ENTERING THE HOLIEST
by R. Woodhouse Beales
DANIEL THE PROPHET
by C. J. Atkins
by H. C. Spence
NOTES ON EXODUS 30
by Gerald B. Stock
THE ETERNAL SECURITY OF THE BELIEVER
by J. E. Todd
STUDIES IN SOLOMON’S TEMPLE
by J. B. D. Page
PROFIT FROM PHILEMON
by J. B. Hewitt
THE HOLY SPIRIT
by Dr. John Boyd
CHOOSING A PARTNER
by H. Rhodes
ENTERING THE HOLIEST
by R. WOODHOUSE BEALES (Ipswich)
We will now return to our main theme, the Priesthood— The Great high priesthood of Christ is not emphasised as it ought to be; even in the Lord’s supper where it is often suggested we reach the highest thought, worship and praise, we only have brought before us the emblems of His death and sacrifice (except in the words added by Paul “do this, Till He come”) but not the thought of His present High priesthood which is the theme of this epistle to the Hebrews and only here, and where we also are able to enter the Holiest, spiritually, as we shall enter it in person later on. Nor in the antitypical sacrifices do we get what Hebrews so beautifully brings before us, namely the two fold activity of our High Priest, firstly to conduct us into the very presence of God (as worshippers) but also to come to our help in the matter of suffering and infirmities. This, Aaron was able in measure to feel and do for the people but the sacrifices were not, nor were they permitted to suffer in any way, their death was a swift one.
Now in looking at the tabernacle and its services, and leaving out the boards and veil, etc., we have the following progression, the Ark of the covenant, the TABLE of shew-bread, the LAMPSTAND, i.e. the priestly aspect, then the BRAZEN ALTAR outside in the Court at the entrance to it, then passing by for the moment the gate of the Court and the Oil we have the PRIESTHOOD, the ALTAR of INCENSE and lastly the LAVER of CLEANSING. Do we not see in this the wonderful progression, Christ, firstly coming out of the presence of God for us (for Aaron could hardly COMMENCE his service in the Most Holy Place) until He reaches the Altar of Sacrifice, which brings us to His death upon the Tree, THEN in returning back to the presence of God, He becomes the High Priest the value of Whose work in that presence is based upon His offering of Himself. So up to the Altar we may say He is the Incarnate One Who has come out to us. Then He becomes the Risen One returning to the Throne for us as High Priest.
In this wonderful progression we now come to the One Who has made reconciliation at the Altar and brings to us the thought of a once for all REDEMPTION unlike the constant sacrifices offered under the law which are but a type. Having made one offering for sins He, the Lord Jesus now risen and in His resurrection body now returns into the presence of God for us. But He is not only our redeemer but also our Sanctifier, once for all and also constantly, and so we have now the Laver brought before us (Exodus 30:18-21) but not until the priesthood is described in detail (chs. 28 and 29) thus we are reminded of Christ’s present priestly work in SANCTIFICATION, both initially and constantly. In the inauguration of the priesthood Aaron and his sons are brought to the door of the tabernacle and washed completely before being robed (see Exod. 29, 4 and 40, 12 and Levit. 8, 6) but Dr. Scoffield suggests that this was not at the Laver but at the door of the tabernacle, and that the Laver was afterwards used for constant cleansing during the priests’ service, not Aaron only but also his sons. We commend this study to the reader, it is full of instruction, indicating as it does the need for constant cleansing if we are to engage in priestly service and worship.
We are described in the New Testament as having been washed completely (see John 13, 10; Hebrews 10,22; Eph. 5, 26; and Titus 3, 5) and in, the latter of these it is called the washing of regeneration, followed by the renewing of the Holy Spirit. The subject is too vast to pursue here but the writer does not believe that this refers to the believer’s baptism, but rather to the new birth, setting us apart for God, but requiring a continuous cleansing of the walk and life in the power of the Holy Spirit.
DANIEL THE PROPHET
by the late C. J. ATKINS
The reference “many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased is usually quoted as a sign most evidently fulfilled in the present restless age of high speed travel and ever increasing knowledge in every science, but more literal translations give “many shall scrutinise the book from end to end” (Tregelles) … and so knowledge of it shall be increased” (Pember). In the period of the last part of the seventieth week, the forty two months of the tribulation period, God will give understanding to certain instructors— “they that be wise” and as these go through the ancient writings and the newer revelations, the book will become unsealed as their knowledge is increased.
The prophecy is complete, but Daniel continuing his contemplation sees two angelic beings, one on either side of the river, evidently the Tigris mentioned in ch. 10:4 (Hiddekel), and he also sees again the majestic awe-inspiring being before Whom the strength departed from him (10:5-9). This glorious One stood with both hands uplifted, an attitude of testimony to the truth of His statement as He “sware by Him that liveth for ever and ever.” The apostle John similarly heard a mighty glorious Angel, setting His feet upon the sea and the earth, and in this attitude of regal power He vows “by Him that liveth for ever and ever” that man’s day is ending, “there shall be time (margin-delay) no longer” Rev. 10:1,2,5,6. Daniel is told again that the time shall be 3^ years “when they have made an end of breaking in pieces the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished.” Thus when the triumvirate of evil, the little horn Dan. 7:25, the Antichrist and the King of the north all converge to smash God’s people, then the mighty One will come forth to deliver. Daniel, to whom so much was revealed, was not given the full revelation of all God’s purposes during the dispensation of grace, and he had to confess sadly “I heard, but I understood not” Ch. 12:8. These things were revealed to Daniel to be locked up and sealed so that at the time of the end, the picture would be shown to “the wise,” the understanding ones in order that they might turn many to righteousness.
