The Book of Judges
Gleanings from Philippians
My Conversion to God
“Gashmu Saith It”
Outlining the Book of Revelation
By Wm. Bunting.
Having considered the high spiritual standard to which Israel had attained in the opening verses of “Judges,” we shall now look, by way of contrast, at some of the closing scenes of the book, as presented to us in chapters 14-21. Regarding these chapters, we would again point out that the story of Samson in chapters 14-16 is the chronological close of the narrative, which, according to Usher’s dates, covers a period of just over 300 years. The incidents of chapters 17-21 must, as we have already seen, have occurred earlier than the time of Samson. They have their proper place, however, at the end of the book, because they sum up, and reveal the hidden cause of, Israel’s moral condition “in the days when the Judges ruled.” For other reasons, too, this is their natural place; for the Story of chapters 17 and 18 has much to say of the Danites, which, of course, was the tribe of Samson (chs. 14-16), and relates to the towns of Zorah and Eshtaol (18. 2, 8, 11) between which Samson first heard the call of God (13. 25) and was at last interred (16.31).
Again, twice in each of the two stories of the appendix we are told that “in those days … every man did that which was right in his own eyes” (17. 6; 18. 1 ; 19. 1 ; 21. 25). The whole nation is thus seen to have been actuated by the same sell-pleasing spirit as Samson, who had said to his parents, “Get her (a woman of the “uncircumcised Philistines”) for me; for she is right in mine eyes” (14. 3, Marg.)
There are also other points of contact between the two appendix stories themselves. In each of them a Levite is prominent; in each he is said to “sojourn” (17.7; 19.1); and in each we read of Mount Ephraim (17. 1 ; 19. 1), and of the little town of Bethlehem-Judah (17. 7, 8, 9; 19. 1, 2). The mention of Bethlehem-Judah also serves to connect with these two stories the one related in “Ruth,” and there too we read of people who went “to sojourn” (Ruth 1.1).
Now, even a cursory reading of these chapters (14-21) reveals that Israel was at this time a fallen nation. Marks of serious decline in God’s worship are patent in chapters 17 and 18, and of an utter lack of brotherly love in chapters 19-21, while the whole narrative from chapter 14 onward, manifests that the people s morals had now sunk to a deplorably low level. Spiritual decay and stagnation are painfully in evidence in it wherever one looks. Indeed, when we recall what Israel once was, as pictured in chapter 1. we stand appalled at the change and exclaim : “How is the gold become dim! how is the most fine gold changed.”
In view of this lamentable deterioration on the part of God’s people of old, we do well to remember that “all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come” (1 Cor. 10. 11). The steps, too, that lead to an open fall are ever the same. The heart first loses touch with God. An estranged attitude towards the saints follows. Finally the testimony before the world is lost. It was so in a later day in Israel’s history, as recorded by Malachi. He first tells how the priests dishonoured God in their professed worship (1. 6-14); next how they caused their fellows to stumble at the law (2. 1-8); and then how “Judah dealt treacherously, and an abomination was committed in Israel and Jerusalem; for Judah profaned the holiness of the Ford which he loved, and married the daughter of a strange god” (2.11). Sad, sad end to the retrograde steps of God’s anointed priests ! So also it was in our Lord’s parable of the evil servant. “My Lord,” reasoned his poor unbelieving heart, “delayeth His coming.” Then he began to “smite his fellow-servants.” and lastly sat down “to eat and drink with the drunken” (Matt. 24. 48, 49). How important it is then that the heart should be “kept with all diligence,” that we should “weigh carefully the path of our feet,’’ and “turn not to the right hand nor to the left” ( Prov. 4. 23-27)
- “Christian, walk carefully, danger is near!
- On in thy journey with trembling and fear;
- Snares from without and temptations within,
- Seek to entice thee once more into sin.”
What need there is therefore, beloved, that the fear of God, and a holy dread of sin, should at all times pervade our hearts. An aged saint in the writer’s home assembly was wont to say. “Keep short accounts with God.’’ Better still, do not keep accounts at all.
