THE FRUITS OF DEPARTURE
by J. G. Good
THE TIME”—”HIGH TIME”—”NOW
by C. Jarrett
THE WORD OF THE CROSS
by E. Robinson
by W. Bunting
DANIEL THE PROPHET
by C. J. Atkins
by J. B. D. Page
THE JOY OF THE LORD
by H. C. Spence
THE CLOSED BOOK
by J. F. Johnson
THE FRUITS OF DEPARTURE
by J. G. GOOD
JEREMIAH was the prophet whose eye affected his heart, as he looked upon the departure and declension, from the right ways of the Lord, he was grieved, and longed for a restoration of the former glory of the nation of Israel when God had His rightful place in the hearts of His people. The symptoms which marked this departure are detailed for us, in Lamentations chapter 4, the characteristic features which should have marked them were absent. We do not travel very long upon the path of departure from God until the effect of such departure is manifested.
Lost Value, (verse 1), “the gold become dim” Have Divine things no longer the supreme place in our lives, has the Prayer meeting and the Bible reading become a thing of the past? Have we got our priorities right, do we treasure that which is of God, or are we using a worldly set of values? The people in question were treating that which was God given as if it were man made. “The precious sons of Zion esteemed as the work of the potter.” We live in a day when many are prepared to relegate, Divine Truth and Principle to the same level as that which is of man’s manufacture, when “Thus saith the Lord” is made a matter of choice rather than an absolute necessity.
Lost Affection, (verse 3). The ostrich being without paternal instinct, is used to illustrate the absence of affection in the hearts of the people, their love had grown cold. We are reminded of the words of the Lord Jesus to the Church at Ephesus (Revelation 2:2) “I know thy works and thy labour” (verse 4) “I have somewhat against thee because thou hast left thy first love.” How sad, activity without affection, is this not a serious error into which we are in danger of falling today. So much that speaks of service, is it born of affection? Our activity should be motivated by love, and if my affections are right God ward, I shall have no difficulty loving my brethren and sisters, and this affection shall extend to my fellow men around me in the world. This was a failure of the Church at Corinth, (1 Corinthians 1:7). “Came behind in no gift” no scarcity of able ministers of the Word, and yet they were lacking in affection, and were out of touch with the Mind and Will of God for them. Had love been present there would have been no divisions (1 Corinthians 13:4), they would not have tolerated sin in their midst (1 Corinthians 13:6), and the truth of the resurrection would never have been in doubt (1 Corinthians 13:7).
Lost Sustenance (verse 4). Paul charged the elders at Ephesus “Feed the flock of God which is among you.” There is a great lack of spiritual teaching and ministry of the Word relative to the young believer in our Assemblies today, so very many are in ignorance regarding the fundamentals of the Faith and the Principles of Gathering as expounded in the New Testament. Let us see to it that there is an abundant supply of spiritual things, that none may be under nourished as far as spiritual things are concerned, that the Word of God may be the man of our counsel, and esteemed more than our necessary food. May we be like the godly man of Psalm 1, “A tree planted by the rivulets of water,” there is no shortage of supply, sixty six rivulets, making up the river of God which is full of water, may our roots penetrate the richness of the Word of God and as a result may we be fruitful and flourishing.
Lost Beauty (verse 5). “They that were brought up in scarlet embrace the dung hill.” “The sow that was washed to its wallowing in the mire” (2 Peter 2:22). They had lost the beauty of a Christ-like life. This was true of the Corinthians of whom Paul said “Ye walk as men.” Young believer nothing in this world can rob us of our Salvation, which became ours when we trusted in Christ but our daily Salvation depends upon our continual coming unto God through Him. (Hebrews 7:25), maintaining the link of daily communion between our souls and God. Time spent on the mount with God can have no other effect than causing our faces to shine with the beauty of Christ. (Exodus 34:35).
Lost Purity, (verse 7). The Nazarite who according to Numbers 6 had not to touch a dead body lest he contracted defilement. Personal purity is essential before we can enjoy communion with a holy God. It is a serious thing to trifle with sin. Nothing can destroy our relationship with God, but sin the weight of a feather can disturb our communion with God. How solemn the testimony of a life time destroyed in one unguarded moment. What a graphic description here in verses 7 and 8, “Whiter than snow, blacker than coal.” “Not known in the streets.” The tragic story is told time and time again of mighty men who have fallen and lost their testimony and the spiritual prosperity that marked them out from other men, having turned aside from God’s revealed truth. The path away from God is not a crisis but a process, let us be watching for the signs and seek early treatment. We read concerning Lot, that “He saw the well watered plains of Sodom” that he “Pitched his tent toward Sodom” and finally “He sat in the gate.” The path of the back slider is a slippery path and fraught with seeming prosperity and good intentions. Do not under estimate the power of the enemy, the words from the tomb stone of the old soldier serve to illus-rate this point;
- “Here lies an old soldier, none were bolder,
- He fought many battles at home and abroad,
- But the hottest engagement he ever was in,
- The conflict with self in the battle of sin.”