At this time of the end, the teaching of the wise ones and the experiences of the time will cause many to “purify themselves and make themselves white, and be refined,” but others will take advantage of the awfulness of the times to give full licence to their evil passions and “the wicked shall do wickedly; and none of the wicked shall understand.” This end time will make a clear division between the evil and those who believe. In the eyes of a holy God this division is clear in all ages, even though we, in this age of looseness, lukewarmness and indulgence may not be able to discern. In the fierce wrath of judgement the purified ones of this end time will stand, even as today so many of God’s saints have to prove their love and faith even to death.
The commencement of the period was indicated clearly in ch. 9:27, when the desolator will “cause the sacrifice and oblation to cease,” that is in the midst of the 70th week, the covenant is to be broken, leaving forty two months of the great tribulation. At the close of this last chapter the same initiation event is given as “from the time that the continual burnt offering shall be taken away,” but in contrast to the frequently mentioned period of 3½ years or 1260 days, extensions of thirty days and a further forty five days are quoted in verses 11 and 12. The extra month will no doubt be used in completing the work of casting out all the evil which had been concentrated on the land during the fearsome 3\ years, and the extra 45 days will be joyfully employed in setting up the pattern for the glorious era of the Millenial rule. Truly “Blessed is he who cometh to the thousand three hundred and five and thirty days.”
Finally the promise is given to the aged faithful prophet, Daniel the man greatly beloved, that although he could not yet understand these things, soon he would be called to his rest, there awaiting that moment for which we also wait when “the dead in Christ shall rise first, then we which are alive and remain will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air.” Daniel’s place in that great day has been appointed and he was assured that he will then “stand in thy lot.” How clearly then the pattern will unfold as he, in the presence of his Lord and King, will see the fulfilment of the visions and the faithful remnant of His ancient people fulfilling their appointed role in proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and rejoicing in the blessings of Millenial rule. He who in his early youth had “purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself,” who had stood faithful in his witness and worship before proud autocratic emperors, dissolute monarchs and false counsellors, was assured in his old age whilst still in exile, that his faithfulness would soon be rewarded. Surely every one of God’s children await with blessed anticipation that day when they will hear the summons to “meet the Lord in the air.” May we all be kept by His mighty power, walking in that close fellowship with God, seeking always to cleave to that which is good so that we do not defile ourselves.
by HENRY C. SPENCE
“But He knoweth the way that I take; when He hath tried me I shall come forth as gold” (Job. 23, 10). He knoweth! What unfailing comfort these two words bring to our hearts, in all the circumstances of our earthly pilgrimage; we are assured that “He that is perfect in knowledge is with thee.” (Job 36:4).
The Psalmist declared: “O Lord, Thou hast searched me and known me. Thou knowest my downsitting, and mine uprising. Thou understandest my thoughts afar olf. Thou compassest my path, and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word in my tongue but lo, O Lord Thou knowest it altogether—such knowledge is too wonderful for me, it is high—I cannot attain unto it.” (Psalm 139:1-4,6).
Again with confidence David declares: “When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, then Thou knewest my path.” (Psalm 142:3). For “He knoweth our frame; He remembereth that we are dust.” (Psalm 103:14). “He knoweth the secrets of the heart” (Psalm 44:21). We are reminded of the Lord’s faithfulness to Moses and the children of Israel. “He knoweth thy walking through this great wilderness—thou hast lacked nothing.” (Deut. 2:7).
The prophet Jeremiah likewise expresses his assurance that “the Lord understandeth and knoweth me” (Jer. 9:24), and in chapter 12:3 “But Thou, O Lord, knowest me. Thou hast seen me and tried my heart towards Thee.” Truly, He knoweth them that trust in Him. (Nahum 1:7).
With confidence we recall the words of our Lord Jesus: “Your Father knoweth what things ye have need of before ye ask Him.” (Matt. 6:8).
Again in John 10 the Lord assures us of His perfect knowledge of His sheep and of our eternal security. “I am the good Shepherd, and know My sheep, and am known of mine.” (verse 14).
“My sheep hear My voice; and / know them, and they follow Me, and I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand.” (verses 27, 28).
The Apostle Paul assures us that “Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure having this seal. The Lord knoweth them that are His.” (2 Timothy 2:19). “For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son.” (Romans 8:29)
And Peter at the other coal fire beside the sea of Tiberias having been challenged by the Risen Lord three times concerning his love for his Lord expressed his deep affection with these memorable words: “Lord, Thou knowest all things. Thou knowest that I love Thee” (John 21:17).
Later in his Epistle Peter assures us: “The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations” (2 Peter 2:9). He knows the hidden grief, the trials, and temptations of all His people, as our great High Priest, sympathising, compassionate, and able to succour at all times. (Hebrews 2:18).
May these exceeding great and precious promises become increasingly precious to each of us, and the realization of His presence all the days.