-To be continued
By J. K. Duff.
It has always been the case that an assembly of God’s people has more to fear from internal trouble than from outside interference. Persecution invariably has the effect of casting the saints more upon God. and binding them closer one to another. Whereas the testimony of many a local church has been blasted through bickering and strife amongst the saints. Thus what Satan cannot do by frontal attack, he often accomplishes in the more insidious way of gendering internal strife.
We would gather from his frequent exhortations to unity, that Paul perceived this danger in the assembly at Philippi. He had heard of the quarrel between Euodias and Syntyche (4.2) and while this may have been looked upon by others as of small importance, it was regarded by the Apostle as a matter of grave concern. He could see how a little rift, if unchecked could develop, and divide the whole assembly.
Hence in our chapter he makes a strong plea for unity (v. 2), basing his appeal upon four great facts which are appreciated by every simple believer: –
- The Encouragement in Christ.
- The Consolation of Love.
- The Fellowship of the Spirit.
- Bowels and Compassions.
The word “if” repeated four times, does not imply any doubt about these precious realities, but is used rather to enforce the exhortation which follows- “Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.” The phrase, “being of one accord,” is rendered from a compound word which literally means, “joined in soul.” It reminds us of what is stated concerning the saints at Jerusalem in Acts 4. 32 : “And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul.” This should ever be the normal condition of God’s assembly, and will be graciously experienced where the Holy Spirit has His way in the hearts of the Lord’s people. Anything less than this ideal could never satisfy the Lord, nor His faithful servant Paul.
For the maintenance of unity amongst the saints, two things are absolutely essential, viz., HUMILITY and UNSELFISHNESS. Experience teaches that all strife amongst the saints is traceable to pride and self-will, as saith the Scripture: “Only by pride cometh contention.” Therefore the Apostle enjoins ; “Let nothing he done through strife or vainglory, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.”
Having given them the precepts, he then sets before them the Lord Jesus Christ in whom these graces were perfectly exemplified. It is of interest to notice the practical setting in which this classical passage, dealing with the glorious Person of our Lord, is found. It surely indicates that every sublime truth unfolded concerning Him is designed to make His people like Him in all their ways. He therefore exhorts, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who being in the form of God. thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a Man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” Here is One who looked not on His own things, but on the things of others, and in His voluntary humiliation, glorified God, and left us an example to follow. If this self abnegation and loving concern for the wellbeing of others, manifested by our blessed Lord, were to mark us as individuals, there never would be any friction or divisions to mar the assemblies of the saints.
The self-humbling of the Son was answered by the Father’s highly exalting Him, giving Him a Name that is above every name, and according Him the place of absolute supremacy. This illustrates the promise of God’s Word: “He that humbleth himself shall be exalted.”
The peace and prosperity of the assembly largely depend upon the spirituality of the members, hence the injunction, “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” Difficulties which arise in the assembly are soon resolved when the Christians are imbued with the mind of Christ, and act obediently to the Word of God. This spiritual condition not only results in peace among the saints, but also in blessing to the world, “among whom ye shine as luminaries, holding forth the Word of life.” It is to be noted that the “shining” comes before the “holding forth,” as our lip testimony will be of little value if our life testimony is not bright for God.
In the remaining part of the chapter the Apostle makes reference to himself, Timotheus and Epaphroditus. We discern in each of these servants of the Lord the spirit of his Master. In verse 17 Paul writes : “Yea, and if I be poured forth upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy and rejoice with you all.” The allusion here is to the drink offering in Numbers 15. 8. It was the smallest of all the offerings, consisting of a small quantity of wine, which was offered in conjunction with the burnt offering. Thus when a bullock was offered as a burnt offering, half a hin of wine was poured out upon it, for an offering made by fire, a sweet savour unto the Lord. So Paul looked at the service of the Philippians as the big bullock, while he regarded his own contribution to the work of God as the small portion of wine. Truly, this was esteeming others better than himself.