“THE TIME” — “HIGH TIME” —“NOW”
by CHARLES JARRETT
Romans chapter 13 comes within that part of the Epistle that teaches righteousness in our connections and dealings with men, as we walk according to the Spirit ch. 8:4. The jibe that a man is “too heavenly minded to be of any earthly use” is untrue. The teaching of this Epistle is, that the believer who presents his body a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, ch. 12: v.l has heart and feeling for the saints, ch. 12:13-15, is subject to powers, knowing they are ordained of God, and lives in right relationship with men, ch. 13:1-8.
In ch. 8:4 the Apostle writes that the righteousness of life that the Spirit will produce in us, will correspond to that which the law demanded of those who were under it. In ch 13:8-10 he is teaching that if a man loves his neighbour, he has fulfilled the law and will not transgress any of the prohibitions of the law relating to dealings with men. “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” is cited from Lev. 19:18.
The teaching of chapters 14 and 15 concerns our ways with fellow-believers but to return to chapters 12 and 13 for instruction as to our conduct towards men generally, two verses speak forcibly to us. The first is ch. 12:21 “Be not overcome of evil but overcome evil with good.” Few Christians or non-Christians accept this, bearing in mind that to accept it, means to practice it. To avenge ourselves as v. 19 says, is to fail, on our part, to live peaceably with all men (v. 18) and at the same time, to take into our hands, that which belongs to God. Vengeance is His and it is far wiser to leave Him His right to repay. When we repay men, under the impulse of the flesh, we are overcome of evil ourselves. In order to overcome evil, we are to repay it with good.
The second verse of this section, at which we do well to pause with subject hearts is ch. 13:10. “Love worketh no ill to his neighbour.” This forbids harm by word or deed and class interest that hurts others. How can the conflict between employees and employers or between political parties or between men of different races, have the sympathy of the Christian? We cannot win men by fighting. However believers are treated by others, even if those others are also believers, vengeance is forbidden and so is all triumphing by one section over another. Love is seen, not only in active expression but also in refraining from actions and words that hurt, impulses that are of the flesh.
In ch. 13:11 the Apostle turns to the prospective glories of our salvation. Three words in v. 11 deserve careful thought, namely, “the time,” “high time” and “now.”
The first expression is “Knowing the time.” The word translated “time” occurs again in this Epistle at ch. 5:6 “In due time Christ died for the ungodly.” It is at ch. 8:18 “The sufferings of this present time” and again at ch. 9:9 “At this time will I come and Sarah shall have a son.” If the reader desires further instances he can read Acts 1:6; and 12:1; Rom. 3:26; 1Cor. 4:5; 1Pet. 1:5; Acts 7:20. The “time” is an occasion, the set or proper time, and it is in relation to a particular event. This is clearly seen in the references quoted above. In our verse the “time” is the event of the verse “our salvation, nearer than when we believed” and again, v. 12, “the day is at hand.”
The second expression in v. 11 is “that now it is high time to awake out of sleep.” “High time” means, the hour now present, the hour to awake out of sleep. The same word is used in Luke 1:10 to describe the hour of incense and again at Luke 14:17 to refer to supper time. It is the immediate hour for believers to be spiritually alert and not insensible to the fact that the day is at hand. The night is very dark at present and those whose deeds are evil, hate the light. This is not the hour to be unaware of the dark character of the time in which we live, nor the time to be seeking pleasure in books, entertainment and practices that rob us of the desire for spiritual food and exercise. The arguments for liberty to gratify the flesh lead to the things condemned in v. 13, rioting, drunkenness, chambering (i.e. unlawful sexual relations) and wantonness. The works of darkness are to be put off as our night clothes are put off and we are to put on the armour of light as appropriate to the day.
The third word in v. 11 to which we would draw your attention is “now.” “Now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.” It is not surer, fellow-saint, but it is nearer. The word here means “the present moment, immediate.” The Apostle begins in this verse with a set time or due season in relation to a particular event, he then refers to an hour and lastly to a present moment. It is the moment of our salvation, to be brought to glorious realisation in the twinkling of an eye, when the Lord comes for His people. Beloved saints, you may be very troubled by what is developing in the darkness, by the vulgarity, ugliness and sorrowful results of the works of darkness, but one blissful moment of fulfilment and salvation, ready to be revealed, will be ours.
The Apostle has referred in ch. 5:2 to hope of the glory of God, and in ch. 8:18 to the glory which shall be revealed in (or perhaps unto) us, so that his thoughts go beyond the rapture to the manifestation of His people with Him in glory.
We shall know quite clearly then, to what vanity the creation was made subject by God as the result of One Man’s sin, but this is the time to see it, now, so that our interests and powers are not attached to things that all go to corruption. All the satisfaction we give to the flesh and its desires will end in corruption but all that has been of the Spirit’s contract and for the Lord’s pleasure will have abiding recognition when we are glorified together.
So the chapter ends, that rather than reveal the things detailed in v. 13, we are to reveal the Lord Jesus Christ, to put Him on and not provide for the desires of the flesh, through which, sin finds expression.
The writer has regularly visited one elderly widowed believer who is in his ninety sixth year and lives alone. It might be thought that he is just waiting for the Lord to take him home and so he is, yet not as you might expect. On our most recent visit he said, “I am expecting the Lord to come at any moment!” It is not for death that our dear brother is waiting but for the Lord’s coming. This expectation cheers his spirit and comforts his heart and may it be true of us.
