The Tabernacle


TYPES OF

THE TABERNACLE

BY

THOMAS NEWBERRY

Editor of  “The Englishman’s Bible.”

Author of “Notes on the Song of Solomon,” “The Expected One.”
“The Perfections and Excellencies of Scripture,” etc.


SECOND EDITION


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THE CAMP AT REST
THE POSITION OF THE TRIBES, WITH THE TABERNACLE IN THE MIDST.

 

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CONTENTS
  Page
Introduction, 7
The Materials, 8
The Metals, 9
The Colours, 10
The Coverings, 12
Oil for the Light, 16
Spices for Anointing Oil, 19
The Sweet Incense, 25
God’s Holy Dwelling Place, 28
The Ark of the Covenant, 34
The Propitiatory and the Cherubim, 39
The Table of Shewbread, 43
The Lampstand, 52
The Curtains of the Tabernacle, 64
The Boards, 84
The Bars, 90
The Vail, 97
The Brazen Altar, 102
The Court of the Tabernacle, 108
The Hangings of the Court, 112
The Golden Altar of Incense, 120
The Laver and its Foot, 129
Directions for setting up the Tabernacle, 137
The Tabernacle Reared up, 142
The Overshadowing Cloud and the Indwelling Glory, 146

 

List of Illustrations.
The Tabernacle in the Wilderness Frontispiece
   
  Facing Page
The High Priest in Garments of Glory 32
The Holy Place and Its Furniture 48
The Curtains of the Tabernacle 64
The Golden Candlestick 80
The Altar at the Door 96
The Court and the Gate 112
The Camp at Rest 128

 

Types of

The Tabernacle

INTRODUCTION.

(Exodus, Chapter 25:1-9).

IT is not here Israel seeking to provide a dwelling-place for God, as in David’s case (Psalms 132:1-5), but God desiring a dwelling-place for Him­self amongst them. Man naturally desires not the presence of God with him here on earth, but God in the riches of His grace seeks to dwell with men. We must remember when this request from God was made. In the twentieth chapter, we have the giving of the law, in the three following chapters further precepts, then in chapter 24, Moses, Aaron, Nadab, Abihu, and seventy of the elders were called up unto mount Sinai. “And the glory of Jehovah abode upon mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days: and on the seventh day He called unto Moses out of the cloud. And the sight of the glory of Jehovah was like devour­ing fire. And Moses was in the mount forty days and forty nights.” There, shut in with God, he re­ceives directions concerning the Tabernacle. Thus the law includes within itself “a shadow of good things to come,” and patterns of things in the heavens were given on mount Sinai.

It is in the heart of man God desires His dwelling-place, hence it was from those who offered “willingly with the heart” His offering was to be taken. Where there is first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath. The widow’s two mites given out of her penury, were more acceptable to God than the offerings of the rich out of their abundance.

THE MATERIALS.

Verse 3. “And this is the offering (heave-offering) ye shalt take of them.”

There are two kinds of offerings frequently men­tioned. The wave-offering which was made to pass and re-pass before the eye of Jehovah, and the heave-offering which was lifted up to God and presented to Him. In this case it is the “heave-offering” (see margin of The Englishman’s Bible).

In the original there are two distinct terms employed for tent and tabernacle; in our Authorized Translation these terms are frequently confused, but the Spirit of God always uses them with precision. The tent (ohel) is the ordinary term for transitory habitations in the desert; hence “to dwell in tents” is characteristic of pilgrimage. The Tabernacle mishcahn, from shahcan, “to dwell,” is more immediately connected with the presence of God. As God says in verse 8, “Let them make Me a sanctuary that I may dwell among them.” God’s dwelling-place among men must be holy, for holiness becometh God’s house for ever.

In the original Scriptures the term employed is “The Tent of the congregation.” It is never written “Tabernacle of the congregation,” although frequently so translated. The term “Tent of the congregation” is connected with the assemblage of God’s people, at the door or entrance, where God promised to meet with them. The children of Israel were to encamp far off, round about the Tabernacle, thus leaving ample space in front and around, for the congregation to assemble. Those who brought a sacrifice entered the court, and killed and cut it into its pieces on the north side of the altar; the priests only were allowed to enter into the Sanctuary.

THE METALS.

GOLD is the emblem of that which is divine, divinely excellent and precious, and reminds us of GOD THE FATHER. SILVER is typical of atonement and atone­ment price. “Ye were not redeemed with corruptible things such as silver or gold but with the precious blood of Christ” (1 Peter 1:18, 19). The children of Israel when numbered, were required to give a half shekel of silver as a ransom for the soul, unto Jehovah (Exodus 30:11-16). This brings the SON OF GOD to our remembrance. BRASS is the emblem of stability and enduring strength, as iron is the emblem of overcoming strength. “Thy shoes shall be iron and brass, and as thy day thy strength shall be” (Deuteronomy 33:25), reminding us of the divine, eternal SPIRIT. “Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit, saith Jehovah of hosts” (Zechariah 4:6). And “strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man” (Ephesians 3:16). The boards of the Tabernacle were overlaid with GOLD. The sockets of the Taber­nacle were of SILVER. And the sockets for the Court were of BRASS. In Nebuchadnezzar’s image there was the same order—gold, silver, brass. In light there are three primary colours—yellow, red, and blue. The gold corresponds with the yellow, as emblematic of God the Father; the silver with the red, as typical of the Son of God, His incarnation and atoning blood; the brass corresponds with the blue, as emblematic of the Holy Spirit, and His regenerating and resurrection power. First, divine sovereignty; second, redemption by Christ Jesus; third, sanctification by the Spirit.

THE COLOURS.

Verse 4. “And blue, and purple, and scarlet.”

BLUE, according to the root of its Hebrew name, signifies “perfection”; it is also the colour of the heavens above, typical of that which is spiritual, heavenly, and perfect.

SCARLET, Hebrew tôlahath shanee, or the splendour of a worm, typical of earthly dignity and glory, as Jesus Christ was born King of the Jews, and heir of David’s royal throne.

PURPLE is a combination of scarlet and blue, re­minding us of the union of the earthly dignity and the heavenly perfectness in the Melchisedec priesthood of the Lord Jesus, who will sit as a priest upon His throne.

What is symbolized by the Tabernacle in the wilder­ness? The first explanation is given in John 1:14, “The Word was made flesh and tabernacled among us.” We have seen that in the Hebrew, the terms “tent” and “tabernacle” are distinct, but in the Greek one word is used for both, so the Lord Jesus was at once the Taber­nacle in which God dwelt, and the Tent in which He sojourned among men, during the thirty-seven years of His life on earth. (For we must not leave out of account the four years of His infancy, before A.D. commenced).

In a secondary sense, the Tabernacle in the wilder­ness is a type of the Church of the present dispensation from Pentecost to the return of the Lord Jesus. In Christ Jesus, Jew and Gentile are now builded together for a habitation of God through the Spirit (Ephesians 22). The Temple of Solomon is the type not only of the Church, but of the whole of the redeemed in resur­rection and heavenly glory.

THE COVERINGS.

“And fine linen, and goat’s hair, and rams’ skins dyed red, and badgers’ skins and shittim wood.” Exodus 25: 4, 5.

In these materials we have symbolically presented God’s estimate of the human nature of the Lord Jesus Christ as Son of Man.

First, fine linen, Hebrew, sheesh, signifying white, corresponding with the fine flour of the meat or gift-offering, nothing coarse or uneven. The pure, sinless humanity of the Lord Jesus, the Woman’s seed, the Virgin’s son, “that holy thing” begotten of the Holy Ghost, and called the Son of God. Though made in all points like unto His brethren, yet without sin; holy, harmless, undefiled. The finest texture woven in God’s loom.

Second, the goat’s hair. In the parable of the sheep and goats in Matthew 25:32, the sheep represent the righteous, and the goats the wicked. In the sin-offer­ing, it was generally the kid of the goats that was to be offered. Romans 8:3, beautifully explains this. “God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh.” It was not in sinful flesh but “in the likeness of sinful flesh” that Jesus came. “He knew no sin.” He was “found in fashion as a man;” hence he experienced hunger and thirst, sat weary at the well, fell asleep in the storm after the labours of the day. God never suffered His Holy One to see corruption, neither by disease in life nor decay after death. God not only numbered Him with transgressors on the tree, and made His soul an offering for sin, but in the person of Him who was made in the likeness of sinful flesh though Himself sinless, God condemned and executed judgment on sin in the flesh. Hence there is “no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus,” neither because of actual transgression, nor of duty omitted, nor for that inward depravity which they are conscious of. For the judgment of “sin in the flesh” has been borne in the sinless person of Immanuel on the Cross. On the great day of atonement, the sacrifice of the bullock, whose blood was brought into the Holiest, was for Aaron and his house, typical of Christ and the Church. (See Hebrews 3:6). The goat was on behalf of Israel, and the scapegoat prefigured the putting away of Israel’s sins nationally, on the ground of the new covenant. (See Jeremiah 1: 20).

Third, “Rams’ skins dyed red.” The bullock repre­sents Christ in service, the lamb in His meekness and gentleness, and the ram in His public testimony. As the lamb He increased in wisdom and stature and in favour with God and man; but as the ram, the world hated Him, because He testified of it that the works thereof were evil. It was to be “rams” skins dyed red,” because He was not only the Faithful Witness in life, but sealed the testimony with His blood. The “coats of skin” with which God clothed our first parents in Eden, fore-shadowed this. And Joseph’s coat of many colours, which his brethren took and dipped in the blood of a kid of the goats and presented to their father, was likewise typical. The rider on the white horse in Revelation 19, is clothed with “a vesture dipped in blood,” which probably has a twofold meaning; symbolical at once of His own atoning death, and of judgment which He executes on His foes.

Fourth, “And badgers’ skins.” The term badgers’ skins occurs elsewhere only in Ezekiel 16:10, “And shod thee with badgers’ skins,” hence used where strength and durability were required. It was the ex­ternal covering of the Tabernacle. This suggests the outward appearance of Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of Joseph, who, whilst the foxes had holes, and the birds of the air had nests, had not where to lay His head; having no form nor comeliness, but despised and rejected of men.              His outer garments were divided among the soldiers who nailed Him to the tree. He was a stranger and a pilgrim here.

Fifth, “And shittim wood.” Wood from the wilder­ness of Shittim, typical of human nature; in the case of Christ, of sinless humanity. The children being partakers of flesh and blood, “He Himself likewise took part in the same” (Hebrews 2:14). “He was made in all points like unto His brethren, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15).

The Tabernacle and Tent may also be regarded as typical of the Church in its present wilderness condi­tion. “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning” (Romans 15:4).

First, the “fine linen,” typical of the Church, looked at in the Spirit, regenerated and sanctified by the Holy Ghost, and conformed to the example of Christ.

Second, the “goats’ hair,” emblematic of what we truly are in the flesh, whilst Christ was only made in the likeness of it. It is also similar to the two wave loaves baken with leaven (Leviticus 23:17), representing the Church of the present dispensation, composed of Jew and Gentile, not sinless according to the flesh, but conscious of and confessing the law of sin which is in their members. (Romans 7)

Third, “Rams’ skins dyed red.” As in Leviticus 23, the two wave loaves were accompanied by various sacrifices, so here the goats’ hair curtains were covered over with the rams’ skins dyed red. Thus while we confess our sinfulness, we realize that the blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, cleanseth us from all sin; that our iniquity is forgiven, our sin covered.

Fourth, the “badgers’ skins.” Whilst seeking a city yet to come, we confess that we are strangers and pil­grims here.

Fifth, “Shittim wood.” Though now by divine grace children of God, yet having been born in sin, shapers in iniquity, and by nature children of wrath even as others, there was need of the regenerating power of the Holy Ghost, and of redemption through the blood of the Lamb. The Church is composed of sinners saved by grace.

 

Oil for the Light.

 “Oil for the light.” (Exodus 25:6).

THE word “light” here, signifies “light-giver”; that is, the lampstand with its seven lamps which stood in the Tabernacle. In the Sanc­tuary natural light was in a measure shut out. Light during the night was supplied by the golden lampstand. The lamps were ordered by Aaron and his sons from evening to morning before Jehovah (Exodus 27:20, 21). The children of Israel were commanded to bring the pure oil olive beaten for the light, to cause the lamp to burn continually (Leviticus 24:1-4).

Primarily, the lampstand represents Christ, who whilst He was in the world was the light of the world on Him the Spirit of God rested in all its fulness. HE was anointed to teach and preach (Isaiah 11:2, 3; 61:1). And even after His resurrection, it was through the Holy Ghost that He gave commandment to Hi apostles whom He had chosen (Acts 1:2). Now believers are exhorted to shine as lights in the world holding forth the word of life (Philippians 2:15, 16), bearing their testimony, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but in the words the Holy Ghost teacheth (1 Corinthians 2:13). It was for this purpose the apostle Paul besought the saints to pray on his behalf, for the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:19). The Greek word here used implies “additional supply.” Testimony for God in the Church and in the world, can only be kept up in its spirituality and efficiency, by the continual communication of grace from God through the Holy Ghost, out of the suffi­ciency which is in Christ Jesus.

In Acts 2 we read, the Spirit was given at Pente­cost; and in Acts 4, in answer to prayer, the disciples were again filled with the Holy Ghost, and with great power gave their testimony. The lamp is provided for the night season. It is during the present night-time of the world that the Church is called upon to hold forth the Word of life in the power of the Spirit of God. Whilst Christ was in the world He was the light of it, but that sun set behind the hill of Calvary when the Son of Man bowed His head upon the Cross. From that time till the appearing of “The Morning Star” the word of Christ to His disciples is, “Ye are the light of the world.” “Let your light so shine” (Matthew 5:14-16) that God may be glorified. And Pentecost supplied the oil for the light, that the lamp might burn continually. What is now needed is the continual additional supply.

In Exodus 27:20, the word to Moses is, “Thou shalt command the children of Israel, that they bring thee pure oil olive beaten for the light, to cause the lamp to burn always.” The supply of the Spirit of God is to be kept up in answer to prayer; and if the people of God were diligent in seeking that supply, would there not be additional power in the ministry of the Word?

Ministry should not be haphazard talk, but the result of careful study of the Word in dependence on the Holy Ghost. When Stephen, full of the Holy Ghost, spake in the council, they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake (Acts 6:10). The secret of effective speaking is said to be “prepared unpreparedness,” being thoroughly up in the subject, but leaving to the Spirit of God to direct the utterance. Then after the feast there may be twelve baskets left, and there is always a fresh supply, for God’s truth is never exhausted.

The lamp in the Tent of the Congregation was to be ordered by Aaron and his sons continually “BEFORE JEHOVAH.” It is a matter of great importance, that ministry should be exercised consciously in the pre­sence of God. The divine presence not only realized by the assembly according to Acts 10:33, “Now there­fore are WE all here present before God, to hear all things commanded thee of God,” but also by the speaker as delivering God’s message, and with the ability which God giveth, that God in all things may be glorified (1 Peter 4:10, 11). Remembering that God hears every word, and that He is his most discriminat­ing listener. If preaching before an earthly potentate would call for such care and circumspection, how much greater should it be, when speaking in the pre­sence of the Majesty of heaven and earth.

 

Spices for Anointing Oil.

(Exodus 25:6, 30:22-23).

“Moreover Jehovah spake unto Moses, saying ‘Take THOU also unto thee principal spices, of pure myrrh five hundred shekels, and of sweet cinnamon half so much, even two hundred and fifty shekels, and of sweet calamus two hundred and fifty shekels, and of cassia five hundred shekels, after the shekel of the Sanctuary, and of oil olive a hin: and thou shalt make IT an oil of holy ointment, an ointment compound after the art of the apothecary: it shall be a holy anointing oil.’”

“PRINCIPAL SPICES” The anointing oil was to be composed of the chief or most excellent spices.

“PURE MYRRH;” literally, freely-flowing myrrh—a fragrant spice, bitter to the taste, but sweet to the scent. The ordinary kind was obtained from the tree by lacerating the bark, but that which flowed freely and spontaneously without laceration was considered the most excellent and valuable. This is the kind here indicated by the Hebrew word.

What do these four spices represent? They are all the produce of trees, the result of vegetation and life. They represent the excellencies and perfections of Christ as Son of Man, the chiefest among ten thousand and the altogether lovely. His humanity was so excel­lent and perfect, that infidels can but admire His portrait as drawn in the Gospels. The Bride in Canticles (verse 13) says, “His lips are like lilies, dropping sweet-smelling myrrh.” His townsmen at Nazareth marvel­led at “the gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth,” and the officers which were sent to take Him returned with the report, “Never man spake like this Man.” And even His laceration on the Cross only brought out the words, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” Myrrh is also a soother of pain, and the sympathy of Jesus how comforting!

 “SWEET CINNAMON” is the inner bark, sweet and also fragrant. Expressive of the sweetness and excel­lency of the character of Jesus, as witnessed by those who were familiar with His private walk.

 “SWEET CALAMUS” is the pith. Emblematic of the sweetness of the Spirit of Christ in all His internal thoughts, feelings, and affections; similar to the fat of the inwards, burnt as incense on the altar, which was for God alone, and only fully estimated by Him.

 “CASSIA” is the outer bark. Expressive of the sweetness and excellency of the external character and conduct of the Lord Jesus in His daily walk.

 

Pure Myrrh 500 shekels Bitter.
Cinnamon 250 Sweet.
Calamus 250
Cassia 500

500 shekels bitter, 1000 sweet; such is the com­position.

“After the shekel of the Sanctuary.” Not man’s estimate, but God’s holy estimate of the graces of the Spirit of His Christ, which is here set forth.

 “AND OF OIL OLIVE A HIN.” This pure olive oil symbolizes the Holy Ghost, the eternal Spirit of the Triune God. It was to be a full hin, for the Father gave not the Spirit by measure unto Him.

 “IT SHALL BE A HOLY ANOINTING OIL.” “A COM­POUND COMPOUNDED.”               Two things strike us here. First, its holiness. This is twice mentioned, for the Spirit of Christ was a Holy Spirit. Secondly, the tempering of the precious spices together. Expressive of the incomparable excellency of the Spirit of Christ, produced by the exquisite blending of the various graces of His character, in perfect and harmonious oneness. It should be observed that the pure OIL OLIVE represents the Spirit of God apart from the In­carnation. The ANOINTING OIL with the spices added, is typical of the Spirit of Christ and the various graces of His Spirit, which are communicated to believers, and shared by them through the anointing of the Holy Ghost sent down from Christ exalted.               “Like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron’s beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments” (Psalms 133:2). Thus they become Christ-like. Thus the character and graces of Christ as the anointed Son of Man are reproduced in those who drink into His Spirit.

Not only under the law were almost all things sprinkled with blood (Hebrews 9:18-22), but we may say that almost all things also were anointed with oil.

THE TABERNACLE TO BE ANOINTED.

“And thou shalt take the anointing oil, and anoint the Tabernacle, and all that is therein.” (Exodus 40:9).

For believers “are builded together for a habitation of God THROUGH THE SPIRIT” (Ephesians 2:22). So on the day of Pentecost, the Spirit from Christ risen and glorified, constituted the assembled believers the dwel­ling-place of God, and by that one Spirit are we all baptized into one Body.

THE TENT OF THE CONGREGATION.

“And thou shalt anoint the tent of the congregation there­with.” (Exodus 30:26).

When believers are gathered together in the presence of God, and in the Name of the Lord Jesus, that which is of all importance is the power of the Spirit un­quenched. This makes the assembly of believers the place of power, and joy, and blessing.

THE ARK ANOINTED.

“And the ark of the testimony.” (Verse 26).

Christ risen, exalted, anointed, having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, is the centre of gathering to the Church of God. He is the subject of testimony, and in Him all the promises of God are, Yea and Amen.

THE TABLE ANOINTED.

“And the table and all his vessels” (verse 27).

The communion of saints, in the sacred remem­brance of the sufferings and death of their divine Saviour, must be in the present power of the Spirit of Christ, and all things connected therewith should be done by the unction of the Holy Ghost.

THE LAMPSTAND ANOINTED.

 “And the lampstand and his vessels” (verse 27).

Testimony to Jesus and the ministration of God’s Word is to be in the exercise of the gifts of the Spirit given by Christ exalted, and by His present guidance and grace, and everything connected with this ministry is to be in the power of the Spirit of Christ.

THE GOLDEN ALTAR ANOINTED.
“And the altar of incense” (verse 27)

The worship of the Father in truth, can only be by the Spirit of Adoption—the Spirit of an ascended Christ. He helps our infirmities, He makes interces­sion, He causes our prayers and praises to ascend accompanied with all the fragrance of the Name of Jesus.

THE BRAZEN ALTAR ANOINTED.

 “And the altar of burnt offering, with all his vessels” (verse 28).

It was through the Eternal Spirit, that Jesus offered Himself without spot to God; and it is by the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven, that testimony is to be borne to the value of His blood, and to the fact of His resurrection, as the ground of communion between God and the soul.

THE LAVER.

“And the laver and his foot” (verse 28).

The Spirit of God reveals Jesus in the holiness of His Person and walk down here, and makes Him prac­tical sanctification to us. He also reveals to us a glorified Christ, and conforms us to Him, changing us into the same image from glory to glory (2 Corinthians 3:18).

THE ANOINTING OF AARON AND HIS SONS.

 “And thou shalt anoint Aaron and his sons” (verse 30).

The risen Jesus was anointed to His heavenly priest­hood, and it is the Spirit of the ascended Christ, re­ceived by the believer, which constitutes him one of God’s holy and royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:5, 9).

A HOLY ANOINTING OIL.

Verses 31-33.

This unction of the Holy One is not to be imitated. In Acts 5, we have a solemn illustration of this, when the graces of the Spirit of Christ manifested in the church as received in Acts 4, were imitated by Ana­nias and Sapphira, they were cut off from the people of God. The substitution of the energy of the flesh for the power of the Spirit, cuts off from real spiritual communion with the people of God. God and Christ are most jealous for the honour of the Holy Ghost. All manner of sin and blasphemy may be forgiven unto men, but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost hath no forgiveness (Matthew 12:31, 32).

 

The Sweet Incense.

(Exodus 25:6; 30:34-38).

 “And for sweet incense.” “And Jehovah said unto Moses,
Take unto thee sweet spices.”

THESE sweet spices express the divine estimate of the excellencies of the character of the Lord Jesus as Son of Man, “whose Name is as ointment poured forth” (Song of Solomon 1, 3).

The name of the first spice, “stacte,” comes from a Hebrew word signifying to drop, to fall in drops, to distil, similar to the freely flowing myrrh used in the composition of the holy anointing oil.

 “Onycha” in Hebrew means also a lion, and suggests the thought of the uncompromising faithfulness, firm­ness, and decision of the character of Christ, setting His “face like a flint,” boldly acting for God and re­proving all manner of evil. He was not only the Lamb of God, but also the Lion of the tribe of Judah (Revelation 5:5, 6).

 “Galbanum.” The root of the word signifies “milk,” or “fat,” and connects the thought with the “fat which covered the inwards”—God’s portion of the sacrifices, and emblematical of the internal preciousness of Jesus.

 “With pure frankincense.” The Hebrew word sig­nifies white. The richness and abundance of its per­fume suggested the English word, meaning frank or liberal incense. It reminds us of the purity, piety, and acceptability of Him who was holy, harmless, unde­filed, and separate from sinners.

“Of each shall there be a like weight.”

How expressive of the character of Christ! What an even balance do we there discover! His grace, His firmness, His internal excellency and outward piety how exactly proportioned!

 “And thou shalt make IT a perfume, a confection after the art of the apothecary, tempered together (salted to­gether), pure and holy” (verse 35).

Perfume and incense are the same. There is but one word in the original. The graces and virtues which compose and make up the character of Jesus, how exquisitely tempered together! Not only equal, but harmonized, blended, and combined. “Tempered;” Hebrew, “salted,” or seasoned. The art of the apothe­cary so combining as to bring out the perfume in its exquisite perfection. “Pure and holy.” What purity and holiness also are seen in the character and ways of Jesus!

 “And thou shalt beat some of it very small, and put it before the testimony in the tabernacle (tent) of the congregation, where I will meet with thee: it shall be unto you most holy” (verse 36).

These sweet spices, beaten very small, may suggest the thought that the various excellencies and perfec­tions of the Lord Jesus are to be searched out and dis­covered in His minutest recorded action and word, as well as in the more important occasions of His life. Some of it was to be put before the testimony in the tent of the congregation, where God promised to meet with His people. And when the people of God are gathered together in His presence, then the precious­ness of the name of Jesus gives a perfume to their prayers and praises. And this is there for the encour­agement of faith, and for the comfort and joy of our souls before God, “for ointment and perfume rejoice the heart.”

“And as for the perfume which thou shalt make, ye shall not make to yourselves according to the composition thereof: it shall be unto thee holy for Jehovah. Who­soever shall make like unto that, to smell thereto, shall even be cut off from his people” (verses 37, 38).

This preciousness of Jesus is inimitable, and must not be counterfeited. Self-conceit through supposed resemblance will put the soul out of communion. Strange fire is natural, or fleshly excitement . Strange incense is Nature’s imitation of the peerless preciousness of Christ. Both are alike forbidden of God. But fire from God’s altar, and the sweet per­fume of the excellency of Jesus, are provided for the true worshippers of the Father through the Son, and in the power of the Holy Ghost.

 

 

God’s Holy Dwelling Place.

“And let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them. According to all that I show THEE after the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern o all the instruments thereof, even so shall ye make it.” (Exodus 25:8, 9).

GOD having redeemed the people of Israel out of Egypt, desired to have a dwelling-place among them in the wilderness. So God now desires that sinners redeemed by the blood of the Lamb should be builded together for a habitation of God through the Spirit (Ephesians 2:22), and be built up a spiritual house composed of living stones (1 Peter 2:5).

When Jesus was here upon the earth, He Himself was the sanctuary and dwelling-place of God. In Him the glory of the Godhead dwelt. “The Word was made flesh and dwelt (tabernacled) among us, and we be­held His glory” (John 1:14). Before His death, in this respect, He abode alone (John 12:24).               But having finished His work, and ascended up on high, He built the church of the living God, as a habitation for God (Matthew 16:15-18). Upon this foundation, upon Himself, and on the confession of His name as the Christ, the Son of the living God, made known to the soul by the revelation of the Father, He built His Church, as the house of God, to be the pillar and ground of the truth (1 Timothy 3:15).

How perfect, how suggestive are the words of God! He does not say, “Let them make themselves a taber­nacle, or meeting-place, that I may come and visit them.” It is natural to man to think of himself first, and to begin from himself. But God’s thoughts and ways are the opposite of man’s. God begins from Himself— “Let them make ME a sanctuary! that I may dwell among them.”

O for grace to learn this lesson perfectly! so that in meeting together in church fellowship our first thought may be, not of our own comfort and convenience, nor even our edification—God will take care of that—but that God may have a dwelling place among us, and that God, through Christ, may be glorified. “That I may dwell among them,” not as a wayfaring man that turneth aside to tarry for a night, but to be at home there. And Jesus has told us the secret of this (John 14:23). And the secret is love and obedience—love to Christ and obedience to Him, “If a man love Me, he will keep My words and My Father will love him, and We will come unto him, and make Our abode with him.” The VISIT of Divine grace, in a Father’s love and a Saviour’s pity, to the abodes of the saints in the midst of their unworthiness and self-will, is one thing the HOME-DWELLING of Divine love, where holi­ness is cultivated, truth maintained, and obedience sought, is another, and far more blessed. Again the Lord adds, “He that loveth Me not, keepeth not My sayings: and the word which ye hear is not Mine, but My Father’s which sent Me.” One proof of love to the Lord Jesus, and of regard to the authority of God, is keeping, retaining, and guarding the words of the Lord Jesus which He spake on earth, even those words which were given Him by His Father to make known to us. Surely it becomes us to be careful, lest on the authority of some two or three Arian manuscripts of the fourth and fifth centuries, we blot out large num­bers of these inspired utterances from the sacred page. The Lord’s message of commendation to the messen­ger to the church in Philadelphia was, “Thou hast a little strength, and hast kept My word, and hast not denied My name” (Revelation 3:8).

A SANCTUARY.

God does not say, “Let them make Me a tabernacle, or a tent,” as though anything would do for God; but “Let them make Me a SANCTUARY,” a holy habitation, “that I may dwell.” Yes, “holiness becomes God’s house for ever.” In the Gospel, God comes down to sinners; it is grace abounding amidst the aboundings of sin.              But the truth for the saint is the doctrine which is according to godliness. To the sinner, by the gospel, God says: “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow: though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” But to the believer He says, “What fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? And what part hath he that believeth with an unbeliever? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing, and I will receive you: I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people” (2 Corinthians 6:14-18).

“Having, therefore, these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2 Corinthians 7:1).

THE PLAN.

In the things of God no place is left for human reason, and no margin for self-will. God has arranged everything according to infinite wisdom, and the word of God contains full instructions.

These earthly types were the “example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, see, saith He, that thou make all things according to the pattern showed to thee in the mount” (Hebrews 8:5). Weighty and important words? May they be brought to bear upon our consciences, and tell upon our hearts!

The assembly of believers on earth should be the reflection down here, of what the Church of the first­born is in Christ above. Is the Church above redeemed to God from an evil world?

The Church on earth is to be separate to God, as not of the world, even as Christ is not of it.

Is the Church above one in Christ its glorious Head? The Church on earth should exhibit this oneness. Is the Church above a holy and true church? The Church on earth should be conspicuous for holiness and truth, “the epistle of Christ known and read of all men,” “the pillar and ground of the truth.” And just as Christ on earth was “God manifest in flesh;” so the Church should exhibit Christ manifest in His people.

In that marvellous prayer of the Lord Jesus re­corded in John 17, this separateness, holiness, and oneness of the Church are the main subjects of His petitions. The Lord distinctly said, “I pray not for the world,” neither is Israel mentioned, but His prayer is for those whom the Father had given Him out of the world. Of these He said, “They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that Thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that Thou shouldest keep them from the evil. Sanctify them through Thy truth; Thy word is truth.”

Three times He prays for their oneness. First, that they may be one after a Divine model (verse 11), “That they may be one as We are.” Second, that they may be all one in the Spirit from Pentecost till His return, “That they all may be one; as Thou Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in Us” (verse 21). And this oneness in the Spirit, notwithstanding their outward divisions, might be a proof to the world that He was the sent One of God, “That the world might believe that thou didst send Me.” Third, that they might be one in the glory, “And the glory which Thou hast given Me I have given them: that they may be one, even as We are one” (verse 22). That when thus manifested with Him in glory, it may be a proof to the world that He was not only the sent One, but that they also were loved with the same love. The answer to this prayer commenced at Pentecost, when the Holy Ghost came to sanctify them, and to baptise them into one body, and He has continued in the world ever since to carry on the work, and will not cease until the whole body is complete, and until He has estab­lished them, “unblamable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints” (1 Thessalonians 3:13).

 

THE HIGH PRIEST IN GARMENTS OF GLORY

 

The Ark of The Covenant.

(Exodus 25:10-22).

Verse 10. “And they shall make an ark of shittim wood: two cubits and a half shall be the length thereof, and a cubit and a half the breadth thereof, and a cubit and a half the height thereof.”

NOAH was commanded to make “an ark” for the saving of his house; the Hebrew word there used is “tebah,” as also in the “ark” of bul­rushes in which Moses was laid. But the Hebrew word here employed is “ahrohn,” which signifies a chest. This ark of the covenant is one of the most complete and comprehensive types of the Lord Jesus, a full length portrait. In the instructions given for the vessels of the tabernacle, the first mentioned is the ARK. As to worship, service, and testimony, God’s centre is Christ. The SHITTIM WOOD is a type of the sinless humanity of the Lord Jesus. And its dimen­sions being fixed by God, reminds us of the words of the Lord Jesus, “A body hast Thou prepared Me” (Hebrews 10:5).

Verse 11. “And thou shalt overlay IT with pure gold, within and without shalt thou overlay it.”

Pure gold is the emblem of that which is divine, divinely excellent and holy. It typifies the Word which was in the beginning with God, and was God, made flesh and tabernacling among us, the great mystery of godliness, God manifest in flesh. To the carnal mind the human was conspicuous, He was Jesus the Naza­rene. The badger’s skin hid the glory of the taber­nacle; but to the spiritually minded the gold hid the shittim wood, such could say, “And we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father.” And “The God shone glorious through the man.” At the foot of the Mount of Transfiguration, Jesus was seen in contact with sinners, and in conflict with Satan; but to the disciples on the mount He appeared in glory, and the Father Himself bare witness to Him.

The ark was to be overlaid within as well as without with gold. Every internal thought, feeling, and affec­tion of the Lord Jesus was not only perfect as human, but spiritually and divinely excellent; like the fat of the inwards burnt upon the altar which was for God alone. In Him dwelt all the fulness of the Godhead bodily, and in Him the Church of God is blessed with every Spiritual blessing. This ark of the covenant is the treasure chest of the family of God, in which all the title deeds and promises of God in Him, Yea and Amen, are contained.

“And thou shalt make upon it a crown of gold round about.”

This crown of gold surrounding the ark and sur­mounting it, kept the propitiatory or mercy-seat in its place; even so was it with Jesus, He for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame; and, though for a season, made a little lower than the angels, He is now crowned with glory and honour. The obedient and humbled Son of man is now seated on the right hand of majesty and power, and glorified with the glory He had with the Father before the world was.

Verses 12-15. “And thou shalt cast four rings of gold for it, and put them in the four corners thereof; and two rings shall be in the one side of it, and two rings in the other side of it.”

“And thou shalt make staves of shittim wood, and overlay THEM with gold. And thou shalt put the staves into the rings by the sides of the ark, that the ark may be borne with them. The staves shall be in the rings of the ark: they shall not be taken from it.”

These rings and staves adapted the ark to the wil­derness condition of God’s people, ready at all times, not only to accompany them in their journeyings, but also in their wanderings. The rings were to be of gold, but the staves of shittim wood, overlaid with gold. The divine grace and human sympathy of the Lord Jesus renders Him sufficient to meet our every need. The staves were never to be taken from the rings; even so Jesus assures us, “Lo, I am with you alway”; “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” The three families of Levites, Gershonites, Merarites, and Kohathites, may represent the evangelists, pastors and teachers of the Christian ministry. The Gershonites and Merarites, when the camp set forward, went be­fore and set up the tabernacle, for these six wagons and twelve oxen were provided; but none were given to the sons of Kohath, because the service of the sanc­tuary belonging unto them was that they should bear upon their shoulders (Numbers 7:9).

To the charge of the Kohathites was committed the ark and other sacred vessels of the sanctuary. The teacher is specially thrown upon his individual respon­sibility before God in treating on those subjects which pertain to the person, offices, and perfections of the Son of God; he needs, in an especial manner, the unction from the Holy One. God is especially jealous of human interference in regard to the glory of His Son. When David put the ark upon a new cart, and Uzzah put forth his hand to steady it, God made a breach upon Uzzah. What is needed is not human in­tellect, invention, nor imagination, but the teaching and revealing of the Holy Ghost.

Verse 16. “And thou shalt put into the ark the testimony which I shall give thee.”

Whilst Moses was on the Mount, receiving these in­structions from God, respecting the tabernacle and its vessels, the children of Israel were impatient at his delay, had made the golden calf, and worshipped it. The law which they had undertaken to keep they had broken in its most essential parts. Thereupon Moses, on his coming down from the Mount, with the two tables of the testimony in his hand, which he had re­ceived from God, written with the finger of God, moved with holy indignation, brake the tables at the foot of the Mount.

And Jehovah said unto Moses, “Hew thee two tables of stone like unto the first: and I will write upon these tables the words that were in the first tables, which thou brakest.” These two tables of the testimony Moses was commanded to put into the ark. This type was fulfilled in Christ, who is the Mediator of the New Covenant, whose language was, according to Psalms 40:8, “I delight to do Thy will, O My God: yea, Thy law is within My heart.” Made of a woman, born under the law, He magnified that law, and made it honourable. And it is by abiding in Him that the righteousness of the law is fulfilled in us, who walk, not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

 

 

The Propitiatory and the Cherubim.

(Exodus 25:17-22).

Verse 17. “And thou shalt make a mercy-seat [propitia­tory] of pure gold: two cubits and a half shall be the length thereof, and a cubit and a half the breadth thereof.”

THE spiritual import of this is clear from Romans 3:24, 25, where there is a manifest allusion to it by the Holy Ghost. “Christ Jesus, whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation [a propitiatory, or mercy-seat] through faith in His blood”—the word rendered “propitiation,” in Romans 3:25, being the same word that is used in Hebrews 9:5, and there translated “mercy-seat.” This is the import of the publican’s prayer in Luke 18:13—“God be merciful [propi­tious on the ground of reconciliation made] to me a sinner.” The Hebrew word rendered “mercy-seat” signifies “to cover over;” to make atonement; to ap­pease, or pacify.

The material is of “pure gold,” the emblem of that which is divine, or divinely pure and excellent. No shittim wood is in the propitiatory, therefore nothing human or angelic is symbolized, neither Church nor angels. This is a consideration too often overlooked. The propitiatory formed the lid if the ark in which were deposited the unbroken tables of the testimony; for the exercise of divine mercy towards guilty sin­ners, can only be on the ground of atonement made, and righteousness established. On this propitiatory the blood was sprinkled on the great day of atonement (Leviticus 16.)

The propitiatory was of the same dimensions and extent as the ark of the covenant. The exercise of divine mercy and grace is founded on the Person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and is co­extensive therewith. It has for its basis and founda­tion the incarnation, obedience, life, and death of Him who was eternally God, and is now the risen and glorified Christ, at God’s right-hand above.

Verses 18-20. “And thou shalt make two cherubim of gold, of beaten work shalt thou make THEM, in [from] the two ends of the mercy seat. And make one cherub on [from] the one end, and the other cherub on [from] the other end: even of [from] the mercy-seat [propitiatory] shall ye make the cherubim on the two ends thereof. And the cherubim shall stretch forth their wings on high, covering the mercy-seat with their wings, and their faces shall look one to another; toward the mercy-seat shall the faces of the cherubim be.”

Cherubim is the plural of cherub, as we say ox, oxen; the “s” at the end is incorrect. The forms of these cherubim appear to be simpler than those de­scribed in Ezekiel 1:10, which have f our faces fronting four different directions; whereas here, the expression “toward the mercy-seat shall the faces of the cheru­bim be,” implies but one face to each. These cherubim of glory represent the fulness of the Spirit, received by the ascended Christ, on the completion of His atoning work. As we read in Psalm 118:18, “Thou hast ascended on high, Thou hast led captivity captive: Thou hast received gifts for men [Hebrews in the man]; yea, for the rebellious also.” Acts 2:33, “Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, He hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear.” And in Ephesians 4:10, 11, “He that descended, is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that He might fill all things. And He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers.” The ascended Son of Man has received the Holy Ghost in His own person, He has given gifts to the Church, and He has also received the Spirit for the rebellious children of Israel, to be com­municated in due time, when Jehovah will again dwell among them.

The propitiatory and cherubim were of one solid piece, of wrought or beaten gold.              The cherubim formed the extension of the propitiatory from either end, and represent the provision made by God, through the Spirit, for the extension of divine mercy and grace, founded on the finished work of Christ.

The wings of the cherubim, from the propitiatory on either side, meeting in the centre form a complete circle, and overshadow the mercy-seat. According to Psalms 103: 17, “The mercy [loving kindness] of Jehovah is from everlasting to everlasting.” The three Persons in the Godhead, in the counsels of eternity, laid the plan of redeeming love; the eternal Spirit from the beginning, in promise, type, and prophecy, foretold and foreshadowed it; the incarnate Son of God, by His atoning death, accomplished the work; and the Holy Spirit is now making it known, and will continue to manifest it, long as eternal ages roll.

Verses 21-22. “And thou shalt put the mercy-seat above upon the ark; and in the ark thou shalt put the testi­mony that I shall give thee. And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy-seat, from between the two cherubim which are upon the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give THEE in commandment unto the children of Israel.”

The throne of divine grace is founded on the Person and work of the Lord Jesus; and all God’s purposes, promises, and covenant blessings centre in Him. He is the true ark of the covenant, and the ark of the testi­mony also. All the lines of divine truth centre in Him, and radiate from Him. This is the meeting-place and place of communion between God and those who, like Moses, receive the word from God’s mouth, and give testimony from Him (Ezekiel 3:17); those who stand in the secret counsel of Jehovah, who perceive and hear His word, who mark His Word and hear it (Jeremiah 23:18).

The secret of ministry in the power of the Holy Ghost is communion with God, over His own Word, in spirit in the holiest, God occupying the mercy-seat, Jesus Himself our meeting-place; while from Him who has received the fulness of the Spirit for testimony, gift is not only received at first, but is replen­ished for constant exercise.

 

The Table of Shewbread.

(Exodus 25:23).

“Thou shalt also make a table of shittim wood.”

THE table presents Christ as the centre and ground of communion to the Church of God. “A table,” not tables; for there is but one. Where believers are gathered together unto the Name of Jesus, it is God’s will that His dying love should be commemorated among them.

“Of shittim wood.” The incarnation and humanity of the Lord Jesus lies at the foundation, and an incar­nate Saviour—God manifest in the flesh—is the centre of our communion in church fellowship.

THE DIMENSIONS OF THE TABLE.

“Two cubits shall be the length thereof, and a cubit the breadth thereof, and a cubit and a half the height thereof.”

God has fixed the dimensions of His own table, and man is not at liberty to extend or limit it. In length and breadth it extends to all believers, while walking worthily, yet excluding the unconverted, and the defiled. Its height also is of divine appointment. It is on a level with the propitiatory, for it is for those who through atonement have their iniquities forgiven, their sins covered. The length and breadth of the table is half a cubit less than the ark and propitiatory; for their are more saved by Christ, than actually and worthily sit at His table.

THE OVERLAYING.

Verse 24. “And thou shalt overlay IT with pure gold.”

Gold is the emblem of divine excellency, and pure gold of the purity and holiness of the divine nature. That is not the Lord’s table, according to the mind of God, where the divinity of Christ, and His divine ex­cellency and glory, is not held and maintained. The Christ in whose Name we meet is Immanuel—God with us.

THE GOLDEN CROWN.

“And make thereto a crown of gold round about.”

He who was once made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, that He by the grace of God should taste death for every man, is now crowned with glory and honour. While we commemorate therefore His dying and redeeming love, we do it also in the apprehension of His glory where He now is, at God’s right-hand. And we do this “until He come,” in the expectation of His return to receive us to Himself.

THE BORDER.

Verse 25. “And thou shalt make unto it a border of a hand-breadth round about.”

The table which was extended and limited by divine grace and infinite wisdom, was also guarded. There was to be a border to the table of a handbreadth. There are four fingers to a handbreadth, and there are four things indispensable to real and right communion at the Lord’s table, according to God and His Word, if there is to be real and full blessing. First, saving FAITH in Christ, which admits into the family of God, for, “Ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:26; John 1:12). Secondly, the HOLI­NESS and consistency of walk which becomes the con­fession of the Name of the Lord Jesus (1 Corinthians 5) Thirdly, soundness in holding and maintaining the TRUTH of the Person of Christ (1 John 1:10). Fourthly SUBJECTION to the Lordship of Christ. For we meet at the Lord’s table as believers, in brotherly love, and in the Name of Him that is holy, Him that is true, and of Him that hath the key of David, that openeth and no man shutteth (Revelation 3:7). It should be ob­served that the Lord Jesus, at the Passover, previous to His instituting the Lord’s Supper, having first washed His disciples feet (John 13:1-11), then led His disciples into the closest self-examination (Matthew 26:20-25; John 13:12-30); the result of which was that Judas, having received the sop, went immediately out. Then, and not till then, could Jesus divide the bread among them, and also the cup, saying, “Drink ye all of it.”

In Luke’s account, who states things in their moral order and connection, and not always in their historical order, it would appear otherwise; but a careful exam­ination of all the, passages will confirm the fact.

THE BORDER CROWNED.

“And thou shalt make a golden crown to the border there­of round about.”

This is very striking! There is not only a divine glory connected with the Person of the Lord Jesus as the ground of communion, as shown by the golden crown to the table, but also God has put divine honour on the jealousy which guards the communion of saints because it is connected with the glory of the Person of His Son. And as the border extends all round, so does the crown: for it is the jealousy that guards the Person of Jesus in every point, in the matter of communion, that has this divine honour put upon it by God Himself.

THE RINGS AND STAVES.

Verse 26. “And thou shalt make for it four rings of gold, and put the rings in the four corners that are on the four feet thereof.”

Thus adapting the table to the wilderness condition of God’s people. And God also has provided for His people now, so that wherever two or three are gathered to the Name of the Lord Jesus, there they might break the bread, and drink of the cup in remembrance of Him.

Verse 27. “Over against the border shall the rings be for places of the staves to bear the table.”

