that is, bring his sickness to God; He can cure through means or without them, the choice should be left to Him. God hears prayers and works miracles still.
The framework or walls of the Tabernacle was made of acacia wood overlaid with gold; each board stood 15 ft. high and 2i ft. broad. Twenty of these standing side by side formed the south and north sides and six boards at the west end where two additional boards stood in each of the corners. At the base of each board were two tenons which fitted into two sockets of silver. The boards were also sustained in their upright position and linked together by five bars on each side of acacia wood overlaid with gold.
Over the boards were two coverings, the outside covering of badger skins and then a second covering of rams skins dyed red. Underneath there were two sets of curtains, one of goats hair and the second the coloured curtains richly embroidered with cherubim. This latter curtain was called the “tabernacle” or tent (Ex. 26:1-14).
At the east end of the framework stood the door which consisted of five pillars of acacia wood overlaid with gold, resting upon copper sockets and crowned with capitals of gold. These pillars supported a coloured curtain of blue, purple, scarlet and fine twined linen (Ex. 36:37-38). This door formed the second entrance of the Tabernacle where the priests entered the sanctuary. Within there were two compartments. The Holy place and the Most Holy or Holiest separated by the vail (Heb. 9:1-4).
Within the sanctuary we are reminded of the words of the psalmist “worship the Lord in His glorious sanctuary” (Ps. 29:2 Marg.). Beauty and glory characterised God’s earthly sanctuary. The lampstand casting its light upon the golden boards, the vessels and the ceiling of embroidered curtains, all added to the glory of the Holy place. Each vessel was of pure gold and is spoken of as being “before the Lord” continually. Here we look upon vessels which set forth truths concerning the Son of God ascended and glorified, and is engaged in a continuous work on behalf of His people.
We now consider the three vessels in the Holy place.
THE GOLDEN LAMPSTAND (Ex. 25:31-40).
On the south side of the Holy place stood the lampstand. This must have been the most costly of all the vessels, no measurements are given. It was beaten out of one talent of pure gold (approx. 114 lbs.) and consisted of a centre shaft with four sets of ornamentations (pomegranates and flowers). From each side three branches extended, each with three sets of ornamentations. Each branch, including the centre shaft, carried a golden lamp filled with olive oil which illuminated the Holy place with a sevenfold light. Aaron the high priest attended the lamps continually each morning and evening and golden tongs and snuff dishes were provided to maintain the brilliancy of the light (Lev. 24:1-4).
This vessel would foreshadow Christ who perfectly displays the light of God in the power of the Holy Spirit (cf. Is. 11:2) we call to mind the words spoken by the Saviour at the Feast of the Tabernacles “I am the light of the world; he that followeth Me shall not walk in darkness but shall have the light of life” (John 8:12). Since then multitudes who have heard His voice and followed His steps have experienced spiritual illumination. The use of the golden tongs and snuff dishes might suggest the priestly ministry of our Great High Priest who, in His disciplinary ways removes the hindrances to the brilliancy of our lamps (cf. John 5:35 and Phil. 2:15).
THE TABLE OF SHEWBREAD (Ex. 23:30, Lev. 24:5-9)
Opposite the Lampstand, on the north side stood the Table of Shewbread. It was made of achaia wood overlaid with pure gold and girded with two golden crowns. It was 3 ft. long, 2\ ft. wide and 2\ ft. high. Set on the table were twelve loaves of Shewbread (or Presence bread) made of fine flour and laid out in two rows with frankincense upon them. The shewbread was to be continually before the Lord and Aaron renewed the bread every Sabbath. It then become food for Aaron and his sons to be eaten in the Holy place.
The twelve loaves on the table represented the entire nation constantly before the eyes of the Lord, fragrant in the place of acceptance. In like manner, God’s priests today are perpetually before the eye of God, “accepted in the beloved” and complete in Christ (Col. 2:10). They also feed upon Christ in glory, Who is ever fragrant and the delight of the Father’s heart.
THE ALTAR OF INCENSE (Ex. 30:1-10, 34-38).