“Now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.”
THE WORD OF THE CROSS
by EDWARD ROBINSON
In the three opening chapters of Paul’s first Epistle to the Corinthians the apostle, in the most trenchant terms, demolishes the loftiest pretensions of ‘man after the flesh’— all that you and I are according to Nature. He does not here deal specifically with man in his most sinful or evil character, but rather with man as marked by human wisdom and reliance thereon. He asserts categorically that ‘the world by wisdom knew not God.’ (1:21)
That the cross of Christ is the divinely appointed means by which God reconciles the repentant sinner to Himself is unquestionable. Is this then the extent or limit of the teaching of these chapters which, let us note, are addressed not to the unconverted but to ‘the Church of God at Corinth?’ ‘The preaching of the cross … unto us who are saved is the power of God’ (1:18): the original Greek (Logos) which the A.V. renders ‘preaching’ is highly illuminating. It is a most comprehensive word—nowhere more so than in connection with its application to the Lord Jesus Himself as the full and complete declaration of God. The word of the cross, its teaching as applied to the believer, is vital to the life and spirituality of the Christian. It is not purely negative, although a basic feature is displacement. As the power of God, not only does the cross deal with the removal of our sins; it removes judicially before the eye of God the man who committed those sins. As God hates a vacuum there is then substituted another order of man altogether, Jesus Christ, (this title is itself significant).
In the light of this we can well understand the statement of Paul (1Corinthians 2:2) ‘I determined not to know anything among you save Jesus Christ and Him crucified.’ In view of the carnal state at Corinth, here was a calculated resolve on the part of the apostle. He would thrust from his mind the Ephesian level of his understanding in order to press home to those to whom he wrote their basic need of the application of the cross of Christ (as a weapon turned in upon themselves) to all that marked them as merely of the natural order of man. The fundamental necessity of this aspect of the truth is underlined in that Paul had already stated in his letter that they came behind in no gift. He later says ‘Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ ’ (3:11)— a wholly different order of man and the only kind in whom God can take pleasure.
This is the kind of lesson which takes us a lifetime to learn, if indeed we ever do learn. First of all, we come to it in the spirit of our mind: then comes the practical working out of the truth in an absolute dependence upon the help of the Holy Spirit. That it is a difficult lesson is seen typically in that Saul and the people disastrously spared Agag (king of the Amalekites), the best of the flock and all that was good. (1 Samuel 15:9). Probably the secret of an understanding of the truth lies in the measure of our ability to get alongside of God in our thinking. Paul encourages much on this line in this same Epistle when he says ‘But we have the mind (Gr. ‘nous,’ the thinking faculty) of Christ’ (1 Corinthians 2:16).
by the late WILLIAM BUNTING
Daniel 9:1-4,20-27; Matthew 16:15-18; Acts 15:13-16
DANIEL Chapter 9 contains perhaps the greatest Old Testament prophecy. An outstanding chapter in the Old Testament. God’s intention was that Israel should be a testimony for him—head of the nations, but we know how Israel failed. In the days of Rehoboam, the kingdom became divided. Apostasy set in, until in the year 723, God allowed the ten tribes of Ephriam to be carried into captivity—ten lost tribes. That should have been a warning to the two tribes. They continued to follow the example of the ten tribes, then in the year 606 B.C. the two tribes were carried into captivity.
Daniel was taken into Babylon as a captive. He is a lovely character. Though he was in Babylon, Daniel was able to keep his soul right with God. It should be possible for us to keep our souls right with God. Three things that kept him right :
- The fellowship of kindred spirits: That is something we should cherish, the fellowship of God’s dear people.
- Daniel was a man of the Bible: He had his Bible in Babylon, he was reading the prophecy of Jeremiah.
- He was a man of prayer.
As Daniel read in Jeremiah, he learned that though the people had been carried into Babylon, God would visit and restore them to their own land at the end of 70 years. Daniel counted up the years. He learned that the 70 year period of captivity was almost at an end. He was now an old man— what a revelation it must have been to his soul, and he began to pray that God might fulfil His word, and His own people might be restored to their own land.
Daniel Chapter 9 verses 3-19—Daniel’s prayer, verses 20-27 —Gabriel’s message. Gabriel comes to him with a vision of something far greater and grander than anything Daniel had anticipated. 70 weeks are determined 490 years. At the end of the 70 weeks not only will the people be restored, but it is clear that at the end of that period of time the reign of Christ will begin (Millenial Reign). The 70 weeks are divided into three parts :—7 weeks, 62 weeks, 1 week, and we are told the date when these 70 weeks began in Nehemiah Chapter 2— 446 B.C.
- 7 weeks — 49 years
- 62 weeks — 434 years ⇨ Messiah — Calvary
- Desolation and war follows.
Verse 27 of Chapter 9 has not been fulfilled. The 7 weeks and 62 weeks (69 weeks) have been fulfilled. The 1 week— it will be a period of seven years. God stopped the great clock of prophecy when Christ was rejected, and during this period the Jews are scattered and peeled amongst the nations. This is the great parenthesis.