Thus especially connecting the rings and staves with the border. And are we not thus reminded that our exposed condition in such a wilderness as this, renders the border of great importance and necessary in every place? The border was to extend all round the table, not in the middle, dividing loaf from loaf.

“And thou shalt make the staves of shittim wood, and overlay THEM with gold.”

Both the human tenderness and sympathy of the Lord Jesus, as shewn by the shittim wood; and His divine grace and all sufficiency, as shewn by the gold, adapt Him to the wilderness need of His people in their church communion here.

“That the table may be borne with them.”

Neither the ark nor the table were to be carried, after the example of the Philistines, on a new cart. That is, both testimony to the Person of Christ, and communion together in His Name, are to be matters of individual responsibility to God.

THE VESSELS OF THE TABLE.

Verse 29. “And thou shalt make the dishes thereof, and spoons thereof, and covers thereof, and bowls thereof, to cover [pour out] withal: of pure gold shalt thou make THEM.”

All that is connected with the communion of saints, on the ground of the Person of the Lord Jesus, is to be of God, and done in the power of divine grace. Human will, human authority, human wisdom, have no place here. “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 4:11). Let all things be done, not only decently and in order, but also by the grace of God, and to God’s glory. And however important these directions are in all manner of service, they are never more so than in things connected with the table of the Lord.

THE SHEWBREAD.

Verse 30. “And thou shalt set upon the table shewbread [Hebrew, bread of faces] before Me alway.”

Leviticus 24:5-9. “And thou shalt take fine flour, and bake twelve cakes [pierced cakes] thereof: two-tenth deals shall be in one cake.”

The fine flour is typical of the pure and sinless humanity of Jesus, for it was without leaven. The twelve pierced cakes, for so the Hebrew expresses, foreshadowed Christ as the Man of Sorrows and ac­quainted with grief, for “His visage was so marred more than any man, and His form more than the sons of men” (Isaiah 52:14); and likewise His sufferings on the Cross. The Hebrew expression for shewbread is literally “bread of faces,” for these twelve cakes were the representation and remembrance of the twelve tribes of Israel before God continually; and they also typify Christ as God’s provision for all His people, the whole Israel of God (John 6).

Two-tenth deals, or two omers to each cake. A double portion; a portion for time, and for eternity. As the provision of manna made on the sixth day, which was for that day, and also for the Sabbath. (See Exodus 16:22-26).

THE HOLY PLACE AND ITS FURNITURE

 

Verse 6. “And thou shalt set them in two rows, six on a row, upon the pure table before Jehovah.”

Christ, the bread of life, set forth a full provision for all believers. But it must be on a PURE table. A pure and holy Christ the basis of communion; and the table guarded from defilement. And “before Jehovah,” for the eye of a jealous and holy God is ever resting on the communion of saints.

Verse 7. “And thou shalt put frankincense upon each row, that it may be on the bread for a memorial, even an offering made by fire unto Jehovah.”

The frankincense, which is white and fragrant, is emblematic of the purity and excellency of the Lord Jesus, both in His life and in His death, especially in the estimate of God His Father, so that His language in the contemplation of Him was, “This is My be­loved Son, in Whom I am well pleased.” It was to be “an offering made by fire.” From this we learn that the shewbread was to be unleavened, for in Leviticus 2:11, we read, “Ye shall burn no leaven, nor any honey, in any offering of Jehovah made by fire.”

Verse 8. “Every Sabbath he shall set it in order before Jehovah continually, being taken from the children of Israel by an everlasting covenant.”

Renewed weekly. So on the first day of the week the disciples came together to break bread (Acts 20:7). And on the day of Christ’s resurrection, and the following Lord’s Day, Jesus Himself allowed His disciples to handle, in His own precious body, the sac­red memorials of His sufferings and death (John xx).

To the Church, the weekly period is not the seventh day, the token of creation rest; but the eighth day, the emblem of resurrection rest, and the rest of com­pleted redemption, being the first day of the week, on which day also the Comforter was given.

“BEFORE JEHOVAH CONTINUALLY.” This is repeated for it is important. The feast is not provided for the guests only, but in honour of the Father and of the Son. The table is not spread for the children alone; the Father takes His seat at the head. His language is, “Bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat and be merry.” For the full joy of communion is in the Father’s presence. We are but partakers at the altar: the first and best portion belongs to God.

Verse 9. “And it shall be Aaron’s and his sons’; and they shall eat it in the holy place.”

“Aaron’s and his sons’.” The High Priest and His house. That is, to us, “Christ as a Son over His own house, Whose house are we” (Hebrews 3:6). By virtue of the anointing as a holy priesthood, our fellowship is not only with the Father, but also with His Son Jesus Christ. “If any man hear My voice,” says Jesus, “and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me” (Revelation 3:20). At the Lord’s table we have fellowship with Jesus, our High Priest above, in the remembrance of His sufferings and death.

 “For IT is most holy [holy of holies] unto Him of the offerings of Jehovah made by fire.”

How God guards the holiness of this feast of love! The very atmosphere of the place where it is eaten must be holy, for that which is here set forth, and on which the believer feeds, is “most holy.”

“A perpetual statute.”

“As often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup,” says the Apostle, “ye do shew the Lord’s death till He come.” It is of perpetual obligation till then. It is an ordinance peculiar to the present dispensation. After this, Jesus will drink the new wine with us in His Father’s kingdom.

In the millennial period, the divinely appointed and restored sacrifices, which till then will never have fully accomplished their original intention, will take the place of the present simpler but grand memorials of a Saviour’s sufferings; and then “the mountain of Jeho­vah’s house” will be the centre of communion to the whole earth.

While in heaven the Lamb in the midst of the Throne—”a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes”—will be God’s memorial for the universe, and for eternity.

 

 

The Lampstand.

(Exodus 25:31).

“And thou shalt make a lampstand of pure gold.”

THE golden lampstand, with its seven lamps and centre shaft, is the type of ministry according to God in the power of the Holy Ghost, in its various branches of testimony, having Christ for its centre, source, and subject. In the CHERUBIM, on the mercy-seat, we have ministry in its heavenly and divine source; in the LAMPSTAND, ministry in its exercise on earth.

THE MATERIAL.

That which is here signified by the “pure gold” is ministry according to God, and not according to the principles and practices of men—ministry after a di­vine model, maintained in the power of divine grace.

“If any man speak,” says Peter, “let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth; that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 4:11). Not cultivated intellect, putting forth its strongest efforts to the credit of the preacher, and to the honour of the ministry, hut divine grace, mani­fested to the glory of God.

This ministry looks to no earthly source for its authority, but has its sanction and its strength in God. It is GIFT received from the Lord Jesus Christ, risen and glorified; distributed by the Holy Ghost according to His own will, and exercised in subjection to the supreme authority of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:11). There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit; differences of administration (or services), but the same Lord; diversities of operations, but it is the same GOD which worketh all in all (1 Corinthians 12:4-6).

THE WORKMANSHIP.

“Of beaten work shall the lampstand be made.”

“Beaten work” for the lampstand, and “beaten oil” for the light (Exodus 27:20). The lampstand was not cast by one simple operation, but wrought. This shews the labour, care, and skill which is required in ministry according to God. It is not simple gift, but gift stirred up, laboriously fulfilled, and strengthened by its exercise. (See 1 Timothy 4:13-16; and 2 Timothy 1:6).

THE CENTRE SHAFT AND BRANCH.

“His shaft, and his branch (not branches, see chap. 37:17), his bowls, his knobs, and his flowers, shall be of the same.”

This is the centre shaft and branch, which is called, by way of pre-eminence, “the lampstand,” in verse 34, and is typical of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, the centre and source of testimony in the power of the Spirit, and the great example and pattern of it in His personal ministry on earth.

As to fruit-bearing, He is the true vine, and His disciples are the branches. And as to testimony-bear­ing, He is the true lampstand, and His servants are branches of the same. In either case, without Him we can do nothing.

THE SIX BRANCHES.

Verse 32. “And six branches shall come out of the sides of it; three branches of the lampstand out of one side, and three branches of the lampstand out of the other side.”

The apostles and prophets of the present dispensa­tion, having laid the foundation, and all the fundamen­tal points, whether of truth or practice, being settled, and contained in the inspired Scriptures, the three standing branches of ministry in the Church, and for its adding to, and building up, until it is complete, are those of the EVANGELIST, the PASTOR, and the TEACHER (Ephesians 4). The six branches proceed from the main shaft in PAIRS, expressing fellowship and concurrence in testimony. They proceed from the sides, and not the front; for the object of ministry is not to make it or the minister prominent, but for the exhibition of Christ. “We preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake.” Standing aside that He may be visible to all, and thus giving Him in testimony His own proper place, “Jesus in the midst.”

These branches, as the original implies, are hollow. In Zechariah 4, we have a lampstand of gold; the repre­sentation of ministry in the power of the Spirit, in the latter day in connection with Israel. This lampstand had a bowl on the top, and seven pipes leading to the seven lamps. While two olive trees supply the oil to the bowl, and thence to the seven branches and lamps. The two olive trees are representations of Zerubbabel and Joshua; but these again are typical of the Lord Jesus in His Melchizedec character as priest and king. The great lesson is—“Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, saith Jehovah of hosts.” “Branches,” hollow, thus adapted to receive and convey the oil. The import is expressed by the apostle, “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think anything of our­selves; but our sufficiency is of God.” “We have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.”

The SOURCE of supply for ministry is in Christ, the POWER for all testimony is the Spirit of God. Three branches on either side. The EVANGELIST begins the work, and lays the foundation, which is Christ Jesus; his sphere is the widest, his parish is the world. The PASTOR carries on the work in caring for the blood-bought flock of God. The TEACHER leads the soul yet higher into the truth of God, and the apprehension of the divine glories of the person of Christ.

THE BOWLS.

Verse 33. “Three bowls made like unto almonds, with a knop and a flower in one branch; and three bowls made like almonds in the other branch, with a knop and a flower; so in the six branches that come out of the lampstand.”

The oval form, “made like unto almonds,” is signifi­cant. The root of the Hebrew word for “almond” signifies to WATCH, also TO BE EARLY, READY or PRE­PARED. The almond tree was noted for its early blos­soming. See Jeremiah 1:11, 12, “Moreover, the word of Jehovah came unto me, saying, Jeremiah, what seest thou? And I said, I see a rod of an almond tree. Then said Jehovah unto me, Thou halt well seen: for I will hasten [am watching over] My word to perform it.”

So also 2 Timothy 2:21, “If a man, therefore, purge himself for these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the Master’s use, prepared unto every good work.” And 2 Timothy 4:5, “But watch thou in all things, . . . do the work of an evan­gelist, make full proof of thy ministry.” These bowls, therefore, made like almonds, express watchfulness, readiness, and preparedness for the Christian ministry. But this preparedness consists in an acquaintance with divine truth; the Word of Christ dwelling richly in the heart, in all wisdom.

Like the scribe instructed unto the kingdom of heaven, bringing forth out of His treasure things new and old (Matthew 13:52).

So Paul wrote to Timothy, “Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all” (1 Timothy 4:15). “Study to skew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).

THE KNOPS AND FLOWERS.

“KNOP.” Round, the original word signifies, and smaller in size than the bowls. These knops I under­stand to be typical of GIFT, such as that of the evan­gelist, pastor, or teacher.

“AND A FLOWER.” The Septuagint says, a lily. As the bowls express PREPAREDNESS for ministry, through a deep acquaintance with the Word of God; and the knops, distinct GIFT for its ministration; so by the flower is expressed the FULL UNFOLDING of divine truth in actual testimony.

This suggests an instructive lesson, that God would have His truth presented in attractive form. “The preacher sought to find out acceptable words,” or words of delight (Ecclesiastes 12:10). “The sweetness of the lips increaseth learning” (Proverbs 16:21). On the lips of the great Teacher, the people hung, and marvelled at the gracious words that proceeded from Him; and no wonder, for “never man spake like this Man.”

Three bowls, one knop, and one flower in each branch. Significant of a threefold capacity or prepar­edness, a general acquaintance with each branch of divine truth—”three bowls.” One distinct gift, as that of evangelist, pastor, or teacher—“a knop.” And one manifestation of gift—“a flower.” Every EVANGELIST should not only be acquainted with the truth of the gospel, but with other truths of God’s Word, so as to be prepared to give the word of exhortation and in­struction as needed, though his distinct work be that of preaching the gospel.

So the PASTOR’S especial call may be, to deal with souls experimentally, “To reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long-suffering and doctrine,” but he should be ready also to present the gospel of the grace of God to perishing sinners, and to instruct the souls he deals with.

And while the TEACHER makes full proof of his own ministry, he will find it profitable to “do the work of an evangelist” as God gives him opportunity (2 Timothy 4:5). Experimental dealings with souls in secret, will tend to increase the richness and value of his ministry in teaching.

THE CENTRE SHAFT.

Verse 34. “And in the candlestick [lamp stand] shall be four bowls made like unto almonds, with their knops and their flowers.”

“The Lampstand.” This is the centre shaft and branch, the type of the Lord Jesus, the great Pattern, Centre, and Source of ministry in the Spirit.

“Four bowls.” All treasures of wisdom and know­ledge are in Him.

“Four knops.” He was the great Evangelist, the Good Shepherd, and the perfect Teacher, and the great Apostle and Prophet of our profession.

“And their four flowers.” The very perfection of beauty and excellency shone out in His ministry. When He PREACHED THE GOSPEL, all the publicans and the sinners drew near unto Him for to hear Him. And what can equal the rich unfoldings of grace contained in the fifteenth of Luke? When He FEEDS HIS SHEEP, what green pastures and still waters do His cheering words provide! When He INSTRUCTS HIS DISCIPLES, what rich unfoldings of divine truth! what revelations of a Father’s love! And when He UNFOLDS THE FUTURE, how distinct the prophetic visions stand before the eye! How vivid the brightness of His coming! How gorgeous the mansions of His Father’s House appear! and that ONE place which He is gone to prepare for us

In verse 31 we have noticed “His BRANCH,” for He too was the empty and dependent One in ministry on earth. His language was, “I can of Mine own self do nothing. As I hear I judge,” and “My doctrine is not Mine, but His that sent Me.” And when, from the height of His glory, He gives the revelation to His servant John, He writes upon it the title, “The Revela­tion of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto Him.” What an example for us!

THE KNOPS UNDER THE BRANCHES.

Verse 35. “And there shall be a knop under two branches of the same, and a knop under two branches of the same, and a knop under two branches of the same, according to the six branches that proceed out of the lampstand.”

The word “AND” shews that this is additional. There are four knops in the centre BRANCH above, and three in the SHAFT below the six branches, making seven in all, the perfect number; for the PERFECTION OF GIFT IS IN CHRIST; He has received gifts, all gifts for men And it is beautiful to see how each several branch of ministry is sustained, as it were, by the corresponding office and grace of the Lord Jesus, as we read, “A knop under two branches of the same,” &c. The evangelist, the pastor, and the teacher all fall back on Him, that, out of His fulness, they may receive grace for grace in the exercise of their several gifts.

THE ONENESS OF THE LAMPSTAND.

Verse 36. “Their knops and their branches shall be of the same: all of it shall be one beaten work of pure gold.”

How beautifully expressive of the oneness of His ministry, and labour, and patience! “He that planteth, and he that watereth are one,” and one in Christ. Howsoever diversified the gift, the labour, the charac­ters, and service of each; and though each one will receive his own reward according to his own labour; yet, in the end, he that soweth and he that reapeth will rejoice together. By the grace of God they are one in the service, and, when the whole shall result in the glory of God, they shall share in the joy. “There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit; differences of administrations, but the same Lord; diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all” (1 Corinthians 12:4-6).

THE LAMPS.

Verse 37. “And thou shalt make the seven lamps thereof: and they shall light the lamps thereof, that they may give light over against [Hebrew, the face of] it.”

“Seven lamps”—the perfection of testimony to di­vine truth. Six in the side branches, and one in the centre shaft, making the seven. For all testimony is incomplete apart from Christ. He gives it its perfec­tion.

That ministry alone is complete, according to God, which has Christ for its central subject. “And they shall light the lamps thereof.” Where God has given the gifts, it is that they may be exercised. “No man lighteth a lamp and putteth it under a bushel, but on a lampst and.”

“That they may give light over against it.” The design of testimony in the power of the Spirit, is the manifestation of the glory of God in the Person of the Lord Jesus. The whole circle of truth is to be con­nected with Him, that it may not merely be truth, hut “as the truth is in Jesus.”

How beautifully the Lord Jesus has taught this in speaking of the Comforter, through whom it is that this ministry is exercised! He shall glorify Me: for He shall receive of Mine, and shall shew it unto you. All things that the Father hath are Mine: therefore said I, that He shall take of Mine, and shall shew it unto you” (John 16:14, 15).

THE OIL.

In Exodus 27:20, we read, “And thou shalt command the children of Israel, that they bring thee pure oil olive beaten for the light [light-giver] to cause the lamp to burn always.”

How this oil—that is, the supply of the Spirit—is to be obtained, we learn from the example of the early disciples, recorded in Acts 4:23-31: “They lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, . . . And now, Lord, . . . grant unto Thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak Thy word. . . . And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost.” Paul says: “Brethren, pray for us,” “and for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel . . . that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak” (Ephesians 6:19). “Through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:19).

If the lamp of testimony should burn dim in the sanctuary, the real cause may not be so much on the part of the testimony-bearers, as that those ministered to may have neglected to seek from above, the needful supply of spiritual unction and power, in order that the lamp of God may burn with continual and increas­ing brightness.

THE VESSELS BELONGING TO THE LAMPSTAND

Verse 38. “And the tongs thereof, and the snuff dishes thereof, shall be of pure gold.”

In Revelation 1, 2, and 3 we have a beautiful example of the use of these golden instruments by the Lord Jesus, where He is seen in the midst of the seven golden lampstands, trimming the lamps. So also in the minis­try of the apostle Paul, as seen in his Epistles to Tim­othy and Titus. And how, when needed, ministry is to be regulated, not by human authority, nor on human principles, but on those which are of God, and accord­ing to God, by godly counsel and admonition, exercised in spiritual wisdom and grace.

A TALENT OF GOLD.

Verse 39. “Of a talent of pure gold shall he make it, with all these vessels.”

A talent of gold is computed to be about 114 lbs. in weight, and about £5,475 in value.

Ministry according to God, in the exercise of the gifts of His Spirit, and in connection with Christ, is a WEIGHTY and VALUABLE thing. That which gave the lampstand its weight and value was the pure gold of which it was composed. The highest order of natural ability, however cultivated, is but as inferior metal. It is the GRACE OF GOD, and the GIFTS OF CHRIST, exer­cised in the POWER OF THE HOLY GHOST, which gives to ministry its true dignity and real value.

THE EXHORTATION.

Verse 40. “And look that thou make them after their pattern, which was shewed thee in the mount.”

God has given us a divine and heavenly pattern for the ministration of His own Word; and our true wis­dom will be, to seek conformity to this pattern in all its details, and this will secure to us the richest and fullest blessing.

 

The Curtains of the tabernacle.

(Exodus 26:1-6).

Verse 1. “Moreover thou shalt make the tabernacle with ten curtains of fine twined linen, and blue, and purple, and scarlet: with cherubim of cunning work shalt thou make THEM.”

HAVING considered the principal vessels of the sanctuary, we now come to the consideration of the Tabernacle itself. In this Tabernacle of Witness, there are two sets of CURTAINS and two COVERINGS. The ten curtains of fine twined linen, and blue, purple, and scarlet, with cherubim, form the TABERNACLE; and the eleven curtains of goats’ hair, form what is called the TENT over the Tabernacle.

Then the COVERING of the TENT was of rams’ skins dyed red, and the COVERING above that was of badgers’ skins (Exodus 36:8, 13, 14, 18, 19).

It is of importance to keep the Tabernacle and Tent distinct in our minds, for although the translators often confound the terms “Tabernacle” and “Tent” (“Mishcahn” and “Ohel”), the Holy Ghost employs the most exact and beautiful precision; and it is by attention to it that we may hope, through Divine grace, to ascertain the mind of God.

The TABERNACLE, as the Hebrew word “Mishcahn” signifies (which is from “shahcan” to dwell) is God’s DWELLING-PLACE, according to Exodus 25:8, “Let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them,” and is more immediately connected with God’s abiding presence.

 

THE CURTAINS OF THE TABERNACLE

 

The TENT (“Ohel”) is connected with the congrega­tion, because in the open space before the door or en­trance of the tent the congregation of Israel assembled therefore the Holy Ghost never uses the expression “tabernacle of the congregation;” but in the Author­ized Version the terms are frequently confounded. In the “Englishman’s Bible” the distinction is invariably shown. “THOU SHALT MAKE THE TABERNACLE.” A dwelling-place for God with men. Oh, marvellous, condescending grace! “Will God in very deed dwell with men on the earth?               Behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain Thee” (2 Chronicles 6:18).

Christ Himself, whilst He was on the earth, was God’s tabernacle, and as such He abode alone (John 1:14, and 12:24). “The Word was made flesh, and dwelt (or tabernacled) among us.” He was God mani­fest in flesh: the Godhead and the glory dwelt in Him. But Christ having died, and being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, and sent down the Com­forter: by that One Spirit all believers are now bap­tized into one body, in union with their glorified Head. The Church on earth forms the tabernacle or dwelling‑place of God, as we read in Ephesians 2:22, “In whom (Christ) YE also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.”

In this sense the Tabernacle represents the whole Church of God, looked at in the Spirit, not in the flesh, composed of all true believers in Jesus throughout the world. I speak not of any manifest oneness, but of that which exists in the Spirit, notwithstanding all the outward failure and division. It was for this spiritual unity the Lord Jesus prayed in John 17, and this unity we are exhorted “to keep,” that is, to recognize and manifest (see Ephesians 4:3-6).

As to the MATERIALS of which these curtains are composed. “OF FINE TWINED LINEN.” Let it be borne in mind, that here the Church is not looked at only as the purchase of the blood of the Lamb—the ram’s skins, dyed red, will give us that thought in due time—but as the workmanship of the Eternal Spirit. “The new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created him” (Colossians 3:10). “God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works” (Ephesians 2:10). “The new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness” (Ephesians 4:24).

“The fine linen is the righteousness of saints” (Revelation 19:8), is expressive of conformity, through the Spirit, to the image of Christ as the Holy One. For he that is begotten of God sinneth not (1 John 3:9). “The righteousness of the law is fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” (Romans 8:4).

When the Tabernacle is regarded as a type of the Lord Jesus during His earthly sojourn, the fine linen represents His pure, sinless humanity.

“AND BLUE.” Blue is the colour of the heavens, and the root of the Hebrew word rendered “blue” signifies PERFECTION. Therefore BLUE is the emblem of heavenly perfectness. And how beautifully these two thoughts of righteousness and heavenly perfectness are expressed by the Lord Jesus in His sublime prayer in John 17! “I pray not that Thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that Thou shouldest keep them from the evil.” “Sanctify them through Thy truth: Thy Word is truth” (verse 17). Here is the FINE LINEN. And, again: “They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world” (verse 16). Here is the BLUE. “And for their sakes I sanctify Myself” (set Myself apart from the world to God), “that they also might be sanctified through the truth” (verse 19). Here is the fine linen and the blue combined. For by the Holy Ghost, sent down from heaven, uniting the believer with a glorified Christ at God’s right hand, just so far as his soul enters by faith into the truth, is he in heart separated from the world, and brought into fellowship with God. And thus the holiness and the heavenliness of Jesus are wrought by the Holy Ghost into the saint’s spiritual being.

When on earth, Christ was the heavenly Man, as He Himself said, “No man hath ascended up to hea­ven, but He that came down from heaven, even the Son of Man which is in heaven” (John 3:13).

“AND PURPLE.” The emblem of earthly and hea­venly glory combined. For through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit the believer is identified with the Lord Jesus, in whom the earthly glories of the SON OF DAVID, and the divine and heavenly glories of the SON OF GOD, meet and centre.

“AND SCARLET.” The emblem of earthly glory. Jesus as the offspring of David was born King of the Jews, and as King of the Jews He was crucified, witness the title written over Him on the cross.              At present Jesus is rejected as King both by Jew and Gentile, and believers share with Him in that rejec­tion. But “it is a faithful saying, that if we suffer with Him we shall be also glorified together.” PURPLE is the combination of scarlet and blue, and Christ in His Melchizedek character unites the earthly glories of the kingdom with the heavenly glory of His eternal priesthood. And “till He comes” believers, like John, share in “the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ” (Revelation 1:9).

“WITH CHERUBIM OF CUNNING WORK SHALT THOU MAKE THEM.” The Cherubim inwrought with these various materials beautifully express the gifts of the Spirit for service to God, for the building up and knit­ting together of the Church as the body of Christ in the Spirit. While Jesus was on earth, these various gifts of the Spirit were manifested in His personal ministry.

“TEN CURTAINS.” We have hitherto looked at the Church in the Spirit, in its unity; we now contemplate it as composed of various parts or assemblies. Thus, in the apostles’ time, there were the churches of Gala­tia, the church in Corinth, Ephesus, etc. And so now believers, though one in the Spirit, are dispersed in various localities. True, in the times of the apostles, there was an outward expression of local oneness which no longer exists. Yet, nevertheless, in Spirit and in truth, all believers in a given place are one as God sees them.

THE TABERNACLE.

Verse 2. “The length of one curtain shall be eight and twenty cubits, and the breadth of one curtain four cubits; and every one of the curtains shall have one measure.”

The length and breadth of every curtain was fixed by God. God’s measure of the Church, in Spirit, in any one place, takes in every real believer in that place; but no more. It is inclusive of every quickened soul, but exclusive of every unconverted person. The Church of God, in Spirit, as here represented, in any given place, is composed of every real believer in that place—of every converted sinner, of every true-born child of God.

Wherever the Spirit of God has come as a quicken­ing Spirit, there He remains as an indwelling Spirit. And every one in whom He dwells, is, by Him, bap­tized into the one body, of which Christ is the risen and glorified Head.

And God’s principles are the same everywhere. He has not one measure for one place and another for another. “Every one of the curtains shall have one measure.”

Verse 3. “The five curtains shall be coupled together one to another; and other five curtains shall be cou­pled one to another.”

When the different local assemblies of believers were outwardly, as well as spiritually one, as in the Church at Ephesus, or at Philippi, composed of all believers in Christ in those cities, how real and sweet the fellowship of churches! How close and intimate the fellowship between Colosse and Laodicea! Hence, writes the Apostle Paul, “When this epistle is read among you, cause that it be read also in the Church of the Laodiceans; and that ye likewise read the epistle from Laodicea” (Colossians 4:16). And so writes the Apostle Peter, to the elect strangers: “The church that is at Babylon, elected together with you, saluteth you” (1 Peter 5:13).

But even now, while the outward oneness is gone, the fellowship of God’s churches, in the Spirit, re-mains,—hindered, hampered, and feeble though it be. And where two or three are gathered together unto the Name of Jesus in different localities, a little of the sweet fellowship of the early churches may still be en­joyed. Then, again, the vital interests of believers, though sundered by distance of place, are inseparably connected. One member cannot suffer without all the members with it, little as they may healthfully sympa­thize the one with another. The membership of the body, in Spirit, is the all-important point. Denomina­tional membership, is a thought entirely unknown to Scripture.

Five of these curtains together covered the outer Sanctuary, the other five the Holiest of all.

The saints above, and those below,
But one communion make;
All join in Christ, their living Head,
And of His grace partake.

They are worshippers in one holy Temple, the rent veil alone being between them, whether they serve here in the shadow, or there in the light Divine.

Verse 4-6. “And thou shalt make loops of blue upon the edge of the one curtain from the selvedge in the coup­ling; and likewise shalt thou make in the uttermost edge of another curtain, in the coupling of the second. Fifty loops shalt thou make in the one curtain, and fifty loops shalt thou make in the edge of the curtain that is in the coupling of the second; that the loops may take hold one of another. And thou shalt make fifty taches [hooks] of gold, and couple the curtains together with the taches: and it shall be one taber­nacle.”

The marvellous prayer of the Lord Jesus, recorded in John 17, gives us, I believe, in the Lord’s own words, the precious truth set forth by the loops of blue and taches of gold, uniting the whole into one taber­nacle, the dwelling-place of God.

This prayer of Jesus is occupied with the Church of God; it takes in neither Israel nor the world (verse 9), neither the Old Testament, nor the millennial saints; but those who were then the disciples of Christ, and those who should believe in Him through their word—the Church, as built upon the foundation of the apos­tles and prophets. Having first reminded His heavenly Father of His earthly obedience, and asked to be glori­fied, as the obedient God-man, with the glory which, as the Eternal Son, He had with the Father before the world was, He then prays for His disciples. He had given to them eternal life, for they had known both Him and the Father, and now, taking His place in spirit, as no longer in the world, but as ascended to His Father—He at the right hand of God, above, and they still on the earth—He prays that they may be ONE, as the Father and the Son are one, through the one Eternal Spirit who unites the Father and the Son in a divine and eternal oneness. And this prayer was ac­complished when, being by the right hand of God ex­alted, having received the promise of the Father, He sent down the Holy Ghost at Pentecost, who baptized into one body all believers in Jesus, in union with their glorified Head.

Then setting Himself apart to the Father from the world which crucified and rejected Him, thus sancti­fying Himself for their sakes, He prays for them, that they, being one with Him risen, and thus no more of the world, than He is of the world, through the know­ledge and apprehension of this truth in the power of the Holy Ghost, that they might be practically sancti­fied, and separated, through the Spirit, from the world to God.

He next proceeds to include all those who should believe on Him, during the present dispensation, through faith in the inspired Word, previous to His return to receive the Church: that they ALL, through the Holy Ghost, might be ONE in this divine, perfect, eternal oneness. And so they are. And this oneness is the proof to the world of the mission and Messiah-ship of Jesus.

He is not here contemplating their outward mani­fested oneness, but their inward oneness in the Spirit. (v 20, 21).

Then, making them the sharers of His given glory, He asks that they might be ONE, as the Father and Himself are one, in that glory.

Marvellous grace! Glorious and blissful prospect!

And when associated with Him in that resurrection glory, their bodies fashioned into the likeness of His own, they shall be MADE PERFECT IN ONE, and the per­fection of the oneness will be manifest. (verses 22, 23).

And when Christ, who is their life, shall appear, and every eye shall see Him, and they also appear with Him in glory, then will the world KNOW that Jesus is the sent One of the Father, and that they also are loved with the same love as that with which the Father loves the Son. (verse 23).

Then, as not having yet exhausted the desires of His loving heart, He asks that they may not only be as­sociated with Him in His manifested glory to the world, but that they also may be with Him and near Him in His own eternal dwelling-place with the Fat­her, there to gaze on His divine glories, and share His everlasting love (verse 24).

This divine, heavenly, perfect oneness of the Church is beautifully typified by these “taches of gold” and “loops of blue.” GOLD is the emblem of that which is DIVINE; BLUE of that which is HEAVENLY, PERFECT. Their oneness is of God. It is even as the Father and the Son are one, effected by the indwelling of the divine Spirit, the Spirit of the Father and the Son.

This oneness is PERFECT, although the glorious per­fection of it will only fully appear when the one Church, having no spot, wrinkle, nor any such thing, shall descend out of heaven from God, having the glory of God, and shining with a light clear as crystal (Revelation 21:10, 11).

And this DIVINE, HEAVENLY, and PERFECT ONENESS still exists, and nothing can touch it. The loops of blue and taches of gold, never let go their holdfast. The prayer of Christ secures it. A prayer heard and answered.

THE TENT.

Verse 7. “And thou shalt make curtains of goats’ hair to be a covering [tent] upon the tabernacle: eleven cur­tains shalt thou make them.”

The TEN curtains of fine twined linen formed the TABERNACLE; these ELEVEN curtains of goats’ hair com­posed the TENT. Looking on the tent as typical of the Lord Jesus while on earth, it presents Him as taking upon Him the form of a servant, and made in the like­ness of men (Philippians 2:7). Yea, more; Oh marvellous stoop of condescending love, as made in the likeness of sinful flesh (Romans 8:3). For the goat in Scripture was especially selected for the sin-offering, as typical of Christ; though it was only on the Cross that He was “made sin for us.” And the parable in Matthew 25:31, to the end, shews the marked distinction in the figure between the sheep and the goat. We know that He personally “knew no sin;” yet, in outward form and appearance, He was found in fashion as a man. At the same time, like the tent enclosing the tabernacle, He was the habitation of God, the glory of the God­head dwelt within.

In the second place, looking at the tent as typical of the Church of God on earth, it presents the Church as composed of individuals living in the world; not as the Church inwardly in Spirit, but the Church outwardly in the flesh; not as to standing, for in that sense we are not in the flesh but in the Spirit (Romans 8:9), but being as yet in the body.

It is called “the Tent of the CONGREGATION,” as re­presenting those who are associated, or gathered to­gether, to the confession of the Name of Jesus—the assembly, or assemblies, of the saints. And the “Tent of WITNESS,” as representing them as the witnessing company for Christ in the earth.

“I am black, but comely,” said the bride (Song of Solomon 1. 5), “as the tents of Kedar,” such is the Church’s outward appearance in the flesh; “as the curtains of Solomon,” such she is within, as the workmanship of the Divine and Eternal Spirit.

THE DIMENSIONS OF THE CURTAINS.

Verse 8. “The length of one curtain shall be thirty cubits and the breadth of one curtain four cubits: and the eleven curtains shall be all of one measure.”

The length of the curtains of the TABERNACLE was twenty-eight cubits, the curtains of the tent were thirty cubits long, two cubits extra, and there was one curtain more to the tent, thus entirely covering the tabernacle.

“Whosoever shall call upon the Name of the Lord shall be saved.” This is true of all who compose the Tabernacle, or Church of God in Spirit. And, “Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.” This is the precept which is imperative on all who form part of the Tent of the congregation—the witness to the Name and truth of Christ on the earth.

THE COUPLING TOGETHER OF THE CURTAINS.

Verse 9. “And thou shalt couple five curtains by them­selves, and six curtains by themselves, and shalt double the sixth curtain in the forefront of the taber­nacle [tent].”

How beautifully and expressively this sets forth the happy fellowship of assemblies, where holiness, and truth, and subjection to Jesus has been maintained! And God would have this fellowship experimentally and practically realised. And does not this also ex­press the communion together which God would have enjoyed by assemblies of believers in any particular district, more or less extended?—such as between the Churches of Galatia, or the seven Churches of Asia; while provision is made, as we shall see presently, that ALL may be one.

THE LOOPS AND BRAZEN TACHES.

Verses 10, 11. “And thou shalt make fifty loops on the edge of the one curtain that is outmost in the coup­ling, and fifty loops in the edge of the curtain which coupleth the second. And thou shalt make fifty taches of brass, and put the taches [hooks] into the loops, and couple the tent together, that it may be one.”

The Spirit of God baptizes into one body all be­lievers in Jesus, as the tabernacle or dwelling-place of God; and the apostles and their fellow-labourers, under the direct guidance and control of the Spirit, carried out the Divine thought in the original forma­tion of the outward Church; for it was one, in a mani­fest and unbroken outward unity,—one tent.

And God had made full provision for the continu­ance of this oneness, in the one doctrine of His Word, the one teaching of His Spirit, and the supreme Lord­ship of His Son. But human traditions having been permitted to mingle with, and to supersede the pure doctrines of the Word; and the teachings of the so-called Church to interfere with the teaching of the Spirit; and the authority of man to set aside the SOLE Lordship of Christ in His Church, the outward one­ness which once existed, exists no longer. This was wonderfully foreshadowed in the outward garments of the crucified Redeemer, divided among the four Roman soldiers that crucified Him, while the inner coat, woven from the top throughout, remained intact.

But God’s principles are unchangeably the same. The Word of God continues to be the depository and criterion of revealed truth; the Comforter remains, and the Lord Jesus retains His supremacy. And the blessing, the privilege, and the profit, are to be realized and enjoyed still, whenever two or three are found to carry into practice God’s original instructions, by meet­ing on God’s principles. The testimony of the Lord Jesus to the Church in Philadelphia is the witness of this (see Revelation 3:7-13).

And the five disciples seen at the last, gathered around the Cross of the expiring Redeemer, furnish the standing type of this special and sacred fellowship.

THE TENT COVERING THE TABERNACLE.

Verses 12, 13. “And the remnant that remaineth, of the curtains of the tent, the half curtain that remaineth, shall hang over the backside of the tabernacle. And a cubit on the one side, and a cubit on the other side of that which remaineth in the length of the curtains of the tent, it shall hang over the sides of the taber­nacle on this side and on that side, to cover it.”

By this arrangement, the beautifully wrought cur­tains forming the tabernacle were entirely enclosed and hidden by the curtains of the tent; the tabernacle, as we have shewn, representing the Church inwardly in Spirit, and the tent the Church in outward manifesta­tion.

THE RAMS’ SKIN COVERING.

Verse 14. “And thou shalt make a covering for the tent of rams’ skins died red. And a covering above of badgers’ skins.”

It is not called a covering for the TABERNACLE, though, in one sense, that is true, but a covering for the TENT; for it is not the Church in Spirit, but the Church in testimony, that especially needs this cover­ing. The curtains of goats’ hair formed a tent upon the Tabernacle. These rams’ skins dyed red form a covering for the Tent.

The LAMB was the type of the Lord Jesus in the meekness, gentleness, and lowliness of His character; the RAM the type of Him in the strength, firmness, and decision of His testimony.

The rams’ skins being dyed RED add another thought; that of the atoning death and precious blood of Him who was “The faithful and true Witness.” The tent under the covering of the rams’ skins dyed red shews the Church as accepted in the Person, and under the cover and shelter of the blood of the Lamb.

When the first intimation of gospel grace was given by God Himself to our first parents in the garden of Eden, in those words, “The seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent’s head,” Adam, on the part of him­self and of his wife, made his confession of faith, by calling his wife’s name Eve, the mother of all LIVING, though the sentence of death had just been pronounced an himself and his posterity on account of sin. Yet he calls her not the mother of all dying, but of all living, for faith laid hold on the promise, and associ­ated in life and victory with the Virgin’s Seed who was to come, all who should believe in Him. There­upon God made, as a substitute for the aprons of fig leaves, which unbelief had sewn together, COATS OF SKIN, and clothed them. Thus Adam and Eve no longer appeared in their nakedness and shame, but clothed and covered by God Himself in the skin of that victim which probably was the first sacrifice, fore­shadowing the bruising of the heel, and the atoning death of the woman’s promised seed.

In like manner the tent, covered with this covering of rams’ skins dyed red, shews the Church in its testi­mony as seen in Christ, “in Whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.” And, as THUS SEEN, not­withstanding all the failure in testimony of those com­posing it, and their unworthiness in themselves, what was said of Israel may be applied to them, “He hath not beheld iniquity in Jacob, neither hath He seen perverseness in Israel” (Numbers 23:21). While, at the same time, we know that there was no iniquity nor perverseness that God did not discover and deal with, as walking in their midst.

It is important to remember this, that the Church’s completeness in Christ above, does not exempt her from God’s fatherly discipline, and the judgment of the Lord Jesus down here. Totally the reverse. We are called to “walk worthy of God unto all well pleasing,” and to “adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things.” And we are dealt with on the ground of this high responsibility. “You only have I known,” said God to Israel, “of all the families of the earth; therefore I will punish you for all your iniqui­ties” (Amos 3:2). The more God’s presence is mani­fested in the assembly, the more will be felt that He is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity, and cannot look on sin.

THE BADGERS’ SKIN COVERING.

This covering typifies the Church in its outward appearance, as seen by man. “As the tents of Kedar” (Song of Solomon, 1:5). “I clothed thee also with broidered work, and SHOD THEE WITH BADGERS’ SKIN” (Ezekiel 16:10). It is the PILGRIM ASPECT of the Church, which is thus presented, in which it is con­formed to the lowly appearance of Jesus of Nazareth when on earth. Therefore, whilst walking in confor­mity with the pattern thus set us by our Lord, “the world knoweth us not, because it knew Him not” (1 John 3:1).

 

THE GOLDEN CANDLESTICK

 

SOLOMON’S TEMPLE was “exceeding magnifical,” for it was the type of all the redeemed in glory.

The TABERNACLE, though all glorious within, was covered with a covering of badgers’ skins: for it is the figure of the Christ in the wilderness.

SUMMARY OF THE CURTAINS.

Looking on the Lord Jesus while on earth as typified by the tabernacle (John 1:14), the inner wrought cur­tains of Fine Linen, answer to Him as the SON OF GOD in His spiritual excellency and beauty. “Declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness” (Romans 1:4).

The Goats’ Hair Curtains, as the SON OF MARY (Luke 1:35), made in the likeness of sinful flesh (Romans 8:3), yet personally “that holy thing” born of the Virgin.

The Rams’ Skins dyed red present Him as the Sox OF MAN in testimony, both in life and in death.

And the Badgers’ Skin covering, as Jesus of Naza­reth, the supposed SON OF JOSEPH, the stranger here, to whom the world was a wilderness, and life a pil­grimage from the manger to the Cross.

But regarding the Tabernacle and Tent, with its coverings, as typical of the Church of God, the cur­tains of Fine Linen represent the Church in Spirit as the workmanship of the Holy Ghost.

The Goats’ Hair curtains, the Church in outward responsibility.

The Rams’ Skins dyed red, the Church in testimony, as seen of God in Christ, under the shelter of His atoning blood.

And the Badgers’ Skin, the Church as seen by the world in her pilgrimage character, and her outward condition here.

In RESURRECTION GLORY, however, the internal workmanship of the Holy Spirit, as typified by the curtains of the tabernacle, will appear in all its Divine perfection and beauty.

The FLESH, with all its imperfections, will be done away for ever, these vile bodies fashioned like Christ’s glorious body, this mortal will have put on immorta­lity, and this corruptible, incorruption. The goats’ hair tent will be exchanged for the “building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” (2 Corinthians 5:1).

But the Church will ever appear as accepted in God’s Beloved Son, with robes washed and made white in the BLOOD OF THE LAMB.

While the PILGRIM garb will be exchanged for the becoming robes of royalty and triumph, the priestly garments of glory and beauty. No longer the badgers’ skin covering externally visible, but “having the glory of God” (Revelation 21:11).

 

The Boards.

“And thou shalt make boards for the tabernacle of shittim wood standing up” (verse 15).

REGARDING the Tabernacle as typical of Christ, these boards of shittim wood overlaid with gold, the framework of the Tabernacle, repre­sent Him in the combination of the human and divine natures in His blessed Person, the foundation truth of Christianity, “God manifest in flesh.” But, taking the Tabernacle as typical of the Church, these boards re­present the individual believers of whom the Church of God is composed.

THEIR POSITION.

Boards of shittim wood “standing up.” This inti­mates that they had been previously cut down. Be­lievers were once the children of wrath, even as others, growing wild in nature’s forest; but they had been selected by divine grace, and had been brought low by the convictions of the Spirit, and they are here seen standing in grace (Romans 5:2).

THE DESIGN.

This is stated in Exodus 25:8, “Let them make Me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them.” These boards represent believers in Christ, builded together for a habitation of God through the Spirit (Ephesians 22). This is God’s ideal of the Church as a whole, according to the pattern shewn in the Mount (Hebrews 8:5). It is also designed to be a model for believers gathered together in Church fellowship on earth.

THE DIMENSIONS OF THE BOARDS.

“Ten cubits shall be the length of a board, and a cubit and a half shall be the breadth of one board” (verse 16).

Taking the cubit to be nearly one foot ten inches in length, the height of each board would be about eighteen feet three inches, and the breadth two feet nine inches. Thus, ten cubits was the height of the Tabernacle, one third of the height of the holy place in Solomon’s Temple, which was thirty cubits, and half the height of the most holy place there, which was twenty cubits.

Though every regenerate soul is born into the family of God, and as such has his place in the Church of God, yet, in order to fill that place profitably in the assembly of believers, three things are requisite—faith, hope, charity. Faith in the atonement, hope of the glory, and love to all saints. Faith, hope, charity, these three—depth, height, and breadth. DEPTH—down to the sockets of silver, FAITH in redemption. HEIGHT—Up to the rings of gold, HOPE of coming glory. BREADTH—extending to the other boards on either side. “LOVE in the truth” to all them that have known the truth, for the truth’s sake which dwelleth in us (2 John 1:2).

THE TENONS.

“Two tenons [hands] shall there be in one board, set in order one against another [made parallel one to an­other]; thus shalt thou make for all the boards of the Tabernacle” (verse 17).

According to their Hebrew name, they appear to represent the HANDS of faith, laying hold of the re­demption which is in Christ Jesus; and according to their position at the bottom of the boards, they suggest the idea of the FEET of faith, standing firm on redemp­tion, and the redemption price. “Set in order.” So as to fit exactly into the sockets. No slackness, no wavering, but steadfast and unmovable, stablished, strengthened, settled.