The same graces are also seen in Timotheus, whom the Apostle speaks of as being like-minded, a man who had a genuine care for the state of God’s people. Such men were rare even in apostolic times, and there is great need for them in our own day and generation. “For all seek their own not the things which are Jesus Christ’s.” May this sweeping indictment exercise our hearts, and lead us to renounce SELF and think of OTHERS.
Reference is then made to Epaphroditus, and how worthy he is of the high commendation given him by the Apostle. He was a member of the assembly at Philippi, one of themselves. When the saints desired to communicate with Paul in prison, the difficulty lay in transmitting the gift to him. It was a long distance from Philippi to Rome, and “the things” must be carried by courier. When the question arose, ‘Who will go?’ it is evident that Epaphroditus volunteered to undertake the hazardous journey to supply their lack of service. The passage shows that he came near to death through some sickness which was occasioned by the hardships he was called upon to endure. Paul speaks of him as “my brother, my companion in labour and fellowsoldier, but your apostle, and he that ministered to my wants.’’ What zeal he showed for the work of Christ, what self-denial, what solicitude for the servant of the Lord, and what love for his fellow-believers at Philippi! May he being dead, yet speak, by his noble example, impressing upon our hearts the exhortation : “Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.”
ISAIAH 1. 30; 58. 11.
By George Knowles, Tasmania.
The two illustrations in these passages are most striking. The first is a “garden without flowers,” the other a “well watered garden.” The contrast could not be greater. The former would be “a wilderness”—without flowers, beauty, fragrance or attraction; whilst the latter would be just the opposite—“a garden,” full of flowers, beauty, fragrance and attraction. Israel is thus illustrated by these two pictures by Isaiah the prophet, and I believe they have a lesson for us to-day.
In the Middle East gardens are the result of constant, regular irrigation, as they get no rain for approximately eight months in the year. Irrigation channels are made, and the water either from the river or wells, is pumped up, and conveyed through them to the garden, orchards, or groves, otherwise there would he no flowers and no fruit. Should the irrigation channels become silted up, which is often the case, they must be cleaned out, to allow the life giving water to reach the place intended; but with no water, the garden will soon become a wilderness, no matter how lovely it was before, or how attractive. Israel had become like “a garden without water” (1. 30). The channels of supply had become blocked, and we can readily see how, by reading the previous verses. Sin is like silt, it soon blocks the life bringing channel. You cannot have silt and water in the channel at the same time. This is the striking simile the prophet uses of Israel, but we know the day is coming, when she will answer to the other simile— “A well watered garden” (58. 11).
“Whatsoever things were written aforetime, were written for our learning” (Rom. 15. 4), and surely there is something for us to learn here! In Psalm 46. 4 we read, “There is a river,” and Psalm 65. 9 says that “The river of God is FULL of water.” These statements of fact should cheer our hearts, and encourage us. Because of this “river” there is no excuse for barrenness or unfruitfulness, or a “wilderness” experience. All we need to do is to give meticulous care to the irrigation channels, for if these become silted up, the waters from the “river of God” cannot reach the garden of our hearts, or the assembly garden either.
Let us now look at some of those things that so easily, as silt, block the irrigation channels, and thus interrupt the flow of life-giving, and refreshing water.
1. LACK OF PRAYER will soon “silt up” the prayer channel. Satan is subtle and clever. He does not bring a load full of earth and dump it in all at once. That would never do. No, he watches his opportunity, and when we are “off guard” or “not looking,” in goes a handful of earth, and again another handful, and by and by the “silt” accumulates, and we become less fervent, less zealous, less earnest and not as prayerful as we were before. The result is not noticed immediately, but by and by it is seen. The smile is not the same; the joy is not the same; fragrance and fruit are lacking. The garden of the heart is affected, the fair flowers that once blossomed there wither, and the beauty disappears. Regarding the assembly garden, the same applies. We are irrigation channels, but if we neglect the public assembly prayer meeting, how will the life giving refreshing water from the river of God reach the assembly garden through us?