- Acts 15 Verse 14—God visited the Gentiles.
- Acts 15 Verse 16—Tabernacle of David—refers to Israel.
The tabernacle has now fallen down, but there is a time coming when it will be builded again. God is taking out from the Gentiles a people for His name. They are called the church.
In the Old Testament there were Jews and Gentiles, and in the days to come there will be Jews and Gentiles. In 1st Corinthians Chapter 10—The Church of God.
DANIEL THE PROPHET
by the late C. J. ATKINS
Chapter 10. Pastoral grief and Angelic Ministry
The spiritual perception of the aged prophet is evident in ch 9, as he is seen studying the word of God and praying for the fulfilment of God’s purpose as revealed therein. In chapter 10 the prophet’s yearning heart of love for his people is revealed. According to God’s promise, in the first year of Cyrus, the spirit of the king was stirred to make the proclamation “whosoever there is among you of all his people, his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, … and build the house of the Lord, the God of Israel, (He is God) Which is in Jerusalem. And whosoever is left in any place where he sojourneth, let the men of his place help him with silver and with gold, and with goods.” Ezra 1:3, 4. Many however were so settled and comfortable in Babylon that there was no desire to go, so that only a remnant set out to the land of their Fathers, only 42,360 with 7,337 men-servants and maidservants and 200 singers, Ezra 3:64,65. The sight of the desolation and the harassing of adversaries, soon weakened their zeal, and reports of failure began to pass back to Babylon, that “then ceased the work of the house of God which is at Jerusalem.” Ezra 4:24.
Probably because of his age and position of authority Daniel remained in Babylon, but such a man as he would not take such a course, without earnest waiting upon God. Though remaining in exile, his heart was with the returned company and as he thought of the time, the first month, when the feast of the Passover and unleavened bread should be kept, his heart was so heavy at the news coming back from Jerusalem that for three whole weeks, more than spanning the time of the feasts, he devoted himself to fasting and mourning over the reports which he heard of the sad state of the Lord’s people (Daniel 10:2, 3). It was left to other prophets, Haggai and Zechariah to recall the tiny remnant to the Lord’s work at Jerusalem (Ezra 5:1) but God had yet more to reveal to Daniel concerning the future of his people. Our God still needs devoted shepherds to “watch in behalf of souls, as they that shall give account” and to walk “as examples to the flock” Hebrews 13:17; 1 Peter 5:3; to yearn over the failures in the work of God with self-denying prayer and reaching out to God. Once again Daniel gives an exemplary lesson to us, particularly to the elders in these days as so much evidence is seen of lukewarmness, seeking joy in material things before giving preference to the holy things of the Lord. We should likewise be moved to a chastening of spirit and to seeking in a spirit of humility for the Lord to awaken His people and revive them. For two years Daniel had prayed, and waited and watched; then a further revelation was given “even a great warfare” (Daniel 10:1). The people in Jerusalem were being harassed, but God revealed that there was yet more strife and suffering before the final deliverance should come (Daniel 12:1-3). Before these final visions are given as recorded in chapters 11 and 12, the prophet is prepared by a wondrous visitation and experience of glory.
To the aged apostle John on the Isle of Patmos was given a glorious manifestation of the risen Lord who said “I am the first and the last and the Living One; and I was dead, and behold I am alive for evermore.” Relevation 1:17, 18. This glorious vision of the risen Lord walking in the midst of the churches, was given as a prelude to a wonderful revelation. Similarly to Daniel, the man greatly beloved, as he walked in sorrow of heart beside the river Tigris in the land of Exile was given a glorious vision of that same mighty one, and in each case the effect was the same. “I fell at his feet as one dead.” Revelation 1:17. “When I heard the voice of his words, then I was fallen in a deep sleep on my face, with my face to the ground.” Daniel 10:9. Again, as when Saul of Tarsus saw the risen Lord in His glory, his companions heard but saw nothing, so with Daniel, “the men that were with me saw not the vision; but a great quaking fell upon them.” The Lord had special messages for His servants, and prepared them by the manifestation of His glory. Though we may not expect such a manifestation until He descends to take us up to be with Him, we should ever seek to prepare our hearts and minds, and to discipline the tendencies to fleshly desires so that we are in such an attitude to hear His gentle voice strengthening, encouraging and guiding us in His way.