The Altar of Incense or Golden altar stood before the veil. It was made of acacia wood overlaid with gold with four horns and a crown of gold round about. It was 1^ ft. square and 3 ft. high. The service of this altar differed from the brazen altar where blood was shed and sacrificial beasts were consumed, whereas the purpose of the golden altar was for Aaron to burn incense. On the day of atonement the blood of the sin offering was placed upon the horns. Each morning and evening, when Aaron dressed the lamps he would burn incense before the Lord. The incense was carefully compounded of four ingredients, measured out in equal weight. It was to be regarded as pure, holy, and exclusive for the Lord. No stranger was permitted to make or offer it and the occasion when it was offered apart from the priesthood brought forth the judgment of God (cf. Lev. 10, Num. 16, 2Chron. 26).
The burning of incense brought forth the fragrance of the ingredients, perfumed the holy place and rose as a sweet smelling savour unto the Lord (cf. Deut. 33:10 marg.). It was therefore an offering which delighted the heart of God.
God’s priests today offer spiritual sacrifices as they tell forth the work and perfectness of God’s Son and express their gratitude to the Father from their redeemed hearts. These sacrifices are made acceptable to God by Jesus Christ (1Peter 2:5) who ever lives at God’s right hand and intercedes on behalf of His people.
This short word of prophecy should be read against the background of the books of Ezra and Nehemiah, but as we read it there is one word which forces itself upon our attention. It is the word “Consider.” This word sums up the challenge of the prophet—“Now therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts, ‘Consider your ways’.” (1:5).
Haggai is reckoned as one of the ‘Minor’ prophets, but notwithstanding this relegation, as it were, to the ‘lower ranks’ of prophecy, he was a ‘man of the hour’—an hour which is well dated—the second year of Darius the king was of great importance.
It has been said that Haggai was, in point of time, the first of the post captivity prophets, and all that we know of him scripture-wise is what we have in this book which bears his name, and by references to him by Ezra 5:1, 6:14; where he is named with Zachariah. From the reference in chapter 2:3, it has been conjectured that he had seen the first Temple in which case he must have been quite an old man. Others believe that he had been born in Babylon.
The object of this prophecy was “to rouse the restored exiles from a condition of religious torpor, and induce them to complete the restoration of the Temple”—a restoration delayed by opposition from within and from without; the regrets of the aged men who recalled its past glories, and the self-seeking of many of those who had returned from the captivity. Those who had returned were a comparatively small company—hardly enough to be called a ‘nation’— just 42,360 freemen and 7,337 slaves. Most of these, so it would appear, were content to let things drift.
Then came Haggai in the sixth and seventh months of the second year of Darius. He was joined by Zechariah in the eighth month (Zech. 1:1-6), and then gave his final message in the ninth month. Zechariah carried on for another two months.
Not a long ‘reign’ as a prophet—just four months.
His message was one of rebuke and of promise.
The work of building upon a hallowed site had been neglected. The people themselves, because of poor harvests, were desperately poor. They had lost heart.
“Haggai’s voice was uplifted at just the right moment. Whether old or young, whether he had bided his time through the years, or was seized by his first inspiration for leadership, he was the man of the hour.”
In the purposes of God, this is always so.
The men whom God uses may iilumine the darkness for many years, or for just a few days. We cannot all be n Isaiah or Jeremiah; a Daniel or an Ezekiel; a Peter or a Paul. We may, however, be a Haggai or a Zephaniah, a Philip or a Thomas.
Just four months. Just six short messages.
Chapter 1:1-2 CHALLENGE, to the leaders.
Chapter 1:3-11 CHALLENGE to the people. Sometimes treated as one message.
Chapter 1:12 RESULT—the challenge met.
Chapter 1:13 ENCOURAGEMENT — the presence of God assured.
Chapter 1:14-15 THE STIRRING OF THE SPIRIT.
Chapter 2:1-9 RETURNING GLORY.
Chapter 2:10-19 DEFILED LABOUR or WORKMANSHIP! HENCE, A DEFILED TEMPLE.
Chapter 2:20-23 THE CHOSEN SERVANT OF JEHOVAH.
CHALLENGE—to the Leaders (1:1-2).
Zerubbabel, prince of the house of Judah, governor or viceroy of Judah under Darius, king of Persia, and Joshua the high priest are directly addressed, “Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts, saying. This people say, The time is not come, the time that the Lord’s house should be built.”
