THE THINGS WHICH ARE
by Dr. John Boyd
by C. T. Hussey
NOTES ON PETER’S EPISTLES
by William Rodgers
DANIEL THE PROPHET
by C. J. Atkins
ABRAHAM—FRIEND OF GOD
by R. W. Beales
RECOVERY AND ORDER
by Bryan Smith
CAMEOS OF CHRIST
by J. B. D. Page
THE TABERNACLE, TENT & COVERING
by Ray Dawes
THE LETTER TO THE CHURCH IN PERGAMOS
by Dr. JOHN BOYD
The third of the seven letters to the churches in Asia is directed to that situated in Pergamos, the chief city of Mysia, about fifty miles north of Smyrna. It was a great cultural centre, possessing a large library of 200,000 volumes. It contained the temple of Aesculapius, the god of medicine, whose emblem was a serpent. The worship of the Imperial cult of Rome was indicated by the building in it of a temple in honour of Augustus the emperor. It seems to have been the chief centre of judicial authority, where harsh sentences were meted out to those who refused to worship the emperor, especially the Christians.
The Lord introduced Himself to this church as the One who has the sharp two-edged sword. This title is taken from chap. 1:16, where it is seen as proceeding from His mouth (see 2:16). Thus the sword is used metaphorically of the words of the Lord Jesus Christ. The two-edged nature of the sword emphasises its sharpness (Proverbs 5:4). Such a sword penetrates, divides and lays bare. So the words of the Lord are here seen as penetrating into the inmost secret affairs of the church, separating what is commendable from what is blameworthy, and setting them out plainly before the believers. This is still His function in the assemblies.
The sword is also the emblem of authority (Romans 13:4), so the authoritative words of the Lord command the church to remedy what was wrong. In default, they would be at the peril of the Lord further speaking to them in judgment. The sword, too. is employed by the Lord for the defence of the church against its enemies, whether within or without (v. 16). Well might we believers fear the employment of such words by the Lord against any like tendencies in our assemblies to that which He found in the church at Pergamos.
The Lord then reveals what He knew concerning the church. He knew the difficult circumstances in which the believers lived at Pergamos. Here was situated Satan’s seat (or throne, R.V.), that is, the place was so wicked that it seemed to be the very headquarters of Satan’s activity. Does the Lord here refer to the temple of Aesculapius, whose symbol was a great living serpent tended by priests? The serpent in scripture is used metaphorically of Satan (Revelation 12:9). Possibly Pergamos was described as Satan’s seat because of the idolatrous practices carried out in this temple. Or, it may be that as Pergamos was the centre of political and judicial activity in the province, whither opponents of the Imperial cult were sent for trial and subsequent martyrdom, it may have been reckoned as the place where Satan was enthroned.
It is good for us to-day to appreciate the fact that the Lord is fully aware of difficult circumstances that surround some assemblies. He knows the Satanic opposition some must endure, and the temptations that beset them. In all our temptations He is the sympathetic High Priest who is able to succour and sustain us.
Then follows the Lord’s commentary on the state of the church in Pergamos, both commendation and condemnation. The Lord commends them first positively. Despite all their tribulation and temptation to give up, they had held tenaciously to the name of Christ, to all that this name meant to them—the anointed One, both God and Man, the Saviour who died for them, the living, victorious High Priest in heaven, for whose Second Coming they watched and waited. They still had a true conception of the person and work of Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ still delights to see His beloved people holding fast to His name, especially in these days when He is being despised, and His deity and impeccability set aside. How pleased He is to see us holding fast the things most surely believed amongst us!
Next comes the Lord’s negative commendation, ‘thou didst not deny My faith.’ What is implied in ‘My faith’ is difficult to determine. It may be:
- thy faith in Me. referring to their trust in the atoning work of Christ, or
- My faith— My faithfulness to God in the work of redemption—their abiding confidence in His finished work, or
- the faith, the body of truth, that Christ had once for all committed to the saints (Jude 3).
Possibly all these are included in ‘My faith,’ and from these the Pergamene church had not departed, even in their time of fierce persecution. Antipas is set before us as the supreme example of one not denying ‘My faith.’ He was ‘My witness, My faithful one’ (R.V.); he held fast to the name of Christ rather than to Augustus; he did not deny his faith in Christ; he had witnessed of Him before the heathen court; he remained faithful even unto death in a place where Satan’s dwelling-place was so evident. This is all we know of Antipas. He was not well-known on earth, but oh what a commendation from his Lord!
But the Lord had a few words of condemnation for the church in Pergamos. Whilst it stood fast on the fundamentals of the faith in the face of persecution there was creeping into it insidiously a soul-destroying teaching—the doctrine of Balaam—and worse, it was being tolerated by the church without demur. There were some members who held fast to this false teaching, whilst the majority held fast (same word as in v. 13) the name of the Lord. This doctrine of Balaam is described as two-fold:
- eating things sacrificed to idols, and
- committing fornication.
When Balaam found himself by reason of God’s prohibition unable to curse Israel he suggested to Balak, his hirer, a way out of the impasse, namely, to cause Israel to commit fornication with the women of Moab (Numbers 31:16). Associated with this fornication was the worship of the Moabitish god, Baal-peor (Numbers 25:3). Because of these things God sent a plague amongst Israel, and destroyed 24,000 of them. Thus Balaam, as his name suggests, destroyed the people of Israel. Possibly this teaching of Balaam as it applied to the church in Pergamos was a spiritual fornication—joining themselves to things contrary to the Word of God, and interfering with the worship of the true God.