Many commentators consider that these verses 5-9 do not describe a glorious Theophany, a manifestation of the Holy Lord Himself, because of the limitation of power indicated by v. 13, but so close is the comparison between the transcendent glory of “the man … girded with pure gold” v. 5 and that revealed to John at Patmos after the resurrection, some 600 years later, that it seems evident that Daniel was privileged to see the Lord before His incarnation. Then, v. 10 another hand touched his prostrate body and another voice spoke, an angelic being before whom Daniel could stand, even though with trembling. Again may we remind our hearts, as we think of Daniel’s impeccable life of steadfast faithfulness and diligent seeking after God, that even such as he must say “my comeliness was turned in me into corruption and I retained no strength” v. 8. How carefully then ought we to enter into the presence of a holy God, even though the way is made open by the precious outpoured blood of our Lord. Moreover, we should learn from the succeeding verses that entrance to God in prayer is no light exercise, for there are mighty powers ranged against us. What an awesome, howbeit an encouraging glimpse, is given in v. 12-20 of the unseen forces warring for and against us. Is our prayer unanswered? Pray on, praying in the Spirit, for though a mighty one oppose for 21 days, a greater power overcame to bring the answer v. 12, 13. How important is the word “from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand to humble thyself before God, thy words were heard.” v. 12. We need the “whole armour of God … for our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:11, 12. Our blessed Lord did not dispute the word of Satan when he showed him all “the kingdoms of the world” and said “to thee will I give all this authority and the glory of them; for it hath been delivered unto me, and to whomsoever I will, I give it,” Luke 4:5, 6. He who is “the Prince of the power of the air” Ephesian 2:2; is given control over mighty rebellious spirits to whom he allocates a charge and Daniel has this glimpse of two sueh spirits designated “the prince of Persia, the prince of Greece” v. 3, v. 20. But though such evil powers have access to the presence of God as Job ch. 1 and 2 Chronicles 18:18-21 show, though they may be permitted to test and try and to sift as wheat the children of God, (Luke 22, v. 31), we rest assured in our faith, for there are also “ministering spirits sent forth to do service for the sake of them that shall inherit salvation” Hebrews 1:14, and above all is our High Priest making intercession. Hebrews 4:14-16; 7:25. This is a great mystery, that such a mighty power could hinder the Lord’s messenger for three weeks, but we can lay hold of the assurances that our Lord is able to keep us from stumbling (Jude 24) and rejoice that the day is coming when Satan and his angels will be bound for ever. Revelation 20:10.
With what sympathy these angelic beings deal with the aged devoted saint of God. The immediate comfort of the words “from the first day … thy words were heard the touch upon the lips so dumb through weakness and sorrow; (v. 16); the second touch after confession of weakness to strengthen in preparation for the message, and the word of peace before the revelation, (v. 19) fit Daniel to hear the message. Before resuming the conflict with the dominant evil power over Persia and thence on to control the evil forces so soon to guide the Grecian hordes against Israel, the ministering angel stays to give a final revelation concerning the immediate future of Daniel’s people the Jews, and then to tell events which will be in the future, “that which is inscribed in the writing of truth” v. 21. All the future is fully known in God’s counsels, and for the blessing of generations yet to come the writing was made known to Daniel, and faithfully he recorded it in the concluding chapters of his book. Having thus prepared the prophet and given the message the angel resumed the task he had, “in the first year of Darius the Mede” strengthening the arm of the angel Michael, the guardian prince of Israel. (Ch. 11:1).
The unfolding then begins at ch. 11:2 and up to v. 36 is a detailed resume of Jewish history up to the struggles of the time of the Maccabees and the beginning of Roman power. From v. 36 on the chapter is concerned with the fearful times of Israel’s suffering in the last half of Daniel’s 70th week.
— (To be continued)
STUDIES IN SOLOMON’S TEMPLE (3)
by JOHN B. D. PAGE
The need for a Temple :
Having built a “house of cedars” for himself, David realised that the Ark of the Covenant was “under curtains,” by which he meant that it was housed not in the tabernacle but merely “a tent” which he had pitched for it. See 1Chronicles 17:1f; 2Chronicles 1:4. Immediately, he saw the need for a temple, and so he was prompted to take action.
With David, it was a matter of priorities. As he looked at his own cedarwood house, he realised the lack of a house for the Ark, and so the desire to build a Temple was stimulated. We too need to look at our priorities. Does our home have priority over the house of God? Who has the first consideration, ourselves or Christ? Children are quick to sense whether their parents have their priorities right and they will set their lives on the course of their parents.
The Plan of the Temple:
“David gave to Solomon his son the pattern” of the proposed House of the Lord, which he had received “by the Spirit,” and in his brief description he starts outside with “the courts” and “the porch” and ends inside with “the place of the mercy seat.” “All this” about the plan of the proposed Temple and other relevant matters, said David, “the Lord made me understand in writing by His hand upon me, even all the works of this pattern” (1Chronicles 28:11f, 19).
“In writing,” the Lord has provided in the New Testament the pattern for a local assembly, the spiritual counterpart of the Temple, and by the Spirit we need to understand ‘the workings of this pattern.’
In his brief description of the proposed Temple, David was peripheral by starting with the courts and the porch but he was also objective by ending with “the place of the mercy seat” where the Glory would be. In church teaching and practice, our object should be to glorify Christ, avoiding the risk of remaining on the perimeter.
David’s preparatory work:
Normally, when plans are drawn, the materials are prepared, and then the building is erected. The plan of the Temple was given by God. The materials were prepared by David, and the building was erected by Solomon. All this is not without significance in respect of the Church, the spiritual counterpart.
David told Solomon, his son, “It was in my mind to build an House unto the name of the Lord .. (1Chronicles 22:7). Back in eternity, the Church was conceived in the mind and counsels of God. Then, in the fullness of time, Christ came and, like “David who prepared abundantly before his death” for the Temple (1Chronicles 22:5), He made preparation not only before but also by His Death for the Church. Now, in this day of grace, the risen and glorified Christ, of Whom Solomon is a type, is building the spiritual Temple of God.