The Word of the Lord came (vv. 1-2) and Haggai, ‘the Lord’s messenger in the Lord’s message’ (v. 13) passes it on. We are reminded here that when the apostle Paul wrote to the church at Corinth he spoke of Titus and others as “messengers of the churches and the glory of Christ” (2Cor. 8:23). The first message of Haggai was a simple one; a repetition in fact of what the people were saying concerning the rebuilding of the house of God. Perhaps, as would appear later, they, by reason of their poverty, could not afford it. Perhaps they were satisfied with things as they were. The message to Zerubbabel and Joshua seems to imply a question. “Are you the leaders of this people? If so, do you accept their majority opinion when you know what My mind is? What are you going to do about it? Prince and Priest -you have a responsibility.”
CHALLENGE—to the People (1:3-11).
Twice the challenge comes—“Set your heart on your ways” (Margin).
“Why are you doing so much with so little result?” asked the Lord, and answers, “Because Mine House is laid waste, and ye run every man unto his own house.” This is why the showers of blessing, the dew of Heaven is withheld. Plentiful sowing; little fruit. It needs the dew of God to bring on the fruit.
Unless our spirits are exercised how can God stir them up to do His work; to build His Temple? Not forgetting that we ourselves are also God’s building, and that His Spirit indwells (1Cor. 3).
The remnant of Israel was concerned with consolidating their position in the land—aren’t we all?—but our Lord says “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matt. 6:35).
Is it my way, or His way? Is my way, His way?
Is it my house, or His House? Is my house His House?
Not only does God ask His people to consider their ways, but also to consider the effect of their ways (2:15). Consider also the blessing that comes from obedience to His word (v. 18). Weigh up the pros and cons.
Note the word of David (Ps. 77) when he writes, “Thy way, O God is in the Sanctuary” (v. 13). The Sanctuary is the place to find and to know His way. But a Sanctuary must be built; and it must be Holy.
“Consider thy ways.”
RESULT—the Challenge met (1:12).
“Then ...” Obedience to the word of the Lord; obedience to the word of His messenger. Obedience coupled with reverential fear—that fear which “is the beginning of knowledge” (Ps. 111: 10; Prov. 1:7).
ENCOURAGEMENT—God’s Presence assured (1:13).
With the coming of knowlege of, and obedience to, the word of God, there follows Haggai’s shortest message—the assurance of the Presence of God with them. “I am with you.”
The command was, “Build the House.”
Said the apostle, “Now if any build . . (1Cor. 3:9-23).
God would be glorified in the building, and in it would be glorified (v. 8).
Building, however, means WORK. Working for themselves did not bring prosperity- practically or spiritually. It was not a question of “No time” or “No money.” They must find the time; God would provide the means. But there must be from God a ...
STIRRING OF THE SPIRIT (1:14-15).
They had received the word of God; they had obeyed. Now to WORK. It was C. H. Spurgeon who, preaching on Job 1:14, “. . . The oxen were plowing, and the asses feeding beside them :” said in effect, that there were many feeding upon the Word, but few working; many were well fed while others worked. Thus the message, “I am with you.” Again a reminder of that part of the word of God to which reference has been made so many times in these notes 1Cor. 3:7-9—“Labourers together.”
Leaders and people alike were stirred up by the Lord, “And they came and did work in the house of the Lord of Hosts, THEIR God.” (cf. Neh. 3).
3:1-4, THE IMPLICATION OF OUR RESURRECTION WITH CHRIST
V. 1 “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above,” Having dealt with their confession at baptism of death with Christ (2:20-23), Paul now deals with the complementary confession of new life in Christ— of being raised with Christ (Rom. 6:4), and its implications. ‘If,’ or ‘seeing that,’ here, is the continuation of the ‘if’ of 2:20. Compare also 2:12. The word translated ‘be risen,’ or as R.V., ‘were raised,’ in the Greek is in the aorist tense, referring to what happened once for all in the past, that is, at their baptism. The apostle shows us what the newness of life (Rom. 6:4) entails in actual practice. It is based upon a true spiritual conception of what life with Christ involves. It means being by faith, ‘with Christ,’ where He is, seated with Him in the heavenlies (Eph. 2:6); it means finding our interests fixed on things above, not on the passing things of this mundane life, “where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.” This phrase amplifies the word, ‘above.’ It tells us where Christ is- in heaven, at the right hand of God; it tells us of His place of honour—far above all; it tells us of His occupation—ruling over the principalities and powers; it tells of His relation to the Church-Head of the Body (Eph. 1:20-23); it tells us that, in spirit, we are there also.