It would seem as if here the Lord associated the teaching of Balaam (v. 14) with the teaching of the Nicolaitans. Note the Revised Version ending of the verse, ‘in like manner.’ There is a similarity in the two names. Balaam is a Hebrew word meaning, ‘the devourer of the people,’ whilst the Greek word nikolates means, ‘the overcomer of the people,’ where some lorded it over others in the assembly (v. 6), possibly the beginning of clerisy. In either case the result was the same— the teaching interfered with the growth of the church. There is one difference between Nicolaitism as seen in Ephesus and that found in Pergamos. Ephesus, like the Lord, resented it, but in Pargamos those who held and taught it were tolerated, and not rigorously disciplined. These were the few things the Lord had against them. Let us ever be quick to discern such doctrine creeping into the assembly, and faithful to discipline those who teach it.
The Lord’s exhortation to the Pergamos church was a call to repentance—to repent of their toleration of this soul-destroying doctrine, and of their lack of discipline of the offending teachers. The whole church did not hold this doctrine, but allowed some of their members so to do. and to teach it. This they must remedy.
If the church did not repent the Lord proposed to come to it quickly, and, using the sword of His mouth, make war against the Nicolaitans. If the church would not separate these teachers from their midst the Lord would do so with the sharp double-edged sword capable of penetrating into all sections of the church, and separating those guilty of propagating the wrong doctrine. It will be a word of judgment from the Lord, whose voice is in power and majesty. His powerful voice is manifest in the storm (Psalm 29). With the breath of His lips He slays the wicked (Isaiah 11:4), a judgment specially reserved for the man of sin (2 Thessalonians 2:8). Is the Lord here alluding to the judgment that befell Balaam, whom scripture records as having been slain with the sword (Numbers 31:8).
This message is for all who hear that they might heed it. Let them be guided by the Holy Spirit as to how to deal with the introduction of false teaching into the assemblies. If the evil is not dealt with by the assembly the Lord will do so, and it will be a painful process, for the sword of the Lord’s mouth is two-edged and sharp.
The Lord has a three-fold promise for the overcomer.
- He will be given to eat of the hidden manna. Jesus taught that the manna laid up in the ark (Exodus 16:33) was a type of Himself come down out of heaven, the true bread of His people. He is now hidden from us as we await His Second Advent. But even at this time we can feed on Him, the bread of life to sustain us in our pathway in the wilderness.
- He will be given a white stone. The meaning of this symbolism is difficult. The Greek word here translated ‘stone’ is used for voting (Acts 26:10). This is hardly the meaning here. But in classical Greek it is used for a stone on which a king might write a judgment. This is possibly the idea here. White is a frequent symbol for purity in Revelation. Thus the white stone would indicate the Lord’s favourable judgement of the overcomer.
- He would be given a new name written on the white stone, a new appreciation of the recipient by the Lord. None is made aware of this estimation save him to whom the stone is given. It is a private revelation. Another suggestion concerning this new name is that it is a new way in which the Lord reveals Himself to the overcomer.
Let us then learn the lesson the Lord impressed on the church in Pergamos. In a world where opposition and persecution abound let us keep the assemblies pure; let us see that proper discipline is exercised if and when such doctrine as that taught by the Nicolaitans is getting a foothold; let us lay hold on the Lord‘s promise to the faithful overcomer.
by the late WM. RODGERS
The middle chapter of 2nd Peter is in many ways a remarkable one. Its impassioned denunciation of the false teachers, whose coming is foretold in its opening verse, sounds like a passage from one of those prophetic writings to which the apostle has just called attention, rather than the production of a New Testament writer. In the course of it he makes use of at least twenty Greek words not found elsewhere in the Scriptures, while certain others, such as the words for “destruction”, “corruption”, “covetousness”, etc., which do occur though rarely elsewhere, he repeats in it with unusual frequency.
On the other hand, the chapter possesses such a similarity to the little epistle of Jude as would suggest that one of the two writers was already acquainted with the work of the other when he wrote; and much difference of opinion has resulted amongst commentators as to which of them wrote first. A comparison of the portions in which this similarity is most marked will show, I think, that if one has a priority of that kind it is Jude; and since we have already seen that Peter in his first epistle goes over much of the same ground which Paul had already traversed in Ephesians, etc., and that in certain passages he follows also the very wording of James, it is not surprising to find him in his second letter taking up, in similar fashion, a line of things closely related to one already dealt with by Jude. There is, however, a possibility that the similarity is not due to either writer having had access to the product of the other, but to the fact that each is giving out in his own way a message of warning to the saints, which at this juncture the Holy Spirit was impressing on both their minds, and possibly on the minds of other leaders amongst them as well.
THE OLD TESTAMENT EXAMPLES
Of special interest are the apostle’s references in our chapter to three men of Old Testament times; because in each case we learn something about these which otherwise we should scarcely have known. Concerning Noah we are told that not only was he a “just” or righteous man as he had been declared to be in Gen. 6:9. and 7:1, but he was also 64 a preacher of righteousness,” one who, besides preparing against the coming judgment, himself sought to warn his contemporaries.