Solomon, during his reign of peace, was fitted by God to build the Temple, but David carried out the preparatory work. Reflecting upon it, David said, “In my trouble, (or low estate, R.V.) I have prepared for the House of the Lord . . .” (1Chronicles 22:14): Our Lord’s life upon earth was one of trouble and “in His humiliation,” or “in His low estate” (lit.), He was denied justice (Acts 8:33), culminating in death upon a Roman gibbet but in His death He gave Himself for the Church (Ephesians 5:25). Noting the alternative rendering in the margin we continue, “In my poverty,” said David, “I have prepared … 100,000 talents of gold, 1,000,000 talents of silver; and of brass and of iron without weight, for it is in abundance . . .” Apparently, the weight of brass (actually, copper) and iron was great, but that of gold and silver was enormous. Note that one talent is the equivalent of 114 lbs, and so David prepared 5,090 tons of gold, which at to-day’s value is £3,246,000,000, besides 50,900 tons of silver worth today £1,543,000,000. All this, David gave for the House of the Lord. Surely, it prefigures how Christ gave His all for the Church.
It was “in my poverty,” said David when he gave such riches for the Temple, and says Paul “our Lord Jesus Christ, though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that ye through His poverty might be rich” (2Corinthians 8:9). From eternity “He was rich” and, setting aside His riches, “He became poor” voluntarily. Two words are translated “poor,” one of which means “to be in need” (penichros), that is ‘to have only a few pence,’ and the other means’ to be destitute” (ptocheuo), that is, ‘to be literally penniless.’ The latter is here used of Christ, Who “became destitute” and withheld nothing, so that we “might be rich.” What are the riches with which we are made rich? The enormous quantities of gold and silver accumulated by David for the cladding of the Temple were but a shadow of “the unsearchable riches of Christ.” His riches are exhaustless! That is the thought. With the inexhaustible riches of Christ, the spiritual Temple is now clad. “Gold”—“the riches of His glory!” We now share His moral glory and we shall yet partake of His physical glory. “Silver”—“the riches of His grace!” The grace of God by which we are saved is immeasurable. (See Ephesians 1:7, 18; 2:7; 3:8, 16, for the five-fold occurrence of “riches” in that epistle).
Later, David said, “I have prepared with all my might for the House . . ., and I have set my affections to the House of my God . . (1Chronicles 29:2f). Christ set His affection upon the spiritual Temple for He “loved the Church,” and with all His might He prepared for it because He “gave Himself for it” (Ephesian 5:25).
The might, with which David prepared materials, ranging from gold to stones in abundance, for the House of God, and the affection, which he showed for the project, are lessons for us in our work for the Lord. David’s mighty preparation was a “work of faith,” for he never saw the Temple built but he believed it would be. His enormous gifts of materials were a “labour of love,” having set his heart’s affection upon the proposed House of God. A living faith works with all its might for the Lord, and an expressive love gives everything to Him.
Solomon, the builder:
If David is a type of Christ Who “humbled Himself,” then Solomon typifies Christ Whom “God hath highly exalted.” It was not before David had died and not until Solomon had ascended the throne that the Temple was built (1Chronicles 22:5; 2Chronicles 3:2). Likewise, it was not before Christ had died, although He had expressed His intention 441 will build My Church,” and not until He had ascended on high that He began to build His Church.
David died. Solomon acceded to the throne, and “the Lord … magnified him exceedingly” and gave him “wisdom and knowledge,” followed by unprecedented “riches, and wealth, and honour” (2Chronicles 1:1, 12). Christ died, and was raised and exalted far above all. In Him, “are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge,” and He is acclaimed “to receive power, an riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory and blessing” (Colossians 2:3; Revelations 5:12).
There is not only a striking comparison in the respective characters and positions of Solomon and Christ but also in the conditions prevailing when each of them started to build. Solomon said, “Now the Lord my God hath given me rest on every side, so that there is neither adversary nor evil occurrent . . I purpose to build an House unto the name of the Lord . . .” (1Kings 5:4). When no adversary or evil confronted him and peace prevailed, Solomon began building the Temple. When Christ had “spoiled principalities and powers” and with “all things under His feet,” He began to build His spiritual Temple, the Church, of which the process of building is still in progress, and it will be finished when He comes again. See Colossians 2:15; Ephesians 1:20-22.
After telling Hiram, King of Tyre, of his intention to build the Temple, and reminding him of his consignments of cedar wood to David, Solomon requested more supplies of timber, to which Hiram agreed. From an allocation of 30,000 men, Solomon sent 10,000 a month to Lebanon to assist the Sidonians in felling and cutting cedars and firs, who were unequalled in the skill. The timber was then sent in floats by sea to Joppa, and from there Solomon undertook to transport it to Jerusalem (2Chronicles 2:1-16; 1Kings 5:1-12).