2. LACK OF BIBLE READING AND STUDY will, like prayerlessness, soon silt up the channel of irrigation, so that no water can reach the garden that way. Many have started off in their married life wisely and well, by establishing a family altar, and continuing faithfully, reading the Word of God daily, and praying with the family, thus bringing into their own hearts’ garden refreshing and blessing from the “river of God,” and consequently through them as a channel, to the assembly garden. But through the subtilty of Satan, this irrigation channel may become blocked. He seeks to make us too busy or too lazy; and so the practice is interrupted, and finally discontinued, to the detriment of our own hearts’ garden, and this, of course, affects the assembly garden too. As long as I am diligent in my Bible reading and study at home, I am keen to help in the Sunday School, Open-air, Gospel meeting or Ministry, but when that irrigation channel becomes silted through neglect, I can easily absent myself from the mid-week assembly meetings, and even limit my attendance to the Breaking of Bread (as so many are doing to-day). Then when I do attend the tendency will be to remain silent. I have no contribution to make, thus the assembly garden receives no refreshment, no life invigorating water from the “river of God” through me. Why? The channel has become silted up. O how we need to be watchful!
3. LACK OF TRUE SEPARATION FROM ALL THAT IS NOT OF GOD. Satan is making the “separation” channel his special target, and how easily he seems to get success here.
Look around and see those both old and young whom you once knew as truly separated unto God, how worldly they have become! Their bright testimony has gone, their powerful witness has lost its “punch”; the lovely smile that once adorned unpainted lips is not there, the feminine beauty and glory which once graced their heads has also disappeared, the chasteness in dress has gone from that form which was so charming with becoming clothes. The hands and fingers, once so clean and natural, are in some cases now painted, and made to look so unreal, yea, it would be difficult sometimes even to recognise a child of God, so like the worldling they have become. What about the garden of your heart, beloved? If you allow these things, your true separation has gone, that channel is silted up, and how is the assembly going to benefit through you? If it isn’t one way, then perhaps it is another. Following fashion may not appeal to some. The love of music, drama, sport, pictures, etc., appeals to others, and how many have become silted up through these worldly things! Do you prefer to go to the concert chamber rather than the assembly prayer meeting? In some places if a social evening is announced, or the showing of a film, the whole assembly will turn out, but if it is a prayer meeting or even a ministry meeting, very few are to be found there. Lack of true separation unto God in these and other matters, is, alas, another cause why so little refreshment is reaching some assembly gardens.
4. LACK OF SACRIFICIAL GIVING. Satan is clever in getting earth into the channel of our sacrificial giving. When we were first saved, we thought nothing was too much to give to God. How often we have observed that when some brethren get on well, when the bank balance rises then the home is not good enough, so a bigger and better one is purchased; the car is not “posh” enough, so they invest in another, more modem; the furniture is not up to date, not fashionable enough, and so other is obtained. We fear the “owe no man anything” is not observed to-day as it once was. Some of the Lord’s dear people never seem out of debt. Things are purchased which are totally unnecessary, and as a result, with so many “irons in the fire,” they are unable to give to the Lord. Alas! we do not “tithe” because we do not want to give, but we don’t mind spending on ourselves, to please our own ‘whims and fancies’, and we make not “friends of the mammon of unrighteousness” (Luke 16. 9). O yes, Satan is clever. Please do not misunderstand me. There is nothing wrong in a brother or a sister having a nice home or a nice car, the result of being “not slothful in business.” We know it is not money that is the “root of all evil” but the “love” of it that is condemned (1 Tim. 6. 10). But we are instructed that, “If riches increase, set not your heart upon them’’ (Psalm 62. 10). We are to “honour the Lord with our substance, and with the first-fruits of all our increase” (Prov. 3. 9). We are to give “cheerfully” to the Lord (2 Cor. 9. 7), for “God loveth a cheerful (hilarious) giver.” If, however, I develop a mean or miserly spirit, this surely is like the silt that clogs up the channel. Not only shall I become spiritually poor myself, but the assembly will suffer as well.