THE BOARDS ON THE SOUTH AND NORTH SIDES

“And thou shalt make the boards for the Tabernacle, twenty boards on the south side southward. And for the second side of the Tabernacle on the north side there shall be twenty boards” (verses 18, 20).

Twenty boards, of a cubit and a half, measure thirty cubits, which would be about fifty-five feet long. The length of the holy place and of the most holy together, of the Temple, was sixty cubits, or double the length of the Tabernacle.

THE SOCKETS OF SILVER.

“And thou shalt make forty sockets of silver under the twenty boards; two sockets under one board for his two tenons [hands], and two sockets under another board for his two tenons” (verse 19).

The comparison of Exodus 30:11-16 and 38:25-28, with 1 Peter 1:18, 19, will give us most clearly and beautifully the spiritual import of these sockets of silver. Every Israelite passing among them that were numbered, whether rich or poor, was required to give a ransom for his soul, of half a shekel, after the shekel of the sanctuary, in value about fifteen pence. Peter explains this, “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with such corruptible things, as silver and gold . . . but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.”

All God’s people are numbered as a RANSOMED people; to be reckoned among them on the ground of profession merely, is to come under judgment. This is illustrated by the numbering of Israel by David, as recorded in 2 Samuel 24:, where no mention is made of the redemption price having been paid. In the in­stance recorded in Matthew 17:24, the tribute required was not the tribute to Caesars, but the half shekel of the sanctuary; the Son of Man required no ransom for His soul. But from the abundance of the sea, the piece of money, “the stater,” value two shillings and sixpence—was provided, double the ransom price, as Christ said to Peter. “For Me and thee.” In Exodus 38:25-27, we read, “And the silver of them that were numbered of the congregation was a hundred talents, and a thousand seven hundred and threescore and fifteen shekels after the shekel of the sanctuary .. And of the hundred talents of silver were cast the sockets of the sanctuary, and the sockets of the vail; a hundred sockets of the hundred talents, a talent for a socket.” A talent of silver is computed at £342 3s 9d; a talent being about 114 lbs. weight.

Each board had two tenons, and under each tenon there was socket of silver, each weighing a talent. What an idea this gives us of the security of every believer as founded on the atoning work of Christ; securing at once a firm foundation for the foot of faith, for it is redemption from the wrath to come; and a firm grasp to the hand of faith in laying hold of eternal life, and hope of everlasting glory.

THE BOARDS FOR THE WEST SIDE.

“And for the sides of the Tabernacle westward, thou shalt make six boards. And two boards shalt thou make for the corners of the Tabernacle in the two sides. And they shall be coupled [twinned] together beneath, and they shall be coupled together [perfected together] above the head of it unto one ring: thus shall it be for them both; they shall be for the two corners. And they shall be eight boards, and their sockets of silver, sixteen sockets; two sockets under one board, and two sockets under another board” (verses 22-25).

The corner boards were coupled or twinned beneath. So believers are one in the confidence of FAITH. Each board standing firm in the sockets of silver, and each believer established in the faith of the gospel. The corner boards were also coupled or perfected together to one ring above. Believers are one in the rejoicing of HOPE. We have “ONE FAITH” and “ONE HOPE OF OUR CALLING.” Christ crucified is the foundation of our FAITH, and Christ glorified the substance and cen­tre of our HOPE, Christ Himself being “the chief CORNER STONE,” uniting the Jew and the Gentile in one, on earth beneath. And He is also the HEAD STONE of the corner, uniting them together in one in heaven above. Thus we read in Hebrews 3:6, “Christ as a Son over His own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.” And again, 5:14, “For we have been made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end.”

 

 

The Bars of the Tabernacle,

“And thou shalt make bars of shittim wood; five for the boards of the one side of the Tabernacle, and five bars for the boards of the other side of the Taber­nacle, and five bars for the boards of the side of the Tabernacle for the two sides westward. And the middle bar in the midst of the boards shall reach from end to end” (verses 26-28).

WE have considered the BOARDS fitly framed together, firmly fixed in the sockets of silver, as typical of believers standing in redemption. We have now to consider the BARS of shittim wood overlaid with gold—God’s provision for compacting together and securing the whole.

In the first six verses of Ephesians 4 the sevenfold unity of the Church is mentioned: One body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all. From verses 7-11, the FIVE gifts given from an ascended and glorified Saviour are noticed; apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers.

The object for which they are given is stated from verses 12 to 16: “For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ. Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a per­fect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ. That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive but speaking the truth in love, may grow up into Him in all things, which is the head, even Christ. From whom the whole body fitly joined together and com­pacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.”

The FIVE BARS answer strikingly to these FIVE GIFTS from a risen Christ, and the object and the end is the same, both in the Tabernacle and the Church: the “perfecting,” “edifying,” and “compacting of the whole together.”

THE MATERIAL.

They were to be of SHITTIM WOOD; reminding us that those who have received gifts for service to the Lord and to His saints, are men of like passions with others. They have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of them. Not sufficient of themselves to think anything as of themselves, their sufficiency is of God.

THE ARRANGEMENT OF THE BARS.

God’s arrangements and provisions for ministry are simple, perfect, and uniform, adapted to the need of the Church of God throughout the whole world. All believers everywhere have need of all the gifts of the Spirit for their compacting and edifying; and accord­ing to God’s arrangements, whatever gifts there may be, are designed for all.

The leading of the Spirit, or the providence of God, may place some in certain localities; all believers have a title to their service, and they are debtors, according to their ability and opportunity, to all. Two of the bars were placed near the bottom of the boards; one in the centre extending from end to end, and two near the top, thus:

Pastors and Teachers.
Evangelists.
Apostles and Prophets.

The two UNDER bars may be taken to represent the gifts of the APOSTLES and PROPHETS. These, as to doctrine and practice, according to the ability given them of God, have laid the foundation. The Church is said to be “built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone.” They laid the foundation by their labours, example, and teaching in their lifetime; and in the inspired Scriptures in the New Testament which they have left, the Church has still the benefit of their gifts.

The MIDDLE bar in the centre of the boards was entire, extending the whole length of the Tabernacle, from end to end; beautifully suggestive of the widely extended sphere of the labours of the EVANGELIST; whose commission is, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.”

The two bars near the top, represent the ministry of the PASTOR and TEACHER: the PASTOR watching over the souls of the converted, feeding the flock of God; the TEACHER leading the children of God onward and upward into further and higher acquaintance with divine truth, and of the love, person, and ways of the Lord Jesus.

THE OVERLAYING OF THE BOARDS WITH GOLD.

“And thou shalt overlay the boards with gold, and make their rings of gold for places for the bars; and thou shalt overlay the bars with gold” (verse 29).

It is remarkable that the direction for OVERLAYING the boards does not occur in the portion which treats of the BOARDS (v .15-25), but in connection with the BARS; doubtless, this is significant. The boards were of shittim wood: representing believers, IN THEM­SELVES partakers of HUMAN NATURE in its weakness and frailty. But overlaid with gold: signifying that, as one in Spirit with Jesus, believers are also partakers of the DIVINE NATURE (2 Peter 1:4). As we are by the grace of God—as seen by Him in the Son of His love—such we ought to be practically, experimentally, at all times; especially when gathered in the Name of Jesus, under the searching eye of Him with whom we have to do; that as builded together for a habitation of God through the Spirit, there may be nothing to grieve or quench that Holy Spirit of God, or hinder the full flow of blessing from our God and Father. As the shittim wood in the Tabernacle was nowhere to be seen, so the flesh, or that which is merely natural, should never be manifest in the assembly of God’s saints. But putting off the old man, and putting on the new, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, the divine nature should appear, and divine charity be ever in full exercise. The distinctions which cannot be over­looked with impunity in the outward walks of life, would disappear when believers are assembled in the Church; and all as children of God, members of Christ, dwelt in by the Spirit, would hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, without respect of persons (James 2:1). Whilst the gold glittered on the surface, the shittim wood existed with­in. So it becomes us to remember that, notwithstand­ing all that divine grace has made us in Christ, in our­selves we are nothing at all. The true circumcision, worshipping God in the Spirit, rejoicing in Christ Jesus, but having no confidence in the flesh. This is no excuse for sin or failure; the grace of God is sufficient; His strength is made perfect in weakness.

But why is this direction inserted here with the in­structions respecting the bars? Does it not intimate a connection between the exercising of the gifts for ministry, and the fuller realization and manifestation of the divine nature? Thus holding the Head, “all the body, BY JOINTS AND BANDS, having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth WITH THE INCREASE OF GOD.” Whilst God, according to His divine power, has given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises, THAT BY THESE WE MIGHT BE PARTAKERS OF THE DIVINE NATURE—is it not through the exercise of the gifts of the Spirit, in the ministry of the Word, that individually and col­lectively these great and precious promises are realized and this growth in grace is experienced? (2 Peter 1:3, 4).

THE GOLDEN RINGS.

“Rings of gold for places for the bars.” There is a divinely given place for ministry in the exercise of the gifts of the Spirit in the Church of God.

There is a place appointed of God for each kind of ministry.

A place for the APOSTLES and PROPHETS, which none else can occupy: a place of authority and power.

A place for the EVANGELIST, a work of vast impor­tance and responsibility; having to do with souls and eternity.

A place for the PASTOR and TEACHER, in watching over and instructing the souls of the redeemed, with which the saints’ well-being, and the honour of the Lord Jesus is connected.

THE OVERLAYING OF THE BARS.

Real ministry is the exercise of a gift received from God through Jesus Christ, in the power of the Holy Ghost, according to the ability which God giveth, and for God’s glory. “As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter. 4:10-11).

To sum up these various figures of ministry. In the CHERUBIM on the mercy-seat in the holiest of all, we have set forth MINISTRY IN ITS HEAVENLY ORIGIN AND SOURCE.

In the golden LAMPSTAND in the holy place, over against the Table, by the Altar of incense, MINISTRY IN THE ASSEMBLY, IN CONNECTION WITH COMMUNION AND WORSHIP. In these BARS uniting the BOARDS, we see MINISTRY FOR THE BUILDING UP AND COMPACTING of the Church of God.

THE CHARGE.

“And thou shalt rear up the Tabernacle according to the fashion thereof, which was showed thee in the Mount” (verse 30).

Whether as to Church gathering and constitution, or as to ministry, God’s pattern, and that alone, is to be followed; a pattern not earthly and human, but heavenly and divine.

God has condescended to arrange everything for us in His Word in type in the Old Testament, in example in the Gospels and the Acts, and in express directions in the inspired Epistles of the apostles.              May we esteem all God’s commandments concerning all things to be right: and hating every false way, be fully per­suaded that His plans are the best, and that in keeping His commandments there is great reward.

THE ALTAR AT THE DOOR (Leviticus 4:7)

 

The Vail.

Exodus 26:31-33.

“And thou shalt make a vail of blue, and purple, and scarlet [worm scarlet], and fine twined linen of cun­ning work; with cherubim shall IT be made” (verse 31).

THE spiritual signification of the vail is given us by the apostle in the following words: “Hav­ing therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new [newly-slain] and living way, which He hath consecrated for us, through the vail, that is to say, His flesh” (Hebrews 10:19, 20). This vail represents the flesh of Jesus, and, in connection with His atoning sacrifice, it shows Him as the way of entrance, through the Spirit, by faith, into the holiest of all. Before the death of Jesus, “the priests went always into the first tabernacle, accom­plishing the service of God. But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people: the Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing” (Hebrews 9:6-8). But when Jesus expired on the cross at Calvary, “The vail of the temple was rent in twain, from the top to the bottom” (Matthew 27:51). God by this act distinctly intimating that the way of access was clear—the glory could shine out, and the believer in Jesus could enter in. God could be just, while He justified—and manifest Himself as glorious in holi­ness, whilst the pardoned sinner was accepted and brought nigh by the blood of Jesus. The Lord Jesus told His disciples, “If I go not away, the Comforter will not come; but if I depart, I will send Him unto you” (John 16:7). The way was thus opened for the Comforter to come down from the ascended Christ, at Pentecost; and it is through Him, upborne by His eagle wings, we enter the Holiest, and draw near to God.

The word “new” in Hebrews 10:20, is literally in the Greek “newly-slain,” a beautiful illustration of which we get in the north gate of the temple of Ezekiel (chapter 40:35-43), where there were eight stone tables on which the victims were slain, and the instruments were laid, and the flesh hung up on hooks on either side, so that the priests on entering passed through the flesh of the slaughtered victim, which was also the Eastern mode of ratifying a covenant (Genesis 15).

THE MATERIALS OF THE VAIL.

We may trace in the materials, the various excel­lencies combined in the Person of Christ.

The “BLUE,” His perfection as Man, and the heaven­ly beauty of His character, “the Son of Man which is in heaven.”

“And PURPLE.” The combination of the heavenly and earthly dignities in Him who was at once, Son of David and Son of God.

“And SCARLET.” He was born “King of the Jews,” and, though rejected of His own, He yet shall reign.

“And FINE TWINED LINEN.” He was “that holy thing” born of the Virgin, and “separate from sinners” during His whole life and conversation here.

“Of CUNNING” or skilful “WORK.” What beauteous blendings, what exquisite harmonies may be discovered in the character of Jesus! How each grace tempers the others, and enhances the glory of the whole.

The “CHERUBIM” on the vail represent the various kinds of service to God, which were seen in perfection in Jesus, who came down from heaven to do the will of the Father, and in whom the apostle and prophet, the evangelist, the pastor, and the teacher were com­bined and manifested in all their excellency.

THE PILLARS OF THE VAIL.

“And thou shalt hang IT upon four pillars of shittim wood overlaid with gold: their hooks shall be of gold, upon the four sockets of silver” (verse 32).

This beautiful and significant vail, representing the Incarnate Saviour, Immanuel, God with us, was to be suspended on four pillars of shittim wood, overlaid with gold. Can we be at a loss to ascertain the fact which answers to this foreshadowing?

Did not God employ FOUR individuals, men of like passions with ourselves, but divinely qualified by the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, to hold up to view the great mystery of godliness—God manifest in the flesh? In the four inspired records of the life and death of Jesus as given by the FOUR evangelists, the whole truth of His Person is exhibited as the Incarnate One.

Their HOOKS were to be of GOLD. The capacity to take hold of, to select, and to arrange, the various inci­dents in the life and death of the Man of sorrows, His words and teachings, so as to bring out the truth of His Person in all its fulness, was of God. So that those apparent discrepancies between the narratives of the four inspired historians which so puzzle the natural mind, and so often render futile the attempt to form a harmony of the FOUR GOSPELS—these seeming blem­ishes are, in fact, the marks and proofs of the handi­work of a Divine Editor.

Under His all-wise guidance and control—

MATTHEW selects and arranges those materials which present the Lord Jesus especially as Son of David and of Abraham, in connection with the king­dom, and with the promises made of God unto the fathers. This corresponds with the SCARLET.

MARK presents Him especially as the Son of God and Son of Man, in His untiring service. The PURPLE.

LUKE shows Him as the sociable Son of Man, in connection with mankind at large. The FINE TWINED LINEN.

And JOHN testifies to Him as the Divine and heaven­ly stranger, in all the perfection of His character and ways. Answering to the BLUE.

The full-length portrait—the perfection of the truth of the Person of our precious Immanuel, is the result of the whole combined.

These pillars stood on four SOCKETS OF SILVER. For while the four inspired historians were em­ployed and capacitated of God to exhibit the truth of the Person of Jesus, they themselves reposed on His redeeming work, and on His precious and atoning blood.

THE POSITION OF THE VAIL.

“And thou shalt hang up the vail under the taches [hooks], that thou mayest bring in thither within the vail the ark of the testimony: and the vail shall divide unto you between the holy place and the most holy” (verse 33).

These taches connected together the two larger cur­tains, composed of five smaller ones each, thus forming one Tabernacle (chapter 26:3-6).

The vail was to be hung immediately beneath these taches, dividing the Tabernacle into two parts: twenty cubits for the holy place, and ten cubits for the most holy.

Into the first tabernacle, or the holy place, the priests went continually, accomplishing the service of God; setting forth the ordinary privilege of believers in their priestly service and worship.

But into the second, or most holy place, the high priest alone entered once every year. For while the first tabernacle was yet standing, the Holy Ghost signi­fied that the way into the holiest was not made mani­fest.

The vail DIVIDED UNTO ISRAEL between the holy and most holy place. But the true light now shineth; the vail has been rent; the glory of God’s grace has shone out; and the believer has boldness to enter in through faith in the blood of Jesus (Hebrews 10:19-23).

 

 

The Brazen Altar:

OR, THE ALTAR OF BURNT OFFERING.

Exodus 27:1-8.

Verse 1. “And thou shalt make an altar [the altar].”

THE SIN OFFERING was burnt, or consumed, with­out the camp: the BURNT, or ASCENDING OFFER­ING, was converted into a sweet savour on the altar of burnt offering by the fire which came original­ly from God, and which was kept always burning in it. In the SIN offering we see Jesus, who knew no sin, made sin for us, suffering without the gate, and putting sin away by the sacrifice of Himself.

In the other, Jesus, the spotless Victim, offering up Himself as a sweet savour unto God, and His accep­tance manifested by His resurrection from the dead, and ascension to the right hand of the Father.

Outside the camp it is wrath CONSUMING, and for ever setting aside the sins which Jesus bore.

At the brazen altar it is justice and holiness, FEED­ING with complacency on the excellency of the victim.

The altar of burnt offering, cleansed, anointed, sanctified—an altar most holy, on which the fire was always burning, and the sacrifice always consuming, was the place of communion between God and His people, and between the people and their God (see Exodus 29:36-46).

It sets forth Christ, through whom we draw nigh to God, and through whom God draws nigh to us, on the ground of His atoning work, and of His accepted sacrifice, by which every perfection of the Godhead is satisfied and glorified.

THE MATERIAL.

“Shittim wood.”

In order that Jesus, through His atoning sacrifice, might furnish a meeting-place between God and the soul, it was requisite that He should become incarnate. This truth is set before us in the shittim wood. “Wherefore, when He cometh into the world, He saith . . . a body hast Thou prepared Me” (Hebrews 10:5).

THE DIMENSIONS OF THE ALTAR.

“Five cubits long, and five cubits broad; the altar shall be foursquare: and the height thereof shall be three cubits.”

Twice the length and height of the ark of the cove­nant. These dimensions were fixed by God Himself, who also prepared a body for Christ, every way adap­ted and adequate for His work and sufferings.

THE HORNS OF THE ALTAR.

Verse 2. “And thou shalt make the horns of it upon the four corners thereof: his horns shall be of the same: and thou shalt overlay it with brass.”

The horn in Scripture is the emblem of power. “Bind the sacrifice with cords,” says the psalmist, “even unto the horns of the altar” (Psalm 118:27).

In the garden of Gethsemane we see this thought strikingly exemplified. There we see Jesus, the BE­LOVED Son of the Father, whose dwelling-place eter­nally was the Father’s bosom; that HOLY One, who knew no sin, and that blessed One, “God over all, blessed for ever,” drawing back from, and deprecating the enduring of God’s WRATH, the imputation of SIN, and the infliction of the CURSE. Yet the cords of love and obedience bound Him—love and obedience to the Father, love and compassion to us. So that, in the end, we see the willing Victim passing through the three long hours of darkness, made SIN for us, and nailed to the accursed tree.

This as to the VICTIM; then as to the SINNER, or the WORSHIPPER. In 1 Kings 1:50 we read, “And Adonijah feared because of Solomon, and arose, and went, and caught hold on the horns on the Altar.” Again, chapter 2:28, “And Joab fled unto the Tabernacle of Jehovah, and caught hold on the horns of the altar.” What strong consolation is provided for the poor sin­ner who flies for refuge, to lay hold on the hope set before him in the Gospel, founded on the perfect and accepted sacrifice of the sinner’s Saviour, and the sinner’s Friend! And the believer, too, finds here a refuge and a rest.

The SHITTIM WOOD and the BRASS—emblems of the tender SYMPATHY and the Divine Almighty POWER of the Saviour of the lost, and the Sustainer of the saved—give faith its firm holdfast.

The WOOD and the BRASS—the SYMPATHY and the POWER of Him who is thus set forth, giving faith its grasp of undying tenacity. The sinner and the saint find in Jesus, who is here set forth, one ABLE TO SYMPA­THIZE and MIGHTY TO SAVE.

But what a solemn lesson is read out to us from these horns of the brazen altar! In Exodus 21:14, God says, “But if a man come presumptuously upon his neighbour to slay him with guile, thou shalt take him from mine altar, that he may die.” For the PRE­SUMPTUOUS sinner, and the hypocritical DECEIVER, the atonement of Jesus itself provides no shelter, while he continues such. It is of no avail for a person to say, “I am trusting in the blood of Jesus,” while presump­tuously continuing in sin, or hypocritically professing repentance. “Thou shalt take him from Mine altar, that he may die,” is the stern command of Divine in­flexible justice. Solemn thought! How many a soul has gone on for years, clinging with vain hope to a mere profession of faith in Jesus, lulled into a false peace, with a spirit unsanctified and a soul unsaved, to perish at last. Thus was it in type with Adonijah. “And Solomon said, ‘If he will show himself a worthy man, there shall not a hair of him fall to the earth: but if wickedness shall be found in him, he shall die’” (1 Kings 1:52). So it turned out. “King Solomon sent by the hand of Benaiah the son of Jehoiada: and he fell upon him that he died” (1 Kings 2:25).

THE STAVES.

Verses 6, 7. “And thou shalt make staves for the altar, staves of shittim wood, and overlay THEM with brass. And the staves shall be put into the rings, and the staves shall be upon the two sides of the altar, to bear IT.”

The staves adapted the brazen altar to the wilderness condition of God’s people, so that the altar accompanied them in all their journeyings. Wherever the camp pitched, the altar rested; wherever the court was enclosed, the altar was placed at the entrance; wherever the tent of the congregation was set up, the altar stood at the door. The daily sacrifice on the altar of burnt offering, was the standing link of communion be­tween God and His people typically. The taking away of the daily sacrifice was a national calamity. The fire was always burning in this altar, never permitted to go out. The victim always consuming on it day and night, the sweet savour of it was always ascending. Thus the ground of communion was at all times pre­pared, the way of communion at all times open. On this perpetual burnt offering, the other special sacrifices (as on the Sabbaths, new moons, etc.) were burnt, and the sin and trespass offerings presented. So now, though our God is a consuming fire (and the apprehen­sion of this is ever to be kept alive in our hearts), the sacrifice of Jesus has met, and for ever satisfies, all the demands of holiness and justice on our behalf. On this account, “If we confess our sins, He (God) is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

The ground of communion has been made good, the way of access is ever open, the fragrance of the sacri­fice of Jesus is ever before God. Wherever we are, whatever our circumstances, communion with God may be maintained unbroken, our walk down here may be an Enoch walk—a walk with God.

The STAVES of the TABLE of shewbread were con­nected with the BORDER (chapter 25:27); for the guarding of COMMUNION is important in connection with our wilderness state. The STAVES of the GOLDEN ALTAR are connected with the GOLDEN CROWN; for it is a GLORIFIED CHRIST through whom we worship. The STAVES of the BRAZEN ALTAR are connected with the GRATE of BRASS; for it is a SUFFERING Saviour who laid the foundations of our constant communion with God.

THE DIVINE PATTERN.

Verse 8. “Hollow with boards shalt thou make IT: as it was shewed THEE in the mount, so shall they make it.”

Jesus, though mighty to suffer, and Almighty to save, was the EMPTY and dependent One. “He was crucified through weakness.”

How different is the appearance of Calvary, and of Him who suffered there, when seen on earth’s low level, and with human thoughts and feelings, to what it is when looked at in the light of God—as God Him­self reveals the marvellous scene! In spirit raised above surrounding things, and upon the MOUNT with God, looking down on Calvary’s Cross! Thus are we to form our conceptions of it; thus shall we learn its mysteries and its uses, its value and its power; and thus shall our souls experience the blessing which God has provided. Communion with God on the ground of sacrifice must be according to God’s order and thoughts, and not according to the plans and opinions of men.

 

The Court of the Tabernacle.

Exodus 27:9.

Verse 9. “And thou shalt make the court of the taber­nacle.”

“WHATSOEVER things were written aforetime, were written for our learning,” and “the things which happened unto Israel, happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come” (1 Corinthians 10:11). Thus the children of Israel, redeemed out of Egypt, are the types of the redeemed people of God. In the Scriptures we have Israel presented to us, in their history, and in the Divine arrangements respecting them, in various de­grees of nearness to God.

First, we see them in EGYPT, groaning under the bondage of Pharaoh. This is typical of the experience of the soul, under the first convictions of the Spirit, feeling the evil of sin, its bitter bondage, and heavy guilt, “labouring and heavy laden,” from which de­liverance is only obtained by taking shelter under the blood of the Lamb. “Christ our Passover sacrificed for us.”

Secondly, we see them IN THE WILDERNESS, having crossed the Red Sea, wherein all the power of the oppressor has been overwhelmed. Typical of the soul realising the triumph of the Cross. Principalities and powers spoilt and made a show of; and death, and him that had the power of it, destroyed. And the believer, no longer at home in the world, but become a pilgrim and a stranger here.

Thirdly, we see them IN THE CAMP, occupying there­in the various positions assigned them by God. Typical of believers in their different callings, ordinary occu­pations, and their social relationships. OUTSIDE the camp the sin-offering was consumed. OUTSIDE the camp the lepers and the defiled were obliged to remain. WITHIN the camp the people of God were required to be a holy people to the Lord their God, who walked up and down in their midst—to be holy in all manner of conversation, and in all the callings and relationships of life.

Fourthly, we see them assembled IN THE COURT OF THE TABERNACLE. Here the people of God are repre­sented in their RELIGIOUS character. This is the espe­cial subject of our present consideration.

Fifthly, the PRIESTS are seen entering daily through the door of the tent into the first tabernacle, or holy place, accomplishing the service of God. Typical of BELIEVERS in their PRIESTLY character and Church as­sociation, engaged in the worship and service of God.

Sixthly, the HIGH PRIEST is seen entering THROUGH THE VAIL into the Holy of Holies. Typical of JESUS, the HIGH PRIEST of our profession, entered for us into heaven itself; and of the BELIEVER in Him having boldness to enter through the rent vail into the holiest of all (Hebrews 10:19-22).

Seventhly, we see Israel IN THE LAND, having crossed the Jordan. Typical of believers as in spirit raised up together, and made to sit together in Christ Jesus in the heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6).

1, Egypt; 2, the wilderness; 3, the camp; 4, the court; 5, the holy place; 6, the most holy; 7, the land.

Divided by—1, the blood of the Paschal Lamb; 2, the Red Sea; 3, the sin-offering; 4, the hanging of the court; 5, the door of the tent; 6, the vail; 7, the Jordan.

This is the Scriptural “Pilgrim’s Progress,” written “not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth.”

But to return to the court of the tabernacle. The children of Israel seen in this court represent the people of God in their RELIGIOUS character. Not as associated in Church fellowship—this is typified by the boards of the tabernacle—but in their general religious aspect. Not only seeking to maintain and to exhibit holiness in the assemblies of God’s saints, and in Church relationship, but also in the wider sphere of ordinary and everyday life.

These curtains of fine-twined linen formed a court around the tabernacle, and kept it separate. As the table of shewbread has a border, so the tabernacle of God has a court—a court with hangings of fine-twined linen all around, marking separation to God in right­eousness and true holiness. Such is God’s plan. As a TABLE without a BORDER is not according to God’s pattern, SO a TABERNACLE without a COURT is contrary to God’s order. There must be consistency without, as well as holiness and fellowship within; separation from the world in daily life, as well as in Church fellowship, and in the devotional exercises of the as­sembly. The COURT contained the ALTAR of burnt offering and the LAVER, and had the tabernacle, or dwelling-place of God in the midst. And the Israelites collected there, and in the open space before it, repre­sents believers, realising atonement and acceptance through the sacrifice of Jesus, sanctification in Christ Jesus, by the Holy Ghost, and walking and acting in the presence of God.

 

 

The Hangings of the Court.

Exodus 27:9.

Verse 9. “For the south side southward there shall be hangings for the court of fine-twined linen of a hundred cubits long for one side.”

“THE FINE LINEN 1S the righteousness of saints” (Revelation 19:8). “I counsel thee to buy of Me white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed,” says Christ (Revelation 3:18).

“Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ,” is the exhorta­tion of the Apostle (Romans 13:14).

The COURT of the Tabernacle, surrounded by these hangings of fine-twined linen, represents believers in their ordinary Christian character and intercourse, walking in the presence of God in holiness and righteousness before Him, keeping their garments un­defiled by sin, putting on and living out Christ, and exhibiting Him before men.

THE PILLARS AND SOCKETS.

Verse 10. “And the twenty pillars thereof and their twenty sockets shall be of brass.”

Or, as expressed in chapter 38:10: “Their pillars were twenty, and their brazen sockets twenty.”

The PILLARS fixed in SOCKETS of BRASS, represent individual believers in their religious character, and their firm standing. There were twenty pillars on the north and south, corresponding with the twenty boards of the Tabernacle on those sides. The BOARDS repre­senting believers associated in Church fellowship; and the PILLARS of the court, believers in their wider and ordinary Christian walk.

THE COURT AND THE GATE

Each PILLAR stood firmly fixed in a SOCKET of brass, as expressing the firm and decided stand which is re­quisite in living out the Christian character. As united in Church fellowship, in the sight of God, we stand in redemption, like the boards of the Tabernacle on the sockets of silver. But as walking before God, and living before men, in our daily course, we need a holy decision of character, standing strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might, as the pillars of the court in their sockets of brass. “Having done all, to stand,” says the Apostle. “Stand therefore” (Ephesians 6:13, 14).

If “the Church of the living God” is to be “the pil­lar and ground of the truth,” individual believers in their Christian character and ordinary conduct should seek to maintain the truth, by walking in it with firm­ness and decision, like James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars in their day, and especially like the Apostle Paul.

THE HOOKS AND FILLETS.

Verse 10. “The hooks of the pillars and their fillets [connecting-rods] shall be of silver.

The HOOKS were to receive the FILLETS, and the fillets, as the Hebrew word for fillet implies, were CONNECTING-RODS.              These silver rods connected the pillars together, and formed the rods on which the linen curtains hung. The hooks and connecting-rods were to be of silver, and SILVER is typical of REDEMP­TION; for the Atonement money was in silver (Exodus 30:11-16).

And SILVER is also typical of COMMUNION; for it was the ordinary medium for monetary transactions. And the hooks fixed in the pillars were always in readiness to receive the connecting-rods.

Thus these pillars, standing in the brazen sockets, with their hooks and connecting-rods of silver, sustain­ing the curtains of fine-twined linen, and forming to­gether the COURT of the Tabernacle, most strikingly and beautifully represent the people of God, in their ordinary religious character, established and settled, walking in righteousness and holiness, always prepared for, and constantly maintaining communion together, on the ground of their common redemption by the Blood of the Lamb, in their intercourse one with another, and in the presence of God.

It is a sweet and happy thought, affording some con­solation in the present state of things, that even now, in the outwardly divided conditions of the Church of God, when Church FELLOWSHIP with the majority of Christians may be sought in vain, we may still main­tain communion and love in our intercourse one with another on the ground of our common redemption, by the same precious Blood, and of our agreement to­gether in the same fundamental truths of salvation, as taught and united by the same Holy Spirit.

THE LENGTH OF THE COURT.

Verse 11. “And likewise for the north side in length there shall be hangings of a hundred cubits long, and his twenty pillars and their twenty sockets of brass; the hooks of the pillars and their fillets [connecting-rods] of silver.”

One hundred cubits NORTH and SOUTH. “Awake, O north wind, and come, thou south,” is the language of the Bride in the Song of Solomon (chap. 4:16). Whether the chill north wind of adversity blows, or the genial south wind of prosperity breathes, there should be the same FIRM STANDING, and decided walk, the same maintenance of RIGHTEOUSNESS and holiness, the same manifestation of Christ, and the same readi­ness for FELLOWSHIP with all saints, on the ground of our common Christianity.

THE BREADTH OF THE COURT.

Verses 12-15. “And for the breadth of the court on the west side shall be hangings of fifty cubits: their pillars ten, and their sockets ten. And the breadth of the court on the east side eastward, shall be fifty cubits. The hangings of one side of the gate shall be fifteen cubits: their pillars three, and their sockets three. And on the other side shall be hangings fifteen cubits: their pillars three, and their sockets three.”

In LENGTH—namely, one hundred cubits—the court of the TABERNACLE was one HALF the LENGTH of the INNER court of Ezekiel’s TEMPLE, which will be two hundred cubits; and in BREADTH—namely, fifty cubits —HALF the BREADTH of the INNER court of the TEMPLE, which will be one hundred cubits.

THE GATE OF THE COURT.

Verse 16. “And for the gate of the court shall be a hang­ing of twenty cubits, of blue, and purple, and scarlet [worm scarlet], and fine-twined linen, wrought with needlework.”

The hanging for the door of the tent and the vail, were both ten cubits by ten—one hundred cubits square; and the gate of the court twenty cubits by five in height—one hundred cubits square also; each repre­senting CHRIST in different aspects. The GATE OF THE COURT being typical of CHRIST, by the faith of whom alone any really become Christians, and have a title to be regarded as such, and power in the Spirit for true fellowship in the Gospel.

THE DOOR OF THE TENT representing CHRIST, through whom alone there is access into the Church of God. And the VAIL representing Him as the way by whom only there is access by faith into the holiest of all.

THE PILLARS OF THE GATE.

Verse 16. “Their pillars shall be four, and their sockets four.”

By these FOUR PILLARS, corresponding with the four pillars which sustain the vail, are represented, I be­lieve, the four divinely inspired historians of the life of Jesus. There are some differences, however, which are significant.

The PILLARS of the VAIL have their HOOKS of GOLD, and their SOCKETS of SILVER; while the PILLARS of the GATE have their HOOKS Of SILVER, and their SOCKETS of BRASS.              The HOOKS of GOLD being significant of a DIVINELY-given ability for laying HOLD on and exhibit­ing the perfection of Immanuel, as the way of access by faith into the Holiest; and the SOCKETS of SILVER significant of their STANDING in REDEMPTION.

The HOOKS of SILVER, and the silver connecting-rods of the PILLARS of the GATE, expressive of a capacity for communicating the truth of Christ; and the SOC­KETS of BRASS, of decision and steadfastness.

It is interesting to trace in the four inspired histories of the “Word made flesh,” the various beauties and perfections of Immanuel, as signified by the BLUE, PURPLE, SCARLET, and FINE-TWINED LINEN, composing the GATE OF THE COURT.

In JOHN’S account, the BLUE, or HEAVENLY PERFEC­TION and glory of the Lord Jesus, is manifest.

In MARK, the PURPLE, or the combination of HEAVEN­LY PERFECTNESS with the EARTHLY GLORY. And hence it is worthy of notice, that, in Mark 15:17, the robe in which, in mockery, Jesus was arrayed, is by the leading of the Spirit said to be of “PURPLE.”

In MATTHEW, the EARTHLY DIGNITIES of the Son of David, as typified by the SCARLET, appear; and Mat­thew says, they “put on Him a scarlet robe” (27:28).

Whereas, in LUKE, the WHITE, or PURE and SPOTLESS, yet exquisitely beautiful humanity of the Son of Man is prominent, as typified by the FINE-TWINED LINEN. And Luke says, they “arrayed Him in a gorgeous robe.” Gorgeous, “Lampros,” meaning also, shining, resplendent, dazzling, white. Compare Acts 10:30; Revelation 15:6; 19:8, in the Greek.

Verses 17-19. “All the pillars round about the court shall be filleted with silver [connected with rods of silver] their hooks shall be of silver, and their sockets of brass. The length of the court shall be a hundred cubits, and the breadth fifty everywhere, and the height five cubits of fine-twined linen, and their sock­ets of brass. All the vessels of the tabernacle in all the service thereof, and all the pins thereof, and all the pins of the court, shall be of brass.”

All the pillars of the court were connected together by the SILVER RODS, and all were furnished with HOOKS for attaching them; teaching us, that all believers should maintain fellowship together in redemption, truth, and brotherly love, and all be prepared for it as occasion presents.

All the PILLARS Stood 011 SOCKETS of BRASS; and all believers have need of enduring strength in Jesus, by the Spirit, to maintain, in such a world as this, their religious character and standing; that strengthened by God’s Spirit in the inner man, Christ dwelling in the heartby faith, they may be rooted and grounded in love. (Ephesians 3:16, 17).

All the VESSELS of the Tabernacle for all the service of it, and even the PINS of the tabernacle and court, were to be of BRASS; for the same enduring spiritual strength is needed for all manner of service, down to the minutest particulars, in work connected with the Name of Jesus, and the presence of God.

In Exodus 38:17, we read: “The overlaying of their chapiters [tops or heads] of silver; and all the pillars of the court were filleted with silver [connected with rods of silver],” showing that the chapiters, or heads of the pillars, and the fillets or connecting-rods, are distinct; though both were of silver, and all formed out of the redemption money. “And of the thousand seven hundred and seventy and five shekels, he made hooks for the pillars, and overlaid their chapiters, and filleted THEM” (Exodus 38:28).

The redemption which is in Christ Jesus, is not only the foundation of the Christian’s FAITH, as shown by the silver sockets of the Tabernacle: it is also the ground of Christian LOVE and communion, as signified by the silver hooks and connecting-rods. And it is also the crown and joy of the Christian’s HOPE, as signified by the silver chapiters, or crowns of the pillars. His faith, his love, and his hope, having each its ground and centre in Jesus, and in His mighty work.

 

 

The Golden Altar of Incense.

Exodus 30:1-9.

Verse 1. “And thou shalt make an altar to burn [burn as incense] incense upon: of shittim wood shalt thou make IT.”

THERE were two altars, the brazen altar of burnt offering and the golden altar of incense. They are both typical of the Person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ, but in distinct aspects.

At the BRAZEN altar, we see Christ in death and re­surrection, offering Himself without spot to God, and accepted in all the sweet savour of His perfect sacrifice —the ground of the believer’s acceptance and com­munion with God.

At the GOLDEN altar, we see Christ in all the excel­lency of His character and ways before God, through whom the children of God draw near and worship with confidence and joy.

Both the brazen and the golden altar were made of shittim wood within, as showing that the Incarnation of Christ lies at the foundation of His whole work on behalf of His people; for the children being partakers of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise took part of the same.

THE DIMENSIONS.

Verse 2. “A cubit shall be the length thereof, and a cubit the breadth thereof; four square shall it be: and two cubits shall be the height thereof.”

The table of shewbread was two cubits in length, and one in breadth, and one cubit and a half in height. This altar was one cubit square, and two in height. The TABLE was on a level with the mercy-seat, and the brazen grate of the altar of burnt offering; for the table sets forth COMMUNION on the ground of atone­ment made, and in the remembrance of the death of Jesus. The GOLDEN ALTAR was half a cubit higher, be­cause we draw nigh to God in the Name of Him who, though once humbled, is now risen and glorified.

THE HORNS OF THE ALTAR.

“The horns thereof shall be of the same.”

The HORN is the emblem of strength; and there is power in Jesus, on which faith can lay hold in drawing nigh to God; while the human tenderness and sym­pathy of Jesus give sweet encouragement to faith.

THE OVERLAYING.

Verse 3. “And thou shalt overlay IT with pure gold, the top [roof] thereof, and the sides [walls] thereof round about, and the horns thereof.”

The Divine glory and excellency of the Lord Jesus, as well as His humanity, and in combination with it, is thus set forth.

And the horns also are overlaid with gold; for faith not only apprehends the human sympathy, but also the Divine all-sufficiency of Jesus, through whom we wor­ship.

THE GOLDEN CROWN.

“And thou shalt make unto it a crown of gold round about.”

There was no crown to the brazen altar, for that sets forth Jesus in His humiliation, suffering, and death; the only crown He wore on earth was a crown of thorns. But there is a GOLDEN CROWN to the altar of incense, because it represents Him who, though once made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, is now “crowned with glory and honour.”

THE RINGS AND THE STAVES.

Verses 4, 5. “And two golden rings shalt thou make to it under the crown of it, by the two corners [ribs) thereof, upon the two sides of it shalt thou make it; and they shall be for places for the staves to bear it withal. And thou shalt make the staves of shittim wood, and overlay THEM with gold.”

The Hebrew word, translated in the text “corners,” and in the margin “ribs,” is the same word which occurs in chap. 27:7, and which is there rendered “sides,” “and the staves shall be upon the two sides of the altar to bear it,” which gives the sense. Translat­ing the word “corners,” here and in chap. xxxvii “sides” is apt to mislead. It signifies a side, or, as in the present instance, an appendage to a side.

In the TABLE OF SHEWBREAD the rings and staves were connected with the BORDER (chap. 25:26, 27), to teach us that in travelling through a polluted world, separation from evil ought to characterise our com­munion. But in the GOLDEN ALTAR the rings and staves are connected with the CROWN OF GOLD, for, though strangers and pilgrims here, we worship in connection with an ascended and glorified Saviour. The rings and staves adapted the altar to the wilderness condition of Israel; they were “to bear it withal,” that it might accompany them in their various journeyings. So Jesus, in the character in which He is presented to us by the GOLDEN ALTAR is ever present with us in Spirit, wherever two or three are gathered unto His Name. Both His humanity and His Deity adapt Him to our wilderness necessities.

THE POSITION OF THE GOLDEN ALTAR.

Verse 6. “And thou shalt put it before the vail that is by the ark of testimony, before the mercy-seat [propitiatory], that is over the testimony, where I will meet with thee.”

In Hebrews 9, the golden altar in the holy place is omitted in the enumeration of the sacred vessels, and the GOLDEN CENSER in the holiest of all is inserted in its stead. The reason of this appears to be, that in Hebrews 9, and in Hebrews 10, the High Priest is represented as on the day of Atonement, entered into the most holy place within the vail, with the golden censer, typical of Jesus entered into Heaven, now to appear in the presence of God for us.

But in the type before us, the same Saviour is repre­sented as present in Spirit in the midst of His worship­ping people on earth, by whom the sacrifice of praise is offered up to God continually. It is the vivid setting forth of those invaluable words in Matthew 18:19, 20.

The altar stands before, not within the vail in the holy place; for it tells of Jesus in the assembly, and yet it stands before the ark and propitiatory, from whence God holds fellowship with His servants. And in Jesus who is present in Spirit with us on earth, and present in Person for us above, all the promises of God are yea, and amen, to the glory of God by us.

All this is true to the believer individually, as well as to the saints collectively.

THE PERPETUAL USE OF THE ALTAR

Verses 7, 8. “And Aaron shall burn thereon sweet in­cense every morning: when he dresseth the lamps, he shall burn incense upon it. And when Aaron lighteth the lamps at even [between the two evenings] he shall burn incense upon it, a perpetual incense before Jehovah throughout your generations.”

So Christ, the High Priest of our profession, ever liveth to make intercession for us.

In John 17, we have the reality and substance of these Divine foreshadowings. We there see Jesus on earth, surrounded by His disciples; but in Spirit enter­ing into the Holiest, His work finished, and the crown of glory won. In ACT it was the High Priest at the golden altar—IN ANTICIPATION, the High Priest on the day of Atonement entering into the holiest.

Let us look at Him as at the golden altar, and listen to His words, “Father, I glorified Thee on the earth, I finished the work which Thou gayest Me to do.” “I manifested Thy Name.”

He thus presented before His Father, as sweet and fragrant incense, the memorial of what He had been in His character and life on earth; and then claiming for Himself the just recompense of reward, He obtains on behalf of His disciples, and of believers through their word, the richest, choicest, highest blessings. And these words He spake in the world, that we might have His joy fulfilled in ourselves, in being thus enabled to enter into His thoughts concerning us, through this magnifi­cent specimen of His present and perpetual interces­sion, in the knowledge of the glory which He has, and which He will share with us.

THE TIME OF INCENSE.

We have considered the LAMPSTAND with its seven lamps, as the type of ministry or testimony in connec­tion with Christ, and in the power of the Spirit. Christ Himself PREPARES His servants for this ministry in the Word, and He gives grace and power for its EXERCISE. Just as Aaron dressed the lamps in the morning; and caused the flame to ascend at even, or between the two evenings.

In Revelation 1, 2, and 3, the Lord Jesus is shown as one like unto the Son of Man in the midst of the seven golden lampstands, giving and directing the testimony which was to be borne in His Name.

Testimony to Christ is a sweet savour unto God, as says the Apostle in 2 Corinthians 2:15, 16, “For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish.” This is not all: the type before us beautifully and expressively shows, the con­nection between the preparation and exercise of minis­try, in fellowship with Jesus, and the fragrance of His own intercession. When the servant is preparing, or being prepared for testimony, the intercession of Jesus is ascending on his behalf; and when he is giving his testimony, the sweet savour of the Name of Jesus is going up before God.