Solomon agreed to provide Hiram’s workmen with beaten wheat, barley, wine and oil (2Chronicles 2:10; 1Kings 5:11). Such provisions are figurative of spiritual sustenance for the Lord’s servants. “Beaten wheat” and “barley” are symbols of Christ in His death and resurrection respectively ( op. John 12:24; 1Corinthian 15:20). Both “wine” and “oil” are symbols of the Holy Spirit—the joy that He gives, and the power with which He endures.
Having in mind presumably to utilise all available labour in his enormous building project, Solomon took a census of all the aliens in Israel, and they numbered 153,600. He then assigned 70,000 of them to be burden-bearers, 80,000 to work in the quarries, and the remaining 3,600 to oversee and direct the work (2Chronicles 2:17f). Therefore, surprisingly both Jews and Gentiles were engaged in building the Temple! It was under Solomon that we see this amazing union of Jewish and Gentiles workers, and so to-day the risen and glorified Christ, of Whom Solomon is a type, is calling out those from both Jews and Gentiles to perform His work, for, under grace, there is no national, social, or other barrier (Galatians 3:28). Turning to a local assembly, we are “labourers together,” working in unison, but let us remember that discord amongst fellow-workers will break their harmony and hinder the Lord’s work, often causing irreparable damage.
THE JOY OF THE LORD
by H. C. Spence
“These things have I spoken unto you that My joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full” (John 15:11).
The Lord had spoken of many things in the preceding chapter and He had spoken of My peace, My love and of the Father’s house of mansions, and of His promise “I will come again and receive you unto Myself” and the promise of the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, and the abiding life and the secret fruit-bearing.
And now at this juncture He speaks of “My joy”—that My joy might abide in you.
Let us ponder “the joy of the Lord We are reminded in (Proverbs chapter 8) that the Eternal Son and the Eternal Word was the Father’s constant joy. “Then I was by Him as one brought up with Him and I was daily His delight rejoicing always before Him, rejoicing in the habitable part of His earth, and my delights were with the sons of men”. (Verses 30 and 31).
We think of the joy of the Incarnation when He announced, “Then said I, Lo, I come, in the volume of the book it is written of Me, I delight to do Thy will, O My God, yea, Thy law is within my heart” (Psa. 40:7 and 8).
Again we have the Shepherd’s joy. “And when He hath found it (the sheep that was lost) he layeth it on his shoulders rejoicing, and calling together his friends and neighbours saying unto them, ‘Rejoice with me for I have found my sheep that was lost I say unto you, that joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth” (Luke 15:7).
Truly the Lord Jesus was a Man of Sorrows and His grief was unequalled at the place called Calvary, yet we are reminded of a joy that sustained Him in His sufferings on the cross “Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb. 12:2).
The Resurrection joy. “As they went to tell His disciples, behold, Jesus met them saying, ‘All hail!’ (Oh the joy!) “And they came and held Him by the feet and worshipped Him” (Matt. 28:9). Truly this was the Lord’s Own joy when He greeted as He had promised His disciples in Galilee.
Thus we can sing :—
- “Now Thy travail all is o’er,
- Thou shalt humbled be no more,
- Joy to Thee shall ever flow
- From Thy toil and shame below”.
Let us consider the last clause of this wonderful promise of His joy and ours. “And that your joy might be full ”.
The joy of Fellowship with the Father and His Son “And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full” (1 John 1:3 and 4). The Holy Spirit indwelling us gives us the realisation of this joy of communion and intimate fellowship in prayer.
The joy of feeding on the Word of God “Thy words were found and I did eat them, and Thy Word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of my heart” (Jer. 15:16). May we find joy and satisfaction in the assimilation and mediation on the scriptures which produces much joy of the soul as well as food for the mind.
The joy of answered Prayer. We are reminded of the joy of answered prayer. “Ask and ye SHALL receive that your joy may be full” (John 16:24). Here is the joy that comes from asking in faith and receiving the answer to our petitions.
Then there is the Soul winner’s joy “For what is our hope, or joy or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of Our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming? For ye are our glory and joy” (1Thes. 2:19 and 20).
What joy it is to point others to Our Adorable Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. “He that winneth souls is wise” (Proverbs). And to receive the Lord’s Own commendation “Well done, thou good and faithful servant—enter thou into the joy of Thy Lord ” (Matt. 25:23).
Finally, the joy of Presentation “Now unto Him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy ” (Jude 24).
While we wait in anticipation of the fullness of joy (Psa. 16: verse 11) we can sing :—
- “He and I in that bright glory,
- One deep joy shall share
- Mine, to be for ever with Him,
- His, that I am there”.
THE CLOSED BOOK
by J. F. Johnson
The Closed, Sealed Book—
“And I saw … the roll of a book, written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals.” —Rev. 5:1.
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord Jehovah is upon Me, because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings to the meek, to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captive, the opening of eyes, to proclaim the acceptable year of Jehovah . . and … the day of vengence of our God; to comfort those that mourn in Zion. Is. 61:1.
Thus wrote Isaiah prophetically concerning Jehovah’s Perfect Servant … His Elect … His Anointed … he prophesied of a lengthened period (he calls it a year) when this Holy Servant was to proclaim a blessed evangel to the needy and guilty and wretched sons of men. Grace and mercy were to flow from His holy lips and His hands were to bring blessings untold and unmeasured. But this measured year would end, grace would no longer “flow on like a river” and the indifferent, those who had neglected mercy and grace, would immediately pass into … “the day of vengence of Elohim”, God’s wrath was to be poured out without hindrance … and who shall abide that day? But there is a third period … when God shall comfort those that mourn in Zion and shall bring blessings to all who seek it with hearts moved by sorrow.