V. 2 “Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.” Note again, the ‘things above.’ Not only should our interests be found there, but also our minds (R.V.), our thoughts. Let us be continually ‘thinking’ of what living in heaven with Christ must mean to us, by faith to dwell there.
V. 3 “For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.” Note the R.V., ‘ye died,’ again the aorist tense, referring to their baptism (v. 1), in which they had confessed that they had died, a once-for-all completed act in time past. But not only is the believer dead with Christ (2:20), he is also alive in Christ, ‘quickened together with Him’ (2:13). This life is hidden, perfect tense, something done in the past, the effects of which still remain; it is buried out of sight with Christ; the world cannot see it (John 14:17), but God knows it. As the world knows nothing of our new life, so ought our new life to have no part with the world.
V. 4 “When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory” Note the development of thought here concerning our new life—it is with Christ, (v. 1); it is hidden with Christ from the world (v. 3); Christ is our life (v. 4). The implication of all this is that one day the life that has been hidden shall be made manifest (R.V.) to the world. We shall be manifested with Him, as He comes to earth in power and great glory (2Thess. 1:10). Then shall our life be known to the world. Our new life is not now known by the world, because Christ was not known by the men of the world. We believers are now the children of God, even though it is not manifest to the world. But when Christ shall be manifested, we shall be like Him, and be manifested as the children of God (1John 3:1-2). What a day that will be!
Our obligation to-day is that, being dead to the world, and alive in Jesus Christ we should manifest even now that we belong to Him; by walking in Him (2:6); by seeking His interests; by setting our minds more and more on Him, and on His commandments, rather than on the passing things of this world (John 13:35).
COLOSSIANS 3:5—4:6 ETHICAL INSTRUCTION CHRIST IN ALL
Chap. 3:5-17 The Believer's Personal Responsibility 3:5-11 Things to be Discarded
V. 5 “Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth;” In Col. 1:13 — 3:4 Paul has been dealing with the believer’s standing in Christ; now, (3:5 — 4:6), he comes to the practical outworking of this relationship— walking in newness of life, as professed in baptism (Rom. 6:4).
The believer prior to conversion was dead in trespasses and in sins (Eph. 2:1). When he trusted Christ he passed from the state of death, the old condemnation (Gen. 2:17), and came into the possession of eternal life (John 3:15, 5:24). Now he has the life of Christ (v. 4), life with Christ (v. 3, Eph. 2:5), life in Christ (2Tim. 1:1).
The apostle would remind the believer that, whilst he had this spiritual life, he would still be troubled with the old man, and its members; he calls on the regenerate man to put to death these members, which are delineated in the latter part of the verse. The word ‘mortify’ here is not used, as the Gnostics implied, with reference to severity to the body (Col. 2:23); he must not mortify the members of his body; it is not the mortification of the literal flesh, of which the physical body is composed, as practised by the ascetics; the ‘members’ here compose ‘the body of the sins of the flesh (2:11).
‘Mortification’ here refers rather to the putting off of the fleshly tendencies of the old man. The ‘old man’ is the manner of life before conversion, the habits, the selfish desires—‘the former manner of life, the old man, which waxeth corrupt after the lusts of deceit (Eph. 4:22 R.V.). These fleshly desires he exemplifies as fornication, covetousness and idolatry (v. 5), and anger, malice and blasphemy (v. 8). They are called the works of the flesh, in contrast to the fruits of the Spirit (Gal. 5:19, 22). Mortification is thus the crucifixion of the flesh, wth the passions and lusts thereof (Gal. 5:24 R.V.).
These fleshly members are described as being upon the earth, that is, where they function. They have no place in the heavens, where spiritual things alone occupy the mind (v. 2).
“fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry Five types of sinful tendencies are set forth here, as constituting members of the old man. These are frequently associated together in the New Testament. Fornication is impure love; uncleanness is general impurity, and includes all kinds of immorality; inordinate affection (R.V. passion) is lit., suffering from a diseased mind, giving oneself up to passions; evil concupiscence is the overaction of evil desires and lusts; covetousness is a desire to have more—the driving force of impure living (Rom. 7:7), with which it is closely joined; idolatry—covetousness is often associated with idolatry in the New Testament, because it is the worship of self, instead of God. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.
V. 6 “For which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience:” ‘Children (sons, R.V.) of disobedience’ is a term used in the New Testament of the unbeliever (Eph. 2:2). Upon these the wrath of God abides (John 3:36). It would seem as if Paul is urging the Colossians to examine themselves, to see if they be in the faith (2Cor. 13:5). If, instead of putting the things of v. 5 to death, they were characterised by such conduct, they would merit the title of the sons of disobedience, and discover that they had never been born again. Compare also Eph. 5:3-6.
May we to-day in like manner examine ourselves to see if there be any way of wickedness in us, lest the wrath of God be visited upon us, and we discover, too late, our dreadful mistake. The present tense of the Greek verb translated, ‘cometh,’ indicates the certainty of God’s judgment.
V. 7 “In the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them” In the pursuit of these pagan customs (v. 5) ye also, as other unregenerate men, once regulated your walk and life—life was your state, walk your activity. They had lived in the midst of these practices, and their walk was dictated by them.
V. 8 “But now ye also put off all these;” ‘But now,’ indicates a change in their condition. Before, they had yielded their members servants to gross iniquity. Now, their new life demonstrates their obligation to yield their members servants unto holiness (Rom. 6:19). Ye also, as other believers have done, ought to put away not only the things of v. 5, but also all evil of any kind, a further enumeration of which he proceeds to set before them.
“anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth” Anger is a settled mind, bent on revenge; wrath is the boiling up of one’s feelings, sometimes leading to anger; malice is a mind bent on doing harm to another; blasphemy is speaking evil of another, so as to hurt; filthy communication is obscene, abusive language. The medium of these last two is the mouth; such employment of the lips is not becoming to Christian behaviour.
V. 9 “Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds;” This continues the warning against the wrong use of the tongue. These fleshly habits are unsuited to a believer—one who at his baptism has professed to have done with them, and henceforth to walk with Christ in a new kind of life, in contrast with the old pre-conversion ways; he had resolved to do away with such pagan customs; he had reckoned that his old man, his former manner of life, has been crucified with Christ, and that the body as used for sinning must be set aside, that he should no longer be under bondage to sin (Rom. 6:6).
It would seem as if Paul here, and in the kindred epistle —to the Ephesians, is teaching them some things that have been embodied in the law given to Israel, but was foreign to the thinking of the heathen Colossians and Ephesians. Paul would impress on them the obligations of the Mosiac law, as far as its moral commandments were concerned.
Let us not think that the believer to-day has no responsibility in these matters. Let him learn to find in these epistles guidance for his mind, and his activities.
News is brought to David by an Amalekite stranger bringing Saul’s crown and bracelet, and telling him that both Saul and Jonathan were slain upon Mr. Gilboa, and that he himself had had a part in Saul’s death. For this, he paid the penalty David deemed right, since Saul was the LORD’S anointed, vv. 2-16. Of his own anointing David had never spoken, but he deeply reverenced the fact of it, as is abundantly clear in his song, 2Sam. 22 and Psalm 18. David’s lamentation over Saul and Jonathan, vv. 17-27, is very compassionate and deeply affecting—“lovely and pleasant in their lives, and in their death they were not divided,” v. 23. Not a word of recrimination is evident in respect of Saul, but a loyal tribute is paid to his prowess on the battlefield. The deeply affectionate tribute to Jonathan is a never-failing source of delight; surely it constitutes a soul utterance of great beauty and sincerity, v. 26, “O Jonathan ... slain in thine high places. I am distressed for thee, my brother Jonathan: very pleasant hast thou been unto me: thy love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women.” It was on hearing news of Jonathan’s and Saul’s deaths that the nurse of Jonathan’s son, Mephibosheth, when fleeing with him from the Philistines, accidentally allowed him to fall, from this fall injury resulted—lameness in both his feet at 5 years of age, 2Sam. 4:4. Later, King David gave him a place at the royal table for Jonathan's sake. “Mephibosheth” means “end of shame.” It is apparent that Jonathan had waited many years for a son to be born to him, and his great pleasure is reflected in this choice of name. The name of Merribaal also associated with Mephibosheth means “contender against Baal”—this too is deserving of note (see E. W. Rice, D.D., Bible Dictionary). Through the line of Jonathan alone did it please God to perpetuate a posterity to the house of Kish, and Saul (an only son), 1 Chron. 8:33-40. David kept faith with Saul and Jonathan.