The other two, Lot and Balaam, are dealt with more fully, the one in verses 6-9 and the other in verses 14-18. Had we not Peter’s description of Lot, in which three times over he speaks of him as “righteous,” and tells us that he never became so accustomed to “the filthy conversation of the wicked” as to cease to be vexed in his soul by it, we should have been left wondering whether this convert of Abraham was a really saved man after all. And had we not the apostle’s reference here, and that in Rev. 2:14-16, to Balaam’s activities, we should scarcely have realised from the Old Testament account of him what an utterly wicked man he was, despite his beautiful speeches. The introduction of the two men in the same passage here may, however, suggest to us a comparison, as well as a contrast; for while it is made very clear that Balaam was a slave to his own covetousness, it may be asked. What was it but a touch of the same vice that led Lot into Sodom? When Abraham in Gen. 13:9-13 permitted him to chose in which part of the country he would settle, he “lifted up his eyes” to covet the well watered and fruitful district which bordered on Sodom and the other cities of the plain. If he, like, Abraham, had lifted his eyes a bit further, and “looked for the city which hath the foundations, whose Builder and Maker is God,” it is unlikely that he would have taken the course which he did. He seems to have been an early example of those mentioned in 2 Pet. 1:9. who “cannot see afar off.” Balaam might in this respect be thought as having got farther than Lot, for he could say, “I see Him, but not now; I behold Him, but not nigh” (Num. 24:17, R.V.); yet greed of gain and of popularity kept him from having any real desire to participate in the blessings of that far off future, with the result that he, who had cried “Let me die the death of the righteous,” died in his sins and in battle against God’s people.
WARNINGS AND EXHORTATIONS
Both these illustrations have a warning for us, especially when thought of in connection with the great events foretold in the third chapter; on the one hand the destruction, more complete than even that of Sodom, of the present earth and “the works that are therein;” and on the other the emergence of “new heavens and a new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness.” Lot saw all that to which he had devoted his energy and toil go up in flames. Balaam, as he peered into the events of the distant future, instead of rejoicing at the prospect, broke out in the sad wail, “Alas, who shall live when God doeth this?” Contrast with both the attitude which Peter enjoins upon his readers in the threefold exhortation of his closing chapter. In verse 11 we read, “Seeing then that all these (present) things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness,” in verse 14, “Seeing that ye look for such things (as the new heavens and new earth of the preceding verse), be diligent that ye may be found of Him in peace, without spot, and blameless;” and in verse 17, “Seeing ye know these things before (both those of verse 10 and those of verse 13) beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked (that of verses 3-4), fall from your own steadfastness.”
SLACKNESS OR SALVATION
The wicked say, “Where is the promise of His coming” (v. 4); but you are to “look for” it (v. 14). They account the Lord’s long-suffering to be SLACKNESS; you are to account it SALVATION (vv. 9-15). His desire “that all should come to repentance” holds back the Day of the Lord (v. 9); your “holy conversation and godliness,” especially perhaps through its favourable influence upon those to whom salvation is being offered, “hastens” its coming (vv. 11-12 A.V. & R.V. margin).
You have, to keep you right in these matters, both “the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets,” and “the commandment of the Lord and Saviour through your apostles” (v. 2, R.V.), that is to say, you have the Old Testament and the New more closely joined together as forming THE SCRIPTURES, here and in verse 16, than perhaps anywhere else. And not least amongst them, you and I have these two letters of Peter in both which he stirs up our pure minds by way of remembrance of the truths already made known through the others. Let us therefore, as in his concluding words, “grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen.”
THE FINAL GREAT TRIAL AND TEST
by R. WOODHOUSE BEALES
“After these things” occurs again, firstly in 15:1, after the meeting with Melchizedek where Abraham comprehends the Lord as The Most High God, Possessor of heaven and earth, now he is to learn of Him in a new way and under a new name “Jehovah Jireh.” Abraham has given up and relinquished one after another of those near and dear to him and now the very best of all is demanded by God. God did test or try Abraham (not tempt in the way of temptation to evil, see the difference in James 1). This was the trial of faith, much more precious than of gold that perisheth though it be tried by fire. This was to be such a trial.
We have often heard this episode described in harrowing terms, but these scriptures do not thus depict the scene. A close attention to verses 3, 5 and 8 indicate far otherwise. There is no doubt about it that Abraham expected and knew that Isaac must live if God’s declared purposes were to be brought to fruition, and also that he now knew God as the God of Resurrection, though no such resurrection had ever taken place nor had Abraham ever heard of one. He had himself, and so had Sarah, been quickened out of a condition of “death” so he knew that God could do this and his affirmation, “I and the lad will go yonder and worship and COME AGAIN TO YOU” shows this clearly. He rose up early in the morning to do this deed, though he apparently did not tell his wife.
This was to be a burnt offering, that is a gift and sweet savour offering to God. Now Abraham had been an idolator and he must have known that human sacrifice was obnoxious to God, therefore this is another evidence of his reliance upon the God Who could raise the dead. “We will come AGAIN to you.” The young men were not to witness this, they could in no wise enter into it. “Abide ye here with the ass” that is as far as they could go, no further. “So they went both of them together” said twice. Perfect harmony and confidence. This is no picture of an old man and a struggling younger man as we have heard it suggested. It is not clear that Isaac apprehended all that was happening, he knew there was no lamb and asks the question but is satisfied with the answer and becomes the willing victim, so we believe.