We turn now from Isaiah’s prophecy to the evangel written by Luke (ch. 4:16) where we read :—And He (Jesus came to Nazareth where He had been brought up and as His custom was, He went’ into the synagogue on the Sabbath day and stood up for to read. And there was delivered to Him the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had unrolled the roll, He found the place where it is written “The Spirit of Jehovah is upon Me, because He hath anointed Me to preach the glad tidings to the poor … to proclaim the acceptable vear of the Lord” and He closed the book and gave it back to the minister. And He began to say “This day is this Scripture fulfilled in your ears ” and they bear their witness and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth. Of the day of God’s vensence and wrath He made no mention . . .closing the book. He blessedly delayed its coming and for nigh 2000 years the words of grace have been proclaimed and men have believed this message of Salvation and have “passed out of death into life”. But this time of acceptance does not go on indefinitely … the church, the saved ones, … the bride of Christ will soon be complete and she will hear the shout from mid-air and hear the voice of her Lord bidding her “Come away, My love, My fair one for lo the winter is passed” (S. of S.) and she will be caught up (raptured) to be with and like her Beloved Lord … and then … men shall enter “the day of vengeance of our God”.
And now we turn to our text:—“And I saw in the right hand of Him that sat on the throne the roll of a book, written within and on the backside sealed with seven seals … a closed book and sealed. But who is to take the book and break the seals? Who is worthy to take the book and to loose the seals thereof? And no one in heaven nor on earth nor under the earth (Celestial, Terrestrial or infernal) was able to open the book, neither to look thereon. And I wept much because no one was found worthy … then I looked and lo in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures and in the midst of the elders, stood a Young Lamb as it had been slain … and they sang a new song saying “THOU art worthy to take the book and to open the seals thereof, for Thou wast slain. The hand of the Blessed One that closed the book in the Synagogue at Nazareth is the hand that alone can open it now … He closed the book. He must open it . . .and as He opened it, He did so at the very place where He closed it … “The day of vengence of our God.” As He breaks the first seal, we enter that period of great tribulation which shall come upon ALL the earth to try them that dwell upon earth … the time of Jacob’s trouble … there has been none like it nor shall be: alas for that day is great, so that there is none like it, it is even the day of Jacob’s trouble … but he shall be saved out of it (not from it) Jer. 30:7. The seals are broken, the trumpets sounded, the vials of wrath poured out bringing destruction and death until God shall say “It is enough” and then He will comfort them that mourn in Zion and bring deliverance to an unnumbered host.
We have already had brought before us the great multitude which belongs to heaven, angels, the living Creatures and the Elders, the number of them being ten thousand times ten thousand and thousands of thousands saying with a loud voice “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain.” Now we are introduced to a great multitude that are destined for earth. In Rev. 7:9 we read After these things I saw and beheld a great multitude which no man could number out of every nation and of all tribes and peoples and tongues standing before the Lamb arrayed in white robes and palms in their hands and they cry with a great voice saying “Salvation unto our God which sitteth on the throne and unto the Lamb … and one of the Elders answered saying … ‘these which are in white robes, who are these and whence come they?” … and I say unto him, ‘My Lord, thou knowest’ … And he said unto me … ‘these are they which came out of (EK out of … not APO from) the great tribulation . . not merely tribulation, but a specific one … the definite article is used here … and have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
Therefore they are before the throne of God and they serve Him day and night in His temple and He that sitteth on the throne shall spread His tabernacle over them. They shall hunger no more neither thirst any more, neither shall the sun strike upon them, nor any heat, for the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall be their shepherd and shall guide them unto fountains of water of life and God shall wipe away every tear from their eyes. These are a people saved for an earthy scene … the new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness. So ends Isaiah’s prophecy recorded in the 61st chapter of his book, read by our Lord in the synagogue at Nazareth and completed in the great tribulation.
May God open all our eyes to read them Prophetically. Evangelically as in the present period of grace and finally in the “opened” book as in the day of Jacob’s trouble.
“The Lamb is all the glory”
OUR GREAT HIGH PRIEST
- OUR great High-Priest is sitting
- At God’s right hand above,
- For us His hands uplifting,
- In sympathy and love :
- Whilst here below, in weakness,
- We onward speed our way ;
- In sorrow oft and sickness,
- We sigh and groan and pray.
- Through manifold temptation,
- My soul holds on her course,
- Christ’s mighty intercession
- Alone is her resource ;
- My gracious High-Priest’s pleadings,
- Who on the cross did bleed,
- Bring down God’s grace and blessings,
- Help in each hour of need.
- Oh, Jesus, blessed Saviour,
- We hope to see Thee soon,
- Who once on earth didst suffer,
- Who soon for us wilt come ;
- ’Twas God’s most gracious favour,
- That gave His Son to die,—
- To live our Intercessor,
- To plead for us on high.