Verse 9. “Ye shall offer up no strange incense thereon, nor ascending-offering, nor gift-offering; neither shall ye pour drink-offering thereon.”

Thus the altar of incense was kept perfectly distinct from the altar of burnt or ascending-offering. We do well to remember this in drawing nigh to God.

No strange incense was permitted, any more than strange fire. Jesus pleads no other excellency than His own, as the ground for the acceptance of our prayers and praises.

The believer’s priestly access to God is a progressive thing. We go from strength to strength.

In the SIN-OFFERING consumed without the camp, we see Jesus “delivered for our offences,” and the ques­tion of sin settled.

At the BRAZEN ALTAR, we see Jesus “raised again for justification, and realise acceptance in Him, and the joy of God’s salvation.”

At the LAVER we recognise Christ as our SANCTI­FICATION, through the Holy Ghost the Comforter sent down from heaven.

At the GOLDEN ALTAR He is presented as the High Priest of our profession, appearing in the presence of God for us, in all the value of His living service, per­sonal excellency, and atoning work, which He pleads, and we plead for our acceptance before God.

As guilty sinners, we find acceptance at the brazen altar, through the accepted sacrifice of a crucified and risen Saviour.

At the laver we find provision made for our sancti­fication in Christ, through the Holy Ghost.

At the golden altar we have fellowship with God, and nearness of access to Him, in all the preciousness of the life and person of Jesus, as He was, and as He is.

In the ark of the covenant within the vail we see every promise of God yea and amen, to us in Christ, and full security for every blessing, for time and for eternity.

THE BLOOD ON THE HORNS OF THE ALTAR OF INCENSE.

Verse 10. “Aaron shall make an atonement upon the horns of it once a year, with the blood of the sin-offering of atonements: once in the year shall he make atonement upon it throughout your generations: it is most holy unto Jehovah.”

The foundation of our acceptance is laid in atone­ment, and we know from Hebrews 10 that this yearly act was a type of the one offering of Jesus, whereby He hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. And this act of atonement was two-fold, for on the tenth day of the seventh month, Aaron entered within the wail; first, with the blood of the bullock for him­self and for his house, typical of Christ and the Church (Hebrews 3:6); and then with the blood of the goat for all Israel and the sanctuary. At the same time he put the blood on the horns of the golden altar (Leviticus 16). And while no burnt sacrifice nor gift-offering was to be offered on this altar, yet the blood of atonement on the horns of it speaks of peace once made, and the re­mission of sins once for all, through the sacrifice of Christ.

 

THE CAMP AT REST

 

The Layer and his foot.

Exodus 30:17-21.

Verses 17, 18. “And Jehovah spake unto Moses, saying, Thou shalt also make a laver of brass, and his foot [base] also of brass, to wash withal: and thou shalt put IT between the tabernacle [tent] of the congre­gation and between the altar, and thou shalt put water therein.”

THESE Scriptures are “the Word of God;” this gives them their importance and authority. They are also “the testimony of Jesus Christ;” this gives them their interest to us as redeemed sinners, and their value to our souls, as containing God’s testi­mony concerning His Son.

God’s thoughts about Christ are embodied in type, and given us in the Scriptures, that we might have fellowship with the Father in His own estimate of His Son, through the Spirit.

In the laver and his foot, we have the divinely given figure or shadow of CHRIST as our SANCTIFICATION. “Who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteous­ness, and sanctification, and redemption” (1 Corinthians 1:30).

In this chapter in Exodus, typically the believer is regarded, first, REDEEMED BY THE BLOOD (verses 11-16); secondly, SANCTIFIED with the washing of WATER (verses 17-21); thirdly, ANOINTED with the oil (verses 22-33); fourthly, ACCEPTED in the PERFUME (verses 34­38). “The Spirit, the water, and the blood” (1 John 5:6-8).

In Solomon’s Temple there were TEN LAVERS, standing on their TEN BASES, and ONE MOLTEN SEA, standing on twelve oxen (1 Kings 7:23-26).

In Ezekiel’s Temple there will be no laver nor sea, but a RIVER, whose waters will issue out from under the threshold of the house eastward, deepening and widening as it flows.

In Revelation 4:6, we read of a SEA OF GLASS like unto crystal before the throne, emblematical of the fixed purity which becomes the presence of God.

In Revelation 15:2, of a SEA OF GLASS mingled with FIRE, indicative of the fiery trial through which those who come out of the great tribulation, will have passed.

In Revelation 22:1, of a PURE RIVER OF WATER OF LIFE, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.

All these are figures of Christ, and of the cleansing, sanctifying, life-giving, life-sustaining power of the Spirit of God.

The word “laver,” in the Hebrew, signifies “like a river.” The laver consisted of two parts, “the laver and his foot.” The upper part or laver, being a large reservoir of water, from which, when required, the water poured down “like a river” into the foot or basin at its base. The lower part being alone used for bath­ing or washing, so that the water in the laver remained always pure and undefiled, reminding us of Titus 3: 5, 6, “The washing [literally laver] of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; which He shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour.” Also of “the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ,” given for the ministry of the Word through the evan­gelist, pastor, and teacher, at the present time.

The laver presents Christ in two aspects; the FOOT, Christ in HUMILATION on earth; and the upper part, or laver proper, Christ in His exaltation in heaven.

In His life on earth, Christ left us an example that we should follow in His steps.

On the Cross, from His pierced side came forth the water and the blood.

But it is from Christ crucified, risen, and exalted, that the Holy Ghost, the Comforter, the Spirit of purity and life, is now given. “In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto Me and drink. He that believeth on Me, as the Scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. But this spake He of the Spirit, which they that believe on Him should receive; for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified” (John 7:37-39). We read in Ephesians 5:25, 26, “Christ loved the Church, and gave Himself for it, that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the Word.” This is His present action, “that He might (ultimately) present it to Himself, a glorious Church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing” (Ephesians 5:27).

ITS MATERIAL.

“A laver of brass, and his foot [base] also of brass.”

Brass is the emblem of strength, and Christ, as our sanctification, is the Strong One, mighty to sanctify as well as “mighty to save.” Many trust in Christ for their salvation, but have recourse to their own efforts, or to the law, for sanctification. Justification by faith of Christ is the doctrine of the Reformation; but sanc­tification by the faith of Christ, how little apprehended!

There is POWER in the example of His life; con­straining power in His dying and redeeming love; power in looking unto Jesus glorified at God’s right hand above. Stephen found it so (Acts 7). Power in the Spirit sent down from this ascended One. The secret of power in the Christian experience is having Christ “all” as our object, “and in all” as our life.

In Exodus 38:8, we read, “And he made the laver of brass and the foot [base] of it of brass, of the looking-glasses [brazen mirrors], of the women as­sembling, which assembled at the door of the tent of the congregation.” This is significant, and intimates a connection between self-examination and sanctification. The Apostle James wrote, “But be ye doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the Word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass; for he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of lib­erty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the Word, this man shall be blessed in his deed” (James 1:22-25).

The foot of the laver was made of burnished brass.

Sanctification to the believer is especially and effec­tually connected with the contemplation of Christ, once crucified, but now risen and glorified, as exhibited in the mirror of the Word, through the power of the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven. This is real and divine photography. “Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with open [unvailed] face beholding as in a glass [mirror] the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.”

THE POSITION OF THE LAVER.

“And thou shalt put IT between the tabernacle [tent] of the congregation and between the altar.”

The progress of the soul in drawing near to God is that set forth.

The soul first realising PARDON at the sin-offering without the camp.

Secondly, ACCEPTANCE at the brazen altar within the court.

Thirdly, SANCTIFICATION at the brazen laver.

Fourthly, NEARNESS IN WORSHIP at the golden altar.

Fifthly, ENTRANCE INTO THE HOLIEST through the value of the blood, and of the sweet incense from the golden censer, carried by the High Priest within the vail.

THE WATER.

Verse 18. “And thou shalt put water therein.”

“Christ also loved the Church, and gave Himself for it, that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the Word” (Ephesians 5:25-26). “Sanctify them through Thy truth; Thy Word is truth,” is His prayer to the Father (John 17:17). “It is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are Spirit and they are life” (John 6:63). Not the Word apart from the Spirit, nor the Spirit apart f rom the Word. It is the truth that sanctifies, and the Spirit is truth. But it is the truth of Christ, “as the truth is in Jesus.”

The water which filled the laver in the wilderness came first from the smitten rock (Exodus 17); the type of Christ crucified, from whose pierced side flowed forth the water and the blood. For “that rock was Christ” (1 Corinthians 10:4).

Secondly, it came from the rock which was to have been spoken to, at the end of the wilderness wander­ings, in connection with the blooming, blossoming, and fruit-bearing rod (Numbers 20). Typical of Christ glorified, and sending down the Spirit in answer to prayer (Acts 2; John 7).

THE USE OF THE LAVER.

Verse 19. “For Aaron and his sons shall wash their hands and their feet thereat [therefrom].”

The laver sets forth Christ, made of God unto the believer SANCTIFICATION, practically (1 Corinthians 1:30).

It is the action of the Lord Jesus in John 13 em­bodied in type. The washing of the laver was twofold.

First, of the entire person, as at the consecration of the priests (Exodus 29:4), where it should be translated, “bathe them in water.” This washing, or bathing in water, at their consecration was not repeated. To this the Lord refers John 13:10, “He that is washed [bathed] needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit.” The signification of this bathing is given in Romans 6, Colossians 2:etc. It sets forth the death, burial, and resurrection of the believer with Christ, and faith’s apprehension of it.

Secondly, this washing was partial, the washing of the hands and feet; and it is this which is here special­ly mentioned—its constant use. “Aaron and his sons” typify Christ and the Church in their priestly character (Hebrews 3:6). The sanctification is one: “For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth” (John 17:19).              He is our sanctification.

The HANDS and FEET express the whole character of the believer’s ACTION and CONDUCT. In John 13, the feet only are mentioned, as including the whole course of the believer’s walk.

“Thereat,” literally, therefrom. It was not sufficient to wash elsewhere. It is the practical, conscious clean­sing which flows from faith’s apprehension of Christ, which fits for God’s tent, and God’s altar, and not that which comes from mere moral considerations or pre­cepts.

Verse 20. “When they go into the Tabernacle [tent] of the congregation, they shall wash with water, that they die not; or when they come near to the altar to minister, to burn offering made by fire unto Jehovah.”

This cleansing by the faith of Jesus, is essential to living fellowship with the Father and the Son in the Spirit, and to true fellowship with the saints. “Holi­ness becometh God’s house for ever.” “If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with Me.” Holiness becomes God’s service, as well as God’s house. “Be ye clean that bear the vessels of the Lord.” “I will wash mine hands in innocency; so will I compass Thine altar, O Lord.”

“That they die not,” is repeated in verse 21. It may be taken as a warning. “If ye live after the flesh ye shall die.” Spiritual deadness is the inevitable conse­quence of the foot defiled, and sanctification through personal intercourse with Christ neglected.

Verse 21. “So they shall wash their hands and their feet, that they die not: and it shall be a statute for ever for them, even to him and to his seed throughout their generations.”

“It shall be a statute for ever;” a principle from which God never departs. “Without holiness no man shall see the Lord.” Christ ever lives, the source of life, holiness, and power, to all who draw nigh to God by Him. Thus full provision is made in Christ, that the blood-bought heirs of glory, and the royal priests of our God, might ever worship Him in the beauties of holiness, as well as in the confidence of faith and love.


 

 

Directions for Setting Up the Tabernacle

Exodus 40:1-8.

Verses 1, 2. “And Jehovah spake unto Moses, saying, On the first day of the first month shalt thou set up the tabernacle of the tent of the congregation.”

THE first day of the first month is significant of a beginning, or beginning anew. A type of the commencement of the Christian dispensation at Pentecost. On the first day of the month the moon began to shine afresh on the earth with light reflected from the sun: so the Church, during the present night­time of the world, is appointed to shine in the light of an absent Christ. A dispensation altogether new; characterised by Messiah rejected, and the Comforter present, to communicate to the Church the truth of Christ, and to maintain His Lordship.

“The tabernacle of the tent of the congregation.”

Both titles are here combined; the tabernacle being the type of a dwelling-place for God through the Spirit, and the tent of the congregation, typical of believers assembled in the Name of the Lord Jesus.

THE ARK.

Verse 3. “And thou shalt put therein the ark of the testimony, and cover the ark with the veil.”

The ark is first mentioned, for it sets forth Jesus, God’s centre of gathering to His own people, and in whom they are builded together for a habitation of God through the Spirit (Ephesians 2:22).

The veil was to be hung up before the ark, the Holy Ghost thus signifying that the way into the Holiest was not then made manifest; but to us since Calvary the veil is rent, and the way into the Holiest is open; for we gather to the name of a risen and glorified Christ.

It is here called “the Ark of the Testimony,” for the purpose for which the Church is gathered is, that it should be a testimony to Him, and especially to the great “mystery of godliness, God manifested in flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached among the nations, believed on in the world, received up into glory.”

THE TABLE.

Verse 4. “And thou shalt bring in the table, and set in order the things that are to be set in order upon it.”

Where believers are gathered unto the Name of the Lord Jesus, and builded together for a habitation of God through the Spirit, there in God’s presence, the sweet and sacred memorials of a Saviour’s sufferings and death are to be observed.

It is remarkable that after the ark, the table is first mentioned; and at Troas, on the first day of the week, the disciples came together to break bread (Acts 20:7).

If the communion of saints in the presence of God, and in the remembrance of the sacrifice of Christ, is to be observed, it must be in God’s order. “God is not the author of confusion.” He has His order, and this must be maintained. The table is to be a pure table, and all things which are done in connection with it, must be done decently and in order, as in the presence and fear of God.

THE LAMPSTAND.

“And thou shalt bring in the lampstand, and light the lamps thereof.”

Ministry, according to God, in the exercise of the gifts of the Spirit, and in testimony to the truth of Christ, has its place in connection with God’s dwelling-place. It is to be brought in, and its light maintained. Ministry in the power of the Spirit of God, is to be in God’s order, according to His mind and will; and the gifts of an ascended Saviour are “for the perfect­ing of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the Body of Christ.”

THE ALTAR OF GOLD.

Verse 5. “And thou shalt set the altar of gold for the incense before the ark of the testimony.”

Teaching us that the worship of the Father in the Spirit and in truth, is connected with Christ risen and glorified within the veil, through whom the believer has boldness and access with confidence by the faith of Him.

THE HANGING OF THE DOOR.

“And put the hanging of the door [entrance] to the tabernacle.”

Christ said, “I am the door, by Me if any man enter in he shall be saved.” Faith in, and confession of the name of Jesus, living, dying, risen and glorified, is the way, no mere ordinance, nor anything else, is to take the place of Christ.

THE ALTAR OF BURNT OFFERING.

Verse 6. “And thou shalt set the altar of the burnt offer­ing [ascending offering] before the door [entrance] of the tabernacle of the tent of the congregation.”

Christ, in death and resurrection, in His atoning and accepted sacrifice, is to be set forth as the only ground of communion and acceptance with God. And only through faith in Him can the communion of saints be enjoyed.

THE LAVER.

Verse 7. “And thou shalt set the laver between the tent of the congregation and the altar, and shall put water therein.”

Christ is also to be set forth as made of God, SANC­TIFICATION to the believer, as well as redemption; and the full provision of the Spirit of God for the sanctification of the believer through the truth, is to be testi­fied to.

THE COURT AND THE GATE.

Verse 8. “And thou shalt set up the court round about, and hang up the hanging at the court gate.”

Consistency of character and conduct with the con­fession of the name of Christ is to be maintained, and the exercise of fervent charity one towards another, with separation from the world, is to be manifested even when not assembled together in Church fellow­ship.

 

 

The Tabernacle Reared Up

Exodus 40:9-19.

IN verses 9-16, we have the anointing of the Taber­nacle and all therein, its vessels, the altar, and laver. Also the clothing and anointing of Aaron and his sons; but as we have had this subject previous­ly, we now proceed at verse 17.

THE PERIOD WHEN THE TABERNACLE WAS REARED.

Verse 17. “And it came to pass in the first month in the second year, on the first day of the month, that the tabernacle was reared up.”

The first day of the second year of Israel’s exper­ience as a redeemed people, was an important period in their history. On this day the Tabernacle was set up.

On the day of the SECOND month, in the second year after they were come out of the land of Egypt, the commandment was given for the numbering of the children of Israel from twenty years old and upward; all that were able to go forth to war in Israel (Numbers 1:1, 2).

And on the day that Moses had FULLY SET Up the Tabernacle, and anointed it and sanctified it, and all the vessels thereof, the princes of Israel that were over them that were numbered, presented their offering to Jehovah of six covered wagons, twelve oxen, with twelve silver chargers, and spoons of gold full of in­cense, with the ascending offerings, sin offerings, and peace offerings, and twelve days were occupied with the presentation (Numbers 7).

During the FIRST year the lessons of the wilderness were learnt: What the wilderness was; what the flesh was, both under grace (Exodus 19:4-6), and under law; and what God was in the various manifestations of His character.

With the SECOND year, Israel’s experience in connec­tion with the Tabernacle commences, and to this period the books of Leviticus and Numbers apply.

The FIRST year is typical of the Christian’s indivi­dual experience; the SECOND, of his experience in con­nection with the Church of God, and in association with others professing Christianity.

THE TABERNACLE SET UP. “And Moses reared up the Tabernacle.” The Tabernacle is first mentioned before the tent of the congregation; for the first thought in the mind of the Spirit is a habitation for God, before that which represents the assembly of God’s saints is spoken of.

“And fastened his sockets.” The sockets of silver composed of the redemption money of the children of Israel.              Thus, typically, the foundations of God’s Tabernacle are laid in redemption.

“And set up the boards thereof.” Typical of those believers who are gathered together to the confession of the name of Jesus, individually, standing firm on re­demption, and collectively forming God’s Tabernacle or dwelling-place (Ephesians 2:22).

“And put in the bars thereof.” For the compacting and establishment of the whole. Like the joints and bands, the gifts of the Spirit for the edifying of the Body of Christ (Ephesians 4).

“And reared up his pillars.” The four pillars which held up the vail, corresponding with the four inspired historians of the life and death of Jesus; and the five pillars which supported the hanging of the door; answering to the apostles and prophets, the evangelists, pastors, and teachers, who exhibit Jesus as the way of entrance into the Tabernacle of God. And thus the Church becomes not only the house of God, and Church of the living God, but also the pillar and ground of the truth, for the manifestation and main­tenance of the truth of God in the world.

THE TENT OF THE CONGREGATION SPREAD.

Verse 19. “And he spread abroad the tent over the Tabernacle, and put the covering of the tent above upon it; as Jehovah commanded Moses.”

The tent over the Tabernacle, or the tent of the Con­gregation, represents the assembly of believers, meet­ing in the Name of Jesus, who, in Spirit also, compose the habitation of God.

The covering of the tent was twofold.

First, the covering of ram’s skins dyed red, typical of the atoning work of the Lord Jesus, under the shelter of which the Church is seen by God.

Secondly, the covering of badger’s skins, above and over all, significant of the external lowly form and pilgrim character of the Church on earth.

All done according to the Will and Word of God.

 

 

The Overshadowing Cloud and the Indwelling Glory

Exodus 11:34, 35.

MOSES having set up the ARK in the most holy place, and brought the ALTAR OF INCENSE, the LAMP-STAND, and the TABLE into the sanctuary or holy place; and having reared up the COURT, and brought in the LAVER, and the BRAZEN ALTAR, “as Je­hovah commanded Moses.”

Verse 34. “Then the cloud covered the tent of the con­gregation, and the glory of Jehovah filled the Taber­nacle.”

The EXTERNAL and INTERNAL manifestation of the Divine presence, protection and glory; Divine and almighty protection above, and Divine glory within. For “he that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High, shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” God Himself is “a wall of fire round about His people, and the glory in the midst.” “The Spirit of glory and of God resteth upon them.” “The eternal God is their refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.”

This overshadowing cloud and this indwelling glory was a prefiguring of what took place at Pentecost, when the Church of God first commenced its history and its course, and when believers were first builded together for a habitation of God, through the Spirit. “And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”

See also the inspired prayer of the Apostle in Ephesians 3, that being strengthened by God’s Spirit in the inner man, Christ dwelling in the heart by faith, be­lievers might be filled into all the fulness of God.

Seven times the Word of God testified that Moses had done each particular as Jehovah commanded. Then, and not till then, the cloud covered the tent, and the glory filled the Tabernacle.

There is a principle of the utmost importance which throws a Divine light on many a perplexing question. Jude said unto the Lord, “How is it that Thou wilt manifest Thyself unto us, and not unto the world? Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love Me he will keep My Words: and My Father will love him, and We will come unto him, and make Our abode with him” (John 14:22, 23).

So when Solomon had finished the house of Jehovah, according to the Divine will and pattern, then “the cloud filled the house of Jehovah, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of Jehovah had filled the house of Jehovah” (1 Kings 8:10, 11).

Isaiah prophesies of the future blessing to Israel, when “Jehovah will create upon every dwelling-place of Mount Zion, and upon her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night; for upon all the glory shall be a defence” (Isaiah 4:5).

Ezekiel, who saw in a vision the glory taking its gradual departure from the first Temple (Ezekiel 10, 11), afterwards also in a vision saw the glory returning to the millennial Temple. “And, behold, the glory of Jehovah filled the house of Jehovah” (Ezekiel 44: 4).

John, in the apocalyptic vision of the Church’s future blessedness, as the Bride of the Lamb, saw that great city, the holy Jerusalem, but “saw no Temple therein, for Jehovah, God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it. And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the lamp thereof” (Revelation 21:22, 23).

There no Temple rose before him,
There no glory shone above;
All was Temple, all was glory,
All in all was God and love.

The saints in glory will dwell in God, and God in them. His glory is their overshadowing cloud; His presence is their indwelling glory.

Verse 35. “And Moses was not able to enter into the tent of the congregation, because the cloud abode thereon, and the glory of Jehovah filled the Taber­nacle.”

And so on the Mount of Transfiguration, when Moses and Elijah appeared with Jesus in glory, there came a bright cloud and overshadowed them, and the disciples f eared as they entered into the cloud. And there came a voice out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son, hear Him.” And when the voice was past, Jesus was found alone (Luke 9:34-36). Thus, whether it be Moses the servant of God, or the priests in Solomon’s Temple in their priestly ministry, or the two men on the Mount of Transfiguration, all give place to the glory of God and of the Lamb.

THE GUIDANCE OF THE CLOUD.

Exodus 40:36-38. “And when the cloud was taken up from over the Tabernacle, the children of Israel went onward in all their journeys; but if the cloud were not taken up, then they journeyed not till the day that it was taken up. For the cloud of Jehovah was upon the Tabernacle by day, and fire was on it by night, in the sight of all the House of Israel throughout all their journeys.”

The people of God are a journeying people, yet He will never leave them nor forsake them. The great thing is to walk with God, so as ever to enjoy the light and guidance of His presence. Moses said, “If Thy presence go not with us, carry us not up hence” (Exodus 33:15). Who that values that presence, but will often be presenting the same petition? The PRESENCE OF GOD with us—How seasonable! How suitable! Shade in sunshine! Light in darkness! Abiding with us while we tarry! Going before us when we move.

There is one thing of all-importance taught us here. God’s guidance of His people, and the manifestation of His presence with them, is connected with the Taber­nacle, His dwelling-place among them. It was “when the cloud was taken up FROM OVER THE TABERNACLE, the children of Israel went onward.” Their individual movements were controlled by God’s acting in connec­tion with the Tabernacle. So with us, if our individual actions are not influenced by the manifestation of God’s presence and actings with the assembly, no won­der if we miss His guidance, and walk in darkness.

Not only were the children of Israel to pitch round about the Tabernacle, having it as their centre, the very place of their tents being regulated by the position of the Tabernacle, because it was God’s dwelling-place; but their every movement was to harmonise with God’s movements in connection with it.

Oh, for grace ever to remember and to act on this! We are so prone to make self our centre, and our in­dividual interests and comforts, temporal or spiritual, the guides of our actions, that we need every now and then to be broken off from them, and to be brought back to God, and to the things of God.

May we value the presence of God with us, and the unclouded sunshine of His smile in our individual pathway. But may we also seek the manifestation of His presence in the assembly of His saints, so as ever to see His power and His glory as we have seen it in the sanctuary.

May the chill and the darkness, occasioned by the loss of His smile, be to us a warning of our wandering, if we turn aside to the right hand or to the left; whether it be in our individual course, or in our Church associations. May we walk, O God, in the light of Thy countenance, the confident language of our hearts being this, “Thou shalt guide us with Thy council, and afterward receive us to glory.”

 

Works by Mr. NEWBERRY
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Shadow Substance

Shadow and Substance


NEEDHAM

 

Artifacts from the times of the Pharaohs

 

Some Notices of “The Spiritual Life.”


 

BY THE SAME AUTHOR.


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Works by Mr. and Mrs. Geo. C. Needham.


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Seven thousand years of human history-from creation to con­summation.

 

 

American Baptist Publication Society.

PHILADELPHIA: 1420 Chestnut Street;

BOSTON: 256 Washington Street;

NEW YORK: 182 Fifth Avenue;

CHICAGO: 177 Wabash Street;

ST. LOUIS: 1109 Olive Street;

DALLAS: 345 Main Street;

ATLANTA: 93 Whitehall Street.

 

Shadow and Substance.

 

An Exposition of the Tabernacle Types.

BY

GEO. C. NEEDHAM.

Author of “The Spiritual Life,” “Conflict and Conquest,” “Plan of

the Ages,” etc.

 

PHILADELPHIA:

AMERICAN BAPTIST PUBLICATION SOCIETY,

1429 Chestnut Street.

1896.

Copyright 1896 by the

AMERICAN BAPTIST PUBLICATION SOCIETY.

 

CONTENTS
I. DESIGN  
II. DESCRIPTIVE TITLES  
III. POSITION  
IV. MATERIALS  
V. ARRANGEMENT  
VI. THE BRAZEN ALTAR  
VII. BRAZEN ALTAR AND VESSELS  
VIII. THE LAVER  
IX. HOLY AND MOST HOLY  
X. TABLE OF SHEWBREAD  
XI. THE GOLDEN LAMP-STAND  
XII. THE ALTAR OF INCENSE  
XIII. THE ARK OF THE COVENANT  
XIV. THE MERCY-SEAT  
XV. THE CHERUBIM  
XVI. HISTORY OF THE ARK  
XVII. THE VAIL  
XVIII. THE FRIENDLY CLOUD  
XIX. PRIESTHOOD  
XX. PRIESTLY GARMENTS  
XXI. PRIESTLY OFFICES  

 

 

I.

DESIGN.

IN former years much study was given to the typology of Scripture. The fear of extremes has led to its comparative dis­use. In our day students of theology leave these fruitful fields to glean elsewhere. The gospel of Moses is little known; the teaching of Moses little understood. Yet, he who knows not Moses, can never fully know Christ. A fascinating but fatal rationalism has been subverting the foundation laws of true Bible study. Prophetic symbolism and prophetic teaching are accounted nothing worthy of inquiry, while airy sentimentalities and novel philosophies have been the chief pursuit of religious teachers. How little can we make of the Bible, and how much can we re­duce it to a merely human composition, has been the irreverent motive impelling many in their damaging work of Scripture mutilation. Nevertheless there are still left some old-fashioned believers who cling to the Bible as the revealed will of God, divinely inspired in all its parts and particles. Where shall we look for infallibility if not to the word of God? The church has it not: her voice is fallible, her judgment imperfect. Reason has it not ; that poor, darkened, and deformed power, which we call understanding, beclouded by sin, is only rational when brought into sub­jection unto the obedience of Christ. God has given us a revelation of Himself which is super-human, infallible and conclusive. There­fore no part of it is non-essential, no part of it should be treated with negligence or in­difference.

The typical portions of Scripture are su­premely important, and as a study vastly inter­esting. Types are shadows. Shadows imply substance. A type has its lesson. It was the de­sign of Jehovah to express His great thought of redemption to His people Israel in a typical, or symbolic manner. By laws, ceremonies, insti­tutions, persons and incidents He sought to keep alive in their hearts the hope of a coming Redeemer. Christ is therefore the key to Moses’ gospel. This then is our advantage, that we can minutely compare type and anti­type, and thereby learn the lesson of grace which bringeth salvation.

The design of redemption is fully disclosed in the Typical Tabernacle. The world-sanc­tuary, that which was earthly and temporary, foreshadowed Christ the real and True Taber­nacle. Apart from its typical signification, viewed alone as the dwelling-place of Jehovah, where He dwelt and walked in the midst of a redeemed nation, the Typical Tabernacle ought surely to command our earnest and reverential study.

The vast creation, this house of our habita­tion, calls out the study of astronomers and geologists, yet but one chapter of Genesis is occupied with the details of creation, while fifteen chapters in Exodus are required to re­cord the details of the sacred building and its solemn uses. Great and marvelous as is crea­tion with its mysteries and its wonders, greater still is redemption with its sublime ideas, and its far-reaching results. Redemption invests the Tabernacle with peculiar interest; we should therefore study its design.

Pyramids and mausoleums possess historic and artistic interest, their grandeur and beauty call out the glowing admiration of delighted visitors. Idol-temples are objects of perpetual interest ; many have gone to the ends of the earth to behold them and wonder. But the Tabernacle of Jehovah, although a building of inferior proportions, gathers around itself a charm, and a claim unknown to any building ever erected by the hands of men.

The Tabernacle was the first palace of Divine Royalty within whose gilded walls dwelt the awful Shekinah, the manifested glory of the living God; the visible expression of His attributes of Holiness, Righteousness, Mercy and Truth.

The history of Abraham’s posterity com­prising the nation of Israel, and the history of the Typical Tabernacle are closely interwoven. It was their place of worship: the meeting­ place between them and their covenant God. For this reason also, the subject is worthy of thoughtful study; nor is it a proof of scholar­ship, or saintship, to relegate it to the obscurity of the mythical and legendary.

The Tabernacle itself, as a material building, like all other types has passed away, but the realities prefigured by them continue. The person of Immanuel in His incarnation and redemptive work is the substance of every type. In the Tabernacle but faintly, while in Christ more fully do we behold the grace of God revealed and the glory of God reflected. The patient study which traces out the lines of truth radiating from the Tabernacle, and converging in Christ will lead to greater dis­coveries of Him who is indeed God manifest in flesh; whose glory we behold—glory as of the only begotten of the Father, in whom dwelleth, as Shekinah dwelt in the Tabernacle, the fullness of the Godhead bodily.

The following reasons are of sufficient value to every believer for giving prayerful study to the Tabernacle and its spiritual signification:

I. Its design.

It was appointed as Jehovah’s dwelling-­place in the midst of His covenant-people. “And let them make me a sanctuary that I may dwell among them.” Exodus 25:8.

II. God’ s mode of revealing Himself.

From the beginning God revealed Himself to man in divers ways, each successive revela­tion becoming a clearer manifestation of His nature and character. At sundry times to Noah, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and to Moses He made His ways known. Now in the Tabernacle He condescended to unfold His purposes more specifically. “And they shall know That I am the Lord their God that brought them forth out of the land of Egypt.” (Exodus 29:46.)

III. That man may know God’s great plan of redemption.

There are specially three features of redemp­tion foreshadowed in the Tabernacle ritual:

  1. Purification from sin. Hence the law of sacrifice and the use of water.
  2. Acceptance with God. This thought is connected with priestly garments and mitre.
  3. Worship. Priestly intercession with the offering of incense typified this aspect of truth. In the more amplified exposition later on these several points will receive due attention.

IV. Through the Tabernacle and its services we become acquainted with God’s method of teaching.

He taught through symbol. The truth was in the type mystically ; the truth was beyond the type spiritually. There were three ele­ments of types:

  1. Natural objects, as the Rock. “For they drank of a spiritual rock that followed them ; and the rock was Christ.”  1 Corinthians10:4.
  2. Heavenly objects, as the Manna. “Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness and died. This is the bread which cometh down out of heaven, that a man may eat thereof and not die.”  John 6:49-50. [Note, type and antitype are frequently in contrast.]
  3. Artificial objects, as the Brazen Serpent. “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even· so must the Son of man be lifted up; that whosoever believeth may in him have eternal life.” John 3:14-15.

V. To know that God establishes communion between man and Himself.

Through sin communion between Creator and creature was interrupted. Through grace communion is again restored. “And thou shalt make a mercy-seat of pure gold. …And there I will meet with thee and commune with thee from above the mercy-seat.” Exodus 25:17-22.

This communion with Cod includes co­operation with Him in the prosecution of His great plans.

“See the Lord hath called by name Bezaleel, the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. And Bezaleel and Oholiab shall work, and every wise-hearted man, in whom the Lord hath put wisdom and under­standing to know how to work all the all that the Lord hath commanded.” Exodus 35:30; 36:1.

VI. Through the study of the Tabernacle we are led to a right understanding of New Testa­ment doctrine.

No student of the sacred Scriptures can have a right understanding of New Testament doc­trine until the light of the Old Testament shines thereupon. So also the New illumines the Old. In the Tabernacle and its ritual we meet with the very terms and germs of New Testament doctrine. As for instance: Access to God, Atonement, Holiness, Intercession, Propitiation, Priesthood, Remission, Recon­ciliation, Redemption, Righteousness, Wor­ship.

VII. By the study of the Tabernacle in con­nection with Israel we get the prophetic outline of Israel’s future.

Israel in the past foreshadowed Israel to come. Their form of government was a pure theocracy, as it again shall be. They were then, as they shall be hereafter, a nation, separated, consecrated and honored with high distinctions, with the Glory of God in their midst.

VIII. The study of this subject will greatly enlarge and enrich our Christian experience.

What is Christian experience? Is it not putting truth to the test by its personal appli­cation to ourselves? We prove the reality of spiritual phenomena by experiment. We thereby grow in knowledge, and knowledge begets experience. For there is a knowledge which doth not puff up, but the rather buildeth up. Grace and peace come from the knowl­edge of God and of Jesus Christ our Lord.

IX. Attention to this subject will also restore the true method of Bible study itself.

The books of Moses are occupied with the services of the Tabernacle in relation to the people of Israel. Divers washings for purification, sacrifices offered for atonement, reli­gious feasts for the promotion of worship, all of these pointed to Christ in relation to His church and to ages thereafter. Through these typical institutions Moses wrote of Jesus. They were therefore to be observed until He came to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.

 

II.

DESCRIPTIVE TITLES.

THE variety of names given to the Taber­nacle indicates its importance.

I. A Sanctuary.

“And let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them.”Exodus 25:8.

This name calls attention to the character of the sacred building as a holy place. It was designed to be a palace for the great King, where His Glory through the Shekinah should become visible to man.

II. Tabernacle.

“According to all that I shew thee, the pattern of the Tabernacle, and the pattern of all the furniture thereof, even so shall ye make it.” Exodus 25:9.

This word from its Latin origin means simply “tent,” but from its Hebrew deriva­tion means “dwelling-place.” The thought is: to settle down. From the day when sin entered into the world God had no dwelling-­place amid mankind. He saw them in their misery. He heard the groans of His people in Egypt. He came down and visited them, but not until they became a separate nation, redeemed by blood, and by power, did He con­descend to dwell with them. In a more real sense, and with greater manifestation of His presence, He tabernacled with men through The Word made flesh. John 1:1, 14.

The phrase “dwelt among us,” is literally tabernacled. This is a great mystery, how He the infinite God should limit Himself to a material structure, and afterwards dwell within a human body.

III. Tent.

“On the first day of the first month shalt thou rear up the tabernacle of the tent of meeting.” — Exodus 40:2.

From the use of the word tent, in its con­nections and associations, I conclude that the goat’s hair covering was thereby specified. I suggest this explanation: The Sanctuary com­prised the boards of the building, and spe­cially the inner room. The Tabernacle was the cherubic covering which formed the ceiling. It was beneath· this glorious canopy the She­kinah rested. The ram skins, dyed red, with the outermost protection, in our version called badger skins, formed the coverings over all. With this plan in mind read carefully in the revised version. Exodus 39:33-43.

IV. House of God.

“So they set them up Micah’s graven image which he had made, all the time that the house of God was in Shiloh.” Judges 18:31.

I do not find this name given to the Taber­nacle during its wilderness journeyings. Only when in the land is it so called. The idea is that of fixity, or constant habitation. It was indeed Jehovah’s dwelling-place, but in the land it had evidently undergone some altera­tions, and was not subject to constant move­ment. It lost, in a measure, its pilgrim char­acter at this period.

V. Temple of the Lord.

“Samuel was laid down to sleep in the temple of the Lord, where the ark of God was.” — 1 Samuel 3:3.

From this record we conclude the Tabernacle had been enlarged. Originally there was no provision for a sleeping chamber. As it was the fore-runner of the Temple, so the change in its construction may make it a more impos­ing building, and thus receive its new name. Also in contrast to the idol temples which abounded, this building was specified as Jeho­vah’s Temple, having within its precincts the ark of God.

VI. Tabernacle of the Congregation,

“And they shall be joined with thee, and keep the charge of the tent of meeting for all the service of the tent.” — Numbers 18:4.

The expression “Tent of Meeting,” is in the old version “Tabernacle of the Congrega­tion.” The sacred building and its constant ritual was the point of meeting between God and His people. Thither they brought their offerings, while around its court the tribes assembled. Here their representative, the priest, made atonement and offered incense. Here also the tribes gathered for mutual wor­ship and social fellowship.

VII. Tent of Testimony.

“And on the day that the Tabernacle was reared up the cloud covered the Tabernacle, even the tent of the testimony.” — Numbers 9:15.

The ark was the chief article in the Taber­nacle. The court, coverings and structure were made in relation to it. Within this sacred chest the law of testimony lay hidden, and from its seat of mercy issued commandments and directions to Moses Exodus 25:16. The whole arrangement was a testimony to divine holiness, to man’s sinfulness, and to the effi­cacy of atonement by sacrifice.

VIII. A World Sanctuary.

“Now even the first Tabernacle had ordinances of divine service and its sanctuary, a sanctuary of this world.” — Hebrews 9:1

Not “worldly” in the sense of being carnal, but a “world sanctuary” because material and temporary. The Tabernacle belonged to a dispensation of typical ceremonies, foreshadow­ing an age to follow when worship would be more spiritual and service for God less burden­some. The “yoke of bondage” would eventu­ally give way to the law of Jesus whose “yoke is easy,” and whose “burden is light.”

The Tabernacle was specially a type of Christ in this three-fold manner:

1. A meeting place.

“But all things are of God who hath recon­ciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ.” 2 Corinthians 5:18. Through sin man was alienated from God, through Christ he is again restored and reconciled. In Christ God and man meet to­gether in precious fellowship.

2. A dwelling place.

“For in Him (Christ) dwelleth all the ful­ness of the Godhead bodily.” Colossians 2:9.

Within the holy temple of our Lord’s body dwelt the God of glory with the Spirit of power. This sacred building, the humanity of Jesus, erected on earth has been transferred to heaven, in whom the Godhead abides forever.

3. A revealing place.

“No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him.” (John 1:18.) Through the Tabernacle Jehovah revealed His character and declared His purposes of love and redemption. There also devouring holiness and righteous indignation against sin declared the fact that God was just, even while He justified. But more glorious in His holi­ness, more inflexible in His justice and more ineffably gracious do we behold the ever blessed God in the face of Jesus Christ. “Just, and the justifier of him that hath faith in Jesus.” (Romans 3:26.)

 

 

III.

POSITION.

THE mighty LORD who is holy could find no place of rest in Egypt, a land defiled with idols. Yet there He visited His people ; saw their afflictions, heard their groan­ings, knew their sorrows. According to prom­ise He eventually came down to deliver them.

At Sinai, God who is righteous revealed Him­self in flame and spoke in the mighty thunder. None dared approach that awful summit, save Moses their leader. (Exodus 24)

God in grace came down to dwell amid His people and was accessible to them, as their priestly representative approached the seat of Mercy. The relations of Jehovah to His cove­nant people are manifested through the position His dwelling place occupied. He is in their midst. Nearness of communion, readiness of access, closeness of fellowship and assured pro­tection are the blessings flowing therefrom.

Spreading out in every direction, east, west, north and south, lay the thousands of Israel. The first line of tents belonged to the Levites. That tribe was chosen for the special services of the Tabernacle, and out from it arose the family of ministering Priests. The tents of Moses and of the Priests were pitched before the gate, at the east side, though at a consider­able distance, from it. On the south side were the tents of the Kohathites, one branch of the Levite tribe. They had charge of all the furniture; the Ark, Altars, Table of Shew Bread, Golden Candlestick and Laver, with all their holy vessels. These they carried on their shoulders. Numbers 3:29-32. On the north side were pitched the tents of the Merarites, who had charge of the heavy framework, pillars, bars, sockets and pins. · To convey all this material, they employed four wagons, drawn by eight oxen. Numbers 3:36-38. On the west side were the tents of the Gershonites. Their charge included all the curtains, cover­ings, vails and hangings of the court. They made use of two wagons, drawn by four oxen, for transportation. Numbers 3:25, 26. The tribe of Levi furnished 8580 males above the age of thirty, who were the guardians of the Holy Tent and its belongings. They were ministers of the sanctuary, assisting the priests in their sacred duties Numbers 3:9; workers to take a part or erect the Tabernacle and transport it across the untrodden desert. Numbers 1:51.

Still further outside the Levitical line of tents, stretching into the distance on either side, were the tents of the twelve tribes. When Levi was chosen to be relatively near the Lord in priestly service, the tribe of Joseph was divided into two, called after the names of his sons, Ephraim and Manasseh. Thus, as before, there were twelve tribes. These tribes were formed into four large companies, each company embracing three tribes, with their chiefs, captains and standards.

On the east was the camp of Judah, contain­ing the tribes of Judah, Issachar and Zebulun. The camp of Reuben occupied the south, in­cluding the tribes of Reuben, Simeon and Gad. On the west lay the tents of Ephraim’s camp, which was composed of the three tribes of Ephraim, Benjamin and Manasseh. The tribes Dan, Naphtali and Asher, formed the camp of Dan, and pitched their tents at the north side. There were, therefore, four great camps on each side of the Tabernacle, including in their population 603,550 adult males, who consti­tuted the standing army of Israel. Numbers 2. See whole chap.

The cloud which assumed a pillar-like shape resting on the Tabernacle, spread over the heavens above it, and covered the whole en­campment, thus shielding it from the scorching rays of the desert sun. “He spread a cloud for a covering.” At night it became brilliantly illuminated as a cloud of fire, to give light to the people. Psalms 105:39.

Surely in all this careful arrangement of detail there was something in the divine mind beyond temporary accommodation, or love of order. We need but glance at the following Scriptures to recall again to our minds the say­ing of Jesus: “Moses wrote of Me.”

I. The promise of Jesus:

“For where two or three are gathered to­gether in my name, there am I IN THE MIDST OF THEM.”

II. The literal fulfillment of the promise.

“On the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came AND STOOD IN THE MIDST.” “And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them. Jesus cometh, the doors being shut, AND STOOD IN THIE MIDST.”

III. The revelation in Patmos.

“And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And having turned I saw seven golden candlesticks, and IN THE MIDST of the candlesticks one like unto the Son of man.” Revelation 1:12, 13.

IV. The heavenly vision.

“And I saw IN THE MIDST of the throne, and of the four living creatures, and of the elders, a Lamb, standing, as though it had been slain.” Revelation 5:6.

V. A prophecy regarding Israel in the future.

“Sing O daughter of Zion ; shout O Israel; be glad and rejoice with all the heart, O daughter of Jerusalem * * * the King of Israel, even the Lord IS IN THE MIDST OF THEE. * * * The Lord thy God IS IN THE MIDST OF THEE, thou shalt not fear evil anymore.” Zephaniah 3:14-16.

Thus we see, that the attitude of Jesus is the same, whether towards the church on earth, the saints in heaven, or the restored Jewish nation during the millennial kingdom, it is always JESUS IN THE MIDST.

The Typical Tabernacle was the first earthly house which Jehovah consecrated to Himself by His indwelling presence. He was His own designer; His own architect. This structure was a display of His own unique taste. The description and charges given to Moses prove the Lord to be a God of order, a charac­teristic of the Creator which had been already fully expressed in every part of His great universe. Moreover He gave skill to every artisan to fashion each part so that when all parts were co-joined there was solidity and unity; the house of the Lord in the midst of His people.

 

 

IV.

MATERIALS.

THE materials for the construction of the Tabernacle were the gifts of a willing­-hearted people. Great was their joy in hearing that their King would dwell among them, for whose honor they were to build a sanctuary. Correspondingly great was their self-denial.