NOTES ON EXODUS 30
by GERALD S. STOCK (Redditch)
Vs. 8. “A perpetual incense” before Jehovah throughout your generations for as long as their services are required these two divine Persons will maintain them. Perhaps this is why in a millennial day the “Table is before Jehovah” whereas here it is before “The vail” and in Revelation, in tribulation times “Before the Throne.” Here it is the nearest place to His very presence, in Rev. 8:3. the highest court of appeal; in Eze. 41:22 it is wooden, needs no fire, or lamp-stand, or vail, because “The Lord is there,” (Eze. 48:35)
Vs. 9. Its sole use is for incense, and only that prescribed by Jehovah. This underlines what we have been made aware of all through; that they are permitted to build, but not to design or use for their own purpose. “Strange incense” like “Strange fire” is that which Babylon has had to resort to. Read prayers, set liturgies and constant repetition of known phraseology is no substitute for what is wrought by God. offered to God.
Vs. 10. The “Day of atonement,” Lev. 16:8, saw this altar, together with all the vessels and furniture of the tabernacle, touched with the blood of the goat of the sin offering. This emphasises the temporary efficacy of their sacrifices, and though the blood of bulls and goats could effect only the ceremonial and outward thing, it could, and must also point onward to that sacrifice which could and would “Perfect in perpetuity.” For the blood which brought us from such distance, brings into nearness such as we never thought.
“It is holy of holies unto Jehovah” (Marg.) Our minds are still a long, long way from such a concept; the slightest degree of holiness is such an achievement for us. If we could but appreciate, even in a measure, how much it meant to God to have a people who were about “Perfecting holiness in the fear of God,” near to Him, in prayer and praise before Him, we should go in for the thing much more.
Within the sanctuary here, all speaks of Christ, there is not a thing to remind us of ourselves, our sins, or ought of the flesh. If there were, worship would be an impossibility and prayer soon stifled.
Every true child of God is constituted by the blood of Christ, a priest, with title to offer “Spiritual sacrifices.” But, constitution is one thing, condition another, and the rest of this chapter has been given by the Holy Spirit to shew us what kind of people God will have before Him, and in what conditions He will accept priestly ministrations before Him. Later a whole list of disqualifications will be given us, Lev. 21:16-24, but first we are to see that He will have a Redeemed people, Vs. 11-16, a holy people, Vs. 17-21, an anointed or spiritual people, Vs. 22-23, and a giving or worshipping people, Vs. 34-38.
Vs. 11. We may write over this section:— “If I wash thee not thou hast no part with Me.” John 13:8. The half shekel tells of position, the laver of condition; the half shekel of union, the laver of communion; alas that we accept the one, and go along without the other, Why? Is it for lack of cense of need? Do we know we needed to be saved but feel ro need of sanctification?
There is a travesty of the Gospel being preached today in which the work of the cross is presented as God’s premium for an insurance policy for our souls, for eternity; but no further instalments on the policy from our side, “decision,” without involvement. It will never do for God, it sits people at the Lord’s Supper, puts them teaching Sunday School classes, busies them in religious activities, who have never really known the grace of God. Time was, when shepherd eyes could look round the company gathered at the “table” and feel quite sure that, however failing, all, at least, were His. Not so now, distinctions are discountenanced, separation is being called “a dirty word,” and “My opinion is as good as yours,” they say!
It is necessary to observe, however that the laver is not a substitute for the sin offering. Its water could not cleanse either body or soul from known, committed sin. Nor was it there to use as the priest saw fit, or when he felt he needed it. The lesson is obvious, for it cannot fail to remind us that while the blood removes guilt, only obedience to the Word of God can save from actual defilement.
Vs. 19. “Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to Thy Word. Ps. 119:9. We were redeemed “By the precious blood of Christ” from the bondage of “Our vain manner of living” but only those who are “Clean through the Word,” John 15:3, can know real liberty to move before Him. Thus cleansed, with hearts that “Condemn us not we have confidence toward God.” 1 John 3:21. We come to the laver of the Word, not at the compelling of conscience, but at the compunction of the Holy Spirit, bringing everything that touches work and walk to the cleansing effect of His Word. This principle (v. 21) abides, it was known in the experience of those who walked with God of old; it will be known in the experience of those who suffer on earth after the Church has been raptured to glory.
No dimensions are given—none are needed, for His Word touches literally everything in our lives, nothing is too small or great. The material must be the same as the altar, enduring, durable, His Word abides for ever.
“That they die not!” Any refusal to bring the test of the Word of God to anything of life or walk, will result for us, in moral death and render us quite unable to enjoy His presence or to move before Him. We may go along with Christian activity and service, but it will require much effort and be nothing more than a drudge. It may even be successful—in His sovereignty, but give Him no pleasure at all.
Vs. 23. Nor is that all, redemption is complete, His Word is pure, enlightening the eyes, but before there can be true sanctuary experience, and real worship, all must be anointed. A man may be converted, his life correct, but the power and energy to move before God to His pleasure must come from “The anointing which ye have received of Him (which) abideth in you.” 1 Jn. 2:27.
THE ETERNAL SECURITY OF THE BELIEVER
by J. E. TODD
The covenant with Abraham is the perfect historical demonstration of the faithfulness of God. God undertook to make of Abraham’s descendants a great nation, to settle them in a great land and through them to bring a great blessing to the whole human race (Genesis 12:1-7). Paul said of this chosen race, ‘As touching the gospel they are enemies for your (the Gentiles) sake; but as touching election they are beloved for the fathers’ sake. For the gifts and the calling of God are without repentance (Romans 11:23-29).