Now what are we to do if we discover through “self-examination” that any one of these irrigation channels has become silted up? We must diligently dig it out, and this is done by real confession. Then let us not “beat about the bush,” but be frank and honest with God about matters. Let us tell Him we have been prayerless, that we have neglected the family altar, and our private Bible reading and study. Let us confess that we have been worldly and carnal, and have been miserly and mean in our giving. Thus by humble confession, along with a true desire to remedy our mistakes, let us get rid of all that has hindered our spiritual growth. As we do so, the life giving water will flow again through cleansed channels. We shall find time to pray in private and in public, we shall build the family altar, we shall make time to read and study the Word, we shall gladly give up our fashions and worldly ways, and conform our lives to the pattern in the Book. We shall be large hearted and liberal in our giving to God. Then we shall prove that “The liberal soul shall be made fat, and he that watereth shall be watered also himself” (Prov. 11. 25). So will refreshment and blessing come to our own garden, and through us, as a cleansed channel, to the garden of God’s assembly.
“And the Lord shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones; and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not” (Isaiah 58. 11).
By Robert Beattie, Omagh.
I have been asked to write in few words the story of my conversion which took place in January, 1913. I was brought up under the control of Christian parents, and for years attended the Dunmullan Gospel Hall Sunday School. Many of the truths that I learned in it remain with me still, especially the portions of Scripture I committed to memory.
I regret to say that I grew up to be fond of pleasure and longed for the day when I would be free from parental restraint. Having been taught that I needed salvation to fit me for heaven, I knew this to be true, and that to die in my sins would mean hell for me for eternity.
The first serious thoughts I remember having about these things was when a young lad about 15 years of age died suddenly. He and I had been very friendly, and his death made me think seriously of where I would be in eternity. These thoughts however soon passed away.
Some time after this, Mr. T. Campbell and Mr. T. Dempsey came to our Gospel Hall for meetings, and with many other young people, I began to attend almost nightly. During these meetings I had little thought about my soul’s salvation, until the closing night, when, with the announcement that the meetings were over, I suddenly felt that I had had my last opportunity of being saved. I thought I had missed salvation, and that there was nothing for me now but hell. Under such convictions I became deeply troubled and longed for salvation. Prayers mingled with tears, and cries for mercy came from my heart. I tried to believe, to trust, to feel, but the thought prevailed that there was no salvation for me—that God would save others, but not me. At last, when about to give up the struggle, into my mind came some verses of a hymn that had been sung in the meetings :
- “I saw One hanging on a Tree
- In agonies and blood,
- Who fixed His languid eyes on me
- As near His Cross I stood.
- “A second look He gave, which said—
- I freely all forgive;
- This blood is for thy ransom, paid,
- I die that thou may’st live.”
From these words I saw that the Lord Jesus Christ had died in my stead—that He had met the claims of God on account of my sin. by the shedding of His precious blood.
A few moments later a verse from Isaiah 53 came into my thoughts — I had learned it at Sunday School—“But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed.” This Scripture confirmed what I had already believed and I rejoiced in the assurance of salvation : and still after many years I can rejoicing say:
- “It is enough that Jesus died,
- And rose again for me.”
“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved” (Romans 10.9).
By O. B. Wyllie.
“The Faith” is God’s revelation to man. It was given by the Spirit, expressed in words inspired by the Spirit, and is now made dear to our spiritual understanding only through the illumination of the Spirit. Apart from his ministry there can be neither an understanding nor holding of the faith. His normal work is to present Christ to the believer’s heart through the Scriptures (John 16.14; 2 Cor. 3.18); but the very moment grief is caused Him, whether by disobedience to the Lord, by trespass of any kind against our brethren, or by offence against them that are without, He instantly leaves His normal work, never to resume it until that which has grieved Him is dealt with and put away. This will demand confession of wrong God-ward, and man-ward also when man has been wronged. When that inward ministry of the Spirit is suppressed, the believer’s grip on “the faith” gradually slackens, until his convictions as to every aspect of it are endangered.