That Jonathan was devoted to David was patent to Saul, but he was also loyal to Saul his father. That he was utterly selfless is evident; so was John the Baptist. This is a trait inherent in godliness. David knew that in Jonathan he had a true friend at court, with not a semblance of treachery, self-seeking or duplicity evident. On the positive side, Jonathan proved his integrity in the severest tests, even in the face of death and of his father’s prolonged antagonism to David, whose loyalty disposes of any thought of subterfuge on Jonathan’s part. Utter shame and desolation was brought to Saul by his failure to comply with Divine requirements, and subsequently by clinging to power and prestige in the face of God’s decree that he should no longer be his sufficiency as once was possible.
David, subject to God’s will, in all things is anointed King over Judah at Hebron (2Sam. 2:1-4). Aged 30 years, he was mature, as was Joseph (Gen. 31:46), and the priests, (Numbers 4:3-47). David’s incomparable Antitype, our Lord Jesus commenced his public ministry, “being about 30 years of age” (Luke 3:23).
A number of the Psalms comprising the first book Nos. 1 to 41 may well have been written during, or have special reference to, David’s experiences during the years of his wanderings, wanderings which were entirely due to Saul’s evil intent towards him. Saul involved many who otherwise would have been at David’s side, combating the common foe whose depredations had so often impoverished the land. Saul betrayed his nation’s good. To look over these reflections of the Psalmist with him impress the mind with the undeviating loyalty, fidelity and integrity he maintained, also his constant dependence on the Lord, into Whose face he can look with a conscience void of offence in respect of Saul. Nor can we discern anything in the scriptures relating to Jonathan that comes short of the same. He also was a man of God walking in the fear of God, subject to His word.
In grievous contrast, Saul’s tragic end is briefly summarised in 1 Chron. 10:13-14. Saul died for his transgressions which he committed against THE LORD, against the word of THE LORD which he kept not, and also for asking counsel of one that had a familiar spirit ... and enquired not of THE LORD. Retribution is brought to bear when forty years of probation yields not the least response to God’s forbearance.
Following two years of strife, caused by Abner defiantly seeking to retain the allegiance of the remaining tribes to the house of Saul, the day for which David had waited long and endured much came at last.
It was a great day indeed; the elders of Israel came to the King to Hebron ... and they anointed him king over Israel, 2Sam. 5:1-3, according to the word of the Lord by Samuel, 1Chron. 11:3.
And so is ushered in the reign of Israel’s most illustrious king. No other has such frequent honourable mention in the scriptural records of that nation’s history as David: and his name is again mentioned in connection with its future glory and pre-eminence amongst the nations of the world, Jer. 30:9.
In Rev. 22:16, our Lord affirms “I am the Root and the Offspring of David and the Bright and Morning Star.” He is referred to as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, the Root of David, Rev. 5:5. How greatly is David honoured thereby. In thus being in Holy Writ so intimately associated with the Lord of Heaven and Earth, David stands unique.
Jonathan’s Divinely inspired appraisement of David’s worthiness, when at the Valley of Elah he slew Goliath and when Jonathan so freely surrendered his all to David was fully justified, and remains an abiding honour to him.
But the absolute worthiness of our Lord Jesus Christ, that is for ever reflected in that greatest of all triumphs at the place called Calvary (Col. 2:15) and who on the cross of shame suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God; obtaining eternal redemption for us by His own blood, now confronts us with a far greater challenge than ever Jonathan knew, to thankfully concede and submit to the ever blessed Lordship of the Risen Christ of God, who is Lord of Lords and King of Kings; and whose worthiness alone—which is so infinitely beyond all human appraisement—will be for all His own redeemed ones, the grand theme of eternal praise, Rev. 5:9-10.