Now this is not said anywhere in the scriptures to be a type of the offering of the Lord Jesus Christ and yet who can escape the clear implication, but it is rather the obedience of Abraham which is emphasised in the New Testament, and his faith, see Heb. 11:17-19, and note that in this epistle and chapter the life of Abraham is divided into two definite phases, the former of which from his call to the quickening are given in verses 8 to 12, then there is a parenthesis concerning all these people of faith from 13 to 17 and then the offering of Isaac and his “resurrection.” This great act then is the climax of this life of faith and completes his education in the knowledge of God. Is not this also strongly implied in Romans 4:24, 25 which completes the section concerning Abraham? It is THIS episode which is referred to by James (2:21-23) and not the preceding ones, when he says that this Abraham was justified by works. This is important to note and then no conflict will be seen between the assertions of Paul and James. If this is so then we have, we feel, justification in seeing in this “sacrifice” and “resurrection” a living type of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we put all the relevant N.T. scriptures together, although Isaac’s was but a “figure” of resurrection.
But Abraham is arrested by this urgent double call, “Abraham, Abraham.” There are at least seven of these, the others being Moses, Moses; Jacob, Jacob; Samuel, Samuel; Martha, Martha; Simon, Simon; Saul, Saul; all very significant. So Isaac’s life is spared. Contrast Rom. 8:32.
In view of Abraham’s belief in the God of resurrection, it seems incredible that the disciples of the Lord Jesus found it so difficult to believe that HE was going to rise from the dead, especially as He had spoken to them so clearly about it, and not only so, to believe when they had that evidence, i.e. after He had so risen, when it is said that when they (probably a greater number than merely the twelve) went to meet Him in Galilee “some doubted” when they had seen Him. Such is unbelief.
Then another wonderful typical thing is seen; the ram caught in the thicket by his horns, not a lamb provided by God indeed but a ram, one with strength and which could have extricated itself, one would suppose, and have got away, but here is the truth of substitution, so clearly taught in the New Testament. Abraham offered him up INSTEAD of his son. A ram was included among the offerings in chapter 15 and the ram figures prominently in the later sacrifices, see Ex. 29 and Lev. 8. Jehovah-Jireh means, The Lord will see, or provide. Both are true and the mount becomes the mount of the Lord, and well it might when one considers its hallowed associations, for it became the site of Solomon’s temple with its many sacrifices and the presence of the glory of the Lord. Not only so but in II Sam. 24:18-25 it appears that the same spot was that which was occupied by the threshing floor of Araunah which David purchased on the staying of the plague brought on the people through David’s sin in numbering them. If this is so what associations were connected with this place, the place where the plague was stayed and the sacrifice made and then the Temple erected. How this lights up the truths which cluster around the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, where in truth the plague of sin was stayed and where the sacrifice was made, voluntarily and completely. May we know what it is to worship there.
The Lord again repeats His promises and covenant and this time accompanies it with an oath. This is the sixth promise and is quoted in Heb. 6:13-20 showing the immutability of God’s promise, confirmed by an oath. Here in Genesis is the fullest and most complete promise, Blessing, Fruitfulness and final Victory for all Abraham’s seed, the earthly and the heavenly, in which we believers have our part being the true children of Abraham by faith, the stars of heaven and the sand up on the sea shore indicating this.
Then there follows a short genealogy of Abraham’s brother Nahor and this it appears is necessary in order to introduce Rebekah who is to appear so prominently in Abraham’s family later on.
by RAY DAWES
It is not generally understood that the embroidered cloth stretched over the boards forming the roof is distinctly described as ‘the tabernacle.’ It therefore assumes great importance. In fact we could say the purpose of the framework was to hold this covering and display it to view cf. Exodus 35:11. It consisted of two lengths each of five equal pieces, joined by blue loops and golden clasps. On top of this, the tabernacle, was placed a slightly larger covering of spun goats hair, again of two lengths joined by blue loops and copper clasps. This covering is called, the Tent. Draped over the whole structure were two skins, the rams skin, dyed red, and the badger’s skin, giving ample protection from the weather. Thus we have the inner layer, the tabernacle, the goats hair, the tent, and the two skin coverings.
What do they signify? Let us approach our study from the outside. Outwardly, the tabernacle was not attractive to the natural eye, the rough badger skin had no appeal. This reminds us of the Saviour when the world viewed Him; ‘there was no beauty in Him that they should desire Him’ Isa. 53:2. Badger skin speaks of the separated life, cf. Ezek. 16:10, and the Lord Jesus was separated from this evil world. The believer likewise holds no attraction to the world generally speaking. His separation from its ways and pleasures brings forth their scorn. This separation is essential for just like the badger skin, it is protection of the inner spiritual life which the believer should be seeking to cultivate. Beneath this covering was the ram’s skin dyed red. The ram suggests substitution (Gen. 22:13) and consecration (Exodus 29). Applied to the Lord Jesus, how true that a closer examination of Him reveals His devotion to death in order to become the substitute for sinners. What mighty love constrained Him! In relating the thought to ourselves, consecration and self-sacrifice on behalf of others should mark us too. Rough skin was the badge of the prophetic office, e.g. Elijah, John the Baptist. The outward view of the separated life must be on account of these positive spiritual activities Godward.
Then there is the goat’s hair. Goats were used on the Day of Atonement as sacrifices for sin in its entirety, as it affected people and priests. So we have a deeper thought of Christ’s work. He has finally and fully dealt with every aspect of sin, to the eternal glory of God, and blessing of man. He has reconciled all things to Himself so that God can forever enjoy His people and have them dwelling with Him. We are to possess this truth. The thought of sin and guilt before God is to be banished, it must not be allowed to disturb the soul’s rest in Christ. A settled conviction of this purges the conscience and frees the soul to reach for further truth.