The Jews had become the enemies of God, they had rejected the Son of God, crucified Him and opposed the gospel. Yet they were still the chosen, the beloved of God! This was no mere statement. For God was yet, Paul says, to send the Deliverer from Zion, with a national salvation and a practical fulfilment of the promises to their forefathers (Romans 11:26). But why these blessings upon the Christ-rejecters? Not for their own sake, but for the sake of the divine promises to their forefathers Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and David. Here is demonstrated over a long period of turbulent history, that when God gives a gift He never takes it back, when He makes a call He never cancels it and when He chooses to elect He never changes His mind. This is what it means to be the covenant people of God. ‘Thus saith the Lord, which giveth the sun for light by day and the ordinances of the moon and the stars for light by night, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar—the Lord of hosts is His name: “If these ordinances depart from before me, saith the Lord, then shall the seed of Israel cease from being a nation before me for ever.” Thus saith the Lord: “If heaven above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, then I will cast off all the seed of Israel for all that they have done, saith the Lord.’” (Jeremiah 31:35-37).
We, as Christian believers, are God’s covenant people. We are bound to Him by the new covenant, which is quite different from the old covenant with Israel. Although the contents of the covenants are different, the covenant-keeping God is the same.
God has given to us eternal life, ‘The free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.’ (Romans 6:23). God has called us to heavenly blessing, ‘Holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling (Hebrews 3:1). We are the elect of God, ‘God chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world’ (Ephesians 1:4). We have received the gift of eternal life, which will never be withdrawn. We have heard the heavenly call, which will never be cancelled. We are the chosen of God, never to be rejected. ‘For the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable.’ (R.S.V.) Our Lord summed up the matter in His concise and unmistakable manner, ‘I give unto My sheep eternal life and they shall never perish, and no one shall pluck them out of My hand’ (John 10:28).
The unalterability of the covenant rested upon the fact that it was between God and Israel for the sake of a third party, Abraham. Israel certainly never deserved such a covenant (Deuteronomy 4:37, 7:6-11, 9:4-6), but Abraham did (Genesis 15:6), and for His sake it is maintained. God’s covenant with the Christian believer does not rest upon the believer’s merits (past, present or future) but the merits of a third party, even the Lord Jesus Christ. ‘But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ’ (1 Corinthians 6:11). So for His sake it will be maintained. For this is the very nature of justification, Christ in His death upon the cross has borne and exhausted the demands of the broken law on the believer’s behalf. The final verdict “Justified!” has been passed upon the believing sinner. The believer’s sins cannot be punished twice, once upon the cross and then again in his own person, he is eternally secure from judgement. ‘I through the law died to the law’ (Galatians 2:19). ‘Blameless and irreproachable before Him’ (Colossians 1:22).
But our Lord carefully excludes from the blessings of eternal life and security two groups of people who might falsely hope to be partakers of it.
Firstly, in the Sermon on the Mount, our Lord speaks of some who say, ‘“Lord, Lord, did we not …. in Your name?”. . . “Depart from Me, you evildoers”’ (Matthew 7:21-23). The distinction between the ardent and consistent religious professor and the true Christian is clear; of the former the Lord says, ‘“I never knew you”’ (Matthew 7:23); of the latter He says, ‘“I know them”’ (John 10:27).
Secondly, in the Parable of the Sower, our Lord speaks of seed upon the stony ground and among the thorns and thistles (Mark 4:16-19). These are the ones who profess faith in Christ, but not truly from the heart, and so without the new birth the profession peters out. We can be faced with the problem of being unable to distinguish between a mere professor whose efforts have petered out and a true believer who has fallen away. But with the Lord this problem does not exist, the truth still holds, ‘“I know them,”’ (i.e. My sheep, John 10:27).
The accusation is made that if Christians are told that they cannot be lost, this will lead to sinful living, as the Christian could freely indulge in sin without this affecting his salvation. If our gospel evokes such criticism, then it is an indication that we are preaching the apostolic gospel. For this was precisely the objection raised in apostolic times and recorded in the New Testament. ‘Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?’ (Romans 6:1, see also 3:8 and 6:15). As all Christians know, a Christian does not live a good life in order to gain salvation; but also, as many Christians do not seem to know, the Christian does not live a good life in order to keep his salvation. (It is his salvation which is supposed to keep him!) As Paul explains in the sixth chapter of Romans, the Christian lives a good life because he IS a Christian, because of the reality of the new birth. The oft quoted text, ‘For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you would’ (Galatians 5:17 R.S.V.), cuts both ways. Never again can the desires of the Spirit be denied.
Far from encouraging the Christian into a life of sin, the eternal security of the believer is a clarion call to an utter dedication to the will of God and the service of Christ. Our Lord demands that we dedicate our entire earthly life and eternal destiny to him. If sometime in the unknown future I could lose my salvation through my own weakness, then the successful conclusion of the Christian life becomes a desperate gamble. But no, our Lord invites us to invest our all in that which is eternally secure.
‘He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.’
STUDIES IN SOLOMON’S TEMPLE (7)
by JOHN B. D. PAGE
The Claddings and Finish
Having considered its construction, we shall now examine the finishing materials that were used for making this building of exceptional magnificence.