Satan’s subtle opposition to the truth involves considerable patience. He does not suddenly present serious error to the mind. He well knows that his suggestions against sound doctrine are quickly resisted by a healthy spiritual life; but when the conscience becomes defiled, and the freshness of the Spirit’s ministry is lost, the unwary soul is in peril of being lured to the rocks of destruction as to “the faith.’’ Let us therefore be warned of the serious danger of griefs to the Holy Spirit unremoved, or wrongs to our brethren unrighted. If we forget the unconfessed trespass, divine Justice cannot; and the hindrance to a right perspective of “the faith” will remain until the polluting thing is dealt with to the satisfaction of the throne of heaven.
There are those numbered amongst the saints to-day who were once stalwarts for the things which are most surely believed amongst us, but are now strong controversialists against doctrines they once loved. The change did not come overnight; it was a gradual process beginning with failure to maintain a good conscience. Alas, many such would need to go back over their history ten, twenty or even thirty or more years, to face the wrong that first induced the warped vision. And true honesty of heart in the light of the Word of God would compel the conviction that they could never trust their own spiritual judgment, even as to what sin is, until complete adjustment had been made.
It is amazing that so many people acquire reputations as oracles merely by circulating baseless rumours. There is a very suggestive word in that treasury of practical wisdom, the book of Nehemiah, in the sixth chapter and the sixth verse. The enemies of the Jews sent a letter to Nehemiah “wherein was written, it is reported among the heathen, and Gashmu saith it, that thou and the Jews think to rebel: for which cause thou buildeth the wall, that thou mayest be their king, according to these words.”
God’s builders must always expect that their motives will be impunged. Every man who has been used of God to build some part of the walls of Jerusalem has been charged with supreme egotism, with a desire to exalt himself and make himself king. He may have received the clearest commission from God to do the work in which he is engaged, and may be confirmed in his conviction of duty, as Nehemiah was, by “the hand of my God which was good upon me”; but all that will avail nothing to silence the criticism of Sanballat, and Tobiah, and Geshem the Arabian. God’s builders have always to face the tongue of misrepresentation and slander. We have sometimes thought it is the Devil’s device to occupy the people of God by tempting them to spend their time in refuting his slanders.
Nehemiah was informed that certain things were “reported” about him. Thus do the sharp tongues of the wicked endeavour to strike to the heart of God’s faithful ones: “They say”; “everybody believes”; “It is the general opinion”; “it is reported” ! In this way an atmosphere and attitude of opposition is created; and usually there is someone to stamp with his personal authority that which is ‘’reported,” and to accelerate the speed of the rumours: “And Gashmu saith it!”
So far as we are able to determine, Gashmu served no useful purpose in the world except to credential the enemy’s slanders. How truly modern is this line of ancient history. “Gashmu saith it!” Gashmu has wrecked many an individual church. Nothing is so dangerous to the welfare of any church as one or more unsanctified tongues. Trifles are magnified into important issues when some utterly trivial rumour is given the certification of Gashmu.
In time past we have suffered much from the signature of Gashmu. We have seen people of no consequence, of no weight or influence in any circle where they are known, become important messengers of what “Gashmu saith”—“Of course, I do not know the facts of the case myself; I am not on the inside of matters: I am not taken into official counsel, — but when Mr. So and So savs it, you may be sure there is something in the wind.” Which, being interpreted, is to say, “It is reported among the heathen, and Gashmu saith it!”
Moreover, this very quotable gentleman is often invoked by the critics of the Word of God. We were once afraid of the sayings of the higher critics ; but we discovered their hollowness, their unreliability’, and, in many cases, their puerility ; and we have observed that their chaff-like intellectualism could move no one. were they not able to say in support of their, “We may well suppose” ; “It would appear”; “It is extremely probable”; “It may seriously be questioned” ; “Assured results”- were not all these driven home with a “Gashmu saith it.”