Underneath lay the embroidered tabernacle. The colours and cherubim displaying again the glories of the Lord Jesus Christ. Tts lovely colours and skilful art work were seen only by the priests as they ministered in the sanctuary. The perfections of the Lord are hidden to natural eyes. Only priests who draw near to God discover His loveliness. The link with John 1:14 is strong here. The word ‘dwelt’ is Tabernacled’ amongst us and we beheld His glory.’ The disciples were near to Him and the glory the world failed to appreciate was manifest to them. The more we learn of Christ the more glory we see. It is often so different with us. We can be so superficial there’s nothing beneath the surface. Men and women of God however, have inner graces that often remain undetected by the natural or carnal eye. God desires truth in the inner parts (Ps. 51:6) and to behold us ‘all glorious within’ (Ps. 45:13).
A comparison of Nehemiah and 1 Corinthians
by BRYAN SMITH
CONTINUING in Nehemiah 11 we read of the priests and Levites (v. 10-18), then of the residue of the people including the singers and porters, (v. 19-24). All had to do with the service of the house of God. The apostle recommends to the Corinthians the gift of prophecy. (1 Corinthians 14:1). But is not the gift of tongues a more spiritual gift? The apostle deals with the relative value of both in regard to the edification of the assembly (v. 2-20). Then he deals with both in regard to those outside of the assembly (v. 21-25). But what exactly is the speaking in a tongue? We cannot see that the language of these verses points to an intermittent muttering, an incoherent jargon, a babble of confused sounds. Paul gives thanks to God (v. 18) surely not to babble. The term is the same in Acts 2. Is it foreign languages? (Darby, Heading). “It means a human language, and nothing else” (Broadbent). But what are they communicating—the gospel? The whole chapter answers, NO. “I speak in a tongue more than you all” (v. 18 J.N.D.) refers “to his constant use of Greek in his missionary journeys rather than his mother tongue Hebrew” (Heading). But did Paul learn Greek naturally or supernaturally. “He does not say, because I speak in more tongues than you all, as he would require to do if he was thinking of actually existing foreign tongues” (Godet). Paul is indicating that he is not adverse to the gift because he does not himself possess it. Is it not a language unknown to the sneaker’s understanding, miraculously spoken? (Vine, Bruce, Weiss). And what was the purpose of this miracle language? “Paul tells us the purpose of it was to attract unbelievers” (Stuart). But in Acts 2 the unbeliever says “ye are drunk.” Here, he says “ye are mad.” It is a judicial voice to the unsaved who had refused to hear. (1 Corinthians 14, 21, 22). But who are the “unlearned or unbelievers?” “Visitors both saved and unsaved” (McShane). We submit, in the first, persons unacquainted with Christianity who may or may not respond to Divine revelation. In the other, persons who have rejected faith. But asks someone, “how explain Acts 2?” The disciples spoke in this miracle language, in Jerusalem, and it was interpreted by the Holy Spirit to the Jews “of the dispersion” so that each heard in their own local dialect. It was not so with some of Judaea who could not “hear” what was said. The Lord Jesus, in His ministry in Judaea and Jerusalem, had spoken to them in a language they understood. Now they must beware of Divine retribution. “When God sneaks intelligibly, it is to reveal (open) Himself to His people; when He speaks unintelligibly, it is because He must hide (close) Himself from them” (Kling). The apostle concludes by applying what he has said to the assembly gatherings. (1 Corinthians 14:23-40). But two verses call for particular comment. “Let the prophets speak two or three” (v. 29). The same restriction applies, as with the tongue, only he is not prepared to word it so decidedly. The capacity of the saints does not seem in question. “And let the other judge” Who are they? The other prophets (Darby, Heading). It is “others of the same kind.” But see 1 Corinthians 12:9, 10 (J.N.D.) for “others of the same kind.” One would have expected the apostle to have said, and let the rest judge. The other church members (Grant, Bruce, Kelly). They are responsible to sift what they hear. (Cf. 1 Thessalonians 5:20, 21). But are they all expected to discern prophetic revelation given by Divine inspiration? Those gifted with the discerning of spirits. (Vine, Meyer). (See 1 Corinthians 12, v. 10). The man with the gift of tongues must be followed by the man gifted to interpret the tongue. There is a like qualification in relation to the gift of prophecy. He must be prepared to submit his ministry to those exercising the gift of discerning of spirits. “Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak.” (v. 34). It is suggested that this may mean whisperings and private conversations, (Marsh). But the same word is used of God Himself speaking (v. 21) and “twenty one times of the exercise of the gifts of tongues and of prophecy” (Hoste). “There is plenty of scope for sisters to exercise a gift of teaching in other places apart from an assembly gathering. They are exhorted by Paul to teach the young women.” Titus 2:3-5 (Heading). Yes, by example and domestic instruction, in relation to home duties, workers at home etc.
by JOHN B. D. PAGE
“The High and Lofty One”
THE peace and prosperity of Solomon’s day had passed, and Isaiah prophesied to the impoverished and divided kingdom of Judah. In the year that King Uzziah died from leprosy which he contracted by transgressing against the Lord when he entered the temple to burn incense upon the golden altar, making himself a king-priest, Isaiah had a vision of the true King-Priest (11 Chronicles 26:16-19, and Isaiah 6:1-5). The scene was in heaven where he saw a throne, which absorbed his attention. Probably, the prophet had a mental picture of the earthly counterpart made by Solomon, for no throne in Scripture is described so fully. This great throne was made of ivory and overlaid with pure gold. There were six steps to the throne and its gold footstool. Above it, there was a canopy. On either side of the two arm-rests, there stood a lion. The steps were flanked by twelve lions, one at the end of each step. Of this throne, Holy Writ says, “there was not the like in any kingdom.” See 1 Kings 10:18-20, and 11 Chronicles 9:17-19.