Silver Lined Walls:
According to 1Chron. 29:4, David accumulated “refined silver to overlay the walls of the houses.” Both inside and out, the walls of the entire building were ‘plastered’ with “silver,” which is a type of Christ’s redemptive work.
As “living stones” in a “spiritual house” we were redeemed not with silver but “with the precious blood of Christ” (1Pe. 1:18f).
The Wood lining of the Walls:
Having overlaid the white marble with silver, “he built (or, lined, RSV) the walls of the house within with boards of cedar” (1Ki. 6:15).
A feature of cedar wood, unlike many other timbers, is its freedom from attacks by woodworm, a pest which destroys wood, and so from this aspect cedar wood is virtually indestructible. It reminds us that with men at death corruption starts and “worms destroy this body” (Job 1:26), but with Christ, contrary to this irrefutable rule, “His flesh did not see (or experience) corruption” (Acts 2:31). Thus, the cedar wood lining of the Temple is a symbol of the Risen Christ.
Of Him, Who is “the Chiefest among ten thousand,” Solomon says in picturesque language, “His countenance is excellent … as the cedars; (S. of S. 5:10,15). Here, the majestic cedar describes emblematically the excellence of Christ, Who, having “a more excellent name,” has ascended into “the excellent glory,” where He has obtained and now exercises “a more excellent ministry” (Heb. 1:4, 2Pe. 1:17, Heb. 8:6).
Of the Temple walls, the inspired writer adds, “all was cedar; there was no stone seen” (1Ki. 6:18), and so the white marble stones were concealed both inside and out with boards of cedar! It illustrates Col. 3:3, “your life is hid with Christ in God.” Only the excellence of the Risen Lord is seen! Our lives should be a manifestation of Christ, that is, “not I, but Christ” (Gal. 2:20)! Can it be said of us, “all is Christ; there is no ‘living stone’ seen?’’ This appertains to the present, what above the future? When the Lord returns, we shall be changed physically, so that “we shall bear the image of the Heavenly One,” by putting on bodies of “incorruption … like unto His body of glory” (1Cor. 15:49,53, Phil. 3:21. RV).
For a moment, let us think of Herod’s Temple when, as Jesus went out of this Temple, one of His disciples with national pride said to Him, “Master, see what manner of stones and what buildings are here! (Mark 13:1). This disciple drew the attention of Jesus to the massive size of the stones and the splendour of the masonry, for no cedar wood hid the stonework but all the stones were seen. It illustrates how it is possible in a spiritual temple to set aside Christ, Who is here prefigured by the cedar wood lining, so that the “living stones” are seen. When this occurs, then we are living “after the flesh, minding the things of the flesh” (Rom. 8:5). This is carnality, and it robs Christ of His rightful place and glory, resulting in strife and divisions (1Cor. 3:3). Let us not be “carnally minded” which has a deadening effect, but “spiritually minded” which brings life (Rom. 8:6). Let it not be said of a spiritual temple, “See what manner of stones … are here!” but let it be said “No stone was seen!”
The Carvings of the cedar wood:
Both inside and outside, the Temple walls were lined with cedar wood, which was carved with figures of “cherubim” and “palm trees” with “knops and open flowers” (1Ki. 6:18, 29, cp. 2Chron. 3:7).
Whilst the cedar wood is symbolical of the Risen and Glorified Christ, the cherubim are emblematic of divine judgement (Gen. 3:34), and so the cherubic carvings are figurative of Christ’s “authority to execute judgement” which the Father has given Him “because He is the Son of Man” (John 5:27). If the cherubim are figurative of His judicial authority, then the palm trees with knops and open flowers point us to His Manhood and righteous character as we shall now discover.
Alternating with the cherubim, there were carvings of “palm trees.” In the arid conditions of the desert, the palm tree towers above the other trees and scrub. Of the saints in the adverse circumstances of this world the Psalmist says, “the righteous shall flourish like the palm tree” (Psa, 92:12), but the “palm tree” may also portray Christ according to the flesh as “the Holy and Righteous One” in a scene of denial and rejection (Acts 3:14, RV). In the carvings of “palm trees,” Solomon included “knops,” an archaic word for “buds,” and “open flowers.” With the Incarnation in mind, the “knops” remind us of the Childhood of Christ and the “open flowers” of His Manhood. It was in the flower of His Manhood that He was “cut off out of the land of the living” (Isa. 53:8), but within three days He was raised up, so that He is the same and His years fail not. It will be in the unfading flower of His Manhood that, as “the Righteous Judge” seated upon His judgement seat, He will review and reward us according to our works (2Ti. 4:8, 2Cor. 5:10).
The cedar boards carved with cherubim and palm trees with knops and open flowers formed a cladding to the stones, and so we too shall be associated with Christ as Judge when “the saints shall judge the world” in the age to come (1Cor. 6:2).
Overlaid with gold:
Neither the fir of the roof and floor nor the cedar wood of the ceiling and walls was the final cladding, for “the whole House, he overlaid with gold” (1Ki. 6:22). Outside, the roof and walls, besides the porch and the side-chambers, were overlaid with gold! Inside, the ceiling, walls and doors, and even the floor were overlaid with gold! 1Ki. 6:20-22, 30. 2Chron. 3:4f, 7-9. Outside, the worshippers beheld the gold glistening in the sunshine. Inside, the priests walked on gold as the golden ceiling and walls reflected the light from the ten lampstands!