There were three kinds of metal employed for the construction of the Tabernacle and the many vessels connected with it. These metals were gold, silver, and brass. There were three kinds of dyes employed in the curtains and vails and coverings; blue, purple, and scarlet. Two kinds of woven fabrics were used. These were spun from linen and goat’s hair. There were two kinds of skins for the outer coverings, viz.: rams’ skins dyed red, and those commonly called badgers’ skins. Besides the above, the people brought wood, oil, spices, and precious stones. As in Nehemiah’s day the walls were builded, for “the people had a mind to work,” so now the people were zealous for Jehovah.

The value of all the materials may be ap­proximated from the weight given of the several metals in Exodus 38:24-31.

1. Gold, 29 talents and 730 shekels, or about 43,000 ounces. At $20 per ounce the gold would be equivalent to $860,000.

2. Silver, 100 talents and 1775 shekels, equal to 150,000 ounces, which at $1.33 per ounce would equal $199,500.

3. Brass or copper, 106,000 ounces, at 3 cents per ounce, would amount to $3180. Accord­ing to this estimated value of the metals we have in them alone represented the sum of $1,062,680.

Having no estimate on which to base an exact calculation, I place, as the value of the wood, fabrics, skins, oil, dyes, and precious stones, the added sum of $437,320. The cost of the Tabernacle would, therefore, reach about one million and a half of dollars. Many scholars who have entered minutely into the matter place the relative value of the Tabernacle, from one million to a million and a half of our money.

Sufficient, however, is known in order to appreciate the liberality of the people. There was neither compulsion nor coercion used to induce any to give of his means to this work of the Lord. “The Lord spake unto Moses saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, say­ing that they take for me an offering of every man whose heart maketh him willing ye shall take my offering.” Exodus 25:1, 2. The response to this appeal was so prompt and so generous that we read: “And Moses gave commandment, and they caused it to be proclaimed throughout the camp, saying, Let neither man nor woman make any more work for the offering of the sanctuary. So the people were restrained from bringing. For the stuff they had was sufficient for all the work to make it, and too much.” Exodus 36:6, 7. Thus we see that not only were the gifts of the people voluntary and given with the whole heart, a “heave offering” unto the Lord, but that, acting on this principle of giving, there was enough and to spare.

It is well to have Scriptural views of this form of ministry.

1. The act of Christian benevolence is the test of subjection to the Gospel of Christ. “Seeing that by the proving of you through this ministration they glorify God for the obedience of your confession unto the Gospel of Christ, and for the liberality of your contri­bution unto them all.” 2 Corinthians 9:13.

2. It is a sacrifice well pleasing unto God. “But to do good and to communicate forget not, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.” Hebrews 13:16.

3. It is connected with the profoundest doctrine of Scripture.

At the close of Paul’s great dissertation on the resurrection and personal second coming of the Lord Jesus, he exhorts the Christian believers to be “steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord,” and then adds, “Now, concerning the collection for the saints, as I gave order to the churches of Galatia, so also do ye.” 1 Corinthians 15:58; 16:1.

4. It is an expression of personal gratitude for grace bestowed, and a ministry which will secure its own reward. “He that soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly ; and he that soweth bountifully shall reap also bounti­fully. Let each man do according as he hath purposed in his heart; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:6, 7.) “In all things I gave you an example, how that so laboring ye ought to help the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how He Himself said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Acts 20:35.

The Tabernacle was a type of no other material building ; it was the forerunner of the Temple, but it foreshadowed spiritual realities. In this dispensation of the Holy Spirit our gifts must not, therefore, be wasted on elabo­rate works of art, or needless decorations, but be directed to send the Word of Life to the nations of the earth, and thus hasten the Kingdom of God. Hereby do we help to build up the spiritual house, which is the Church of God in Jesus Christ.

It is interesting to notice that every king­dom in nature supplied its share toward building and enriching the dwelling-place of Jehovah. The mineral kingdom gave forth its metals and its precious stones ; the vege­table kingdom gave its wood, linen, oil and spices, while the animal kingdom furnished important skins and goats’-hair cloth, in addi­tion to the multitude of sacrifices constantly required.

Another item worthy of remark is that of the universality of donors. From the richest prince to the poorest peasant the offerings came. Those who could not give precious stones gave fragrant spices. Men and women alike contributed with gladness of heart and with unstinted generosity. How pleased was their King with this proof of love. How closely this act of worship united both. How con­descending was their God to so arrange the scheme in order that all the people should be more closely brought into filial relations with Himself. Nor will He allow His people to lack who devise liberal things for His service.

Soon as the offerings had been received and the materials for the building were at hand, workmen were chosen upon whom the Spirit of God came to give them wisdom in the execu­tion of the divine plan. And Moses said unto the children of Israel, “See, the Lord hath called by name Bezaleel, the son of Huri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and He hath filled him with the spirit of God in wisdom, in understanding and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship.” “And Moses called Bezaleel and Oholiab, AND EVERY WISE­HEARTED MAN, even every one whose heart stirred him up to come unto the work to do it.” Exodus 35:30; 36:2. Thus we find that not only were gifts lavished, but workers volunteered to aid in the erection of the Tabernacle. Heart and hand were in unison. What a complete illustration of scriptural consecration. Nothing said about the lip, or the profession of the tongue; nothing recorded of the head or its wisdom. Brain and tongue, without heart and hand, are little worth in the work of the Lord. The thoughts of the worldly wise are lighter than vanity, while the wise in heart, those made wise by the Spirit of God, shall understand. They that be wise toward God shall hereafter shine as the brightness of the firmament.

Would that the wise heart and the liberal hand belonged to every believer. Money would then flow into the treasury, and neither be wasted nor misdirected. Work would also be accomplished when all of the redeemed came to the help of the Lord.

Before passing from this phase of the subject I would remind the reader of the Lord’s inde­pendent method in fulfilling His purposes. He takes from among a degraded and humble people crude artisans, and fills them with divine knowledge for the execution of the finest work. So in the building of the spiritual temple He makes choice of unlearned fisher­men, unskilled in the arts of rhetoric and oratory, who, when taught of God, so speak that enemies are confounded, sinners are con­verted, while believers take courage to push the battle to the gates. Independent of human greatness, yet doth He condescend to use human weakness. Not many mighty, not many noble, are callers. “Thus saith the Lord, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches; but let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth Me, that I am the Lord, which exercise loving-kindness, judgment and righteousness in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the Lord.” Jeremiah 9:23, 24.)

Honorable mention is made in the sacred record of the devoted women who were not a whit behind in gift or service. “And they came, both men and women, as many as were willing-hearted, and brought brooches and signet rings and armlets—all jewels of gold * * * * And all the women that were wise-hearted did spin with their hands, and brought that which they had spun, the blue, and the purple, the scarlet and the fine linen. And all the women whose heart stirred them up in wisdom spun the goats’ hair.” Exodus 35:21-26. The Hebrew women had never been degraded to the place of inferiority occu­pied by those of heathen nations. The family was sacred ; the wife and mother honored and protected. Israel’s prosperity in the face of adversity ; their unity as a race in spite of dispersion, and their exaltation among the people of the world in the face of ostracism and confiscations, is largely due to the recogni­tion of woman as man’s helpmate and com­panion. But this trait, which became a Hebrew characteristic, was their recognition of God’s law, and their obedience to divine precept. Therefore, when opportunity is given, even when the nation as at its lowest ebb, the pious women were prompt to strip themselves of needless jewels, and swift to spin the needed material. Again do we see the willing heart and the ready hand consecrated to Jehovah. It was a sight enough to move angels in witnessing these whole-hearted women rising above per­sonal vanity, and love of ease, to give, and to labor, with becoming cheerfulness. And the Spirit of God inspired Moses to write the deeds of these earnest workers.

 

 

V.

ARRANGEMENT.

LOOKING down upon the Tabernacle sur­rounded by its well-defined Court, with the smoke from the Altar of sacrifice as­cending, while the bright cloud descended; with its silver-topped pillars, Levitical tents, and far­reaching encampment surrounding the sacred edifice, the stranger, not knowing of its exist­ence, nor understanding its mystic meaning, must have been struck with wonder and held spell-bound with amazement. Such a view of the holy sanctuary was given to Balaam, the son of Beor, when he was constrained to utter his parable:

“For from the tops of the rocks I see him, and from the hills I behold him: lo, it is a people that dwell alone, and shall not be reckoned among the nations.”

“Who can count the dust of Jacob, or number the fourth part of Israel? Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his.” —Numbers 23:9, 10.

But a nearer view is needed, if we would ex­amine this typical building. We now approach the eastern side and at closer range inspect the sacred enclosure.

I. The Court. Exodus. 27:9-17.

The Court was fenced around by a linen wall suspended from pillars. It was in form a parallelogram or double square, one hundred cubits long and fifty cubits wide. The cubit was originally the length of the arm from elbow-joint to finger-tip. It contained two spans or six palms. We are left in obscurity as to the exact length of the Hebrew cubit. The Egyptian cubit taken from the Nilometer in the Island of Rhoda is twenty-one and seven-eighteenth inches. Different nations using the cubit measure adopted different lengths. We can only approximate the Hebrew cubit to eighteen inches of our measurement. This limit is however chiefly adopted by scholars and critics for the sake of simplicity and convenience of calculation. According then to the eighteen inches theory the Court of the Tabernacle would measure from east to west one hundred and fifty feet; from north to south seventy-five feet. The width was half the length, containing about three-eighths of an English acre.

Sixty pillars standing upright in their sock­ets of brass formed the boundary of the Court. There were twenty on each side, north and south, and ten on each end east and west. The tops of the pillars were furnished with silver chapiters, or capitals, with their hooks also of silver, from which hung the linen curtains forming the wall or fence of the Court. There were also silver fillets, but these are not sufficiently explicit, so that we can only sur­mise at best that they were silver rods con­necting the pillars together at their capitals. These rods would give additional support to the linen curtains, that there be neither sagging nor trailing.

I find no reason for adopting the theory generally accepted, that these linen curtains were of open net-work in order to give the worshipers opportunity of witnessing the ceremonies connected with Altar and Laver. I am inclined to think a more durable fabric was needed. The Gate of the Court was the proper point of observation for the pious Israelites, who served at the Tabernacle. Be­sides, the typical import excludes the idea of net-work. The linen wall was surely God’s expression of righteousness. “Holiness be­cometh thine house, O Lord, forever.” Sacred­ness, solemnity and reverence characterized every feature of this typical building. Not even spiritually can the eye discern what transpires within until by faith we stand be­fore the gate-way which is Christ.

The gateway was at the eastern end of the Court, twenty cubits wide, allowing fifteen cubits of linen wall on either side of the gate, which completed the measurement across from north to south pillars. The gate itself was made of fine-twined linen heavily embroid­ered, with the living colors of blue, purple and scarlet. It was a barrier shutting out the unclean; but an open way for all who sought reconciliation with God through the blood of sacrifice. “Enter into His gates with thanks­giving (with a thank offering), and into His Courts with praise: Give thanks unto Him, and bless His name.” Psalms 100:4.

From Court and Gate come the figures “walls of salvation and gates of praise.” In Solomon’s Temple the gates of Zion were of brass; in the New Jerusalem there will be gates of pearl.

II. The Brazen Altar. Exodus 27:1-9.

As with unshod feet and uncovered head we enter through the gateway our eyes first fall upon the Brazen Altar. It stands on its firm base facing the gate of Court.

This piece of furniture was made of shittim, or acacia wood, covered with plates of brass. It was five cubits long, five cubits broad and three cubits high. There were horns on the four comers, and a net-work of brass within the hollow enclosure, forming a foundation for the fire on which the sacrifices were laid. This was the grate of the altar. There were rings placed on its sides, through which staves were passed. Animals were constantly burned on this altar for sacrifice, and its fire was never suffered to go out. When the Israelites jour­neyed, the fire was probably placed in a fire­-pan or preserved in some other way. A purple cloth was then spread on the top of the altar, on which the bowls, basins, flesh-hooks, shovels, and other utensils accompanying it, were placed. Over all was thrown a covering of badger’s skins, and thus it was conveyed from place to place, the staves resting on the shoulders of men appointed for that purpose.

III. The Laver. Exodus 30:17-22.

The material of which this vessel was formed was the gift of the noble army of holy women who voluntarily offered their brazen mirrors to the work of the Tabernacle. It stood between the Brazen Altar and door of the Tabernacle. The use of the Laver was very suggestive. It was the receptacle which held clean water for the purification of the priests, and therefore a constant visible symbol of spiritual purity. The priests washed thereat before ministering at the altar. Hence the purpose of the Psalm­ist, “I will wash my hands in innocency, so will I compass thine altars, O Lord of Hosts.”

The reader will bear in mind we are now rapidly glancing at the Tabernacle and its accompaniments; hereafter we enter upon a more minute examination of their uses and typical import.

IV. The sacred building. Exodus 26:15-30; Exodus 36:20-24.

Further in the Court, beyond the Laver, stood the sacred edifice, occupying its western end. It was a building of wood ; its walls made of upright boards, with mortised ends falling into sockets of silver. These sockets were em­bedded in the desert sand and formed the foundation of the sacred house. Twenty boards formed the north wall, twenty boards formed the south wall and eight boards com­pleted the western end. The east side was unwalled, leaving room for the door-way. All of the boards were overlaid with gold. They were held together by sets of bars running from end to end, thereby giving unity and compactness to the whole. Five pillars guarded the east end, standing erect on sockets of brass, from the top of which hung a beautiful curtain of fine linen, similar to the gate-curtain, richly embroidered with the strong colors of blue, purple and scarlet.

The length of the Tabernacle was thirty cubits, or forty-five feet. Its width is not easily ascertained, as we are not informed how the corner boards were adjusted. It is, however, generally admitted that the Tabernacle build­ing was ten cubits, or fifteen feet wide.

The structure was divided within by a veil suspended from the tops of pillars, the first room being twice larger than the second. The outside room was the “Holy Place,” measur­ing twenty cubits by ten ; the inside room was the “Holiest of All,” or the “Most Holy Place,” and was ten cubits each way.

The first room contained the Golden Lamp­-stand, the Table of Shew-bread and the Altar of Incense. The second room held the sacred Ark, with its Mercy-seat and Cherubim. Be­tween these golden representations on the Mercy-seat, abode the Shekinah light, visible symbol of the very God for whose honor and majesty the Tabernacle was erected.

The ceiling and roof of the holy house were formed of curtains and coverings. Those within were rich and beautiful; those without strong and durable.

We have now seen within the Court. (1) The Brazen Altar of sacrifice, (2) The Brazen Laver of purification, (3) The Sacred Building with its walls of gilded boards, and its cover­ings of cloth and skins, resting firmly on its solid foundation of silver.

The Tabernacle suited a dispensation of suggestion and preparation. It was but a temporary building, and finally passed away with all that belonged to it. Even the more substantial and gorgeous Temple survived only as long as shadows and types were needed. A more enduring dispensation has arrived; one that is essentially spiritual. But, alas, all who profess spiritual relationship to Christ are not spiritually minded. So therefore Judaism is dragged from its grave, and many of its legal ordinances revived. Grace is not under­stood. Ritualism appeals to the senses, and sensuous worship fascinates the carnal mind. This is the dispensation of the Spirit, not of legal ceremonies. Yet in process of time this age must also pass away and make room for a greater, when He who came at its beginning in lowly guise as Redeemer will at its close appear again as Restorer. For the Scriptures declare that He will make all things new, and the Tabernacle of God will be with men.

 

VI.

THE BRAZEN ALTAR.

WE are now prepared after a general sur­vey of the Tabernacle and its appoint­ments to examine in greater detail the important vessels connected therewith, the first being THE BRAZEN ALTAR.

There were two Altars connected with the Tabernacle. Both were made of wood but covered with different metals. One was with­out the building in the Court, the other was within the building in the first room of entrance standing before the beautiful curtain, called The Veil. These Altars were closely connected, yet served different uses. Their characteristic names indicate their utility. The first was “The Altar of Sacrifice,” the second “The Altar of Incense.” The first was called THE Altar by way of pre-eminence; it was also called The Brazen Altar, for although made of wood, it was heavily covered with plates of copper called in our English translations “brass.” It was also designated The Altar of Burnt Offering, because on it the sacrifices were laid which were consumed by fire. The following particulars may now be considered.

I. Its Position.

On entering through the gate-way of the Court, the Great Altar faced the ministering priests. There it stood a massive strong article seven and a half feet square (five cubits), four and a half feet high (three cubits), with its sacred fire guarding the way into the holy building. The fire was ever burning there; victims were newly slain by its sides ; blood was everywhere upon it and around it. De­vouring fire, and appeasing sacrifices were its constant exhibitions. If it guarded the way into the Holy Places where the Eternal Jehovah condescended to manifest Himself in splendid Shekinah, the Altar of Sacrifice also pointed out that way and entitled every obedient Israelite to worship God with due reverence, and with assured acceptance.

That Altar clearly typified the cross of Cal­vary ; those offerings foretold and fore­shadowed the great and abiding atonement of Christ’s death, who offered Himself without spot, unto God, the unblemished Lamb who taketh away thereby the sin of the world. The imperishable fact typified at the Altar before the Gate is the great fact around which revolve the ages, viz: “Christ died for our sins.” By His blood the obedient believer is entitled to approach the dwelling-place of God. Fire symbolizes the holiness of God revealed from heaven in wrath, against sin. To this dread wrath the sinner is exposed. He has sinned, and “the wages of sin is death.” But lo! Christ becomes man’s substitute, and bears our sins upon His own body on the tree. He is “stricken, smitten of God and afflicted.” The holy fire falls upon Him. His life was taken from the earth. “The life of the flesh is in the blood.” His life was poured out, and His blood, the token, is seen by the eye of faith, as the only atonement for sin. There is therefore no other way of approach to God than by Jesus Christ. “No man cometh unto the Father but by Me.” (John 14:6.) “There is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12.)

When King Uzziah dared approach the Gol­den Altar to burn incense thereon, he was severely punished for his presumption. He took the place of a worshiper, but passed by the Brazen Altar, the scene of death and blood. He assumed the role of priest, despised the atoning sacrifice, insulted the divine Majesty with unbecoming haste and received in himself the due reward of his unholy deed. 2 Chronicles 26:16-21.

It is ever a solemn matter to despise God’s revealed order. Believers are the only appointed priests. They are entitled to approach by way of the Altar to worship the Father. Having the spirit of sonship they are qualified to wor­ship Him in spirit and in truth. Uzziah rep­resents the natural man, who, presuming to take the place of a priest unto God, brings upon himself a swift and terrible judgment. Even in the type, God guards with jealous care His holy throne, and testifies to His own esti­mation of THE BLOOD !

There were many sacrifices brought to the Altar, and minute directions are given concern­ing each of them. We cannot now examine in detail. Each, and all, however, foreshadowed Christ. His sacrifice was many-sided. He became “a sin-offering,” as well as “a sweet savour-offering.” He suffered under the heavy pressure of God’s wrath as the sin-bearer, and He gave infinite satisfaction to God as the whole burnt-offering. By Him the believer is justified from all things; in Him the believer is also presented acceptable in righteousness to God. These rich mines of precious Gospel teaching we shall explore more fully in the pursuit of our study.

II. Form of the Altar.

The altar was four square, its length and breadth being equal. It was parallel in all its sides with the arrangements of the tribes, which formed the encampment. Three of the tribes were encamped eastward, three encamped westward, three on the south side, and three on the north. One face of the altar would therefore look toward one quarter of the peo­ple, another face toward another quarter, and so on every side. I only remark that there is at least a very blessed truth suggested by the position of the altar in relation to all the people.

The Gospel of the Son of God in its procla­mation, is not restricted to one class of sinners. The thrilling story of salvation through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins must be preached world-wide. Like the notes of the jubilee trumpet, its sound goes forth preaching deliverance to the captive, pardon to the criminal, and rest to the weary. A radiance of glory emanates from the cross, spreading all around, giving light to those who sit in dark­ness, and in the shadow of death, guiding their feet into the way of peace. That all do not see that light is, alas! too true. And why? “The god of this world hath blinded the minds of them that believe not, lest the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” 2 Corinthians 4:4.

On the day of Pentecost the gospel of the altar was heard by the representatives of all nations. The great sin-offering was the sub­ject and substance of the Apostles’ preaching. Christ was lifted up that all might see Him. His cross was lifted up that all might behold it. “Parthians and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus and Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene and strangers of Rome, Jews and Proselytes, Cretes and Arabians” heard in their own tongues “the wonderful works of God.” Thus, through the crucified and risen Jesus, salvation was proclaimed to all nations. Oh! that we too may both hear and receive this heaven-sent message. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16.)

The sacrifice of Christ, meeting to the fullest extent all the just claims of God’s holy law, is the foundation of man’s salvation from sin and death. The benefits and blessings resulting therefrom are possessed by him that believeth. Thus we read in Romans 5:1: “Therefore being justified by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” And in Romans 8:1:“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus.”

III. Relation of Altar to the Mercy Seat.

The brazen altar was hollow, but on the inside, was a grating or net-work of brass upon which the fire was kindled, and on which the sacrifices were laid. It is very interesting to notice, that this grating was elevated to the exact height of the Mercy-­seat, namely one cubit and a half, or three English feet. The Mercy-seat was placed within the vail, and upon it the blood of the sin-offering was sprinkled on the Day of Atonement. Here also the bright light called the Shekinah rested, the outward symbol of the Divine Presence. From this Mercy-throne Jehovah communed with the High Priest, and ministered mercy to the people. Is this a coincidence merely? Or was it not Divinely planned to teach the lesson that Mercy is co­ordinate with sacrifice? That there can be no mercy ministered to us apart from sacrifice is taught throughout the Word of God. God’s mercy is boundless as the sea, blessed be His name. It is far reaching as is East from West; it is a height that knows no summit, a depth most profound. The sacrifice is inf­inite, and the vilest sinner approaching the Mercy-seat now shall obtain mercy. But what of those who scorn the “Blood The­ology” and reject it as unpalatable to the refinement and philosophy of this age? What a terrible delusion has fallen upon them ! The teaching of the Altar they reject. Christ’s sacrifice for sin they deny. Arraigning the Word and Wisdom of God at the bar of intellectual pride, they condemn both, and evolve a plan of salvation out of the conceit of their own perverted reason. But the superstructure which they raise tumbles into ruins before one word of Scrip­ture. The testimony of God is this: “With­out shedding of blood there is no remission.” (Hebrews 9:24.) Oh, reader, whatever reproach may be laid at your door by the advocates of a humanitarian creed through your faithfulness in exalting the vicarious Atonement of Christ, bear it gladly, since, through that Atonement alone your own salvation is eternally secured. Let “the Blood” be still your plea; seek to real­ize more fully its sheltering, cleansing efficacy, and joyfully cling with greater tenacity to these fundamental doctrines of the Christian faith.

IV. The Altar an Instrument of Power.

The ministry of Christ’s sacrifice is further symbolized by the horns of the Altar. A horn in Scripture represents power, strength, dig­nity. There were four horns, one at each cor­ner of the altar, and to these horns victims were bound when brought for sacrifice. Hence the allusion in Psalms 118:27: “Bind the sacrifice with cords, even unto the horns of the Altar.” Transgressors were wont to flee to the Altar, taking hold of its horns for pro­tection. It did not always however pro­tect those who fled to it for safety.

Adonijah fled there from the wrath of Solo­mon, and according to the understood law re­ceived its protection. “And Adonijah feared because of Solomon, and arose, and went, and caught hold on the horns of the altar.” 1 Kings, 1:50.

This had the desired effect, and Adonijah received the King’s pardon. It was different however with Joab.

“And Joab fled unto the Tabernacle of the Lord, and caught hold on the horns of the altar. And it was told King Solomon that Joab was fled unto the Tabernacle of the Lord ; and behold he is by the altar. Then Solomon sent Benaiah the son of Jehoiada saying, Go, fall upon him So Benaiah the son of Jehoiada went up, and fell upon him and slew him: and he was buried in his own house in the wilderness.” 1 Kings 2:28-34.

The altar at this time afforded no protection, and we are led by contrast, to exult in the superior excellency and protecting power of the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, which as a refuge never fails. To that cross the sinner is invited to flee for safety. He lays hold upon it by faith. Its strength and power avail for him. There he is safe from the avenger of blood. There he beholds the sheathed sword, and reads his eternal pardon in the glittering types of Omnipotent love. He hears the voice from Mercy’s throne, “Thy sins and thine iniquities I will remember no more.”

V. The Altar Accessible.

The altar was placed on the ground. It had no prepared flooring. No steps were to be added, although it is probable that a sloping ascent was made which gave the priests an elevation needful to accomplish with ease the services which it embraced. It is very sugges­tive that there was no climbing of steps to reach the place of sacrifice. “Neither shalt thou go up by steps to mine altar that thy nakedness be not discovered thereon.” Exodus 20:26. Probably we have here set forth the fact that the sinner cannot attempt to reach the cross by human righteousness without ex­posing himself, in his natural vileness, to the righteous judgment of God. Moreover his climbing is of no avail. “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but accord­ing to His mercy He saved us.” Titus 3:5.

The dimensions of the altar show how much larger it was than any other vessel connected with the Tabernacle. It was the pivotal vessel upon which the whole ceremonial worship of Israel balanced. Pardon, cleansing, worship, ministry, and all other parts of priestly privi­lege and national blessing were closely con­nected with, and dependent upon it. To this vessel were brought the daily lambs. Each morning and evening they were offered for the sins of the entire people.

“Now this is that which thou shalt offer upon the altar; two lambs of the first year, day by day continually. The one lamb thou shalt offer in the morning ; and the other lamb thou shalt offer at even.” Exodus 29:38, 39.

These lambs comprised the continual burnt offering ever ascending for Israel’s acceptance. In like manner the perpetuity of Christ’s sacri­fice in all its intrinsic value is remembered by God, and its eternal fragrance ascends to Him evermore on our behalf.

 

VII.

BRAZEN ALTAR AND VESSELS.

THE Gospel of the Brazen Altar is of para­mount importance. It is related to the whole range of Christian truth, nor can the truth be known apart from the vicarious atone­ment of Jesus Christ: His actual substitution of Himself for the sinner, to bear the penalty of sin in His own body on the cross, made sin for us, that we might become righteous in Him. There were UTENSILS connected with the great Altar for their special uses. “And thou shalt make his pans to receive his ashes, and his shovels, and his basins, and his flesh-hooks, and his fire-pans; all the ves­sels thereof shalt thou make of brass.” (Exodus 27:3.)

The necessary vessels were five in number.

I. THE PANS.

These were employed in receiving the ashes of the burnt-offering and in removing them to their appointed place. (Leviticus 6:10-11.) The ashes were a testimony to the thoroughness of the work done by the fire in having wholly consumed the offering. It also signified the acceptance of the offering on behalf of the offerer, and was to him the evidence, or token, of his pardon and acceptance before Jehovah. A very striking allusion is made to the re­duction of the sacrifice to ashes by the inspired Psalmist. “The Lord hear thee in the day of trouble; the name of the God of Jacob defend thee. Send thee help from the Sanctuary and strengthen thee out of Zion. Remember all thy offerings, and accept thy burnt sacrifices.” The word “accept” reads in the margin “turn to ashes.” The plea of the Psalmist therefore, is “The Lord turn to ashes thy burnt sacrifice.” In view of this ceremonial act, what a depth of meaning lies in the Redeem­er’s triumphant shout, “It is finished.” The sacrifice was verily consumed till nothing but the ashes was left. Pathetically does quaint Charles Quarles exclaim:

“Oh, groundless deeps, oh ! love beyond degree, The Offended dies to set the Offender free.”

II. THE SHOVELS.

We have no special particulars given us re­garding the use of the shovels. We assume however, they were employed about the fire, collecting the broken embers, filling the censers with burning coals from off the altar when the fire was needed for the Golden Altar of incense in the Holy Place. They were essential to the Brazen Altar, and suggest the thought that any minute particular connected with the atonement of our Lord cannot be dismissed as “non-essential.” When the Holy Spirit in­troduces new expressions in the Divine Word they should be carefully and prayerfully examined. For as every Scripture is God­-breathed, so every vessel serves its purpose, having in addition its typical signification.

III. THE BASINS.

These utensils were used to receive the blood and to convey it to each place of sprinkling. “And Moses took half of the blood and put it in basins.” Exodus 24:6. Almost all things ceremonial were purified with ceremonial blood, the basins would therefore be put into frequent requisition. We read “Moses took the blood of the calves and the goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people.” * * * “More­over the tabernacle and all the vessels of the ministry he sprinkled in like manner with blood.” Hebrews 9:19-22.

The blood sprinkled in this profuse manner not only indicated that defilement was general through man’s defiling touch, but that full atonement had been made whereby all that was unclean should be purified. Keeping in mind the foundation meaning of atonement, namely, that of covering, we can readily perceive this use of the blood, with its attendant results. “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.” Through the atoning blood of Christ our sins and iniquities are blotted out so that they shall not come into judgment any more.

IV. THE FLESH-HOOKS.

These were employed to arrange the pieces of sacrifice on the fire of the altar. The use of this instrument was grossly perverted by the wicked sons of old Eli. “And the priest’s custom with the people was, that when any man offered sacrifice, the priest’s servant came while the flesh was in seething, with a flesh­-hook of three teeth in his hand, and he struck it into the pan, or kettle, or caldron, or pot ; all that the flesh-hook brought up the priest took for himself.” 1 Samuel 2:13-14. The flesh-hook, divinely appointed for its special use in adjusting the sacrifice to the fire, till all was consumed, was used to minister to the fleshly appetites of the carnal priests. What a proof of the charge that they were “sons of Belial.” How daringly presumptuous for any professing minister of Christ to pervert the office into a means of gain for himself. The sin of “simony” is not confined to those who sell “livings,” and we fear there are many who make a gain of Godliness. Are there not those among us who claim priestly relationship with God and membership in the Church who use their religious standing for selfish purposes? Obtruding themselves into the so-called min­istry of the Church, they turn the grace of God into channels for personal preferment. But judgment overtakes them in the end. Eli’s wicked sons did not escape.

V. THE FIRE-PANS.

These vessels were the “censers” connected both with the Altar of Sacrifice and the Altar of Incense. They thus formed a link between the two Altars, carrying the fire which had consumed the sacrifice from the Brazen Altar to set free the ingredients which composed the incense on the Golden Altar. They were also doubtless used to preserve the sacred fire when marching from one place of encampment to the other, for that fire was never suffered to go out. The holiness of God was symbolized by that fire, while the grace of God was exemplified in the sacrifice. Both fire and blood were essential throughout every dispensation where true worship was given to Jehovah, Patriarchal or Jewish. The Gospel in this age reveals the holiness of God with its righteous demands, as also the grace of God, with its abundant provisions. The Gospel proclaims the advent of Grace and Truth through Jesus Christ, while beneath the shadow of His cross “Mercy and Truth have met together, Righteousness and Peace have kissed each other.” In Christ all the attributes of God sweetly harmonize, and in Him also the believer obtains “right­eousness, sanctification and redemption.” Like the useful censers, He connects both Sacrifice and Incense, for He Himself is both an offering for sin, and a sweet savor unto God.

 

VIII

THE LAVER.

THE Laver had a peculiarity of its own. It was different from the other vessels in this respect that it had no specified form or measurement. This designed omission gives additional interest to the study. The spiritual teaching suggested by the omission will be con­sidered later on.

1. Design of the laver.

Its purpose is clearly announced. “For Aaron and his sons shall wash their hands and their feet thereat” Exodus 30:19. Purity was an essential requirement demanded of Israel’s priests. Ceremonial defilement must be imme­diately removed. The ministering priests walked with unshod feet from altar to tabernacle. Their hands prepared the sacrifices. They slew and skinned and dissected. Before and after every offering they must wash. Hands and feet were therefore often immersed in the waters of the laver. Negligence of this ceremonial received merited punishment. Death was the penalty. Exodus 30:20.

2. Manufacture of the laver.

Pious women provided the material. “And he made the laver of brass and the foot of it of brass, of the looking-glasses of the women assembled at the door of the congregation.” Exodus 38:8. The mirrors brought from Egypt were of highly polished copper. Their power of reflection was great. They were needed, and employed not necessarily for self admiration. The mirror has its legitimate use. It was therefore an act of self-denial to part with it. These godly women were possessed of lofty motives. They responded to Moses’ appeal for material wherewith to build a house for Jehovah. They were an elect company. ­The Revised Version reads, “the serving women which served.” Certain ones assem­bled before the tent of Moses to minister. Their consecration reminds us of that other company of select ladies who attached them­selves to Jesus and ministered to Him of their substance. A true test of piety is not giving much, but giving all. That impoverishment of self which enriches the Master is the true standard of giving. And He is our example in this respect also. 2 Corinthians 8:9.

The laver fashioned out of mirrors was an important vessel in the court. No priest would dare slight it. By the application of its waters he was made clean. This gift of devoted women suggests the fact that to Christian women is committed a sacred trust. Where Christ abides in woman’s heart, by her minis­try of self-abnegation she can make her sur­roundings pure and sweet. She need not step beyond her divinely bounded province to serve her generation. The serving women could not reform the Canaanites, but they could suc­ceed in making provision for priestly purity. And priestly purity secured the presence of God. No attempts at improving morals could compensate for loss of His power. An absent God meant a depraved people. Washing the shell does not arrest decay in the egg. The ministry of shallow reform has ever ended in folly. Nevertheless misguided women will waste their energies in the impossible task of washing the Ethiopian white. Results rise no higher than their source. Political contention does not minister to priestly consecration. If the forces of heart and brain misspent on a Canaanite world were yielded to God in spirit­ual work, what precious fruitage would have appeared. Of Mary’s lofty service to Jesus He approved and graciously commended. Mark 14:9. Her memorial will outlast the hills. In the day when individual work is tested that service which is rendered for the glory of the Master will abide and win rewards, while the rubbish heap of works prompted by temporary fame or world-mending policy will be reduced to ashes. Then will appear infinitesimally small the scornful flings of the progressive woman at the teaching and principles of God’s Word; that Word so madly opposed in these days of moral hysteria.

3. The laver’s symbolical meaning.

The laver stood between the court gate and tabernacle door. It was closely related to the altar of sacrifice. The altar was identified with blood, the laver with water. One was for expiation; the other for purification. Both were essential to a complete ceremonial ritual.

It had no recorded measurements. This characteristic, in addition to its use, indicates its typical meaning. It foreshadowed the I Holy Spirit of Christ in an important feature of His ministry. It was said by our Lord’s forerunner that the Father giveth not the Spirit by measure unto Him. John 3:35. But the words “unto Him” are not in the text. The Revised Version properly omits them. Here then is a great fact stated, namely, the Holy Spirit is God’s immeasurable gift. The infinite Spirit given to Christ is an unmeasured personality. Thus also is He given to be­lievers. All other vessels of the tabernacle had form and size. They specially typified the Son of God in flesh. Jesus had human form ; was seen, heard, handled. Outlined in veri­table body the great and gracious Lord stood before men. But that other Comforter, though as real in personal being, is without visible tangibility. He hath not flesh and blood though He dwelleth therein. For the believer’s body is His temple, and His presence is known by manifestations. John 3:8.

Again, the use of the laver would favor this application of the typical vessel. Its water was for purification. The laver held the water. It received it; possessed it; gave it; was therefore identified with it. Preparation for priestly worship resulted from the constant application of water to hands and feet. Several Scripture texts disclose the meaning of this symbolical water. “Christ loved the Church and gave Himself for it, that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the Word.” Ephesians 5:25, 26. “Now are ye clean through the Word which I have spoken unto you.” John 15:3. The Christian believer who becomes a priest unto God from the moment he first reaches the altar, and by faith accepts Christ’s atoning death as the ground of his justification, is yet in a world of defilement. He needs therefore con­stant preparation of heart to qualify him for acceptable worship. In order to meet this need of his life the word of cleansing is given. The Holy Spirit ministering that Word in power to the inner man moulds the judgment, purifies thought, displaces lust, imparts motive. Holiness is promoted by the word. We are sanctified by it. It rebukes self-complaisance and exposes the folly of self-perfection. The Word is a discerner of the thoughts and in­tents of the heart ; it is that light which makes manifest. To deny our need of cleansing is equivalent to shutting out the sun. The Word is that living stream which having entrance purifieth the soul. The Blood cleanseth, the Word cleanseth, the Spirit cleanseth, and these three agree in one.

Allusions are made to the laver of purifica­tion and preparation in the words, “Who shall ascend unto the hill of the Lord ? or who shall stand in His holy place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart.” Psalms 24:3, 4. And yet again, “I will wash my hands in innocency ; so will I compass thine altar, O Lord.” Psalms 26:6.

The laver in Solomon’s Temple was called a sea. 2 Chronicles 4:2. Its dimensions were ten cubits from brim to brim, upheld by oxen cast for its base. The victorious redeemed are seen in heaven standing on a sea of glass. Revelation 15:2. They no longer wash therein but are ever reminded of the source of their purity. They stand on the sea and sing of the Lamb. Altar and laver never forgotten. The altar bears witness, “Without shedding of blood there is no remission of sins.” The laver testifies, “Without holiness no man shall see the Lord.” In other words, the work of Christ is for justification, and the ministry of the Spirit for sanctification.

“The laver stands. If earth defiled,
Go, wash thy hands, thy feet;
And simply as a pardoned child,
Approach the mercy-seat;
Within the veil thy censer bring,
And burn sweet incense to the King.”

 

IX.

HOLY AND MOST HOLY.

THE first house built for the worship of Jehovah consisted of two rooms called respectively the Holy Place and the Most Holy. The building was not so beauti­ful in outward appearance as in interior fur­nishing. Within, the brilliancy of the gold, the brightness of the light, the beauty of the curtains, and the fragrance of the incense, must have excited admiration and reverence. So our Lord Christ exhibited no outward glory to those who had eyes only for the visible and material. The men of His day saw not The Wonderful, as yet, unrevealed to the world. Their lack of appreciation was no disappoint­ment to Him, for He knew what had been written of Him whose visage was marred and whose form was uncomely. Not that Jesus was personally unlovely, but that in His great humiliation He became the Man of Sor­rows. Yet, even then, there were those who had clearness of vision to whom He had become altogether lovely.

The inner walls of the Tabernacle made of wood were covered with gold, thereby fore­showing the incorruptible nature of His hu­manity in close relation to the splendors of His divinity. And herein is that saying true, “We beheld His glory—glory as of the Only­-begotten.” John 1:14. Occasionally that glory shone out with brightness above the sun, as when the disciples saw Him on the holy mount and heard the divine ratification of His super­natural Sonship. There can be but two answers to the question, Whose Son is HE? The answer given still divides the world. In view of Judgment impending the question is most pertinent, What think you of Christ?

The Tabernacle was the dwelling place of God. All who sought His face approached Him there through sacrifice. Herein again is Christ foreseen, in whom “dwelleth all the ful­ness of the Godhead bodily.” God is in Christ, and all who come to God must come through Him. Hear His own imperishable utterance, “No man cometh to the Father but by Me.” Those then who acknowledge the Fatherhood of God while yet repudiating Christ, the medium through whom alone Fatherhood can be known, are sadly ignorant of the teaching of Old Testament types and of the New Testament gospel. It is a serious matter to array oneself against the divine Teacher and assume responsibility in denying the testimony of the Holy Spirit. Jehovah dwelt within curtains in visible symbol. The reality of His presence and glory is in the per­son of His Son, “the true Tabernacle which the Lord pitched and not man.”

In imagination let us now stand within the Holy Place. At the east and west sides are two beautiful curtains, the door and vail. Through the gate-curtain, when drawn aside, there was access to the court; through the door, into the first room; through the vail, into the innermost chamber. Each one of these represented Christ. John 10:9; Hebrews 10:20; John 14:6.

We now turn our eyes northward and south­ward. The golden boards form the back­ground of Lamp-stand and Shew-bread table. The Altar of incense, westward, stands before the gorgeous vail. Beneath is the desert sand, the floor of the sacred building. Overhead stretches the woven ceiling of fine linen, re­splendent in colors of blue, purple and scarlet, while figures of cherubim with outstretched wings impart additional sanctity and solemn beauty. The mellow light of the lamp-stand falling upon each vessel and curtain made the Holy Place a room of unearthly splendor cal­culated to incite a spirit of reverential worship.

Shall we now step inside the vail? Within this sacred place made peculiarly solemn by the symbolic Presence of the glorious Lord, no foot of man could tread save only on the day of Atonement. Alone the High priest entered there. Half the size of the first room, or ten cubits square, it was not an imposing chamber in dimensions, but no apartment of kingly palace or princely mansion ever erected by hands of man, could compare with this little four-square room for importance and historic interest. Connected with eternal things, it had its message and mission for all time. Gilded boards formed three of its sides with richly embroided vail its fourth. Above, the decorated ceiling; beneath, the solid earth. No light of sun or moon illumined this cham­ber, nor ray from golden lamp-stand pene­trated through the vail, yet a light of unclouded brightness filled its sacred precincts. Within the walls of this terrestrial sanctuary there shone a celestial light. Heaven and earth were therein conjoined. For not the light of nature, genius, or art, made luminous the Most Holy. The dazzling Shekinah which flamed at Eden found there its temporary rest­ing-place. Symbol and manifestation of the divine Presence, the light between the Cheru­bim proclaimed that God is Brightness and in Him is no darkness at all.

A peculiar sacredness attaches to the Most Holy because of its typical character. It represented the heaven of heavens, the blessed place where dwelleth the only true God. Hebrews 9:24. Into this more glorious sanctuary we enter now in spirit, even as we shall come there eventually when removed to that home upon which no shadows fall. Hebrews 10:19.

Observe, from the gate without to the inner chamber there is progress. Strikingly does this advancement represent the onward movement of the christian life, from the starting-point of pardon to the goal of completest saintship. At the altar of sacrifice sin is judged and put away; at the laver purification is effected ; the Holy Place provides food and light; while the Holiest of All reveals the glory of the enthroned King to whom the worshiper has freedom of access. This divine program is clearly marked in the supplication, “O send out thy light and thy truth, let them lead me; let them bring me unto thy holy hill, and to thy tabernacles. Then will I go to the altar of God, unto God my exceeding joy.” Psalms 43:3, 4. The light of the cloud led to the Taber­nacle whose open gateway gave access to the altar. The altar upheld the sacrifice which gave right of approach to the Most Holy. Hence the order, “I will go unto the altar,” thereafter “unto God my exceeding joy.” This is the gospel of symbol fitting into the gos­pel of actuality. Those who know their sins forgiven are little children, but fathers know Him who is from the beginning. The chris­tian comes out from the world into the assembly of the Firstborn. He knows his sin merits death, but he sees that deserved sentence exe­cuted upon an innocent victim. Guilt is there­by removed. He then advances in divine knowledge. Laver truth shows him the defile­ment of sin washed away. Further on he finds bread for his soul and light for his understand­ing. Bread strengthens him ; oils makes his face to shine and worship like the fragrant incense ascends from his heart. Still beyond he stands before his Father enveloped in the glory of the Son in whom He is made an object of divine favor. Thus the christian life has its stages. Its pathway becomes brighter. Every point reached has its peculiar enjoyment. An altar of wood, a laver of brass, a mercy seat of gold. The world’s progress is deterioration. Its kingdoms show the down­grade from gold to silver; silver to brass; brass to iron and clay. How immature in christian experience is he who reaches the laver, receives a second blessing and there abides, while a third, a fourth, a fifth, a sixth, a seventh, await him. Blessed indeed is he whose life is modeled after the Tabernacle and moulded by the doctrines into which we have been delivered. But the place of richest grace is the Mercy-throne. There are depths and heights and sublimities of experiences now, but the condition of sinlessness is unknown till we reach the heavenly sanctuary and enter upon the joys of that “far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.”

 

X.

TABLE OF SHEW BREAD.

IN the Holy Place were three vessels con­nected with the ritual of the sanctuary. Skilled workmen were chosen whom the Spirit of God made wise for the construction of every piece of sacred furniture. Bezaleel and Aholiab were masters of art, for the Holy Spirit taught them and their fellow-craftsmen how to execute. Exodus 31:1-6. Thus the Tabernacle was designed and superintended by Jehovah. He graciously called Israel into His fellowship. He received their offerings and qualified their artisans. And this divine-­human fellowship is shown forth in symbol by the uses of the vessels under consideration.

I. THE SHEW-BREAD TABLE.

The directions given to Moses for the con­struction of the Table are found in Exodus 25:23-30. The altar of Incense was placed at the western end of the room adjacent to the vail which divided between the Holy and Most Holy, facing the east. At its right or southern side stood the golden lamp-stand facing the Table on the north side and pouring upon it the full mellow light from its seven bowls of oil.

The Shew-bread Table was made of acacia wood and covered with plates of gold. A crown or rim of gold was placed on its edge around its four sides, acting as a guard to pro­tect the materials placed upon it. The border beneath the crown would give the Table com­pactness and durability, besides imparting to it a more imposing appearance. Rings were placed on the four legs through which staves passed; the staves projecting beyond each end of the Table. By the use of these staves the Levites carried the Table. Golden vessels were made for its service, including dishes, spoons, bowls, and covers. Each article had its distinctive use, containing frankincense, salt, and wine, which were connected with the twelve loaves of unleavened bread.