Solomon’s throne had six steps to give it height, and apparently in ancient times the greatness of a monarch was gauged by the height of his throne. Hence, the higher the throne, the greater the monarch! In his vision, Isaiah was impressed by the height of the heavenly throne, for it was “high and lifted up,”—higher than any earthly throne. But, oh, the greatness of the Occupant! The prophet saw “the Lord” (or, Adonai) sitting upon the throne. Not Jehovah, the God of salvation, or Elohim, the Creator-God, but Adonai, the meaning of which is “sovereign” or “absolute Lord,” was enthroned. The Apostle John makes it known that on this occasion the glory seen by Isaiah was that of the Pre-incarnate Christ (John 12:41).
An allusion to the same throne is undoubtedly in Psalm 110:1, “The LORD (or, Jehovah) said unto my Lord (or, Adonai), Sit thou at my right hand…” which signifies an equality between the Persons seated—an equality between the Persons of the Godhead. Adonai is not inferior to, but equal with, Jehovah. When Peter, on the day of Pentecost, reached the climax of his sermon, the resurrection of Christ, he quoted this Psalm to verify that Jesus, Whom men had crucified but God raised from the dead, is now exalted and enthroned at the right hand of God. The Psalmist had in mind an eastern throne which is broader than a single-seated throne in the west, enabling a monarch to honour a person by sitting with him upon his throne. At His ascension into heaven, Jesus sat “on the right hand of God,” whereby God exalted Him, making Him both Lord and Christ (Acts 2:32-36, cp. Philippians 2:9). The throne in heaven is the highest of all thrones, and its exalted Occupant, the Risen Christ, is the greatest of all sovereigns!
Reverting to Isaiah’s vision, the seer saw not only “Adonai sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up” but also “His train filled the temple.” The word “train” is rendered “hem” in Exodus 28:33f in respect of the ankle-length blue robe of the ephod, one of the garments of glory and beauty, worn exclusively by the high priest.
Shocked by king Uzziah usurping the priest’s office in that “exceeding magnifical” temple, built of marble and overlaid with gold, the prophet had a vision of the Pre-incarnate Christ as the true King-Priest, whose radiant glory filled the heavenly temple.
In this day of grace, the Risen Christ is our “High Priest, who sits on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens” (Hebrews 8:1), where he makes intercession for us (Rom. 8:34). In the coming millennial age, this same Christ will be “a Priest upon His throne” (Zechariah 6:13), the true King-Priest, whom Isaiah beheld in his vision.
by the late C. J. ATKINS
NO world empire has arisen since the Greco-Macedonian except the Roman, but the Roman power did not completely fulfil all the detail given. It is evident therefore, that this empire, represented by the feet and toes of the image and by the fourth beast, and partly fulfilled in the history of Roman power, is not named in Scripture because the complete fulfilment awaits the rise of a future power with the same characteristics. In 146 B.C. Greece was conquered and became a Roman province and in 65 B.C. Syria also was taken over, whilst in 63 B.C. Jerusalem was captured by Pompey. Thus the mighty Ceasar Augustus had power to issue the decree “that all the world should be enrolled” Luke 2, 1, causing Joseph and Mary to go up from Galilee to Bethlehem.
The characteristics of this fourth empire “strong as iron… as iron breaketh in pieces and subdueth all things… crusheth all things” is an exact description of the fierce might of the Roman power. But whereas Nebuchadnezzar, “the head of gold” derived his authority from the God in heaven, the silver represented a rule resting on nobility of person and birth, the nobles being equal in rank. The inferior metal brass represents an authority of an aristocracy, not of birth, but of individual influence, whilst the further inferior iron, iron and clay, portrayed an emperor appointed by popular military election and the clay, that which is of the earth, stands for democratic rule, rule by the people. Dan. 2.43.
The conditions represented in the dream by the ten toes, “in the days of those kings” v. 44, has never yet been fulfilled, neither has the following event, “a stone cut out without hands” v. 45, shattering the image by smiting on its feet, and subsequently becoming “a kingdom which shall never be destroyed” v. 44. Whilst the former Roman empire is well portrayed by the legs and feet of the image, there is evidently a break in the unfolding not revealed to Daniel, to permit God’s purposes in grace to be fulfilled. Though Daniel could not know it, God knew that in prophetic utterances a break of years can elapse before the completion of fulfilling. As the Lord Jesus took the roll in the synagogue in Nazareth, and read from Isaiah 61:1, 2, He stopped in the midst of the verse, for “the day of vengeance of our God” had not come, yet. He could say of the preceding part of the verses “today hath this Scripture been fulfilled in your ears” Luke 4:18-21. Again Zech. 9:9 was fulfilled when the Lord rode up into Jerusalem (Matt. 21:4-5) but the remainder, v. 10, awaits fulfilment.