All was gold, and “no stone was seen!” The gold is figurative of divine glory, and the gold is described as “fine” and “pure” which applies not to the glory of man for it is of the flesh but to the excellence of the glory of Christ. Having been justified by faith, we have the “hope of the glory of God,” in which we should rejoice (Rom. 5:1f).
In a vision of a “city of pure gold,” John foresees the saints after the Rapture “having the glory of God” (Rev. 21:11,18). At present, “the glory of God” is our hope, but at the Lord’s return it will be no longer a prospect but a possession! Then, each of us will be “a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed” (1Pe. 5:1).
The gold would not have obliterated the carvings of the cherubim and palm trees on the cedar wood but rather emphasized their splendour, and so Christ, not humbled but glorified, will exercise His judicial authority in a coming day when we too, having been clothed with garments of His glory, will reign with Him.
Until that day dawns, we all should be “reflecting as a mirror the glory of the Lord” and glorifying God in our body (2Cor. 3:18, RV, and 1Cor. 6:20).
Garnishing with precious stones:
As a final embellishment of this great building, Solomon “garnished the house with precious stones for beauty” (2Chron. 3:6).
David prepared not only vast quantities of gold, silver, brass, iron and wood, but also “onyx stones, and stones to be set, glistening stones and of divers colours, and all manner of precious stones” (1Chron. 29:2), and later Solomon embellished the Temple with these “precious stones” varied in type and diverse in colour.
These “precious stones” point us to Christ as “a Living Stone, … chosen of God and precious” and the many facets of His preciousness, which we may discover in “the exceeding great and precious promises” given to us in His Word (1Pe. 2:4, 2Pe. 1:4).
Of these precious stones, only “onyx stones” are named which cannot be without significance. The clue is found in the high priest’s breastplate, where there were set twelve precious stones engraved with the names of the twelve tribes of Israel, and the eleventh stone was “an onyx” bearing the name “Joseph” which means “increaser” (Exo. 28:20f). Speaking of Christ and himself, John the Baptist said, “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30). By “increasing in the knowledge of God,” Christ will increase in us, and we shall “increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men” (Col. 1:10, 1Thess. 3:12).
As Peter, in his first epistle, says “Unto you therefore which believe, He is precious” (2:2). For Christ to be precious to us, He must increase and we decrease.
— (To be continued)
PROFIT FROM PHILEMON
by J. B. HEWITT, Chesterfield
This is a purely private letter from Paul to his friend Philemon about a runaway slave Onesimus. It expounds no doctrine, exposes no error, but it exalts the Lord and encourages Christian courtesy in all circles of society. The shortest and one of the sweetest of Paul’s letters.
Study this letter for its presentation of Christ, eleven references; its portrait of Paul, eight pictures; the conversion and four aspects of Philemon’s life.
Dr. W. Graham Scroggie suggests it has a sevenfold value :
- “ITS PERSONAL VALUE. The light it throws upon the character of Paul, a gentleman.
- ITS ETHICAL VALUE. Its balanced sensitiveness to what is right. 13,14,18,19.
- ITS PROVIDENTIAL VALUE. God is aback of all events. What God does not appoint, He may employ v. 15.
- ITS CHRISTIAN VALUE. The application of the highest principles to the commonest affairs. Every man is precious to God, and for everyone Christ died.
- ITS PRACTICAL VALUE. The encouragement it supplies to seek and redeem the lowest. Luke 19:10.
- ITS SOCIAL VALUE. Its presentation of the relation of Christianity to social evils—slavery, pologamy, intemperance, and all the ugly brood.
- ITS SPIRITUAL VALUE, which consists in the analogy it contains, and illustrates in a parabolic way some of the essential aspects of the Gospel story.”
As you read this book keep in mind the teaching of 1 Cor. 13. This book illustrates many features of Christian love.
Four words analyse the letter:—Salutation 1-3; Commendation 4-7; Supplication 8-21; and Expectation 22-25.
- A LETTER OF APPRECIATION. “Love rejoiceth in the truth.” Appreciation of fellowship v.2,6,14,23,24; Of faith and love v.5,6; Of fidelity v.1,2 labourer, soldier; Of friendship v.16-19.
- A LETTER OF APPEAL for “Love is kind.” There are more than fourteen appeals here. An appeal for consideration v.8,9; for recognition v.10; for reception v.12 and accommodation v. 22.
- A LETTER OF ASSURANCE “Love never faileth” Assurance of provision v.3; of prayer v.4, 22; of practice and profit v.5; of payment v.19, and peace v. 25.
There are four pictures of social relationship; love, wooing, working, winning.
- PAUL AND PHILEMON 14-15. Paul—’‘‘love seeketh not its own.” Philemon—“Love doth not behave itself unseemly.” In both, the development of Christian character. We cannot doubt God’s sovereign overruling in this gracious suggestion “not of necessity” v.14. Philemon would possess Onesimus in a new way v.15.
- PAUL AND ONESIMUS 17-19. “Love beareth all things” Love protects v. 9 “I beseech.” It pleads v. 10 “for my son.” Love pays v.18 “on mine account.” Love ponders v.19 “albeit.” Love’s purpose v.14,15 “depart for a season.” Love’s partners v.23,24. Love’s provision v.25. In Paul the dignity of Christian deportment.