The Table, with all of its appliances, was called a pure table, not only because of its material of pure gold, but that also it was con­secrated to a noble and holy purpose. It was two cubits in length, one cubit wide and a cubit and a half high.

A Table suggests supply. It is the symbol of food. It is the place of fellowship. Around the table gather the family, parents and chil­dren, in union and communion, giving oppor­tunity for mutual intercourse.

II. A GLANCE AT OTHER TABLES.

God has provided many tables to meet the physical and spiritual need of His people.

1. His table of providence.

Having created life, the creator has made provision for its sustenance. Both to man and beast He hath appointed their portion. The herb of the field and fruit of the tree He or­dained for meat. Genesis 1:29, 30. This provi­dential care over His creatures has been recognized by the devout in all ages. The roaring lion and the humming bee, the great fishes and minute insects, are alike His beneficiaries. He openeth His hand “and satisfieth the desire of every living thing.” Psalms 145:16 16. So also His people are kept in continual remembrance. Jesus counseled His disciples to take no thought for meat or cloth­ing. He who fed ravens and clothed lilies would not forget. Luke 12:22-31.

2. His table of salvation.

Provision made for the hungry soul is set forth in parable. Jesus described the marriage feast from which some turned away. But others, whose poverty was their plea, accepted the bounty. They were made partakers of the banquet. Matthew 22:1-16. In like manner the hungry sinner is fed. For the prodigal who starves by the swine-trough there is bread in the Father’s house. For such the fatted calf is prepared. Blessed are they that hunger, for they are invited to the feast.

3. His table for nourishing spiritual life.

The sinner who accepts Christ as Saviour and Lord is made a partaker of spiritual life. That life is not a principle nor a program. It is a nature; the divine nature. 2 Peter 1:4. And as life it requires sustenance. The young Christian and the maturer Christian—the babe and the full grown man—have their portion ap­pointed them. 1 Peter 2:1, 2; Hebrews 4:12. For the sheep the great Shepherd provideth a supply. He spreads a table in the wilderness in the presence of vanquished enemies. Psalms 23:5. They feast as conquerors.

4. His table of memorial.

This is a long table stretching from the Holy Spirit’s advent at Pentecost to the church’s rapture at the Parousia. It is broad as the globe. Believers in every land surround it. Bread and wine are the emblems of our Lord’s body and blood. At the Table He is the ob­ject of our worship, the subject of our thoughts, and the food of our souls. It is a table of fellowship. There the saints and their Lord commune and their fellow-believers embrace in fellowship. It is a table of thanksgiving where redeemed sinners give thanks to God for the gift of His Son. It is a table of testi­mony. There we bear witness to the sacrificial death of our Lord Christ through which sin is forever put away. It is a table of expectation. We commemorate and we anticipate. For He who died and rose again is coming to consummate the salvation of His people. The table had its beginning; it will also have its ending. And the ordinance loses its full significance if not connected with this blessed hope. “As often as ye eat this bread and drink this cup ye do shew the Lord’s death TILL HE COME.”

III. THE TWELVE LOAVES.

The shew-bread was made of “fine flour.” This meant possibly that it was made of the finest wheat. The best wood, the costliest minerals, the richest fabrics, were employed in the construction of the Tabernacle. Nor was there any physical blemish in the animals sacri­ficed. And thus was symbolized the spiritual­ity of worship, which, in this dispensation, is independent of art. Heart worship is alone acceptable. They who worship God “must worship Him in spirit and in truth.” John 4:24. God requires the best, and the best we can give, is the whole-hearted surrender of our entire being; our whole spirit and soul and body. 1 Thessalonians 5:23.

The loaves were twelve in number, corres­ponding to the twelve tribes, as the stones on the priest’s breastplate. This symbolic repre­sentation was interwoven with the religious life of the nation. When they had crossed the Jordan, Joshua bade twelve men to take twelve stones from the bed of Jordan and erect them at Gilgal, as a memorial of Israel coming over to the place of their possession on dry land. Twelve rough stones at Gilgal, twelve precious stones on the breastplate, twelve loaves of bread on the table, were memorials of experiences and relationships of Jehovah’s covenant people.

The shew-bread on the table might have been translated “presence-bread” or “face-bread.” It was also called the “continual bread.” Numbers 4:7. The use of the bread, for Jeho­vah, and for the priests, would warrant the name of communion bread. Leviticus 24:9. The marvelous fact that Jehovah condescended to receive into fellowship with Himself, the people of his choice, is mirrored in every fea­ture of Tabernacle ritual. They were always before Him, on the priestly mitre, breastplate, and shoulder-stones, and on the shew-bread table. And surely this Old Testament sym­bolism finds its prophetic complement in New Testament fact, for by its revelation believers are said to be presented faultless in the pres­ence of His glory, unreprovable, unrebukable, in His sight. Colossians 1:22.

The shew-bread pictures forth the equality of all believers in acceptance. Our reception in Christ, and our representation by Him, before the Father, admits of no degrees. The twelve loaves stood for all the tribes. On that Table, the tribe of Benjamin the lesser, was co-equal with Manasseh, and the tribe of Reuben, of ignoble parentage, stood in the same grace as Judah. In tribal standing the people were equally the same in covenant relations. They were the same in nearness to God as repre­sented in the loaves. They were the same also in continual acceptance. The same salt for sea­soning, the same wine for drink-offering, the same frankincense for sweet savor for all the loaves.

An undimmed vision of the Christian’s per­fect righteousness in Christ is essential for power to walk worthy of this high calling. Gratitude for such highly exalted privileges will tend to profound humility through a deep and abiding sense of utter personal unworthi­ness. In self, ruined, condemned, abased: In Christ, restored, justified, exalted. Therefore Christ is All. 1 Corinthians 1:30.

The twelve loaves were to be a memorial, an offering and food. Leviticus 24:7-9. Doubtless they were also typical. Bread corn is bruised. Isaiah 28:28. It is also baked. The pro­cesses through which the grain passes, grind­ing in the mill, worked into dough, baked in hot ovens, suggest the experiences of our Lord in becoming for us the Bread of Life. His blood shelters; His flesh nourishes.

Again, the loaves were unleavened. Leaven, or yeast, is a corrupt and corrupting element. It symbolizes evil. Matthew 16:12; Mark 8:15; 1 Corinthians 5:6-8. The nature of Jesus was essentially pure. He took that nature out of the domain of death uncontaminated. His holy flesh is our food.

None but priests must eat the shew-bread. Every Sabbath fresh loaves were placed upon the Table, while in the Holy Place, enveloped with sacred incense, and clothed with light, the priests ate the old loaves. The presence- bread was for God and for the priests. So Christ now, the continual Presence-Bread, satisfies His Father’s heart and nourishes our priestly life. But only in the place of retirement, of separation, and in moments of heavenly expe­riences, can we partake of this Bread. Not in the coarse places of the world, nor with carnal appetites, can we feed on Jesus. The Bread of God is for the godly.

 

XI.

THE GOLDEN LAMP-STAND.

THE most strikingly suggestive and multi­form natural illustration of spiritual realities is that of Light. It is the peculiar physical emblem which most repre­sents God in His nature and revelation. It is an emblem of each person of the Godhead in their essence and official ministry. It is the chosen emblem of the Scriptures enlightening the world; of the church in its witness-bear­ing; and of the individual believer in his life. It is the type of all spiritual phenomena of which God is centre and source. To trace out this beautiful emblem in our Bible and note its uses and application is a study worthy of our earnest pursuit. But we must here confine ourselves to the Golden Lamp-stand in its ser­vice and symbolism.

The Tabernacle declared one great fact, viz.: God is Light. Outside the sun gave light by day, and the pillar of fire by night; in the Holy Place the seven-branched lamp-stand was always burning, while in the Most Holy flamed the Shekinah, the outward symbol of the real Presence in their midst

I. MATERIAL AND WORKMANSHIP.

The description given of this most elaborate and costly vessel is found in Exodus 25:31-36. “And thou shalt make a candlestick of pure gold: his shaft, and his branches, his bowls, his knops, and his flowers, shall be of the same. . . . And the tongs thereof, and the snuff dishes thereof shall be of pure gold. Of a talent of pure gold shall he make it, with all these vessels. And look that thou make them after their pattern, which was shewed thee in the Mount.”

All through God was very jealous of His own designs. “Make them after the pattern shewed thee,” was His constant reminder to Moses. Likewise He has a plan for His re­deemed that they be conformed to the image of His Son. For He who is the image of the Invisible God is the pattern before Him from the beginning, and in working out the plan of the ages He has this momentous issue in view. In the resurrection we shall take on this celes­tial form. We shall be like Him, “for we shall see Him as He is.” Romans 8:29; 1 John 3:2.

Within the Holy Place the Golden Lamp­-stand stood on the south side facing the Shew-bread Table. Both it, and the vessels connected with it, were made out of a talent of pure gold. The skilled workmen wrought upon the ductile metal with their hammers, and with sublime genius shaped it into beau­tiful symmetrical form. The central shaft and its six curved branches were ornamented with fruits and flowers, each holding on its top the golden lamp filled with pure olive oil. What consummate skill showed itself in evolving from a solid talent of gold this richly orna­mented vessel with base, shaft, and branches, in consistent proportions! Wherein lay the secret of this matchless handiwork? In the endow­ment of the Spirit of God. Exodus 31:6.

II. ITS DESIGNED MINISTRY.

Primarily to give light. Thus we read: “Command the children of Israel, that they bring unto thee pure oil olive beaten for the light, to cause the lamps to burn continually.” What an imposing article of furniture was this seven-branched lamp! Graceful in shape, elaborately ornamented, of pure gold, giving out its soft mellowed light and reflecting that light upon itself, upon the Table, and incense altar. It was a vessel for use and an object of splendor.

The serving priests supplied the golden bowls with pure oil continually. With golden snuffers they removed the charred wick, and with golden tray removed all refuse.

The people also participated in the rich min­istry of the Lamp-stand. They gathered the olives, they pressed the fruit, they supplied the oil. This unity of participation between Jehovah, the priests, and the people, finds its expression in the service of this matchless Illuminator.

The value of the Golden Lamp-stand and its accompanying vessels, apart from the work­manship, would easily reach the sum of fifty thousand dollars. What a noble monument to a willing hearted people !

III. ITS TYPICAL FORESHADOWINGS.

There is a wealth of spiritual teaching radi­ating from the Lamp-stand, luminous as its own light, precious as its gold, clear as its pure oil.

1. It is a type of Christ.

As a light it testifies of Him. He is the true light in contradistinction to all natural and artificial light. Not true in contrast to false, but true as real and abiding, in contrast to that which is ceremonial and temporary. Christ is the “light of men,” John 1:4; “the light to lighten the Gentiles,” Luke 2:32; the light of Israel, Isaiah 60:1-3; “the light of the world,” John 8:12; and the glowing light of the predicted millennial age and of the New Jerusalem. “The Lamb is the light thereof.” Revelation 21:23.

2. A type of Christ and the Church.

First, in their essential unity. He, the cen­tral shaft; they, the branches beaten out of the shaft. It was one Lamp-stand. This organic unity of life between Christ and His people is set forth under the figure of the vine. “I am the vine, ye are the branches.” John 15:5. Also, in oneness of light. All the lamps were made partakers of one oil. Even so Christ and the Church upon whom came one and the same Spirit. Therefore Christ is the light, and the Church is the light, for it is by and through the Church His light shineth. Other types and figures of this union are found in the Scriptures, viz: Adam and Eve; the human body; a temple; husband and wife.

3. A type of the Word.

For the Word is light. “The command­ment is a lamp.” The Spirit upon the Word causeth the flame to ascend. Countless results have followed the shining of this clear light. In the days of Josiah the copy of the law found by Hilkiah in the temple produced repentance in monarch and subjects. So the reformation which changed Europe resulted from the dis­covery of the Book by Luther in the monastery of Erfurth. Satan’s persistent effort is to blind the minds of men “lest the light of the glori­ous gospel of Christ should shine unto them.” 2 Corinthians 3:4. And were it not that the God of all grace in His sovereign electing love com­mands the light to shine into our hearts, giving “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ,” we would have continued in the darkness of unbelief forever. 2 Corinthians 4:6.

4. A type of the Churches.

In the first chapter of Revelation John de­scribes a vision which he saw of the Son of Man in priestly attire walking in the midst of seven golden candlesticks. In 5:20, he is made to understand that the seven candlesticks are seven churches. One of these churches, that of Ephesus, to whom the light of the gos­pel was committed, left her first love. The light of holy zeal was quenched. There was much to commend in the church, but the light of flaming earnestness went out. Therefore the exhortation “Repent . . . or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou re­pent.” Revelation 2:5.

A lamp-stand without light may be a pretty ornament, but it fails to serve the purpose of its creation. Even so, the assembly, or the individual, whose light is dim, who fails to hold forth the word of life, as light-bearers, who is covered by the bushel, symbol of com­merce, or enwrapt with bedding, symbol of sloth, assuredly perverts the plan of their life and prostitutes their noble calling to ignoble ends. And because of this fatal tendency in christian life to grow cold in the service of God, the exhortation needs to be sounded with clarion ring, “Work out your own salvation . . . that ye may be blameless and harmless, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom ye are seen as luminaries in the world, holding forth the word of life.” Philippians 2:12-16.

Of John the Baptist it was said, “he was a burning and a shining lamp.” John 5:35. Glowing eulogy divinely bestowed ! The gra­cious Master withholds not the commendation so richly merited.

The branches of the Lamp-stand were alike in form and ornamentation, suggestive, at least, of the equality of all who are sons of God and fellow-members of the body as light-bearers. The light was continual; the bread was con­tinual; the incense was continual; the offer­ings were continual: indicating the fact that though connected with temporary ceremonies their antitypical realities were to abide. The varied use of light is worthy of our thought in this connection. Light reveals; it is pleas­ant; it is purifying; it is healing; it is needful for life and growth.

The priest trimmed the lamps to cause them to burn more brightly. Trimming is a delicate though needed work. The snuffers are, alas, too frequently needed. The smoky, ill-smell­ing substance must be removed in order to purify the flame. But there is more than a hint in the quality of snuffers and snuff-dish; both were of pure gold. “If a man be over­taken in any trespass, ye which are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of meekness.” Galatians 6:1.

In connection with the study of the Taber­nacle Lamp-stand the fourth chapter of Zecha­riah should be carefully read and contrasts noted. While one had reference in its spiritual import to the Church in this age chiefly, the other has reference to a future age when the Spirit will be more gloriously manifested. There will be no need for daily filling of the bowls, for they will be under the abundant flow from the olive trees through the golden pipes. The scene is Jewish, but the light will radiate throughout the whole earth.

 

XII.

THE ALTAR OF INCENSE.

THE materials used in the construction of this piece of Tabernacle furniture were acacia wood and pure gold. It was made four-square, its length and breadth being a cubit in measure. Its height was two cubits. It upheld a golden censer on which burning coals were placed. The fire called out the fragrance of the incense laid thereon. It had horns like unto the brazen altar projecting from its four corners, and a heavy moulding of gold surrounded its four top edges, giving to it additional strength and beauty. There were two staves connected with it for transport, which passed through rings placed at opposite angles beneath the golden crown or border. This altar stood in front of the rail dividing between the two rooms. On either side, North and South, were the Golden Lamp-­stand and Shew-bread Table. These were the essential furniture of the outer room into which the priests came daily in the fulfillment of their office.

1. The Incense.

As the brazen altar without was made for sacrifice, so the golden altar within was made for incense. Both altars were related. Blood from the altar of sacrifice was placed upon the altar of incense, and burning coals were trans­ferred from the one to the other. Exodus 30:10; Leviticus 16:12. Thus two great doctrines of redemption had their foreshadowing in cere­monies connected with both these altars; the doctrines of atonement and intercession. This order of truth is never reversed in the gospel. First, atonement by sacrifice, and next, inter­cession. Moreover, intercession is only effica­cious when atonement is its basis. This also is the true mould of christian experience.

The ingredients which composed the sacred incense and its preparation are carefully specified. Exodus 30:34, 35. The incense must have been a very odoriferous compound. It was pure, it was sweet, it was holy. Elaborate expositions have been given by many writers of the exact nature of each particular ingre­dient. They are interesting, although measur­ably speculative, nor is it necessary to be assured of their respective origin in order to enter upon the typical meaning of their composite. Stacte is generally supposed to have been a resinous gum called, in after years, the balm of Jericho. Onycha is thought to have come from a species of shell-fish. Galbanum is said to have been the sap of a Syrian plant, while Frankincense was an exudation from an eastern tree. When the four elements were compounded after the art of the apothecary, salt was added, doubtless to check any tend­ency toward acridity or putrefaction. When fully prepared the incense was beaten small and placed on the burning coals of the golden censer, then immediately the sacred room was filled with a refreshing and agreeable odor.

The incense was to be kept sacredly for Tabernacle service, and he who manufactured from the receipt for personal or family use must pay the penalty of death for his act of presumption. And none but priests of the seed of Aaron were allowed to handle it. When King Uzziah attempted to usurp the priest’s office and daringly challenged the holy Lord God in presuming to burn incense, his impiety was severely punished. Even royalty must bow in abasement before Jeho­vah. Uzziah was rebellious and angry; his punishment was swift and terrible. 2 Chronicles 26:16-23.

2. Its typical import.

We may now inquire, What was the spir­itual teaching foreshown by the use of incense?

First, and chiefly, it typified the precious excellencies of our Lord’s intercession, now in the presence of God for us. His holy person­ality, His obedience unto death, His love, His devotion to the Father, His essential holiness, His gracious words and deeds were the ingre­dients which now make His priestly mediation a sweet savor unto God. This is the incense which is pure and perpetual, which is sweet and sacred.

The subject of Christ’s intercession needs to be guarded in two essential particulars. Firstly, that it be not ignored as an unneces­sary ministry ; and, secondly, that it be not overloaded with additions and conditions to which it is in nowise subject. Intercession is not for the completeness of the believer’s justification, for that view would militate with the absoluteness of the atonement. Through Christ’s death the believing sinner is perfected forever; “justified from all things.” Hebrews 9:12; 10:12-15; Acts 13:38, 39. By His resurrection the believer’s justification is estab­lished. Intercession does not complete it, but crowns it with glory and honor. In our Lord’s intercessory prayer, in which he anti­cipated the end of His earthly mission, He assumes the justification of His people. He therefore prays for all who believe that they may be kept, sanctified, united, glorified. John 17. chap. Those three parts of His work which are closely inter-related are yet distinct. He died for our sins; He rose for our justifica­tion; He ascended to the place of intercession. “It is Christ that died; yea, rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.” Romans 8:34.

A superficial and unscriptural theory thoughtlessly advocated is, that Christ is now in heaven praying for sinners; therefore will they be justified. The opposite is taught in Hebrews 7:24, 25 (see R. V.).

Though the believer is justified, the precious incense of our Lord’s priestly intercession gives him a place of fullest acceptance as a sweet savor unto God. It is not without spiritual meaning that directions were not given for the construction of the golden altar until after the priestly office and priestly gar­ments were instituted. From Exodus, twenty­-fifth chapter to the twenty-ninth, the various vessels of the sanctuary, with priestly ministry, are introduced. In chapter thirty directions are given concerning the altar of incense. The priest ministering at the brazen altar making atonement for sin, typified the work of Christ on earth; the priest offering incense from the golden altar represented His work in heaven.

But again, incense is a recognized type of the believer’s worship; prayer, adoration and thanksgiving. David seemed to understand the relation between the type and its anti­typical meaning. Thus he uttered such mem­orable words as these: “Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense, and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.” Psalms 141:2. The time of offering incense naturally became the hour of prayer. Hence we read when Zacharias was priest, “According to the custom of the priest’s office, his lot was to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord. And the whole multitude of the people were praying without, at the time of incense.” Luke 1:9, 10.

Prayer symbolized by incense becomes effi­cacious in this particular, that it is presented in the name of, and through the merits of, our glorious Lord. The incense was laid on the censer full of burning coals which was upheld by the altar. And surely this is the spiritual teaching. “Through Him, then, let us offer up a sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of lips which make confession to His Name.” Hebrews 13:15.

Service to our fellow-christian is also com­parable to incense, if indeed it be the unselfish service of the heart, and of the hand, such as the Philippian converts rendered to their dear brother Paul. How charmingly he acknowl­edged their love; “I am filled, having re­ceived from Epaphroditus the things that came from you, an odor of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well-pleasing to God.” Philippians 4:18.

Prayer and service which are official, or formal, a purely imitative exercise adopted as worship, is a fleshly product; a counterfeit of the true which will bring upon itself just con­dem1nation. The presumption which would imitate spiritual worship is no less evil than that self-will which would dare Jehovah’s command and imitate the holy perfume.

Real prayer is the expression of desire, the outpouring of the soul in which the Holy Spirit dwells. For it is He who creates the desire, who shapes the petition, who gives fervency of utterance, and who makes it a spiritual offering. True worship is to “worship God in the Spirit;” true prayer is “praying in the Holy Ghost.”

 

XIII.

THE ARK OF THE COVENANT.

WITHIN THE VAIL! Abundant revelations await us there; revelations of righteousness, of grace, of redemption! Within the vail! Immediately comes to our mind its solemn and sacrificial import; “Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered without the gate. . . Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus let us draw near.” Hebrews 13:12; 10:19-22. We have now reached in our progress from the brazen altar the very sanctum sanctorum. Else­where we have called attention to the increas­ing value of the sacred vessels along the line of advancement. It is likewise worthy of note that the various curtains grow richer in design and embellishment, the inner vail being the costliest and most elaborate. Again, there is an increase of light from that which is artificial in the first room to that which is celestial in the second. The journey takes us from sin to ­grace, and from grace to glory. Such is the program of christian doctrine, and such also should be our experimental knowledge of it. “The path of the just is as the shining light which shineth more and more unto the perfect day.” Proverbs 4:18. The figure employed here is that of the light of dawn which in­creases in volume until the splendor of me­ridian arrives.

Within the vail finds us in a room whose length, breadth, and height, are equal. It was ten cubits each way. The mathematical cube is the symbol of perfection. The walls and ceiling are awe-inspiring with figures of cher­ubim wrought into the curtains, while the reflection of pure gold makes the place flash with splendor. For the light which glows within is neither natural nor artificial. It is the light of THE GLORY OF GOD. We are now within the King’s throne-room. In the western end and facing eastward, sufficiently removed from the vail to give the high priest the fullest opportunity for the performance of his duties, stood THE THRONE OF GOD. And upon the throne, flaming out in awful bright­ness, rested that holy SHEKINAH which lighted the silent chamber, and was the manifested Presence of the holy, holy, holy, Lord God, in the midst of His people. There the divine attributes were displayed in perfect reconcilia­tion; mercy and truth met together, righteous­ness and peace kissed each other. For into that secret place entered once a year Israel’s priestly representative sprinkling the blood of atonement, and enveloped in a cloud of fragrant incense, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. And according to Jehovah’s promise, “There will I meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from off the Mercy­seat,” the covenant-keeping God took His seat on that throne of grace as Israel’s propitiated King. This piece of furniture of such distin­guished notoriety, so exalted above every mechanical device ever framed, was composed of three distinct parts. Three and yet one: the Ark, the Mercy-seat, and the Cherubim.

In this brief examination and exposition we will consider the material, importance, and design, of the wonderful Ark. Exodus 25:10-16.

I. Its material.

It was a chest in form, made of acacia wood, two and a half cubits in length, one cubit and a half in breadth, and one cubit and a half in height. It was heavily plated with gold within and without. A golden crown or border was placed around its outward rim or edge. This addition enriched the sacred vessel, strength­ened it, and held the golden cover in its place. On the sides rings were fastened, through which strong staves were thrust for carrying it onward. These staves were never to be re­moved while the Tabernacle lasted. Exodus 25:15. When, however, the Ark found a resting place in the Temple the staves were withdrawn. 1 Kings 8:8. This was in keeping with the typical character of the Temple foreshadowing a future age when God in very deed shall dwell with men once again by visible symbol.

2. Its importance.

When God gave directions to Moses con­cerning the building of the Tabernacle He spake first of the Ark. Exodus 25:10. It was first in order because first in importance. Be­fore any description was given of the sanctuary or its court, minute directions were given regarding the Ark. Take the Ark away and the whole ritual of the Tabernacle would have been valueless and unmeaning. It was the object to which the brazen altar pointed; the sacrifice giving right of access to the worshiper, who came to the Ark representatively in the priest. It was pre-eminent above all the ves­sels, and the only one transferred from the Tabernacle to the Temple more than four hun­dred years after it was first made.

3. Its design.

During those wonderful forty days which Moses spent on the mountain with God he received from Him the Ten Words graven on tables of stone. “And Moses turned and went down from the mount, and the two tables of testimony were in his hand, . .  and it came to pass as soon as he came nigh unto the camp, that he saw the calf and the dancing: and Moses’ anger waxed hot, and he cast the tables out of his hands, and brake them be­neath the mount.” Exodus 32:16-20. The sin of the people was a flagrant violation of the first command of the decalogue. What hope, then, had Moses that they would keep a law which they were now deliberately break­ing? In despair for them, and in anger toward their mad rebellion, Moses cast the tablets from him. Thus were they literally, as well as morally, broken. A second time Moses was ordered to the mountain and commanded to bring with him two tables of stone like unto the first. Then did Jehovah write again the Ten Words which Moses received, and he de­posited them in the Ark. Deuteronomy 10:1-5. This was its original design. The Ark was made for the Law. Exodus 25:16. As “the ministration of death,” Law cannot impart life, nor show leniency to the transgressor. It clearly reveals man’s duty toward God, and to his neighbor, but it cannot assist him in the performance of that duty; and when man fails to fulfill its requirements it leaves him unpitied and un­aided. The Law is holy, just, and good, but no transgressor can escape its penalty. “Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things written in the book of the law to do them.” The Law was not given to make men holy, but to show them their unholiness. The mirror reveals but does not reform. “The Law never saved a sinner; if it did it would be no longer a law. If it softened and yielded at any point it were absolutely annulled. If any sin, or any sinner is allowed to pass, where is the justice of punishing any sin or any sin­ner? To bend any Commandment for the accommodation of a defaulter is to blot out the Law. The Law, by its very nature, can have no partialities and no compunctions. It never saves those who transgress, and never weeps for those who perish.”*

4. Its typical meaning.

The Ark was very manifestly a type of Christ. In its incorruptible wood and pure gold it expressed His dual nature; in its guar­dianship of the Law it foreshadowed His holy life. By the hands of man the tables of stone were broken: within the Ark they received no damage. Thus is unfolded the sad fact that every man born of woman has broken God’s holy law; “there is none righteous, no, not one,” save the man Christ Jesus. Hear Him joyfully exclaim “I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart.” Psalms 40:7, 8. Jesus kept the law in its entirety, having fulfilled all its requirements. He loved the Lord His God with all His heart, and He loved His neighbor as Himself. The precepts of the Law He obeyed perfectly. The Law of His God was in His heart. He was therefore justified through His own righteousness. And “He is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believeth.” We are free from the Law of condemnation through the imputa­tion of His righteousness. For righteousness “is unto all and upon all them that believe.” Romans 3:22. The obedience of the holy Jesus is reckoned as our obedience; His unsullied righteousness is imputed to us, and through His atoning death the full blessing of Justifi­cation is secured. “For as through the one man’s disobedience, the many were made sin­ners, so through the obedience of the one shall the many be made righteous.” Romans 5:19.

The golden pot of manna was placed in the Ark as a memorial of God’s care for His peo­ple during their desert journeyings. Exodus 16:33. This preservation of the manna was a standing miracle. Ordinarily if kept one day after it had fallen it would have decomposed. Refer­ence is made to its preservation in the Ark in the reward promised to the church of Perga­mos. “To him that overcometh will I give of the hidden manna.” Revelation 2:17.

Aaron’s priestly rod, which in budding proved his rightful claim to the priesthood, was also placed within the Ark. Life from the dead is the characteristic of God’s royal priest­hood in Jesus Christ. He is the fulfiller of the law; the hidden manna; the budding and fruitful priest whose ministry has the divine sanction. Never has royal casket contained such jewels; though material in themselves, they were symbolic of eternal verities, and although they have passed away, the spiritual facts they foreshadowed abide for evermore. The names of the Ark having been divinely given are more than suggestive.

  1. The Ark of the Testimony. Exodus 25:22.
  2. The Ark of the Covenant. Numbers 10:33.
  3. The Ark of the Lord God. 1 Kings 2:26.
  4. The Ark of God. 1 Samuel 3:3.
  5. The holy Ark. 2 Chronicles 35:3.
  6. The Ark of thy Strength. Psalms 132:8.
  7. The Ark of Jehovah, the Lord of all the earth. Joshua 3:13.

 

XIV.

THR MERCY-SEAT.

DIRECTIONS for the construction of the Mercy-seat, its use, and its relation to the Ark, will be found in Exodus twenty fifth chapter, seventeenth to twenty-second verse. Although closely connected with the Ark, it was also regarded with pecu­liar sanctity by itself. It was a solid slab of pure gold, the same length and breadth as the Ark. It was made to fit the Ark as a cover­ing, and adjusted according to exact measure­ments so “that its very points of contact were hidden by the golden crown encircling it.”

I. Name and design.

The Hebrew name for Mercy-seat is literally “Covering.” It was not only the material covering for the Ark, but it proclaimed in a figure how transgression is forgiven and sin is covered. On the ends of the Mercy-seat stood those mystic and mysterious forms called Cherubim. They were beaten out of the same piece of gold, and were therefore an integral part of the Mercy-seat. Between the Cherubim, on the golden lid of the Ark, abode the dazzling Shekinah. This was the one hallowed spot on earth which Jehovah had chosen as His dwelling-place. It was the alone point of meeting between God and the repre­sentative of His people. From there He heard their confessions; there He beheld the token of their admission that they deserved judgment unto death in the blood of their substituted sacrifices; and from there He commanded His blessings to fall upon them. The divine direc­tion, and the divine design was this: “And thou shalt put the Mercy-seat above upon the Ark. . . And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the Mercy-seat, from between the two Cheru­bim, of all things which I will give thee in commandment to the children of Israel.” Doubtless His presence there was manifested in the highest form of symbol, and in that most consistent with His nature, for “God is Light.” David, when addressing the majesty of God, pleads, “Thou that dwellest between the Cherubim shine forth.” Psalms 80:1.

There was no seat in the Tabernacle for the priests. They performed their duties while standing. But Jehovah had His throne-seat to which the high priest drew near on the great day of Atonement, with the blood of the sin­ offering to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.

The New Testament name for Mercy-seat is “Propitiation.” It was not therefore merely a mechanical arrangement to cover the Ark, but a designed type of our blessed Lord who is the Mercy-seat for our sins. 1 John 2:2. The Mercy-seat of pure gold was held perpet­ually in its place by the golden border of the Ark. So in the great scheme of redemption which the Tabernacle and all its appointments designedly typify, the propitiatory covering is a fixture. It was ordered in all things and made sure.

2. Its spiritual signification.

The typical import of the Mercy-seat intro­duces us to the very heart of the Gospel. The Law is against us because we are against the Law. “Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” Romans 3:19, 20. We are not able of our own resources either to fulfill the demands of Law, or in our mad rebellion to set aside its authority. “For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them. But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith. And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them.” Galatians 3:10-12.

The Holy Spirit has revealed in the Scrip­tures these two facts: that he who continueth not in all things specified in the Law is under its curse, and that no man is justified by law and able to stand before God as personally righteous. And the same blessed Spirit has further revealed by type, and by teaching, that the condemning voice of the Law is hushed, and the execution of the dread penalty is arrested. And wherefore? Because “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us.” Galatians 3:13. The same Spirit, through Paul, announces the full meaning of the Mercy-seat: “Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: whom God set forth to be A PROPITIATION (Mercy-seat) through faith by His blood . . . that He might be just, and the justifier of him that bath faith in Jesus.” Romans 3:25, 26.

Christ hath made atonement: He entered heaven with His own blood: it is sprinkled there. God is seated on His throne of grace. All who come to Him through Christ may realize the blessedness of “the man whose transgression is forgiven, WHOSE SIN IS COV­ERED.” Psalms 32:1.

A publican sued for mercy on the ground of sacrifice. Luke 18:10-15. The prayer, “God be merciful to me the sinner,” is liter­ally “God be propitious (Mercy-seated) to me.” What a prayer was this! With a keen apprehension of the nature of atonement his prayer expressed his faith. This was its sub­stance; smiting his breast, the seat of cor­ruption, as much as to say, “Oh, God, do not look at me, the sinner, but look at the Mercy­seat; the blood is there atoning for my sin.” There was confession, there was humiliation, there was repentance, there was faith, and “that man went down to his house justified.” He abased himself and magnified the atone­ment. He sought mercy through sacrifice.

The Pharisee, a student of Scripture, and an advocate of the ceremonial law, was blinded by a delusive self-righteousness, so that he saw not his naked shame. Otherwise he would not presume to present any self-merit before God as a reason why he should be justified. But even as he spurned the publican, God spurned him. His supreme egotism closed the door of mem­ory: he had forgotten the ceremonies of the day of Atonement. Leviticus 16th chapter.

The Mercy-seat proclaims the remission of sins, but in their remission no violence shall be done to the justice of God. Grace must reign through righteousness, and redemption must stand the test of Law. “It is God that justi­fieth: who then shall condemn?” But in jus­tifying the sinner through the blood and righ­teousness of Christ, He lessens not by a hair’s breadth the slightest particle of His moral government. He could be no partner in modi­fying the demands of the Law or in mitigating its dread punishment. And therefore it is that the Cross, where Christ made atonement for sin, doth shine out most illustriously. Wisdom hath devised the lofty plan of the sinner’s Jus­tifcation ; Power hath executed it; Righteous­ness is its foundation; Justice hath not been dishonored; Truth is witness to the terms and execution of the transaction; Law demands no more, and Mercy, sweet Mercy, rich Mercy, boundless, overflowing, compassionate Mercy, ministers through precious Blood abundant pardon and completed justification to ALL WHO BELIEVE ON THE LORD JESUS CHRIST.

 

XV.

THE CHERUBIM.

THERE are many things which can be said concerning the Cherubim without in the least indulging in fanciful interpreta­tions. Their early mention in Genesis, and the frequent references made to them in other books; their attitude in Eden after Adam’s transgression and expulsion from the garden, and their posture on the Mercy-seat; their close connection with the Shekinah, and their inti­mate relations with the manifestations of the Lord Jehovah, invest them with an absorbing interest. Nevertheless we cannot express sympathy with dogmatic views too frequently asserted. While reverent scholars cautiously express themselves, superficial students assume a superior wisdom, and voice their utterances with unbecoming assurance. No one has had private revelations on the meaning of the Cherubim, notwithstanding the impression some teachers make that they are so favored. Not a few good men have hindered their use­fulness by this assumption; and because of their authoritative declarations regarding the unknown their opinions are of little worth on doctrines more clearly revealed. Pastor Frank White, who is a careful and conscientious stu­dent of the Tabernacle types, and is favorably known as a safe teacher, modestly declares: “Concerning the typical import of the golden Cherubim, I scarcely venture a remark.” With becoming humility he offers his opinion in his most worthy book on “CHRIST IN THE TABERNACLE.”

Rather than indulge in any speculations of my own regarding the mysterious figures which stood on either end of the Mercy-seat, I will quote the words of a distinguished scholar who has given considerable attention to the study of the subject. Dr. Baylee, in his course of Biblical and Theological instruction, explains the Cherubim as follows:

“When Moses was commanded to make the Cherubim, be was to make them ‘of the Mercy-­seat.’ The words are remarkable, ‘from out of the Mercy-seat shall ye make the Cherubim.’ Exodus 25:19. They were therefore of the Mercy-seat. Christ is humanity glorified; therefore the Cherubim are humanity glorified.

“In this, then, we have the fundamental idea of the Cherubim, so far as regards their nature.

“In Ezek. 28:11-15, the king of Tyrus is symbolized as ‘the anointed cherub that covereth.’ Here the prophet employs the same word which Moses did to describe the covering wings of the Cherubim over the Mercy-seat.

“A cherub therefore symbolizes the regal dignity of glorified humanity. It is not humanity in its natural state as derived from Adam, but in its supernatural condition as de­rived from Jesus Christ: ‘We are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones.’ Ephesians 5:30.

“The Cherubim at the east of Eden were accompanied by ‘a flaming sword which turned every way.’ The exact words are ‘and the flame of the sword,’ i. e. (I think), a sword-like flame, equivalent to a devouring flame; for a sword is the symbol of devouring or destroying.

“‘Turning every way’ is Turning upon it­self.’ It expresses that peculiar force of fire by which it exhibits a continual turning in­wards.

“This was the divine Glory between the Cherubim, which afterward dwelt between the Mosaic Cherubim, and which was realized in faith by the believing Psalmist: ‘O Thou that dwellest between the Cherubim,’ or rather ‘inhabiting the Cherubim.’ The Church is to be ‘a habitation of God.’ Psalms 80:1; Ephesians 2:22.

“The Cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden were, then, the symbolic representations of glorified humanity as a habitation of God.

“They were permanently there, as is taught by the words ‘and He caused to dwell.’ The Rabbins formed the word Shekinah, or dwell­ing-place of God, from this verb.

This was that ‘presence of the Lord’ from which Cain went out. Genesis 4:16. It was thither that he and Abel had brought their offerings. It was from the fire between the Cherubim that Abel’s sacrifice was consumed, and Cain’s was not. The Lord had thus ‘re­spect unto Abel and to his offering.’

“‘ To keep the way of the tree of life,’ or rather ‘lives,’ means to keep or preserve the knowledge of the way, and to observe it so as to walk in it.

“Adam and Eve, clothed with the skins of their burnt offerings (Leviticus 7:8), making an offering at the east of the garden, and therefore looking westward, i. e., symbolically to the death of ‘ the Sun of Righteousness,’ yet hav­ing before them the symbols of glorified humanity, exhibit to us the whole gospel of Christ from grace to glory. They teach us also that we shall not obtain our full blessedness in the paradise of God until we attain to resur­rection humanity.”

There are difficulties in connection with this interpretation, as with others. Because there are phases of doctrine, and aspects of truth, illustrated by this exposition, which are in keeping with the gospel of the grace of God, does not prove it conclusive. The Cherubim were formed of pure gold, and of one piece with the Mercy-seat, beaten out of it. So far we have an illustration of a fact afterward re­vealed, concerning the union of Christ and His people, who are “members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones;” “partakers of the divine nature.” They also are one with each other by virtue of their union with Him. The Cherubim stood upon either end of the Mercy­-seat, and looked down upon it. Likewise, even in heaven, the believer will turn his eyes toward the blood of sprinkling and sing the song of redemption.

This view, that the Cherubim refer to the church glorified, seems to me to come short in one special particular. Animal creation is left out, and yet the form of the Cherubim would surely imply that this part of God’s creation are to be made partakers of the glory yet to be revealed. The lion, the ox, and the eagle, must have some reference to the animal king­dom which they represent. Allowing that man, as symbolized by the human face, is pre­eminent, yet he is not exclusively the inheritor of future blessedness. Moreover, the human face of the Cherubim would have a more univer­sal application than to the church distinctively. For we, of the church age, are too apt to regard ourselves as the only part of redeemed human­ity who shall occupy nearness to the Throne. There has been rather much fantastical inter­pretation and foolish controversy concerning the church’s place here and hereafter.

Some worthy writers consider the Cherubim to symbolize the attributes and perfections of Deity. This is a lofty thought. But while elsewhere the reconciliation of the glorious attributes of the God-head is taught, I think we cannot form that line of teaching from the attitude of the Cherubim. Again not a few scholarly authors declare they are representa­tives of angels who are so depicted as constant attendants on the Almighty—the ministers of His throne. That they represent the ministers of the gospel who preach the message of recon­ciliation finds many supporters among writers of the last century, while yet others say they symbolize priestly ministry and reverential worship. The thought finds favor with many that they symbolize the glorious qualities and attributes of Christ as the Saviour of men. The early fathers applied the faces of the Cherubim to the different aspects of Christ as presented in the four gospels. Others say they represented the twelve tribes in their acceptance before God, and foreshadowed the great multi­tude of the redeemed, which no man can number.

To those interested we would suggest: Care­fully compare the description of the Cherubim in Eden with that given of the Tabernacle Cherubim. With these portrayals in mind read Isaiah’s vision of the Seraphim (chapter 6.), Ezekiel’s vision (chapter 1.) and John’s vision (Revelation 4:5). In Revelation they are distinguished from angels, and from the elders who represented the redeemed company. “I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne, and the living creatures, and the elders.” Revelation 5:11-14.

May we not conclude that the Cherubim shadowed forth the ultimate design of redemp­tion! Surely in ages to come, every form of creature life will share with redeemed man the exalted privilege of participating in the blessings of Jehovah-Jesus, and shall dwell in the light of His glory when it win enfold the world in its wide embrace. And “when we have gath­ered in one all the highest excellencies of the broad creation—of the field, the forest and the air; the wings, the strength, the speed, the keenness of vision, the intelligence, the pa­tience, the endurance, the dominion—we have not God, but the creatures of God. From Him they came, by Him and for Him they live; above them in grandeur incomprehensible and glory inconceivable, veiled in clouds, and dwelling in light unapproachable, Jehovah plants His throne. He is over and above all, among all His works, His will sovereign, and all unite to reverence and glorify His name!”

 

XVI.

HISTORY OF THE ARK.

MIRACLES attended the movements of this triune vessel—Ark, Mercy-seat and Cherubim; miracles of mercy and of judgment. The mystic Shekinah moved onward in majestic sovereignty. While the people remained faithful to their God, and kept themselves from the defilement of the land, the Ark defended them and destroyed their foes. But alas for Israel! Their national deterioration caused the Shekinah to withdraw until “Ichabod” was written on their walls— “the glory is departed.” Graphic picture of the whole human race! God would fain dwell with man; He came unto His own world and His own people received Him not. The Ark of His power has come to us also, but we have only intermittent flashes therefrom, for we too have refused our Lord His rightful place among us. The world knows Him not; it is still the world,—an opposer of the church, a hater of Christ, in alliance with the devil, a seducer of the flesh, unreformable, ungodly, doomed.

1. The Ark and Jordan.

When the hosts of Israel reached the border of the promised land, a portion of the people found room for settlement on the wilderness side of the Jordan. Reuben, Simeon and half the tribe of Manasseh accepted an inheritance there, but their fighting men were called upon to join the remaining tribes, cross the Jordan, and co-operate with them in subduing their enemies. In the progress of their march the Israelites find themselves encamped by the Jordan. It was in the harvest season, when the river had overflown its banks. A wide expanse of water, with its bold current, swept onward, and beyond lay the goodly land flow­ing with milk and honey. “And the Lord said unto Joshua, This day will I begin to magnify thee in the sight of all Israel . . . and thou shalt command the priests that bare the Ark of the covenant, saying, When ye are come to the brink of the water of Jordan, ye shall stand still in Jordan.” Joshua 3:7, 8.

As the Red Sea parted before the host, so now Jordan must give way. “And as they that bare the Ark were come unto Jordan, and the feet of the priests that bare the Ark were dipped in the brim of the water, . . . that the waters which came down from above stood and rose up upon a heap . . and the people passed over right against Jericho. And the priests that bare the Ark of the covenant of the Lord stood firm on dry ground in the midst of Jordan.” Joshua 3:15-18.

The reader should note the frequency with which “the Ark of the covenant” is men­tioned throughout this chapter, for the Ark with its accompanying Mercy-seat was a type of Christ. Jordan is the river of “judgment” and of “death.” Into this cold swirling river Jesus entered and dried its bed. Very sug­gestive are the words “from the city Adam” (Joshua 3:16), for by them we are reminded that Christ opened the way from death to life for the human race, dating from Adam and including him. Canaan, with its unholy inhab­itants, with its constant warrings, and with its historic backslidings of Israel, is surely no picture of the future abode of the redeemed. But it does foreshadow with accurate delinea­tion the place of our present possession in heavenly experiences. Believers who have realized their co-crucifixion with Christ and their joint-resurrection with Him, have already crossed the river of judgment. “There is therefore now no judgment to them that are in Christ Jesus.” We now possess as much of Canaan-life as our faith apprehends. But war­fare continues while foes remain unsubdued. The metaphor may be allowed that Jordan represents death, for that dread enemy has also been overcome. Christ in the grave despoiled the grim monster. The river is now dry for our feet. “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil, for THOU art with me.”

2. The Ark and Jericho.

There is other work for the Ark to accom­plish. The people are now encamped before Jericho. It is the first Canaanitish city which lies athwart their pathway. How shall it be conquered? And Joshua said: “Take up the Ark of the covenant and let seven priests bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the Ark of the Lord.” Joshua 6:6.