The legs and feet of iron represent the Roman empire which continued some five centuries after the death of Lord Jesus, ultimately dividing into two parts, an Eastern and a Western empire. Although during the fifth and sixth centuries hordes from the north overran the empire and it was divided into several kingdoms, varying both in number and composition, at no time has it yet existed as an empire of ten kingdoms as required by verses 42 to 44. Therefore it cannot rightly be said that conditions have existed when the “stone cut out without hands” could smite on the toes of the image to shatter the whole image making it as “chaff of the summer threshing floors… that no place was found for them” as stated in v.34-35.
The stone which became a great mountain is interpreted by Daniel as a kingdom. “The God of Heaven shall set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed, nor shall the sovereignty thereof be left to another people… it shall stand for ever” v. 44. “The dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof sure” v. 45. The king Nebuchadnezzar would understand much by a kingdom compared to stone. Babylon produced no stone so all its buildings were of brick, except a few of the most important made of lime-stone brought from the enemy Assyria. Babylon’s Sacred Way was paved with such lime-stone, as the way devoted to religious processions. Furthermore, when royal grants gave possession of lands, imported boundary stones were set up, and under the curse of the gods inscribed on such stones penalties would fall on any who removed the stones. The “stone cut out” would suggest a kingdom viewed as hostile to the Gentile kingdoms, linking sacred matters with well defined unalterable limits. The “great mountain… filled the whole earth.” This again would impress the monarch whose kingdom was surrounded by swamps, and endangered by floods so that every builder aimed at security by building on a height, making the work massive like a mountain.
To Daniel, the stone would speak of the corner stone described by the Psalmist. “The stone which the builders rejected is become the head of the corner. This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvellous in our eyes” Psalm 118:22, 23 verses quoted by the Lord as speaking of Himself when telling the parable of his rejection by the Jewish nation Matt. 21:40, 42, and He also linked it with the words of Isaiah, speaking of a stone of stumbling and a rock of offence on which many would fall and be broken, Isaiah 8:14, 15, Matt. 21:43, 45. Similarly Isaiah says “Behold I lay in Zion for a foundation stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone of sure foundation” Isaiah 28:16. So Paul, speaking of Israel’s blindness, quotes the verse, explaining that they sought a righteousness by works and not by faith, Romans 9:32, 33. Soon, when the Lord returns, the stone will fall in judgment when the day of the Lord will come, 2 Pet. 3:10, 11, and the “elements shall be dissolved with fervent heat.” At His first coming our Lord was indeed set at nought of the builders. His second coming “to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the ungodly of their works of ungodliness” Jude 15 will indeed be as catastrophic as suggested by the picture of the stone crashing on the feet of the image for its destruction. The Psalmist’s words “Thou shalt bieak the nations with a rod of iron: Thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel, Psalm 2 v. 9 will be fulfilled as the prelude to the fulfilment of Zechariah’s prophecy “the Lord shall be king over all the earth” Zech. 14.9.
On listening to the interpretation, the mighty monarch is constrained to acknowledge that Daniel’s God “is the God of gods and Lord of Kings, and a revealer of secrets” v. 47, and also to prostrate himself before Daniel in worship, v. 46. So, when the Lord fulfils His word, Gentile nations will be made to gather Israel from afar, and they will bow before repentant Israel. “They shall bring Thy sons in their bosom… kings shall be thy nursing fathers… they shall bow down to thee… and thou shalt know that I am the Lord, and they that wait for Me shall not be ashamed” Isa. 49:22, 23.
Typical of the blessing which the faithful Jewish remnant will receive from Gentile powers, Daniel received great gifts and was exalted to a place of supreme honour. In his exaltation, Daniel was mindful of his three friends, so that they shared his glory and power. Our blessed Lord in His exaltation will remember us and give us a place. “Father… I will that where I am, they also may be with Me… the glory which Thou hast given Me I have given unto them.” John 17 v. 24, 22.
It is worth noting that whilst commentators are generally agreed that the fourth empire is the Roman, G. H. Lang strongly rejects this interpretation (see The Histories and Prophecies of Daniel published 1940 Third edition 1942). Contending that the fourth kingdom is not named in Scripture and that the Roman empire has no place in prophecy, that there is no justification for assuming a break in the continuity as required by the interval before the ten kings, he avers that the interpretation commences with the guiding statement “thou art the head of gold”—that is a personal ruler. He suggests that the image is a continuous picture of Babylon, from its commencement as a world empire under Nebuchadnezzar until its final overthrow when its ruler is cast into the lake of fire Rev. 19.20. This interpretation will obviously call for a different interpretation of Daniel’s visions of the four beasts in Daniel ch. 7 and ch. 8 which are generally understood by most commentators to be a fresh view of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream.
by C. TREVOR HUSSEY
IN VIEW of the general confusion of thought and variety of practice regarding visitors to scriptural assemblies, a re-examination of the word of God on the matter is important, particularly in days when church truths are regarded by some as non-essential, or relegated to the realm of “traditions of men.”
The well-known, oft quoted, but oft ignored statement of Acts 2:41 and 42 state the original practice clearly and unambiguously. “They that gladly received His word were baptised… and they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread and in nrayers.” This passage has been translated as “and in THE fellowship and in THE prayers,” having in view nothing of a casual or individual nature but rather indicating a regular and corporate gathering.