- PHILEMON AND ONESIMUS “Love suffereth long and is kind.” Philemon suffering wrongfully v.15,18; 1 Peter 2.19; “this is thankworthy.” Suffering patiently v.11; 1 Peter 2.20, this is acceptable with God. He acted graciously v.16, received as a brother beloved. He gives generously. Onesimus had a new link v.10 “my son”; a new life “a brother” v.10,16; new loyalty “profitable” v.11. His new look, now beloved v.16. Seen in a new light, as myself v.17, Eph.1.7. In Philemon the display of Christian graces. Gal. 5.22.
- A PICTURE OF THE WHOLE CHURCH 1-3, 23-24 “Love never faileth.” The Church is interested in its fellow members 1-2. “if any suffer or rejoice” Romans 12.10,15 The Church is identified with its Head 12. Paul had Christ-like compassion. It is inspired and instructed by good ministry 7, “refreshed.” It is influenced by Divine truths, the teaching of Colossians especially, also Ephesians and Philippians.
In Ephesians—a new relationship in Christ, Maintained by the Spirit’s fulness 5.18. In Philippians—a new fellowship with Christ, maintained by humility of mind 2.1-11. In Colossians—a new discipleship in Christ, so let the word dwell in you richly 3.16. In Philemon—a new friendship in Christ, loving care, thought, help and prayer 4,6,22,25.
From these pictures there are four lessons for today:—
- The fellowship which Christ controls; we should listen, learn and love Phil. 2,1-4.
- The relationship which Christ creates; “one new man” Ephesians 2.15.
- The friendship which Christ commends; Philemon 5-7.
- The stewardship which Christ commissions; preach, reach, teach, baptise. Matt. 28:19,20.
Suggested Analysis of Philemon
- INTRODUCTION 1-3. The writer’s designation, association and appreciation v.l. The readers, the friendship, a brother beloved. The family, saintly, spiritual and sympathetic v.l,2a. The fellowship, the Church its enjoyment, expression and experience v.2. The favour, is divine, delightful and dependable v.3.
- THE METHOD OF APPROACH 4-7 It is tactful v.4. His appreciation of character. Helpful v.5, the exhibition of Christ in the life. Prayerful v.6, He pleads for the continual communication of love to all. Joyful v.7, because of the ministry and hospitality.
- THE MASTERLY ARGUMENT 8-16. Paul waves all his rights and argues:—Carefully v.8 did not use his authority nor take any liberty. Tenderly v.9 he prefers to plead, his deliberate choice. Lovingly v.10 “my child,” his travail, Onesimus truly born again. Skilfully 11-12 Once he was disappointing, now difference v.ll. Delegated and appreciated by Paul v.l2. Humbly 13-14 A good servant and substitute v.l3. Paul always considerate so Philemon is constrained v.14. Providentially 15-16 the providence of God v.l5, the grace of God v.l6a, the love of God v.l6b.
- THE MOVING APPEAL 17-21 Based on partnership v.l7; backed by payment v.l8, so, my brother be profitable v.20, for I build my confidence on your practice 21.
- THE CONCLUSION 22-25 His personal request v.22; his partners recognised v.23,24. His and our precious resource v.25.
“Love always wins” 1 Cor. 13, 13.
W. J. Erdman sums up the Epistle thus:—“a model of Christian courtesy, a manifestation of Christian love and a monument of Christian conversion.
THE HOLY SPIRIT
by DR. JOHN BOYD
The Holy Spirit’s Work in the New Testament before Pentecost.
The functioning of the Holy Spirit in the world is greatly enlarged upon in the New Testament. This is divided into two distinct periods—before and after Pentecost. When the Lord was incarnate on earth He taught His disciples to pray for the gift of the Holy Spirit—to be had then for asking (Luke 11:13). But after Pentecost there was no need thus to pray for the Spirit, for He indwelt all those who believed in Christ.
The work of the Spirit of God before Pentecost was mainly centred around the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ. First, in connection with His birth, He is seen in the Lord’s forerunner, John the Baptist, about whom the angel Gabriel said to his father, Zacharias, that John would be filled with the Holy Ghost from his birth (Luke 1:15). Then Gabriel revealed to Mary, the virgin espoused to Joseph, the nature of her conception by the Holy Ghost (Luke 1:35). When Mary came and saluted Elisabeth, the mother of John the Baptist, the latter was filled with the Holy Ghost, and blessed Mary (Luke 1:41). Zacharias was also filled with the Holy Ghost, and prophesied at the circumcision of John, concerning his relationship to the Lord Jesus (Luke 1:67). At the time of the circumcision of the child Jesus, Simeon came in the Spirit into the temple, and prophesied concerning the life and death of the Lord Jesus Christ (Luke 2:26-35).
There is no further mention of the Holy Spirit relative to the Lord Jesus Christ until John the Baptist attested that He was the Son of God, by observing the Spirit descending out of heaven, and abiding on Christ, at His baptism in the Jordan (John 1:31-34). But this does not imply that the Holy Spirit then came upon Jesus for the first time for the work He would do, because the Spirit was not given by measure unto Him, as unto John, and to other men (John 3:34). Christ was very God, and as such all the fullness of the Godhead dwelt in Him (Col. 2:9). As a Person in the Godhead, Christ was essentially, eternally and incomprehensively One with the Spirit of God.