Since Gashmu has so long been vocal, it is perhaps vain even to hope that he will cease from his talking. But what shall we set over against this everlasting irritant, that “Gashmu saith it”? The best of all answers is a “thus saith the Lord”. Let a man be commissioned by a word from Heaven, and sustained and directed and inspired by a word from Heaven, and he will by that same word become invincible. He will then be enabled to go on with his work until all the breaches in the walls are stopped, and the Holy City becomes again the City of the Great King. He will be able to do all this in spite of what “Gashmu saith”!
(T. T. Shields).
by S. Jardine.
4. THE SPECIAL ATTENDANTS, v.7.
The description of “four living ones” now claims our attention. They are admittedly difficult of interpretation, but some facts stand out clearly. They are found in close proximity to the Throne of God, serving His throne-interests and continually magnifying His Name, ch, 4. 6; 5. 8 ; 19. 4. They are described, I suggest, so as to reflect and portray the Glory of God. One is like a lion, another like a calf, another resembles the face of a man, while the fourth is like the flying eagle. These picture-forms have a remarkable display in the Lord Jesus Who is the revealer and interpreter of the Father. In Him the might and majesty of the lion appear—the King—in Matthew’s Gospel. In Him the submission and service of the young ox appear—the Servant—in Mark’s Gospel. In Him the perfection and purity of the Man appear— “the Son of Man”—in Luke’s Gospel. In Him the heights of the heavenly appear—“the Son of God”— —in John’s Gospel. The “four living creatures” may be compared and in some features contrasted with those of Ezekiel, chapter 1. They are certainly servants of the Eternal Throne, being the executives of God’s dealings with man on the earth. Walter Scott points out that the number four is “a signature of earth,” i.e. North, South, East, West, and “nations, kindreds, peoples and tongues,” Rev. 7. 9. (cf. ch. 6. 1, 3, 5, 7; 15. 7)
5. THE APPROPRIATE PRAISE, vv. 8-11.
The readiness for service of the Four is suggested by their six wings, their greatness of intelligence in their being “full of eyes within,” while the chief feature of their Throne ministry is their worship of God as the thrice-holy, omnipotent and eternal Creator. The passage reaches it climax in the concerted adoration of the Lord of Creation by the “Four living ones” and “the four and twenty elders,” the latter casting their golden crowns before the Throne as they prostrate themselves and praise His Name. This ascription of praise recalls the primal rights of God who brought all things into being for His own pleasure. “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power : for Thou hast created all tilings, and for Thy pleasure they are and were created.” And every creature should gratefully and reverently say, “Amen!” (Psalms 148, 149, 150).
(To be continued).
The World and the Christian
- The World asked Christian, “Where’s thy heart?’
- And Christian said, “One holds it fast
- Whose heart was pierced with soldiers spear,
- But liveth now where death is past.”
- Then said the World, “Where are thine eyes?”
- “Mine eyes He, too, hath stolen away,
- To gaze upon His feet and hands,”
- Did Christian answering, quickly say.
- “’Tis passing strange—heart, eyes, thus gone !
- Christian : What then am I to thee?’
- “Ah, World, who Jesus crucified,
- The grave of Christ art thou to me!”
- Dear brother, tread the old paths nothing doubting,
- Though By-Paths meadow’s luring not a few,
- Dear sister, just keep on while they are flouting
- Scriptural principles for something new.
- Dear brother, too, we need a sense of balance,
- Without Love’s temp’ring influence Truth is hard;
- Dear sister, thine are priceless, choicest talents
- That silently outweigh the lyric bard!
- Dear brother, you must learn to be forgiving,
- For God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you;
- Dear sister, learn the art of Christ-like living,
- By dying daily to each fashion new.
- Do all things without murmuring and disputing,
- Exhorting one another while ’tis called ‘To-day’,
- Christ’s gentleness and meekness, thus refuting
- The scathing critics of the Narrow Way.
- John Glenville.