The blowing of rams’ horns on the seventh day was the signal for the concerted shout. Power was connected with the Ark. “So the Ark of the Lord compassed the city. . . . And it came to pass, when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout that the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city every man straight before him and they took the city.” Joshua 6:11-20.

Again, we suggest that power was not in the trumpets, nor yet in the shouting, but in the fact that a blood-stained Mercy-seat preceded them, and therefore God bore witness to its efficacy, as we read: “By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they were compassed about seven days.” Hebrews 11:30. The faith of the people was in a present God, their God, who had accepted them through sacrifice. The idolatry of the inhabitants provoked Him against the people of the land.

3. The Ark and Defeat.

After a time of unsettledness pending the extirpation of the enemy, the Tabernacle was erected at Shiloh. The Ark was occasionally used, as when the blessings and cursings were pronounced at Ebal and Gerizim for obedience and disobedience, but when it was again taber­nacled behind the curtains of the Holiest place it found rest at Shiloh for three hundred years.

Once, indeed, it proved a failure. The Philistines had prevailed in battle over the Israelites, and the latter, thinking of other days when their forefathers were victorious, fetched the Ark of God and brought it to Ebenezer. “And when the Ark of the covenant of the Lord came into the camp all Israel shouted so that the earth rang again.” 1 Samuel 4:5. Vain was that shout; “The Philistines fought and Israel was smitten. There fell of Israel thirty thousand footmen.” Verse 10. And why this overwhelming defeat? Had they not the Ark in their midst! True, indeed, but bad men accompanied it. Hophni and Phinehas, degenerate sons of Eli, attended the Ark of the covenant. The priestly channel was defiled and God would not use it. The people may die in thousands, but while sin is in the camp God refuses partnership with His people. They have the Ark; the instrument is there, but, alas! it is only a tool, an inert vessel, an inanimate piece of furniture which is carted from the field as the Philistines’ trophy of vic­tory. Yet they had shouted. What an un­meaning shout, empty, pretentious! Alas, alas! And yet we are slow to learn the lesson that ecclesiasticism, orthodox, correct, formerly connected with divine power, may become a travesty of religion, a cold, helpless tool, deadened through associations forced upon it by men of the baser sort. Oh, when will the church learn, when will each one of us learn, that PURITY precedes and accompanies POWER? A train of evils followed the departure of the Ark ; Eli’s death, and the wife of Phinehas also dying, after she called her babe “Icha­bod.” 1 Samuel 4:18-21.

4. The Ark and Dagon.

After Israel’s shameful defeat, beginning with a shout of self confidence and ending in melancholy humiliation, the Philistines carried the Ark into their country. They lodged it the first night in their great temple, and set it by the side of Dagon, their national god. In the morning the priests found Dagon fallen on the ground before the Ark, but supposing the mishap merely accidental, they set the idol in his place again. Next day Dagon was found face downward, with his head and hands decap­itated. In both instances it should be observed that Dagon was fallen on his face to the earth “before the Ark of the Lord.” Have we not here something more than a prophetic hint of that future day when all idols will be flung aside and Christ shall be recognized as the supreme object of universal worship? Do we invite Christ into our heart now, into the temple where His Spirit comes to abide? Then every Dagon must be cast down. Do we sin­cerely subscribe, Even so, Amen?

5. The Ark and Bethshemesh.

Noting the downfall of Dagon and the sud­den visitation of a strange disease among the people, the Philistines decided to send the Ark away, fearing its presence would call down further judgments upon them. On its journey to Gath and to Ekron additional disasters befell the inhabitants, until finally, after seven months of perplexity, they placed it on a new cart, which was drawn by two cows. Without driver or guide the kine took the road to Beth­shemesh. Once more the sacred vessel has come to its own people, who gave it a welcome, offering the kine as a burnt offering before the Lord upon the wood of the cart. Yet here also a strange occurrence took place. The men of Bethshemesh looked into the Ark. This they could not do without removing the Mercy-cover; that blood-stained Mercy-seat. What was the result ? Fifty thousand three score and ten men were slain. The astonished cry of those spared was “Who can stand before this HOLY Lord God?” Who, indeed? The uncovered law, that “ministration of death,” will surely condemn. Yet notwithstanding these examples there are in our day impious hands at work removing the Mercy-seat and refusing to believe that the Blood of Jesus Christ is the ground of reconciliation with God. The word of warning has been faithfully given. “For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment and a fierceness of fire which shall devour the adversaries.” 1 Samuel 5, 6.; Hebrews 10:26, 27.

We cannot within the limits of this book follow the Ark in all of its wanderings. When Solomon finished the Temple this interesting relic of the Tabernacle found a place of rest beneath its folds. What happened it years afterward no man knoweth to this day. There are traditions concerning its removal and burial, but where Scripture is silent we must not pre­sume. The most striking report of its loss we find in the Apocrypha, where it is said that Jeremiah hid it in a cave and sealed the door, and that it will abide there until Israel is nationally and spiritually restored. Who knoweth but that Ark shall yet be the centre of worship when in that Age to come, the Jew­ish people shall have received the full knowl­edge of its great antitype JESUS MESSIAH.

 

XVII.

THE VAIL, AND THE VAIL RENT.

WHILE the Vail remained unrent there could be no freedom of access into the immediate presence of God. He occupied this holy room Himself, until the time of His purpose should be fulfilled, when every barrier would be removed, and the worshiper could draw nigh with liberty to the throne of grace.

The Most Holy place was a type of heaven. There God dwelleth. This does not mean that there is any local limitation to His infinite Majesty. The heaven of heavens cannot con­tain Him, yet His throne is there. There angels bow before Him, adoring Him unceas­ingly. Yet this glorious Lord God condescends to dwell with men. It was declared in past dispensations, “Verily thou art a God that hidest thyself.” No more shall it be so said, for now the Vail is rent, and we have unhin­dered access by faith into the heavenly sanctu­ary, where He receives us graciously and bestows upon His worshiping people the bless­ings of pardon and of purity.

1. Material and type.

The Vail divided the Holy place from the Most Holy. The material which composed it was fine linen, with colors of blue, purple and scarlet interblended upon it. The anti type of the Vail is Christ Jesus. The Apostle speaks of the Vail as “His flesh.” Hebrews 10:19, 20. This is our warrant for the application. The “fine linen” denotes righteousness. Concern­ing the glorified church we read “To her as granted fine linen, clean and white; for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.” Revelation 19:8. This righteousness of saints is not of their own creation. Our righteousness, that of our own acquirement, is the opposite of “clean and white.” God estimates it as “filthy rags.” And yet the saints are seen clothed in spotlessness and purity. From whence is their clothing derived? We reply from God Himself, of whom Christ is made unto us, RIGHTEOUSNESS. Jesus is the perfec­tion of humanity. The Vail typifies His flesh; that He is man: the fine linen declares Him a righteous man. Heaven bore testimony to His essential purity. The Father said of Him, “My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” Earth’s witnesses agree in their verdict concerning Him. Pilate found “no fault in Him.” Pilate’s wife spoke of Him as “a just man.” Judas said His blood was “innocent.” Paul declared Him “undefiled.” Satan could find nothing in Him.

2. Colors and suggestion.

There were colors on the Vail, with Cheru­bim. Doubtless these colors, blue, purple and scarlet, have their spiritual signification. The blue, which is a heavenly color, would at least suggest the heavenly character of this pure and perfect man. The scarlet indicates His earthly origin. It is an earthly color, finding its sphere in nature which it arrays in brilliant gorgeous­ness and marked beauty. The purple is the royal color, and may possibly refer to the regal aspect of Christ and His relation to the throne of David. Though David’s Lord, He was David’s Son, and therefore in His human life of royal descent. In these particulars we would not dogmatize, but there may be in the theories suggested material for thought and devout contemplation of Him whose name is “WONDERFUL.” While Jesus lived, free access to God, for the sinner, was not established. He had right of entrance because of His inherent perfection. None else were found worthy. Weighed in the true balance of God’s holy de­mands, all others were found wanting. In fact, the life and purity of Christ declares the utter insignificance of all human attainments. The very display of His righteousness brings the greater condemnation upon every man. Are we all then forever shut out from God’s holy heaven? Nay! blessed be His name! He hath devised means whereby His banished creatures may draw near, in the full assurance of wel­come. The Vail is rent and we are invited to come boldly unto the throne of Grace.

3. Rending of the Vail.

The Vail unrent concealed; the Vail rent revealed. The rending of the Vail was simultaneous with Christ’s death:—

“Now from the sixth hour there was dark­ness over all the land unto the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? Some of them that stood there, when they heard that, said, This man calleth for Elias. And straightway one of them ran, and took a sponge, and filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave Him to drink. The rest said, Let be, let us see whether Elias will come to save Him. Jesus when He had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. And behold, the Vail of the tem­ple was rent in twain from the top to the bot­tom: and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent.” Matthew 27:45-52.

The moment Jesus said “It is finished,” the Vail was smitten by an unseen hand and rent “from the top to the bottom.” But it was the same hand which had fallen heavily upon the suffering substitute. Christ, the just One, without sin, was made sin for us. He, in our nature stood under our condemnation, and was “stricken, smitten of God and afflicted.” Did the Father love His only begotten Son the less in this awful moment of sin bearing? A thousand times no! His ocean of love lost not a particle of its fullness. But God’s love has in it the element of justice. And His justice is inviolable. Hence the dread element in the cup of judgment drank to the dregs by our blessed Lord. “It pleased Jehovah to bruise Him; He hath put Him to grief.” God hav­ing transferred our sin to our surety, justice exacts from Him the uttermost farthing. “The wages of sin is death.” Jesus paid sin’s wages on our behalf. Justice is again displayed in its righteous character, for when all that needed to be accomplished had transpired, and atonement was fully made through the death of Christ, “the Vail of the temple was rent in twain.” Not one moment more is the sinner debarred, who through Christ’s blood would seek the Father’s face. Instantly was that blow given which indicated to all that the way into the holiest, closed for centuries, was made manifest. We have now the right to draw near and worship. Christ as a teacher, an example, a benefactor, gives no door of access to God. Again, I repeat it, His holy example, because of our signal failures and shortcom­ings, only drives us the further away. But by His death we are brought nigh. Not the act of death disconnected from His righteous life, but the completed act of that great work given Him to do, to which that life was consecrated.

4. Rent from the top.

No human hand engaged in that transaction. It was done rapidly, suddenly. How deliberate is God in His creative work! How earnest­ly He expedites redemption! When Isaiah confessed his uncleanness in the presence of the throne, God sent a heavenly messenger with a coal from the altar of sacrifice to purge away his uncleanness. The peculiarity of the action is delightfully suggestive. “Then FLEW one of the seraphims unto me.” The same thought occurs in connection with. the attitude of the father toward the returning prodigal. “His Father saw him, and had compassion, and RAN, and fell upon his neck and kissed him.” Luke 15:20. Truly God “willeth not the death of the sinner.” When the last drop of crimson blood from the body of Jesus fell upon the scale and turned it, God proclaimed this sign “It is enough,” when He rent the Vail “from the top to the bottom.”

5. Rent to the bottom.

In making atonement, nothing is left to man. The sinner is invited to enter the sanctuary, but only because every jot and tittle of atoning work is already accomplished. We here reach the most deeply essential feature of our salva­tion. The Scriptures never teach that Christ and the sinner are in partnership preparing the way of eternal life for man. Christ alone en­dured the cross; Christ alone bore the wrath; Christ alone suffered the penalty; Christ alone was smitten for us; Christ alone paid the debt; Christ alone made satisfaction for sin; Christ alone said “It is finished,” and God in justice to the great transaction rent the Vail from top to bottom. No part left unrent; not an inch untorn. In this tremendous undertaking there were two—Christ and God. The third party, the sinner, now receives the benefit. The Gospel for the sinner is: Cease your doing; renounce your merit; quit your works. For “To him that worketh not, but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is reckoned for righteousness.” Romans 4:5.

6. Rent in the midst.

The exactness of Scripture proves its divine origin. In its minuteness we find perfection. Its details are masterpieces of wondrous skill. What is omitted by some of the writers is sup­plied by another, and in this system of omission and supply we trace the operations of the divine Spirit, author and finisher of all Scripture. “And it was about the sixth hour, and there was a darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour. And the sun was darkened, and the Vail of the temple was rent in the midst. And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice He said, Father into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said this, He gave up the ghost.” Luke  23:44-46.  ­ ­

There is much meaning in the fact that the Vail was rent “in the midst,” when we remem­ber that the Mercy-seat in the Most Holy place was directly before the Vail. The rending of the Vail would therefore reveal the Mercy-seat, with its atoning blood, as well as give direct access to the place of communion with God. What a contrast between the sinner’s devices and God’s design of salvation? What rounds, journeys, and endless manoeuvres; what pen­ances and punishments; what religious obser­vances, fastings and prayers are practiced with a view of appeasing God and effecting an entrance into His presence! Oh! that vain man would consider how every such effort, with foolish notions about character or culture meriting salvation, ignores the rent Vail and denies the absolute sufficiency of Christ’s death. God’s way of salvation is easily com­prehended. The superstition of man would shroud it with mystery, but the Word of reve­lation makes it divinely simple. Faith accepts the Gospel message and rests on the finished work of Calvary. “Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which He hath consecrated for us, through the Vail, that is to say His flesh; and having an High-priest over the house, of God, let us draw near with a true heart in the full assurance of faith.”

It is well to bear in mind that though the Vail of the Temple was the one rent, that Vail served a similar purpose to the Vail of the Tabernacle. 2 Chronicles 3:14. It was made of the same materials, yet of so durable a texture that, according to a Jewish writer, it would have required the strength of a yoke of oxen pulling in opposite directions to rend it apart. The rending therefore was not accidental. Nor did it take place by human interference. No; God smote it; His hand did it. “Salvation is of the Lord.” “In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.” 1 John 4:9.

7. The Rending a Protest.

The rending of the Vail was, no doubt, a rebuke to the carnal practices of Jewish priests and worshipers. The purpose of the ritual given them had been shamefully perverted in their hands. They had ceased to understand its spiritual meaning. There were pious indi­viduals amongst them, but nationally they had sadly departed from the living God. Their backsliding displeased Him; their idol­atries grieved His loving heart. Notwith­standing, they still kept up the appearance of religion, even increasing forms, adding cere­monies, and multiplying traditions of men. This conduct was condemned of God by the mouth of His prophets. Hear what He thinks of every attempt to serve Him in a like spirit.

“To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? saith the LORD: I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats. When ye come to appear before me, who hath re­quired this at your hand, to tread my courts? Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me ; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting. Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth; they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them. And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood.” Isaiah 1:11-15.

To what purpose is religion without heart? It is always obnoxious to God. He looks not at the outward appearance. Drapery, embel­lishment, and mere sensuous practices, as a substitute for spiritual religion, His soul hateth. Will-worship and affected humility, when the heart is in rebellion against His grace, He utterly abhors. His presence had therefore departed from the Temple and its worship. The rending of the Vail discovered the absence of the Shekinah glory. He no longer dwelt there between the Cherubim. “THE TRUE TABERNACLE” enshrined that glory in His own sacred Person. To the eye of faith only, however, was it manifest. When the WORD BECAME FLESH, and tabernacled with men, believing worshipers “beheld His glory, the glory as of the Only begotten of the Father.” The One greater than the Temple had come. All acceptable worship is now pre­sented to the Father through Him. The act of rending the Vail was heaven’s grand verdict of disapproval passed on empty ceremonialism, even as the smiting of the body of Jesus on the cross was the end of ceremonialism itself. “God is a Spirit, and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.” John 4:24.

It is deeply interesting to remember that when the Vail was rent the graves were opened. The atonement made by our Lord opened the way for the sinner from the deepest gulf into which sin had plunged us up to the highest heaven where grace hath placed us. Besides it embraces in its wide scope our final salvation in resurrection. The bodies of those saints which arose after the resurrection of Christ assure us of the bodily resurrection of all who sleep in Jesus. Then only will our salvation be con­summated, when in the power of an endless life we are brought up from our graves, in the completeness of glorified humanity, to be “forever with the Lord.” The path from earth to heaven; from man to God; from sin to holi­ness; from death to life; from corruption to incorruption; from the grave to the glory, is by and through the blessed Saviour’s work of substitutionary death, symbolized in the won­derful phenomenon of the rent Vail.

 

XVIII.

THE FRIENDLY CLOUD.

THE first year of Israel’s national existence was fraught with new and strange expe­riences. Redemption, pilgrimage, dis­cipline, miracles, deliverances, had come to them. The year ended with overwhelming proof of God’s great goodness to the people of His choice. The New Year opens with the erection of the Tabernacle and the presence of God in Glory coming to abide in their midst. How will they receive this Royal guest? How will they treat Him in the years to come? His presence was enwrapt in the Cloud and enfolded in the Shekinah. “So Moses finished the work. Then a Cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the LORD filled the Tabernacle.” Exodus 40:33, 34.

1. The Cloud their Leader.

The Cloud of Glory was an indispensable companion of the people, serving them in various ways. It first became their Guide.

“And they took their journey from Succoth, and encamped in Etham, in the edge of the wilderness. And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night: He took not a way the pillar of the cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people.” Exodus 13:20-22.

The Cloud like a shepherd went before them, directing their march. Encamped on the edge of the wilderness, all alike ignorant of the great sea and trackless desert lying on their way, they are of necessity shut up to the leadership of God their Redeemer. He promised to bring them up out of the affliction of Egypt, and to bring them unto a land flow­ing with milk and honey. Exodus 3:17.

Ever ready to fulfil His word, He now appears “in the Cloud” to show them the way. Blind themselves, they gladly accept His leadership.

But previously another relationship was established between Jehovah and His people. He had sheltered them by the blood of the lamb from the judgment sword. He thus be­came their Saviour. This is the gospel order; redemption first, then guidance. Salvation to begin with, afterward those things which accompany salvation.

Concerning their redemption we read: “For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the first-born in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the LORD. And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt.” Exodus 12:12, 13.

This is only one phase of redemption, that which is negative. Its positive aspect is thus described: “And it came to pass at the end of the four hundred and thirty years, even the selfsame day it came to pass that all the hosts of the LORD went out from the land of Egypt. It is a night to be much observed unto the LORD for bringing them out from the land of Egypt: this is that night of the LORD to be observed of all the children of Israel in their genera­tions.” Exodus 12:41, 42.

The application of this truth to believers now is very precious. The blood of the anti­typical Lamb has sheltered us from the wrath of God revealed from heaven against sin. “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with silver and gold, . . . but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a Lamb without blemish and without spot.” 1 Peter 1:18, 19. So much regarding our redemption is indeed blessed. This is not all, however. Christ died “that He might deliver us from this present evil world,” and “that He might bring us unto God.” Galatians 1:4; 1 Peter 3:18. As redeemed Israel sang their song of thanks­giving, so do we gladly unite in “giving thanks unto the Father . . . who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son.” Colossians 1:12, 13. There are also other aspects of this truth, including “the redemption of the body,” which we cannot enter upon here.

Still keeping before us the history of the Israelites, let us not forget that their pilgrim life followed redemption. As pilgrims and strangers, marching onward through a desert not trodden by us before, we also need a guide. And Christ is our Guide. He guides with His eye, Psalms 32:8; by His Spirit, John 16:13; by His Word, Psalms 119:105. When brought face to face with difficulties we need but cry to Him, and from the guide-book of revelation we shall hear His voice in response, “This is the way, walk ye in it.” The Lord Jesus is a sufficient guide. We need no other. All others mislead. The heart is a deceitful guide; the man who trusts in it is a fool. A human leader is an unstable guide: “Cursed be the man that trusteth in man and maketh flesh his arm.” Jeremiah 17:5. The world is a false guide, alluring our footsteps into forbidden places. The devil, as an angel of light, con­trives to employ himself in the capacity of leader, but he “goeth about seeking whom he may devour.” Him we are to “resist, stead­fast in the faith.” False teachers, themselves blind, become leaders of the blind; from such we are to turn away. Besides (alas, that it must be spoken), we who would be teachers, whose hearts are loyal to Christ, are so poorly instructed in the things of God, and so un­evenly balanced in judgment, that we too (though undesignedly) lead many into by-paths of error.

Blest are we in our Shepherd-leader. Let us therefore keep our eye upon His guiding hand. He is our Pillar of Cloud, to show us the way. Shall we not follow His leadership? Israel watched their Cloud and prepared to follow it by night or day, thus recognizing God’s will supreme—God’s purpose sovereign. It becomes our duty, surrounded as we are by increasing dangers, to guard scrupulously against every element that would come between our souls and our heavenly leader. Cultivating intimacy with His word we shall soon readily distinguish His voice from the voice of stran­gers. The path of implicit obedience is the only path of safety; it is the path of God’s approval. May we therefore secure this com­mendation, as we seek to follow no man save “Jesus only.”

2. The Cloud their Shield.

It protected them against the power of Pha­raoh. From the shore of the Red Sea, whither the Cloud had led them, they beheld the Egyptian army following in hot pursuit. Hemmed in by mountains, and arrested on their onward march by the waters of the sea, they cry to the Lord for help. Then does He appear in the cloud on their behalf. “And the Angel of God which went before the camp of Israel, removed and went behind them and the pillar of the cloud went from before their face and stood behind them; and it came between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel; and it was a cloud and darkness to them, but it gave light by night to these so that the one came not near the other all the night.” Exodus 14:19, 20.

The promise that God made to Abraham­—“Fear not, Abram, I am thy shield”— He ful­fils to his children and His children’s children. The Lord God was their “sun and shield.” No Egyptian could smite them. Protected by the presence of their Leader, their fears are hushed, and their foes defeated.

Thus the sheltering power of our God sur­rounding His believing ones is illustrated by the Tabernacle Cloud. Paul counsels the Ephesian converts to “put on the whole armor of God,” and adds, “Above all taking the shield of faith wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.” Ephesians 6: 16.

The shield is not here represented as superior to other parts of the armor. “Above all,” is simply “over all,” as the great defensive cov­ering which can be changed to any position, and so protect the whole body. God in Christ is the shield, whose protection faith alone can use. Blind reason can see no defence in Him, but faith places God between the soul and every foe, exulting in security. Thus is He the shield of faith. What triumph, fellow­-believer, is ours! Our life hid in God! Oh, what rest of soul do we experience, when faith claims safety from the Lord. “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run­neth into it, and is safe.” Proverbs 18:10.

3. The Cloud their Shade.

The Glory cloud served the people in this new relation; “The cloud of the Lord was upon them by day.” Numbers 10:34. “Thy cloud standeth over them.” Numbers 14:14. “He spread a cloud for a covering.” Psalms 105:39. Descending on the Tabernacle over the Most Holy place, it assumed a pillar-like shape, while its body spread in every direction, com­pletely sheltering the whole encampment from the oppressive heat of the sun. Thus did the Cloud overshadow them, refreshing them with its cooling shade like “a great rock in a weary land.” What blessed provision! What a kind and gracious Sovereign! It is sweet consolation to remember that Jesus, “having loved His own which are in the world, loves them unto the end.” He is our shade upon our right hand, never absent, never indifferent. Tem­pering every burning ray by the interposition of His presence, it falls mildly upon His beloved people. Abiding beneath His shadow, realizing His love, our souls are filled with great delight. Beneath His outstretched wings of tenderest care we are safe from every devour­ing element. His mercy covereth us and His goodness extendeth over all. “I sat down under His shadow with great delight, and His fruit was sweet to my taste.” Song of Songs 2:3.

4. The Cloud their Avenger.

The ways of Jehovah were exemplified in redemption and retribution. While we rightly magnify the goodness of the Lord we dare not minimize His severity. Romans 11:22. Accord­ingly we read: “And it came to pass, that in the morning watch the Lord looked unto the host of the Egyptians through the pillar of fire and of the cloud, and troubled the host of the Egyptians, and took off their chariot wheels that they drove heavily . .  and the Lord overthrew the Egyptians in The midst of the sea.” Exodus 14:24-28. The battle was not Israel’s but God’s. They stood still and saw His salvation; they marched forward, and He wrought victory. “Then sang Moses and the children of Israel this song unto the Lord and spake saying, I will sing unto the Lord for He hath triumphed gloriously, the horse and his rider hath He thrown into the sea.” Exodus 15:1.

Herein again do we rejoice, for is it not written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, saith the Lord”? Our day of triumph is at hand, and in anticipation we may celebrate the vic­tory by holy song. “The God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly.” Romans 16:20. Already, He who hath redeemed us by His blood, has spoiled principalities and powers, making a show of them openly and triumphing over them in Himself. He will continue to push the battle to the gate, until death the last enemy shall be destroyed, and it will be said again of both His foes and ours, “there remained not so much as one of them.” Exodus 14:28.

5. The Cloud their Light.

The people were never in darkness during their wilderness sojournings. “The Lord went before them . . . by night in a pillar of fire to give them light . . He took not away the pillar of fire by night from before the people.” Exodus 13:20, 21. The light of the Cloud sufficed for the whole encampment, and as it moved it illumined their pathway. The night also became luminous about them. The Cloud was indeed a lamp to their feet and a light to their path. Psalms 119:105.

Christ is the light of the church: the church is the light of the world. The church, like the moon, shines by borrowed light. When she faces the sun light will flood her life, but when the world comes between the light is darkened. It is sadly marred testimony when the light of Christ is thus eclipsed.

“Truly the light is sweet and a pleasant thing it is for the eyes to behold the sun,” but there is a light whose rays illumine the dark­ness of the mind, and brings healing to the wounded soul. “God who, commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” 2 Corinthians 4:6. That light illumines the pilgrim’s pathway, chasing away the darkness and mak­ing plain the way in which he should walk. “God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all.” Believers are introduced into the pres­ence of God to have communion there with Him. “But if we say we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness we lie, and do not the truth.” 1 John 1:6. The Jews of old could only stumble in darkness when wil­fully shutting their eyes to the light of the Cloud or when engaged in pursuits beyond the encampment. How sad that any now should bring darkness upon themselves while bright beams of Scripture radiate with undimmed power, filling the eye of faith with their pre­cious light. Unbelief excludes that light, and brings darkness into the soul. Christ shining out in His Word is our bright Cloud of glory. His face is our Shekinah. What a heaven to look upon! What clear noonday light is ours!

6. It was their Holy Oracle.

It revealed God’s will to Israel and regulated all their movements during their long march.

“And when the cloud was taken from the Tabernacle, then after that the children of Israel journeyed: and in the place where the cloud abode there the children of Israel pitched their tents.” Numbers 9:17. How many were its precious relationships to the people! How deeply interesting its history! How important its typical features! The promise of God to His people was very precious: “And there I will meet with the children of Israel, and the tabernacle shall be sanctified by my glory. And I will sanctify the tabernacle of the con­gregation, and the altar: I will sanctify also both Aaron and his sons, to minister to me in the priest’s office. And I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will be their God. And they shall know that I am the Lord their God, that brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, that I may dwell among them: I am the Lord their God.” Exodus 29:43-46.

How glorious must have been the fulfillment of this promise! It was indeed fully realized.

“So Moses finished the work. Then a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter into the tent of the congregation, because the cloud abode thereon, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. And when the cloud was taken up from over he tabernacle, the children of Israel went on­ward in all their journeys. But if the cloud was not taken up, then they journeyed not till the day that it was taken up. For the cloud of the Lord was upon the tabernacle by day, and fire was on it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel throughout all their jour­neys.” Exodus 40:33-38.

When the Tabernacle gave place to a more permanent house, the presence of the Lord in the Cloud likewise consecrated the Temple. “And it came to pass, when the priests were come out of the holy place, that the cloud filled the house of the Lord, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud: for the glory of the Lord had filled the house of the Lord.” 1 Kings 8:10, 11.

We have noticed the several relations of the Cloud to the people, and the various ways in which it served them. It was a guide, a defence, a shade, a light, an avenger, an oracle by which God communicated His most just and righteous will. We have also remarked bow sweetly illustrative it is of our Father’s loving care, and how He ordains what is right for His children. Happy the soul that can quietly wait on Him, fully conscious that His will is best, and His purposes only good.

Through the sin of Israel this beautiful friendly Cloud departed from the earth, and free intercourse was interrupted between man and God. At intervals only it visited our world in connection with the fulfillment o His prom­ises or the ratification of His will. Finally it disappeared, until, after a lapse of ages, it was seen again, resting upon Christ, THE TRUE TABERNACLE, when on the holy Mount. Then heaven came down to earth; “and there came a voice out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son; hear Him.” Luke 9:34. Its last appearance was at the ascension of Jesus, when “a cloud received Him out of their sight.” Acts 1:9. But in prophecy it is decreed: “And the Lord will create upon every dwelling­-place of Mount Zion, and upon her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night: for upon all the glory shall be a defence.” Isaiah 4:5. The Cloud shall become visible once more. When the earth is purified, and made meet for God’s dwelling-place, and Israel is restored to their own land; when Christ reigns over them as King in His holy hill of Zion; when righteous­ness and peace are established by His personal Presence, then shall He dwell in their midst and throughout the land the Shekinah token will be seen, when “the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together; for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.” Isaiah 40:5. Israel shall again rejoice in her King, when the days of her mourning and desolation shall be ended. To them also shall the promise be fulfilled, “The sun shall be no more thy light by day; neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto thee; but the Lord shall be unto thee an everlasting light and thy God thy Glory.” Isaiah 60:19.

 

XIX.

PRIESTHOOD.

THE subject of Priesthood is so intimately connected with the whole scheme of salvation that it constitutes its very warp and woof. It is the substance of all gospel doctrine, the sum of all its symbolism, and the foundation of all christian faith and hope. It brings the person of the Son of God directly before us for our study; a study from which the devout believer will not be readily turned aside. Every blessing which comes to us from a loving Father’s hand is through Him who glorified not Him1self to be made a high priest, but was called of God to the office, as was Aaron. Hebrews 5:4.

That another must mediate with God on our behalf is the innate conviction of the human heart. The sinner universally recognizes that he cannot come to God of himself, and treat directly with Him. He has no assurance of fitness in himself. Hence, in the numerous religions of all ages we find the Priesthood the most essential feature. The only refuge for the soul trembling under the knowledge of God’s wrath against sin is in mediation. And it is significant, though there is no evidence that this idea of Priesthood reached certain nations through Scripture or tradition, that their crude worship centres in the priest. The very neces­sity of their fallen nature adopted a scheme which in its higher sphere is of divine origin.

1. Perversion of Priesthood.

In nearly all systems of religious worship Priesthood in some form constitutes an essential element. Even pagan nations, recognizing the facts of holiness and sin, notwithstanding their shocking practices, seek refuge in sacrifice. The great underlying principle of one for others is the only hope of salvation. The correct application of this principle is the essence of the Gospel. That this glorious plan of God for our salvation through the Priesthood of Christ has been grossly perverted, we need only revert to the groves of Baal, the inhuman rites of Moloch, and the frenzied votaries of Juggernaut. Besides, so-called christian sys­tems have leavened the truth with their cor­ruptions, and their priesthood is but a base imitation of the divine model. In this respect Rome has shamefully excelled. The iniquities of her confessional; her assumptions and pre­tensions; her mimicry of Judaistic ceremony and sacrifice, only prove what Christless deeds are done in Christ’s holy name. Other churches have copied Rome in thus subverting the truth. Instead of proclaiming Christ they point to their human priests; in place of the great sacrifice of Calvary, they present unbloody and repeated sacrifices: with them it is no longer Justification by faith, but Justification through the sensuous display and unmeaning symbol of a childish Ritualism. What mockery are such mummeries to an awakened conscience seeking relief from the guilt of sin, or to the helpless sinner struggling against its power! Likewise Rationalistic teachers, who glory in their creedless non-belief, with irreverent con­ceit assume the role of priests. “Priests of science,” forsooth, they claim to be. Their immodesty is as consistent as their ignorance, the very appellation appropriated by them being a contradiction in itself. The import of the title “Priest” is that of “sacrificer.” The essential idea is mediation. The office involves a service to be rendered to God, and a sacrifice to be presented, from which certain results must flow to the parties for whom this ministry is fulfilled. “For every high priest, being taken from among men, is appointed for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins: who can bear gently with the ignorant and erring, for that he himself also is compassed with infirmity; and by reason thereof is bound as for the peo­ple so also for himself to offer for sins. And no man taketh the honor unto himself but when he is called of God, even as was Aaron.” Hebrews 5:1-5.

The Priesthood of Christ being the object of Satan’s deadly hatred, he therefore supplies through human agency, base imitations, coun­terfeits and substitutes. What a delusion is a sham priesthood! The divine plan from the beginning was that man should be saved by priestly mediation. So when the link snapped which had bound Creator and creature together in harmony, that plan was unfolded in the first promise. In the fulness of time the promise was made good and Jesus Christ came to weld again the broken chain, having effected recon­ciliation through death, and opened the way of access to God for the alienated sinner by the sacrifice of Himself. “Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holy place by the, blood of Jesus, by the way which he dedicated for us, a new and living way, through the vail, that is to say, his flesh: and having a great Priest over the house of God; let us draw near with a true heart in fulness of faith.” Hebrews 10:19-22.

2. Object of Priesthood.

In type, symbol, ceremony, and prophecy, the cause, results, and consummation of the Priest­hood is the theme. From Eden to Sinai; from Sinai to Calvary; from Calvary to the Second Advent; throughout the days of the millennial Kingdom, and, in the Eternal State, the words, acts, triumphs, and glories, of our great High Priest form the basis of worship, the song of redemption, and the theme of eternal praise.

The grace of God brought Salvation to man. Like the light in its dawning, when bold peaks and lofty summits are first illuminated, the coats of skins, Abel’s lamb, Noah’s sacrifice, Abraham’s altar, and the wilderness Tabernacle caught the early beams of salvation and reflected the light of grace. In later days the prophets watched, as light and shadow alternated. For a time there was an eclipse, when the Anti­typical Offerer presented to the sacred fire a sacrifice of divine and unspeakable value, even HIMSELF. But soon the darkness of that awful hour rolled away, and the great High Priest passed into the presence of God for us, having purged our sins by His own blood, and sprink­ling it on the throne of Mercy in the presence of vindicated Justice, cried, “Behold the token of my death on behalf of my people; this blood is their ransom: Mercy, hasten forth and bind their wounds, heal their diseases, purify their hearts, and proclaim my Priestly work as their plea for eternal salvation.” And thus does Mercy fulfill her sweet mission in the glad announcement: “Christ entered not into a holy place made with hands, like in pattern to the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear, before the face of God for us: nor yet that he should offer himself often; as the high priest entereth into the holy place year by year with blood not his own; else must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once at the end of the ages hath he been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.” Hebrews 9:24-27. Blessed Priest! Blessed ministry of Mercy ! Blessed salvation! “Let us therefore draw near with boldness unto the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy, and may find grace to help us in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16.

Thus, then, this part of Christ’s priestly min­istry is completed, in that He made atonement for sin, “for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself” Hebrews 7:27. “And every priest indeed standeth day by day minis­tering and offering oftentimes the same sacri­fices, the which can never take away sins: but He, when He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down on the right hand of God.” Hebrews 10:11, 12. A seated priest in heaven denotes a completed work. By His own blood He put sin away; therefore is forgiveness of sins preached in His name. And “where remission of these is there is no more offering for sin.” Hebrews 10:18.

3. Necessity of Priesthood.

Of what importance is the Priesthood of Christ to the believer beyond the forgiveness of his sins? We reply, of immense importance. “For if while we were enemies, we were recon­ciled to God through the death of his Son, much more being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.” Romans 5:10. Because He lives we shall live; nay, more, thereby we live in full acceptableness before the Father of glory, to whom our worship ascends as sweet fra­grance from the golden censer in the hands of our great High Priest. Likewise, daily defile­ment is washed away by His priestly ministra­tions on our behalf, and communion with God becomes not only possible but continuous. Through Him we have access by one Spirit, unto the Father. Ephesians 2:18. Priesthood can only be fully appreciated in its manifold rela­tions, of which atonement is the foundation. It includes intercession, and is perpetual; atonement is finished: intercession is carried on in heaven; atonement was made at the cross: intercession is exercised within the vail; atone­ment was completed outside the camp in burn­ing to ashes the sin-offering (the blood, token of sacrificed life, is ever presented in the heavenly sanctuary): intercession is for the saint; atone­ment is for the sinner (who on believing become the subject of priestly advocacy and intercession): atonement was made through death; intercession is ministered in life: atone­ment delivers from the curse of sin, but interces­sion entitles us to the possession of holiness. Nor is the measure of that holiness according to the vigor of our faith, or the intensity of our feeling, or the earnestness of our devotions, but according to God’s high estimate of the work, righteousness, and dignity of His beloved Son. “Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, even Jesus.” Hebrews 3:1.

Physical purity and freedom from all bodily blemishes of priests under the law, their moral qualities, their ordination and consecration to the office, and their symbolic robes, represented the perfections, graces, and unsullied holiness of our Lord as Priest over His own house. “For such a high priest became us, holy, guileless, undefiled, separated from sinners, and made higher than the heavens.” Hebrews 7:26. Now, by faith, believers have access into heavenly regions enrobed in the untarnished lustrous righteousness of the perfect Man in whom we are graced. (See Gr. Colossians 1:6.)

The measure of Israel’s acceptance was the measure of their priests’ acceptance. How much more glorious our acceptance in our greater representative, “The Beloved.” It bodes no comfort to inquire what am I in my best estate; it brings no grief to know what I am in Christ.

“And this I do find,
We two are so joined,
He’ll not live in glory
And leave me behind.”

The tendency of our nature is towards intro­spection, an exercise fraught with the highest danger, leading to a presumptuous self-com­placency, in painful contrast to a healthful soul which, renouncing self as utterly unworthy of trust, becomes satisfied WHOLLY AND ONLY WITH CHRIST.

 

XX.

PRIESTLY GARMENTS.

THE duties of Israel’s High Priest were manifold. He offered sacrifice, and made atonement for sins, Leviticus 16; he burned incense, Leviticus 16:12, 13; he examined diseases, Leviticus 13:2; he declared the will of God to the people, Numbers 27:21; Deuteronomy 33:8; he decided controversies, and solved tribal and family difficulties, Deuteronomy 17:8-12; 19:17; 21:5; he presented to Jehovah the names of the tribes on the shoulder-stones and breast-plate, Exodus 28:9-29; and he blest the people in the name of the Lord, Numbers 6:23-27.

Called to the office of priesthood, holy harmless and undefiled in person and character, overflowing with compassion, tender, thought­ful, and just toward God and Man, the Son of God entered upon His mediatorial work en­dowed with all necessary qualifications. In the heavenly sanctuary He now represents His people, Hebrews 9:24; for them He intercedes, Hebrews 7:25; to them He declares the will of God by His word, Hebrews 1:1; He rebukes their evil, Revelation 2:; He judges their thoughts and ways, Hebrews 4:13, and He will appear a sec­ond time to bless them with an everlasting benediction. Hebrews 9:28.

We may now consider the high priestly gar­ments, and their spiritual application. There were two sets of clothing, one of fine linen, comprising breeches, robe, and girdle, and the other including ephod, robe of ephod, curious girdle, mitre, and crown. The latter were called “garments of beauty and glory.” Exodus 28:2-4. Our great High Priest being clothed with purity and glory, needed no material rai­ment of costly fabric for personal adornment. In all things He has the pre-eminence. To the eye of faith He ever appears “altogether lovely.”

1. The inner garment.

A fine linen coat covered the priest’s body from neck to feet. It might be called his per­sonal raiment, even as the beautiful garments were his official raiment.

Fine linen was recognized as the emblem of purity. Hence: “Let thy priests be clothed with righteousness.” Every high priest of Israel was personally a sinful man. Therefore was he washed with water, clothed with linen, and offered sacrifice for himself. His cere­monial purity set forth in figure the personal purity of Jesus, who was spotless, guileless, sinless. And now we as priests unto God are called a holy priesthood through His cleansing blood and sanctifying grace.

2. The Girdle.

This article of dress denoted preparedness for service. Doubtless this is its typical sig­nification. There were two girdles, one of pure white linen, the other richly embroidered with the deep colors of blue, purple and scarlet. The priest was a servant. Likewise the Son of Man came not to be ministered unto but to minister. He took upon Himself the form of a servant. “RIGHTEOUSNESS is the girdle of His loins, and FAITHFULNESS the girdle of His reins.” Isaiah 11:5. He took a towel and girded Himself, then poured water into a basin and washed the disciples’ feet. John 12:4, 5. Anon He stands in the midst of His Church girt about the paps with a golden girdle, ready to serve His people, in searching out with His eyes of flame the hidden evil which brings to them spiritual damage. Thus in detecting sin, as the Investigating Priest, and in washing away sin, as the Atoning Priest, our blessed Lord stands girded, ever ready to serve us. Come, then, tempted, troubled, defiled, failing disciple, and permit the Master to serve you, heal you, and cleanse you. Come and receive the benefit, and worship at His feet. “Unto Him that loveth us, and loosed us from our sins by His own blood . . to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever.” Revelation 1:5, 6.

Believers are also ministering priests. It is their privilege to wear the badge of service, to gird up the loins of their mind, and occupy as men who wait for their Lord.

3. The Blue Robe.

Worn over the fine linen coat, this long loose garment was called “the robe of the ephod.” It was of woven work, and complete in one piece, with openings for the head and arms. One purpose of this article of dress was to sup­port the pomegranates and bells on its border. The color of the robe was blue, and around its hem was an ornamental fringe from which depended “a golden bell and a pomegranate all around the hem of the robe.” The golden bell gave forth its sweet music, rich in melody, for the ear of the great king; the pomegranate was a fruit, and both told out that testimony and fruitfulness were results of priestly minis­try. Jehovah’s ear heard the clear golden notes, and His eye saw the pattern of heavenly fruit which so strikingly illustrated the bless­edness of Christ’s ministry, as worthy service to God. The sound of His activities on our behalf is heard within the vail, and the fruit­fulness of His work is seen “in bringing many sons unto glory.” hat golden utterances ascend from his lips, as words of intercession and advocacy, and praise to the Righteous Father are heard on high. Figurately, we may say, that in uttering the great prayer recorded in the seventeenth chapter of John, He is arrayed in the blue robe, with golden bells and pomegranates. He is the corn of wheat not abiding alone, but yielding through death a great increase. By His precious blood an innumerable multitude will be redeemed unto God as the fruit of His toil.

Speech, seasoned with salt, and the rich fruit of the Spirit should characterize every one born of God. Sound and fruit: as much of one as of the other; preaching and practice in equal parts. What a life is this!

4. The Ephod.

The material which composed this costly garment was fine linen, interwoven with gold wire: blue, purple and scarlet colors were artistically interblended upon it, making it a robe of brilliancy and splendor. The garment consisted of two parts, one covering the front, the other the back, of the priest. Both parts were fastened at the shoulders by golden clasps which formed the setting for the onyx stones. The pieces were brought together beneath the arms by the girdle which bound them together to the person, thus making of two parts one, complete garment. The Ephod served to sup­port the breastplate and shoulder stones, with which the twelve tribes were identified. Thus the High Priest became the burden-bearer of the whole nation. Their names were on his shoulders; they rested on him and were the objects of his intercession. It was his duty to care for them and seek their welfare. They dwelt safely on the place of power and security. Isaiah 9:6. What a matchless picture of the Church in her place of safety ! Our High Priest is omnipotent in power; His strength never fails; therefore are we ever safe. Hence it is not our strength, but His; not our perseverence, but His; not our victory, but His. He will safely bring us through. And herein is comfort for the weak and weary ; the Good Shepherd will care for the sheep, and bear them

“on a shoulder

Which upholds the government of worlds.”

The names of the twelve tribes were engraved upon those precious onyx stones, exalted in their glory, and enriched in their value. In like manner all the wealth, all the glory, all the blessedness of the believer, is derived from Christ, to whom belongs the preciousness of absolute Godhead and perfect Manhood—a unique Person of unsurpassed excellence.

5.The Breastplate.

This beautiful and costly article was inti­mately connected with the Ephod. It was made of the same material, woven two spans long and one broad, then doubled in order to give it strength and firmness, so that it could bear up the weight of the twelve precious stones. These stones were placed in settings of gold, arranged in rows. All were precious, though differing in value and brilliancy. On these stones were engraved the names of the tribes, each tribe on its own separate stone. The Breastplate was suspended from the shoul­ders by golden chains connected with the onyx stones, and from gold rings in the lower cor­ners it was fastened to the girdle of the Ephod by a lace of blue. Thus it was kept firmly secured over the heart of Israel’s priest. The nation was then doubly represented—first upon his shoulders, the seat of strength; and next upon his heart, the seat of love. What a pic­ture of Jesus in His present ministry exercising His power to uphold His people, and His deep, tender, unchangeable love embracing them, holding them always close to His heart, and presenting them before the Father in the glory and preciousness of the splendor with which He is invested.