The close association of the Holy Spirit with the Lord Jesus on earth is seen in the words used to describe Their fellowship in the wilderness temptation. The Spirit ‘led up Jesus into’ (Matt. 4:1), ‘drove Him forth into’ (Mk. 1:12), and ‘led Him in’ (Luke 4:1, RV) the wilderness. Not only did the Holy Spirit, by a strong impulse, urge Jesus to the wilderness, They both had intimate fellowship during the temptation experience. This same association is seen in the Lord’s miracles. The Lord said that by the Spirit of God He cast out demons (Matt. 12:28). Being anointed by the Spirit of Jehovah, Jesus preached the gospel to the poor (Luke 4:18).
The relationship of the Eternal Spirit with the Son of God in His Passion is expressed in Heb. 9:14. The adjective ‘eternal’ is applied to the Holy Spirit here in the offering of Christ to indicate the activities of all three Persons in the Godhead in the decision in a past eternity, when the Son offered Himself to the Father, through the Spirit, for the work of our redemption. The Holy Spirit also had a part in the resurrection of Jesus (1 Pet. 3:18). As the Spirit of truth He has been bearing witness of Christ in His saving power ever since, and has glorified the Son of God in this declaration (John 16:14).
Thus as we trace the greatness of the work of the Holy Spirit, even before the new and different manifestation to the disciples at Pentecost, we are conscious of His nearness to the saints in every trying circumstance, and of His wisdom and power available for their continual guidance. Let us learn constantly to submit ourselves to His care and control.
CHOOSING A PARTNER
by H. RHODES
A Word to the Young
In Genesis 24 we have a very moving story of Abraham’s deep concern for the future of his son Isaac, particularly in relation to the one whom his son should marry. In his son’s interest, he purposes that a suitable partner must be one from among his own people who would value the divine promises regarding the land of Canaan, and be prepared to share with him the hardships of a life of pilgrimage. To this end he instructs his trusted servant, assuring him that God would send His angel before him and guide his steps. With gifts which are evidences of his master’s wealth, he goes his way, not without some doubts however, which were soon removed, as God opened up the way before him. Arriving at the well in the spirit of prayer and dependance on God he asked for a special sign, which God granted, thus assuring him that he was “in the way.” “It came to pass that before he had done speaking behold Rebekah came out with her pitcher upon her shoulder” (Gen. 24:15). As the man beheld the grace and kindness of this girl, also that she was fair to look upon, “Both pure and pretty,” he was made to wonder and worship. Being fully assured that this girl was God’s choice for his master’s son, he will hear of no delay by her father or her brother, but insists that they return as quickly as possible to his master’s son. The question is asked “Wilt thou go with this man?” and she replies “I will go.” She leaves behind her father and brother, and all her former associates to tread an unknown path, and to be joined for ever to one who having not seen she had learned to love. The sequel of the story is summed up in the word “And he loved her.” v. 67.
Like Abraham, God-fearing parents today desire only the best for their sons and daughters. Their counsel is not to be regarded as interference, for remember, they have trod the same path and experienced the same things themselves. (Read Prov. 4:1-13).
We are living in days of extreme moral laxity, when even young Christians are moulded by the world’s standard. To be married in “the Lord” is the only safeguard against a possible broken marriage. Abraham is commended by God in Genesis 18 v. 19 as one who will command his children after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord. Paul also exhorts Timothy to continue in the things he had learned, both from himself and his parents (2 Tim. 3:14). The apostle John similarly states his joy in knowing that his children walk in truth. (3 John v. 4). It was a grief of mind to Isaac and Rebekah when Esau married the daughters of the land (Gen. 26:35, see also Prov. 2:1-6). The bible teaches quite clearly that we should be a separated people (2 Cor. 6:14). “For how can two walk together except they be agreed.” (Amos 3:3).
The servant in the chapter before us is marked by those features which God desires to see in young men today. As God guided him, so he will guide today. If only we are prepared to wait, we will, in all probability, be made to wonder and worship. The danger of being over infatuated with a pretty face, and making all too hasty decisions is all too obvious. To commence a life of union which is calculated to last for the rest of our days with a cloud of uncertainty over our head is to be avoided at all cost. We may have no choice in the day of our birth, or our death, but we do have a choice as to whom we marry, and owing to the serious issues we should exercise the greatest care. In Genesis 24 there were those, who while they were not personally involved, were confronted with such a set of circumstances that compelled them to say “This thing proceedeth from the Lord” (v. 50). For unbelieving relatives and friends to own such things is surely a testimony to the glory and praise of God, and who would not covet this?
The sovereignty of God and the submission of the servant is stamped on every line of this lovely story, consequently we see all things working together for good, according to His promise (Romans 8:28).
- “For we are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus unto good works” — Ephesians 2,10.
- No chance has wrought this ill to me,
- ’Tis God’s sweet will, so let it be;
- He seeth what I cannot see.
- There is a need-be for each pain,
- And He will make it one day plain;
- That earthly loss is heavenly gain.
- Like as a piece of tapestry,
- Viewed from the back, appears to be,
- Nought but threads tangled hopelessly.
- But in the front a picture fair,
- Rewards the worker for his care,
- Proving his skill and patience rare.
- Thou art the workman, I the frame,
- Lord, for the glory of Thy name,
- Perfect Thine image on the same.
- —Words in Season.