There have been frequent objections to the phrase “guarding the table” on the ground that the expression is not found in the Scriptures. This is a wise objection, particularly if consistently applied to all statements regarding assembly principles. However, is it not more objectionable to use an expression that is scriptural and take it out of it’s context and use it to propogate an unscriptural doctrine. “Guarding the table” may not be literally scriptural, but overseers have a solemn responsibility to see that the order of Acts 2:41-42 is maintained.
Receiving Those Whom the Lord has Received
This expression is often used to justify participation in the Lord’s supper by all whom the Lord has received, i.e. all who are saved, perhaps having in mind Romans ch. 15, v. 7. The apostle here is not enunciating a general principle but is dealing specifically with the case of a weak brother who has a conscientious objection with regard to meats, observance of special days etc., who is not to be refused or ridden over roughshod by his stronger brother who has no such objection, and of course verse 1 of chapter 14 in connection with this matter refers not to the table but to fellowship in the assembly.
Reception by The Church
It would be a fruitless task to seek an example of anyone in the scriptures being received to The Lord’s supper, sometimes erroneously referred to as The Lord’s table, but there are many examples of believers being received by the local church into it’s circle of fellowship.
- Acts 9:26. Paul assayed to join himself to the disciples at Jerusalem, (not to break bread) and because they were not prepared to receive him because of his past reputation, it required the commendation of Barnabas to secure Paul’s admission to their fellowship.
- Acts 15:4. Paul and Barnabas were received by the church at Jerusalem to give a missionary report, having been sent forth by the Holy Ghost from Antioch. (Acts 13)
- Acts 18:27 The brethren at Ephesus, after Aquila and Priscilla, had instructed Apollos in the word, instructed the brethren of Achaia to receive him that he might continue the exercise of his gift among them.
- Romans 16:2. “Receive her in the Lord as becometh saints” is an expression with which we are all familiar, having no reference to the supper, but being an exhortation to the saints at Rome to extend to Phoebe that practical hospitality which she had so bountifully lavished upon others.
- 3 John 8. Here John says “We ought to receive such,” not referring to an ordinance but commending Gaius for his love and walking in the truth, and for his receiving the brethren who for HIS NAME had gone forth taking nothing of the gentiles and in direct contrast to organised religion which alas is too ready to take anything from anybody “for the good of the cause.”
- Philippians 2:29. On this occasion Paul exhorts the church at Phillipi to receive Epaphroditus who had worn himself out in the service of the Lord.
- Colossians 4:10. This is an exhortation by Paul to the saints and faithful brethren in Christ to receive the erring but forgiven Mark “if he come.” IN NONE OF THE FOREGOING IS THERE ANY REFERENCE TO THE SUPPER.
Reception by Private Individuals
Requests regarding receiving one another are sometimes directed to individuals. In Paul’s letter to Philemon, verses 12, 15 and 17, the apostle pleads with Philemon to receive Onesimus as a brother. Acts 28:7 records the fact that Publius received Paul into his house and extended to him three day’s hospitality. Herein arises a pertinent thought; what an admirable thing it would be if believers were in general as desirous of receiving their brethren to their own tables as many are to what is called “The Lord’s table.” How easy to be generous with that which is not our’s, and costs us nothing. One further example of reception by an individual is found in Acts 28:30 where we find Paul receiving all who came to him, for preaching or teaching.
Receiving Those who Love the Lord
The accent here is surely on the word “Lord,” who said, “If ye love me (ye will) keep my commandments.” The first of those commandments recognised by the believers in the church’s infancy was baptism. Disobedience to this commandment is hardly a commendation to the breaking of bread.
A Strange Inconsistency
Christendom usually demands a man-ordained individual to preside at the supper and dispense the elements. In his absence no service can take place… Membership of such a community subscribes to the doctrine that a “layman” is not qualified to officiate at the supper. By what circuitous reasoning does that which is wrong in a believer’s own circle of fellowship, become legitimate when he enters a company where an “unordained” individual breaks the bread. Consistency would demand that he would refuse rather than expect participation in the supper.
Whom does the Lord Receive?
In connection with receiving all whom The Lord has received there is a very searching passage in 2 Corinthians 6:17 and 18. “Wherefore come out from among them and be ye separate saith The Lord and touch not the unclean thing, and I WILL RECEIVE YOU, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters saith THE LORD ALMIGHTY. A parallel portion is found in the Revelation chapter 18, where the conglomerate mass of organised religion is described in it’s ultimate state as Babylon, and again the heavenly command is “Come out of her my people.” It is therefore clear from these passages that to receive those whom The Lord has received is to receive those who have obeyed the command from heaven.
The End of the Way
- “Thou shalt remember all the way that the Lord thy God led thee.”—Deut. viii. 2.
- The sands have been washed o’er the footprints
- Of the Stranger on Galilee’s shore,
- And the voice that subdued the rough billows
- Is heard in Judea no more;
- But the path of that lone Galilean
- With joy I will follow today,
- And the toils of the road will seem nothing
- When I get to the end of the way.
- There are so many hills to climb upward,
- I often am longing for rest,
- But He who appoints me my pathway
- Knows just what is needful and best;
- I know in His word He has promised
- My strength it shall be as my day,
- And the toils of the road will seem nothing
- When I get to the end of the way.
- He loves me too well to forsake me
- Or give me one trial too much;
- All His people have been dearly purchased,
- And Satan can never claim such;
- By and by I shall see Him and know
- Him In the city of unending day,
- And the toils of the road will seem nothing
- When I get to the end of the way.