The precious stones suggest much that is very rich in doctrine and experience.

The divine power of Christ’s priesthood in raising up His people to a place of safety may be illustrated by the onyx stones on the shoul­ders. He is a ransoming Priest, rescuing from death, and a life-giving priest, raising up and seating in such heavenly places the subjects of His care. Galatians 3:13; Hebrews 2:14; Ephesians 2:6.

The perfect knowledge of our Lord regarding each disciple is intimated in the individualizing of the tribes on the precious stones on the Breastplate. “The Lord knoweth them that are His.” “He calleth His own sheep by name.” Such is the infinite knowledge of our great High Priest, to whom all our wants are known, and from whom no secrets are hid.

The durability of the precious stones surely symbolizes that salvation procured for sinners, which the Holy Spirit expressly declares as “eternal.” And the eternity of our salvation is dependent on the perpetuity of the priest­hood. Both Christ’s continual priesthood and our continued salvation are linked together in the divine purpose.

The value of the precious stones would serve to remind us of the dearness of the christian to his Lord.

“So dear, so very dear to God,
More dear I cannot be;
The love wherewith He loves the Son,
Such is His love to me.”

When we can comprehend the unfathomable love of the Everlasting Father for the Eternal Son, then shall we fathom His love for His redeemed sons. But shall we ever fully know? The fact is for us now to believe, and the belief of the fact will transform us into holy, humble, devout worshipers. John 17:23.

The color and brilliancy of the jewels on the Breastplate, and the onyx stones on the shoul­ders, will bring to remembrance the thought of the glory awaiting the children of God. Our Priest will consummate His work in “bringing many sons unto glory,”—a sphere of such holiness, and splendor, and exaltation, with all necessary preparation, and adaptation, as befits Himself, and which He would not enjoy alone. “And the glory which thou hast given me I have given unto them; that they may be one, even as we are one.” John 17:22.

“Jesus, in thee our eyes behold
A thousand glories more,
Than the rich gems and polish’d gold
The Sons of Aaron wore.”

Both Urim and Thummim were connected with the Breastplate. The words mean “lights” and “perfections.” By these the priest discovered the mind of God, and so he became the people’s counselor in times of perplexity. Many fanciful speculations have been indulged in by various writers regarding the interpretation of Urim and Thummim. With this we are for the present satisfied, that while this temporary appendix of an earthly priesthood has passed away, there abideth for ever our holy, wise, instructing, and guiding Priest by whose Spirit we shall be led and instructed in the right way.

6. The Hallowed Mitre.

This article was a bonnet or covering for the head, made of fine white linen. A golden plate on its forefront was fastened with a blue ribbon. The important object of this remark­able head-dress is clearly specified. “And thou shalt make a plate of pure gold, and grave upon it like the engravings of a signet, HOLI­NESS TO THE LORD. And thou shalt put it on a blue lace, that it may be upon the mitre; upon the forefront of the mitre shall it be. And it shall be upon Aaron’s forehead, that Aaron may bear the iniquity of the holy things, which the children of Israel shall hallow in their holy gifts; and it shall be always upon his forehead, that they may be accepted before the Lord.” Exodus 28:36-39.

The fact emphasized and specially to be noted, is, that the golden plate with its hallowed inscription, must be always upon Aaron’s fore­head, in order that the people whom he repre­sented may be always in acceptance before the Lord. There were two conditions, either one of which must be true: the people were accepted or disowned. Now not only would their sins cause them to be rejected, but the iniquity of their holy things would bring them under con­demnation. If therefore they can stand per­petually in acceptance it must be in their high priest, who is arrayed in fine linen and person­ally acceptable. The golden crown ever kept them in remembrance of Jehovah’s absolute holiness; this must never be out of mind. Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord our God. There­fore in the burning rays of His holiness we would be consumed. There is no holiness inherent in us, none wrought out by us, that could abide the scrutiny of His searching light, but the holiness of our Priest covereth us even as His blood cleanseth us. Believers are in Christ, and Christ is for them. All that He has done is for them; all that He is doing is for their salvation; all that He has is given to them, and all that He is in royal splendor, clothed and crowned, He shares with them. “The glory that thou gavest me I have given them.” There is no other possible method whereby it can be said of any, “accepted before the Lord.”

Nor must I leave this radical doctrine with­out testifying to its potential influence on our daily life. It is by the constant knowledge of the fact of our vital spiritual union with Christ that we become conformed to the image of His holy personality. And it is the practical denial of this truth and indifference toward it which leads to legal striving after a sanctity of the natural man which can never purge away the iniquity of our holy things, or place us without condemnation in the august presence of the holy Lord God. And forever perish the shams and cant of any whose lives are full of shame­ful deeds and unholy associations, who still blasphemously assert their heavenly standing; who sin and repent, and sin again, when it accords with the uncertain moods of an evil heart and a corrupt mind. The assumptions of bold hypocrisy or a glib tongue does not pass current with men; how then dare we hope for approval in the courts above where insincerity is readily discovered and resolutely impeached!

 

XXI.

PRIESTLY OFFICES.

TYPES foreshadow not only by similarity, but also by contrast. Accordingly we find Aaron and Jesus contrasted, and here, as in all things, our Lord has pre-emi­nence. He is greater than Aaron in His per­sonal perfection; in the value of His sacrifice; in the scene of His ministry; in the regal aspect of His priesthood; in the more perfect presen­tation of the worshiper, and in the fuller benediction He is able to impart.

The office of priesthood includes several departments. It is a multifarious work, em­bracing the whole scheme of redemption, com­prising mediation, advocacy, and intercession.

1. Mediation.

A mediator is one who interposes between parties at variance in order to effect a reconcili­ation. Job felt his need of such a one when he cried out for a Daysman who could lay His hands on both, and bring his discordant soul into harmony with an essentially righteous God. Who then can take this place? Who is sufficiently qualified as arbitrator? He must be at oneness with God, and unswervingly up­hold His majesty. And he must be allied with man, understanding his needs and helplessness, in order to represent his side of the case with­out abatement, so as to win for him the fullness of reconciliation required. Surely none but “God our Saviour,” the “Man Christ Jesus” alone is duly qualified. So there is a mediator between God and man who has opened the way of access to the inner sanctuary; who has vindicated the righteous claims of unyielding justice and lifted the gates of holiness in order that mercy may flow unhindered from the heart of God to the sons of men. Blessed be our Daysman, this river of health is flowing un­ceasingly, its healing waters bringing life to the dead. Our great High Priest, as mediator, not only has effected reconciliation between God and man, but also reconciled the divine attributes, so that mercy and peace are in agree­ment with righteousness and truth. Love now reigns triumphantly, acting out its own nature in forgiveness and salvation. Love lavishes, but not at the expense of any attribute or per­fection of Godhead. Love ! Not the sentiment of the humanitarian which winks at sin and calls evil good; not the charity of the agnostic, which, in the overthrow of laws and penalties, logically would annihilate human courts and give loose rein to every criminal. Its gospel is, “You do not mean to do wrong, your crime is purely accidental, your noble nature will come into play and lift you above your baser passions, and as God commiserates all and punishes none, there must be no jails, no con­demnation, no punishment.” Let every mur­derer, every assassin, every thief, every drunk­ard, every evil-doer, believe and practice this gospel of license, and soon the fires of hell will rage on earth, and the ground reek with human blood. In temporal relations men are not such fools. However much divine law may be ig­nored, human laws, of justice, government, and protection, are based upon them. The Gospel of God sets none of His laws aside, but upholds them all with dignity and honor. Yet Love, His Love, possessing every element of justice, righteousness, and truth, comes with pardon, life, and hope, to every criminal who is led to accept reconciliation with God through the work of the Mediator. Our Lord Jesus, as Mediator, not only secured entrance for His believing people into the immediate presence of God, but keeps the way still open for all who would draw nigh. No man cometh to the Father but through Him, and whosoever be­lieveth on Him is already on the way. All who believe on Him are said to be in Him, therefore are they in the way, for He is the Way, the Door, the Title, the Saviour.

2. Intercession.

Let it be remembered that intercession is on behalf of believers; those who have come to God through our Lord Jesus Christ. By Him ail are remembered; none are forgotten. Jesus prayed that Peter’s faith would not fail, hence though Peter fell, he arose again; his faith failed not. Our Lord in His pleadings there­fore remembereth the weaknesses of His peo­ple; His prayers arise for them: for their salva­tion from all enemies; for the bestowment of all blessings upon them; for their enjoyment of eternal glory; for their union and unity, their sanctification, their preservation from sin, their growth in grace and holiness, and all spiritual mercies with which are coupled those precious blessings relating to time and to the body.

The prayers of David, the son of Jesse, were ended, but the prayers of David’s greater Son in His priestly ministry continue. Nor will the Father deny such pleadings. We may therefore be assured in the strongest confidence that all the blessings our great High Priest desires for His people will be given them.

3. Advocacy.

In this relation Christ is helper and com­forter. He is ever near at the call of the help­less, ever prepared to minister consolation and impart hope. While He intercedes, He also meets the accusations of Satan, who accuses the saints before God. It is then Jesus pre­sents His pierced body and demands, “who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect?” Not only in heaven’s court of equity does He silence the adversary, but also in the court of conscience. There Satan would make havoc of our experiences if He were not nigh. But His Spirit is ever present with us, pro­claiming to us full justification, and hushing to quiet the disturbances wrought by the en­emy in ministering to us the assurance that “the blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us from all sin.” Therefore is it written: “If any man sin we have an advocate with the Father Jesus Christ, the righteous.” The Holy Spirit as that other advocate helpeth our infirmities when He brings to our remembrance the value of Christ’s advocacy before the Father.

As we are overpowered at times with a sense of unworthiness as children, and unfitness as worshipers, it is indeed our privilege to rise into the knowledge of conscious acceptableness before our God through our ever interceding Priest. And when the fears of a defective and sadly marred experience check the flow of joy in our souls, it is our privilege again to remem­ber that not on our personal character does the eye of God turn for a resting-place, but to Jesus, who, in His robes of beauty and glory, bears us on His shoulders, on His heart, on His head; His power, love, and wisdom exalt­ing us in the holy Sanctuary above, and envel­oping us in His Shekinah-cloud until we are hidden in His infinite perfections and manifold glories. Then does our God, viewing us in Christ, break forth in rapturous exclamation, “Thou art all fair, my love; there is no spot in thee.”

4. Associate Priests.

The sons of Aaron were associated with him and served under him. Their duties were many and important. They slew the victims (possi­bly assisted by the Levites), presented the sa­crifice, sprinkled the blood, had charge of the brazen altar, attended to its fires, prepared the shew-bread, compounded the incense, and in other ministrations participated in the services of the Tabernacle.

All believers, chosen, redeemed, in-dwelt by the Spirit, are identified with Christ, the great High Priest. They have their special priestly duties. Peter declares of all Christians: “Ye are a chosen generation—A ROYAL PRIEST­HOOD.” Again, “Ye are built up a spiritual house, AN HOLY PRIESTHOOD, to offer up spir­itual sacrifices.”

The way into the office of priesthood now, as of old, is by birth. None but sons of God in this age are priests unto God. No human power can confer this right; no ecclesiastical hierarchy can impart to any being privileges which come only through birth. Every believer is entitled to minister as a priest, but only those upon whom gifts are conferred by the Head of the Church are qualified for office in the Church. These are pastors, evangelists, teachers, helps, and governments. Ephesians 4:11, 12. The office of priest now does not imply the presentation of an atoning sacrifice. Our part is to offer the sacrifice of praise to God, and do good to men, “for with such sacrifices God is well-pleased.” Hebrews 13:15, 16.

Atonement has been effectually rendered by the great High Priest, and Intercession is based upon its acceptance. To assume that any man, be he “Anglican” or “Roman,” because of his ecclesiastical standing, can offer a propitia­tory sacrifice for sin, is to dishonor Christ’s atoning work and trample under foot His precious blood. The New Testament term “priest,” as applied to believers, does not designate any particular class of Christians. All are entitled to worship, although there may be various degrees of intelligence among the worshipers. But the qualifications for worship are the inheritance of all who love. our Lord Christ. They are regeneration by the Holy Spirit; redemption by the blood of Jesus; the in-dwelling of the Spirit in our hearts, and oneness with the royal High Priest in life and ministry.

And now we must bring our book to a close. We have journeyed together, both writer and reader, over this holy ground of Scripture. We have seen how skillfully Old Testament types and New Testament doctrines harmonize and are closely inter-related. We have sur­veyed that only which lieth on the surface; beneath lie hidden treasures. Dig deep and you shall find. Earnest study of the Word will secure great reward. “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that through patience and through comfort of the Scriptures we might have hope.” Romans 15:4.

Having become somewhat acquainted, may I not be bold enough to enquire of you, my reader, concerning your spiritual welfare? Have you been born again? Are you safe for eternity? These are deeply serious questions. How does your conscience reply, as in the presence of God? If not yet saved, think upon these things, I entreat you. And not only think, but DECIDE. Flee to Christ now. He is a present Saviour. Look to Him; believe He is your Saviour and your Priest. Confess your sins before Him and receive His absolu­tion. And oh, fellow-christian, the time is short for service here; the end hasteneth ; the coming of the Lord draweth nigh. May we not only be instructed in divine things, but be consecrated for divine service. May the study of these Tabernacle Types lead us to grasp more firmly their HEAVENLY REALITIES, that we may proclaim Christ, the Way, the Truth, the Life, in whom dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead, faithfully, persistently, continu­ously, witnessing to His atonement, His priest­hood, and His personal return in Glory.

 

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* The late Dr. Arnot.

The Tabernacle in Sinai, by Dr. Randall.

“The idea of priesthood belongs to the realm of grace. I would-as soon think of transferring the language of Geometry and Algebra to Botany and talk of the hypotheneuse of a flower, or the square root of a tree, or the differential co-efficient of a con volvolus, as to speak of the priesthood of nature, or of let­ters, or of science.”-Hugh Martin.

Green Pastures And Still Waters

GREEN PASTURES

AND

STILL WATERS

(PSALM XXIII.)

BY

J. DENHAM SMITH

“He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:
He leadeth me beside the still waters.”

KiImarnock, Scotland:

JOHN RITCHIE, PUBLISHER OF CHRISTIAN LITERATURE

 

PREFATORY NOTE

THIS Volume has not been written to gratify mere taste, or to please the fancy, but to present to the mind of the reader medita­tions by means of which he may enjoy conscious fellowship with the Lord Jesus Christ—the GoodShepherd.

It has been written simply and plainly, because intended, not only for the ordinary reader, but for the sick-room and the lonely couch. The Psalm of which it treats is pervaded by a Gospel that meets the questionings of the heart anxious about sin, or needing the assurance of a personal salvation.

To the young, whose path in life is all before them; to the aged, who can tell of goodness and mercy having followed them; and to the bereaved and sorrowing, who, though tried and, it may be, desolate, are yet entitled to say, “Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me”—these meditations are especially commended.

It has been well said that there are few pages in history more instructive than those which display the attitude of men when facing death. Contrast the experience of those who die without hope with that of the Psalmist in this Psalm. How different!—how sad the one, and how blessed the other!

May He, whose truth I believe it to be, use this Volume for His praise, instructing and benefiting the souls of those in whose hands He may place it!

 

CONTENT
    Page
I. GENERAL DESCRIPTION 9
II. THE GOOD SHEPHERD 17
III. FULL PROVISION 27
IV. GREEN PASTURES 35
V. STILL WATERS 42
VI. THE RESTORED SOUL 52
VII. THE SHADED VALLEY 60
VIII. THE LIGHTED VALLEY 68
IX. THE TRODDEN VALLEY 78
X. THE PREPARED TABLE 85
XI. THE ANOINTED HEAD 95
XII. THE FULL CUP 107
XIII. GOODNESS AND MERCY 112
XIV. THE SURE DWELLING 118

 

THE TWENTY-THIRD PSALM.


“HERE in the blest repose of faith
The soul delights to see—
Not only one who fully loves,
But Love itself in Thee:

“Not one alone who feels for all,
But knows the wondrous art
Of meeting all the sympathies
Of every loving heart.”
—SIR E. DENNY.

 

First Part

GENERAL DESCRIPTION

OF all the examples in Scripture of faith and divine confidence, this TWENTY-THIRD PSALM is assuredly one of the sweetest. It is a casket of gems, radiant with beauteous lustre, each one shining in distinctive brilliancy; it gleams with the truth of God, telling of the won­derful things He will do for His people.

Its writer was a shepherd. None of his produc­tions display more the ardour of his piety, or the poetic beauty of his lyre; though divinely inspired, and foreshadowing a greater than David, yet its imagery plainly portrays what was his own occu­pation, and what the rich character of his mind.

As to its place in the Word, like the garden which formed the centre of the unfallen earth, this psalm is laid in the very heart of the Bible. The central verse is said to be Psalm lxxxv. 10. A glorious one, truly!—where the great attributes of God are seen as if in council over the redemption of man, the result of which has been described as “a double marriage in heaven.” “Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.”We can scarcely open our Bible with­out alighting on the Psalms. But it is because of its own intrinsic worth that, from our very child­hood, this twenty-third is so familiar to us.

Its place in relation to the truth lies between the  cross of suffering, as described in Psalm xxii., and the hill of glory, as told in Psalm xxiv. It is nearly nineteen hundred years since the cross, and the glory to follow the sufferings is not yet. This psalm, as often noticed, is the psalm for the wilderness which lies between both. It is because of the atoning sufferings of Psalm xxii. that Psalm xxiii. is so precious, and Psalm xxiv. is made so blessed as foretelling the manifested glory yet to come. These three Psalms together spread themselves over all eternity and futurity. They constitute the “yesterday, and to-day, and for ever” of the divine ways. The “yesterday” of God’s vast pur­pose as to the cross, and of  the cross itself, is past; the “for ever” of the glory is to come; the “to-day” of the present is that in which we now live by faith. From the standpoint of this psalm, we look back to the cross as the foundation of our hope, and forward to the glory as its blessed consummation.

As to its order (for it has a sweet moral order), it divides itself into two parts. The first speaks of the Lord, the second to Him. Thus in verse 1 we read, “The Lord is my Shepherd”; in verse 2, “He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: He leadeth me besides the still waters”; in verse 3, “He restoreth my soul: He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.” But in the fourth verse the pronoun changes. There it is as if speaking of Him was not natural, or possible even, without speaking to Him, which indeed is according to the experiences of every child of God. Hence it is, “Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy  staff they comfort me.”

The great characteristic of the psalm is, that it is full of Christ. For although the psalmist is speaking of himself, and has in his mind the green pastures of nature, and the still waters which rest in their midst, yet the Lord, and the Lord only, Jehovah-Jesus, is the one object before Him.

Thus it is with us. We see the imagery to be beautiful, yet Christ is all, and in all. We need no interpreter to tell us He is there; we see His face; we hear His voice. His love, His tenderness, and His care, are all present to our hearts. Like the golden City of the New Jerusalem, the psalm has “no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God Both lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.” Glorious Shepherd! in Thy light we see light, and reflecting as in a mirror Thy glory, we are “transformed into the same image from glory to glory, as from the Lord the Spirit.”

The lovers of this psalm are countless. It has been sung by myriads in the past, as in the wonderful times of David and Solomon, in the great revival days of Josiah and Hezekiah, and in subsequent New Testament times. Tenderly as­sociated with our own bye-past happy years, it has come down to us one of the sweetest songs in the house of our pilgrimage. Who can tell what hearts have been benefited by it, and what tears have bedewed it? Not a few whom we have known and loved, and who are now where their eyes weep no more, have had their dying couch  lightened up with the sweet asseverations, “The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want”; and “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me.” Peace to their memories! We seem in company with them when in company with this psalm.

As to its contents, what pen could write them? What tongue could tell all that might be said of Him who is the Shepherd? or of those who are the sheep of His fold, of whom the Good Shepherd says, “Thine they were, and Thou gayest them Me”? The soul, in going through each verse, should be lost in admiration, love and praise. It is a sanc­tuary of rest, a vast storehouse containing many departments of the unsearchable riches of Christ. The one whose experience it all is—and what more could we say?—has no want and no fear, and will never, in the blessedness of his being, have an end; for he will “dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.”

But the question is, Are our own souls filled with its truth? and are we in the enjoyment of their blessedness? If so, what knowledge is ours—the knowledge of Jehovah the Good Shepherd the knowledge that He is mine, and that I am His; the knowledge of God through Christ, who reveals Him to us. For as we know the several objects in creation only through the sun which reveals them to our senses, without which sun none of them could be seen, and there could be no light and no life, so we can know God only through Christ. He alone it is who plainly manifests Him. He is the light of that world into which grace has brought us. So writes Paul the apostle: “God, who com­manded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts to give”—or that we may give out—”the light of the knowledge of the glory of God” (His character, His love, His righteous ness, His counselled purposes in the past, His promised glories for the future—all), “in the face of Jesus Christ.” Truly this is divine and ineffable knowledge—a knowledge which, as an infinite treasure, He has committed to us, who in ourselves are but earthern vessels, children of clay.

And what assurance! Who can measure this word, “The Lord is my Shepherd”? not He has been, or may be, or will be, but is, is now, and will be unchangeably so for ever. Who can tell the blessings innumerable indicated by “I shall not want,” a word spreading itself over not only the whole of the life that now is, but that which is to come. He can never be poor in time or in eternity who has Jehovah for his Shepherd, who has so provided for him that he shall not want.

And what courage is ours!—”I will fear no evil!” Not a vain or a false, but a true and a holy courage, based on God Himself, on what He is in Himself, on what He is in relation to His sheep, and on what He has promised. How blessed never to fear! Daniel, Jeremiah, David, Paul, and an in­numerable company of others in like danger with themselves, could tell us something of this.

Moreover, what rest!—”Thou art with me”—rest in the Lord, on His work, and on His Word; rest in God through Him; rest in the conscience; rest in the inner man, in life, and in death—rest. Yea, this is rest, truly and intelligently, to say, “Thou art with me.” The Lord, Jehovah-Jesus, who is my Shepherd, He is with me; I know Him as mine, And I know Him present with me.

And then, how personal! There is a seven-fold “me” in this brief portion of the Word–seven links of a golden chain of appropriate happiness. How sweet their sound! ” He maketh me, He leadeth me.” Again, “He leadeth me.” Then, in verses 4, 5, and 6, it is still “me”—”Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me; Thou preparest a table before me; goodness and mercy shall follow me.” A short yet great word of God truly is this which makes all so personal. And blessed is it to spell it out to one’s own soul, saying, ” He maketh me to lie down in green pastures; He leadeth me beside the still waters.”

And then there is the glorious hope!—a hope which lifts our eyes up to the Father’s house, with its many mansions, and to the bright journey we are soon to take with the Lord thither, when He shall come again. A chain of marvellous sweetness is this—”I go to prepare a place for you; and if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself, that where I am, there ye may be also.” Oh, the un­speakable satisfaction of being able to say, “I shall dwell in the house of the Lord for ever!”

Let anyone think what this psalm means, and what are all these hopes therein contained, and what the goal, or what all the prospects, which it places before us, and then ask: Can time or earth give us anything in comparison with these? We talk of the “land of the blest,” and we visit it by faith, but what will it be to DWELL IN THE HOUSE OF THE LORD FOR EVER? Oh, it is not to tarry for a little, as we tarry now with a child or a friend! It is not as a stranger or a guest, not as a servant merely, or a friend, but we are to be there’ as sons and daughters of the Lord God Almighty, each one in the Father’s house, each one a child at home!

A thought of beauty and joy is this of the Father’s house! The love of the Lord Jesus to His disciples might have revealed it to them before, but never was it fully disclosed until John xiv., “In. My Father’s house are many mansions . . . . I go to prepare a place for you.” As the appointed child­ren for that house we are as yet outside; we do not occupy, and we need many things. Therefore He says, “If ye ask anything in My Name, I will do it.” This is our family position. How beautiful is the account of the home and the asking! How natural! It is as every child acts who is absent from home and knows his position. He knows and feels his wants; he refers them to his home, He asks; he receives; he receives as wisdom and love see fit. Soon the home itself will be disclosed. “Sweet home!” may each child anticipatively say, Nay, sweetest home! How perfect and how per­petual its love and its rest! What surprises will it give as we catch the first glimpses of its glories! What untold joy and satisfaction will it yield! By faith looking up to Him who is there, we can each one of us say, “I shall be satisfied when I awake with Thy likeness.” We shall then be “for ever with the Lord”—

“Where no shade nor stain can enter,
Nor the gold be dim.”

And we may add; for this is the crown of our hope— 

“In that holiness unsullied
I shall dwell with Him.

“He and I in that bright glory
One deep joy shall share;
Mine, to be for ever with Him;
His, that I am there.”

Blessed Lord, Thou art near us in this psalm! It is a stream from the fountain, the fountain being in Thee. Thou hast said, “Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst, but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” Lord, we would drink of Thee from out this psalm, Thou blessed Shepherd and Bishop of our souls! Like the Emmaus disciples, may our heart burn within us whilst we talk to Thee by the way, and Thou openest to us this Scripture. It was in their sorrow Thou didst come to them.

“From darkness here and dreariness
We ask not full repose,
Only be Thou at hand to bless
Our trial-hour of woes.
Is not the pilgrim’s toil o’erpaid
By the clear rill and palmy shade?
And see we not, up earth’s dark glade,
The gate of Heaven unclose?”
—KEBLE.

 

Second Part

THE GOOD SHEPHERD

“The Lord is my Shepherd.”
“O gentle Shepherd, guided by Thy hand,
My soul hath found her everlasting rest;
Thou leadest me towards my Fatherland,
And on the way Thy presence makes me blest.
“Sadly and wearily I went along,
Tumult and vain unrest on every hand;
But Thou didst draw me from the noisy throng,
And brought me to a quieter pasture land.”
—THOLUCK.

BEAUTIFUL and commanding is the figure under which the Lord, in John x., desig­nates Himself, saying, “I am the Good Shep­herd”; and the work He assigns to Himself only God could do. The words, “I give unto My sheep eternal life,”are unanswerable, as expressive of His Godhead. It were blasphemy for a creature to assume that he could bestow eternal life. The Good Shepherd of John x., and the Jehovah of Ps. xxiii., are one and the same Person. When He speaks of Himself as the Good Shepherd it is in relation to atonement. He lays down His life for His sheep, and along with that life the sins of His whole Church. He takes it up again, which He has power to do, but not the sins; they get no resur­rection, no place again in connection with Him, or with the redeemed, whose they were. When He is spoken of as the Great Shepherd it is in relation to His resurrection. In Hebrews, we read of “that Great Shepherd of the sheep,” whom God, in token of His accepted work as our Substitute and Saviour, “brought again from the dead.” Peter calls Him the Chief Shepherd in prospect of, and as having connection with, a coming glory. To the elders it is said, “When the Chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.”

There is grandeur as well as tenderness in the words, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” They, too, tell of His Godhead; for who but One, who is omnipresent, omniscient, and infinite in knowledge, could from first to last be acquainted with each and all the millions of His people, their joys and sorrows, their wants and ways? Who but a divine Being could so place His fulness in relation to them, that they through Him should never want, never fear, and never cease to be?

Oh, precious it is thus to identify His Person!—as Jehovah-Jesus, the Angel of the covenant, who had carried Israel even as an eagle her young; who could say, “Before Abraham was I am.” “I am that I am”—the incommunicable Name! The prophet Micah says His “goings forth have been from of old”; that is, from eternity. It was He who at the first, made man in His own image, so qualify­ing him to have fellowship with Him; for none not like Him can have fellowship with Him. When we see Him, and are like Him, our power for fellowship will be completed. It was He who, from the earliest time, walked with our first parents in the garden, who appeared to Abraham as the God of glory, who carried Joseph like a flock, whose dwelling was under the wings or feathers of the cherubim. The “I am” of the Old Testament is the “I am the Good Shepherd” of the New.

But next to His Person is the greatness of His work—a work which was indicated by His Name; “Thou shalt call His name Jesus; for He shall save His people from their sins.”

Joshua was a type of Him thus. His original name was “Oshua.” But when God wanted to perform His great wonders of saving His people, of bringing them through the opened Jordan, and causing them to tread on the necks of the kings of Canaan, He added the letter “J” to his name, that which represents Himself, so that “Oshua” the ordinary man became Joshua the leader and the saviour of the people. Thus in Jesus the divine Shepherd, that He might be able to save, is the incommunicable nature. In Him, for that glorious end, “are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” “For it pleased the Father that in Him should all fulness dwell.” The Father had blessedly to say to His work as a Shepherd. “It is perhaps,” remarks another, “one of the sweetest things in the parable of John x.” We there learn the mind of the Father towards the flock. For the Lords says, “As the Father knoweth Me, even so know I the Father, and I lay down My life for the sheep,” telling us that one of the deepest secrets of the Father’s heart was His love and care for His church. The flock indeed was the Father’s before it was ever committed to Christ the Shep­herd. “Thine they were, and Thou gayest them Me.” They lay in the Father’s hand before they were put into Christ’s hand. They were the Father’s by election before the world was, and became Christ’s by the gift of the Father, and by the pur­chase of His blood. And all the tenderness and diligent care of the Shepherd do but express the mind of the Owner towards the flock. The Shep­herd and the Owner of the flock are one—one, it is true, in glory, but one also in Their love and carefulness about the poor flock of redeemed sinners. Here then the poor of the flock feed and lie down; when here it was only a remnant that heard His voice. Who can hear the voice of a Saviour but a sinner? The whole need not a physician (the sick surely do, and thankfully betake themselves to Him). Israel, who saw no beauty in Him that they should desire Him, re­ceived Him not. He refuses (for the present) to feed them any more.

His course here began by dwelling as a Man amongst men, but without sin, fulfilling the law as we ought to have fulfilled it, if we were to merit by our works eternal life. Then He placed Himself between God and us upon the cross. On Him falls the heavy blow which our sins had rendered inevitable: and by this at once our conduct is condemned, the law is satisfied, and yet, wonder of wonders! we are acquitted. For the Mediator remains not in the tomb; He rises from it on the third day, and God thereby declares that He acknowledges Him to be His Son, and accepts His sacrifice in expiation of our sins. Thence He ascends to heaven, where He sits on the right hand of God, and watches over those whom He has purchased by His death. This is the work which as Mediator He accomplished between God and man; as it is written, “God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them. For He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.” O Calvary! how precious are my thoughts of thee! From thee it is this river of my salvation flows, and thy righteousness is plenteous and con­tinuous as the waves of the sea! But the work on the cross, is it not told with sufficient clearness and tenderness by Himself in the psalm which precedes this? There He is a “a worm, and no man.” God has heard others, but does not hear Him. He cries, but no response. He was a reproach, “hated of man.” 1 See also Psalm lxix.

In these Psalms it is not, as in the Gospels, others taking note of His sufferings and death, giving us historically the story of what they heard and saw; but it is the Lord Himself, the Shepherd, telling how the sword had entered Him, as when He cried,  “I sink in deep mire, where there is no standing.” What He endured, and what He felt, He tells us. It is there He makes His confession. No priest can confess our sins; He alone knew them all, and confessed all; on the cross, suffering under them, He says, “Mine iniquities have taken hold on Me.” Ah! not His own, excepting as having taken our place; really yours and mine. And again, “My sins are not hid from Thee.” He knew them each one, and told them out to Him who had laid them on Him. Bearing our sins was the secret of His agony. But for such utterances as these, we should never have known as we do what that agony was. If we read only the New Testament, all in His life, and for the most part His death appears to be peaceful. On the cross even, what leisure of mind He seemed to have, when He could converse as He did with the poor robber at His side, and with John concerning his mother, and with His Father respecting His mur­derers. All this was outward, and known to those who were spectators of the scene; and seemed as if only peace reigned. But these Psalms tell of woes unutterable, which in their nature were quite unseen by men. In our own little measure, at a far distance it is true, it is ours, in service and in our dealings with others, to be outwardly peace­ful, whilst within there may be sore conflicts, deep and dark exercises of soul, of which those around us are in utter ignorance. Oh, sweet to have this much, little though it be, which reminds us of the peacefulness of our blessed Lord, while yet His soul was troubled, as when being in an agony He prayed more fervently!

But to how many, alas! is the secret of His agony quite unknown. It was not from fear of death simply, that He was burdened with such sorrow. What was said by Valdes, the Spanish reformer of the sixteenth century, may be addressed to many in our own day who are ill-informed on the sufferings of Christ. “Having,” he says (Valdes himself, emerging from the darkness in which he had lived), “frequently heard men speaking of the agony, the fear, the horror, and the sorrows, which Jesus Christ our Lord felt in His passion and death, by persons who pretended to show the cause why Christ felt His sufferings and death so intensely; many having suffered and died, some of them without evincing much feeling, and others not having shown any; whilst others apparently re­joiced and delighted in suffering, and even in death. And never having been satisfied in my own mind either in what I heard them say, or with what I read in books, that I came to the conclusion that God, having laid all our sins upon Christ, in order to chastise them all in Him, and He, having taken them all upon Himself, and having known them all in general and particularly, felt for each one of them that confusion, that shame, and that grief which He would have felt had He com­mitted them all. Seeing Himself in the presence of God with so many and such abominable sins, it came to pass that He felt all that agony, all that fear, all that inward sorrow, and all that shame and confusion which would have fallen to the lot of each of us to feel, for each one of our sins, had we been chastised for them. Hence it was that He sweat drops of blood in the garden, through the agony He felt, not at seeing Himself about to die, but at seeing Himself in the presence ofGod, laden with so many sins, on which account He prayed with His face to the earth, as a man would do who should be ashamed to look up to heaven, knowing that he was burdened with so many offences perpetrated against God. Now that it is true that God has laid our sins upon Christ, and that Christ has taken them all upon Himself, appears from Isaiah liii., 2 where he says,  ‘He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities’; and further on, ‘He bare the sins of many’; and besides this he says, ‘With His stripes we are healed.’ And this same appears by St. Peter, who, feeling as Isaiah felt, expresses himself almost in the same terms, say­ing, ‘Wretched,’ or ‘woe is me.’ This could we each say,  ‘see the evil I have done in offending against God, in not living according to the will of God, since with each one of my offences and of my sins I augmented the agony, the fear, and the sorrow which my Christ felt in His passion and in His death.’” Now it is because human reason does riot see this that it can never under­stand the connection of the Son of God with death. All the wisdom of the wise is foolishness here, and just because the so-called wise of this world do not understand God, or sin, or atonement for sin, or the hell to which sin leads.

Blessed be His Name! we who believe, see His sufferings to be sufferings for sin. But we see more. We see His cross as a throne-cross for reward and for glory; for by death He will destroy death, and throw a flood of light concerning the character of God over the whole universe of His creatures. He who hung on the cross rejected, will reign supreme. After the sufferings, will come the glory. Sin has stained the earth and the heavens, but He has obtained dominion over sin, and will restore that which He took not away. His own resurrection was a first instal­ment of the mighty whole. Having paid the penalty due to us, death can hold Him no more. A prisoner having expiated his offence can be held as such no longer. When our offences were expiated, God could hold His Son in death no more, but raised Him from among the dead, and placed Him at His own right hand, where He appears in the presence of God for us. Thus to save His sheep, the Good Shepherd has taken the whole journey needful—from the throne to the manger, from the manger to the cross and the grave, from the cross and the grave to the throne. “The work of the Rock is perfect.” And we are “Complete in Him.” “Ah! if you knew,” said the late Adolphe Monod, “how precious is this word to me. With Jesus I descend into the lowest depths of hell, and behold the formidable accuser of God’s children but a vanquished enemy, and impotent to do me harm. With Jesus I tread as conqueror on the lion and adder, and on all the powers of the enemy! With Jesus I ascend to highest heavens, and in my Judge I recognise my Saviour! Whatever may happen, Jesus, Jesus is the only name I oppose to all anxiety and all terrors. To the agonies of death, Jesus; to the terrors of judgment, Jesus; to the sufferings ofthe flesh, Jesus; to the accusations of conscience, Jesus; to all questions, Jesus, Jesus.”

This is the gospel; we are as He is. We “have been crucified with Christ.” We shall be glorified together with Him. It was for us He died, and we have died in Him; He being freed from sin, we are freed in Him; no sin, no condemnation, no death, no hell, rests on Him, and none on us. “Death hath no more dominion over Him.” There­fore none over us, for whom He died. “For in that He died, He died unto sin once: but in that He liveth, He liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Christ Jesus.” This, I say, is the gospel, the good news of God to those to whom He has given His Son, and who on believing receive Him as such. Hence taking Him as God’s gift to us, He is ours; for this word “my Shepherd” is a word of possession. Do any say, “How can I know He is mine?” Simply on the ground of His being God’s gift to the sinner. I am a sinner; God gives Him to the sinner; as such I take Him, and on receiving Him, He is mine, without money and without price. Yes; my Shepherd, my Saviour, my Redeemer, mine as an absolute and unconditional gift. To “as many as received Him, to them gave He power” (the pri­vilege, right) “to become the sons of God.” Can anything be more simple or more satisfying? and, I may add, more timely? For “now is the accepted time.” And soon death may place you—

“Where tears of sorrow come too late for grace,
As on th’ uprooted flower the genial rain.”

 

Third Part

FULL PROVISION

“I shall not want.”

“Ah, whence this wondrous stream of grace,
Into my heart that steals?
Is it that through an open place
Heaven thus itself reveals?
Yea, let the door be open still,
And floods of grace my heart shall fill.”
—From the German.

FOUNDED on the fact that “the Lord is my Shepherd” is the assurance, “I shall not want.” None but a Christian can say, “I shall not want.” He who depends upon any earthly source of satisfaction, can never feel he has enough. The Christian, rejoicing with joy unspeakable and full of glory, realises that he not only has a fulness of blessing, but an over­flowing measure. With such a Saviour-Shepherd it could not be otherwise. And this word, “I shall not want,” is not conditional, but absolute; not dependent on what we are, but on what the Shep­herd is. To supply the wants of his sheep is the one great requirement of a shepherd. He with­draws from all other occupations, that he may live with, and, if needful, die for, his sheep.

David himself would have died for the lamb he rescued from the jaws of the lion. The Good Shepherd laid down His life for His sheep. None ever heard of a flock unattended by a shepherd, or of sheep requiring pasture that the shepherd did not give the supply. He has special know­ledge of them by their need. and sometimes even by their sufferings or defects, as the Good Shep­herd so specially knew Peter in his denial of Him, and David in his sin.

A shepherd never ceases his care. It is night and day work, winter and summer the same. Hence he knows his sheep. If in pastoral lands we watch the shepherd, we shall find that when a lamb is born he gives up all else to attend the little weakling, taking it to the fire if needful, or if there be no fire at hand, holding it in his bosom. And, moreover, when the flocks are on march, and a little one from weariness drops behind, he takes it up and carries it; or if in its friskiness it gets out of bounds, he goes after it with his crook,by which he brings it to his hand, and carries it back to the flock again. When a young or a strange sheep is brought to his care, he feeds it from his own hand with the sweetest morsels, talking to it all the while, mingling his voice with the food, by which means his voice becomes known by the sheep; and soon he begins to call it by a name, and thus the sheep gets to know not only the shepherd’s voice, but also its own name.

This needs no application; for who does not think of John x. 27, 28, “My sheep hear My voice, I know them, and they follow Me.” Glorious description! tender relationship! “My sheep,” and “my shepherd.”  “My” is a word expressing property. What a property have we in Him! And He has property in us. “Jehovah’s portion is His people.” Oh to know more of what is His inherit­ance in His saints—not their inheritance, which they have, but His inheritance in them!

It has been whilst in pastoral lands, seeing the devotedness and tenderness of the shepherds to­wards their sheep, that I have so specially thought of Jehovah-Jesus, of His love and tenderness, and of His ever-watchful care. Once, when far up amongst the higher valleys of the Engadine, I saw, on a still, quiet Lord’s-day morning (one of those calm, unclouded mornings which so sweetly har­monize with the magnificence of the scene and with the sacredness of the day), what seemed like a little funeral procession moving slowly down one of the surrounding heights to the Alpine village where I was. It was a shepherd with an invalid sheep. He knew nothing of having a carriage for himself, but he had hired one for his sheep; he had no room for himself, but he had hired one as a temporary hospital for it. Arrived at the place, I saw him carefully separate the sheep from his large shepherd coat, with its old Roman hood, which he had wrapped around it, and burying his fine face deep down in its woolly side, he gave it his parting, I may add, his loving, embrace, saying, as he kissed it, “Farewell” my Jeanie.” I marvelled when I thought how he had, as it seemed, a thousand more on the height (for I had seen them on their going up from the transalpine plains of Italy). yet he had a name and, it would seem, a special love for each one.

Such in the great pastoral lands is an ordinary shepherd. Such doubtless was the sweet singer who sings for us this charming pastoral. He knew his sheep, and that he was responsible for them, protecting from all foes, and supplying all wants —able to give an account of each one.

“For twenty years,” said Jacob to Laban, “have I been with thee; thy ewes and thy she-goats have not cast their young, and the rams of thy flock have I not eaten. That which was torn of beasts I brought not unto thee; I bare the loss of it; of my hand didst thou require it, whether stolen by day or stolen by night. Thus I was” (this is what it cost him); “in the day the drought consumed me, and the frost by night; and my sleep de­parted from mine eyes.”

Touching description of Jacob’s cares and suffer­ings in the discharge of his trust. Not one torn of beasts did he deliver up to Laban. He could says, “I bare the loss of it.” In the mirror of this picture we see a greater than Jacob; we are re­minded of His responsibilities, and His sufferings, and of how He came into the world full of ten­derness and full of tears; so came that He might bear our griefs, and carry our sorrows, yea, die for us, as He said, “I lay down My life for the sheep . . . those that Thou gayest Me I have kept, and none of them is lost.” And again, “I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish: neither shall any” (man is not in the text) “pluck them out of My hand.” Thus double security have we; for He adds, “My Father, which gave them Me, is greater than all”; (all enemies and all ills) “and none is able to pluck them out of My Father’s hand.”

Against such security—the hand of the Good Shepherd and the hand of His Father—what can earth or hell avail against us? No marvel the word is absolute, “I SHALL NOT WANT”; for besides the security being great, the supplies are infinite. All the vast department of unsearchable and untraceable riches are in Him; allied to His resources there can be no lack. Our goal is “the riches of His glory,” and the wants by the way are provided for accordingly. Hence, “My God shall supply all your need, according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Oh, what can we want that is not to be found in Him? Atonement? Reconciliation? Peace? We have all in Him. He has died for us; “He is our peace” and our pardon; He has purchased all for us by His own blood. Do we look for heaven? He is our title. Sympathy in sickness or suffering? He maketh our bed in our sickness. Society? “Lo, I am with you alway.” By night He is with us; in sorrow He is with us; when solitary or alone, and others leave us, He is with us. Having Him who is the Father of the fatherless and the Husband of the widow, we can never say we are bereaved, never say we have no friend, none to help or sympa­thise with us. We are no longer alone in the world when once we can say, “I know whom I have believed.”

Blessed Shepherd! who can tell what we have in Thee? Are we defiled? Thou girdest Thyself with the towel, and art keeping us clean? Are we exhausted? Behold, Thy everlasting arms are around us? Do we fear Thou art gone from us? “Fear not: for I am with thee.” Are we in want? Is the bread scant and the poor body in need? “He knoweth our frame; He remembereth that we are dust.” Said an aged saint, whose confi­dence, like her means, seemed to be wasting away, “I opened my Bible upon the words, Every beast and the cattle upon a thousand hills,’ when the Lord seemed to say, ‘Do you think when these are Mine, I can deny you the little that you may need until the day I take you to Myself?’”, From that time she never lost her confidence and never suffered want. Another, also an aged one, who had saved a little for her old age, but on changing her last pound, and with only two shillings and sixpence of it left, was beginning to think that after all she might die from want. One morning, however, she was found asleep in Jesus, with that little sum just lying near her couch. The Lord had taken note of her exact need, and knowing that in His own heaven she would be well attended, had taken her to Himself.

Precious in sickness or in health, in life, or in death, is this word, “I shall not want.” Oh, how much they lose who have no Shepherd, no Saviour, and no certain rest; but are like the troubled sea, or as Luther says, describing the human heart, that “It is like a ship driven by the storm winds from the four quarters of the world. Here rushes fear and anxiety concerning future misfortune; there comes grief and melancholy about present evils here whispers presumption of future prosperity.” Who can count the sorrows of such? And what is the past human world but a history of such? What alas! is the voice of its millions, which comes to us from over the long ages of time, and what imagination still hears? to what can we liken it? As with Nature, whose sounds are mostly of the minor key, so with this voice of the suffering ages. It is like the sobbing amidst the trees of some desolate forest; it is like the mourn­ing of birds that sorrow for their mates; it is like the wailing of the storm over the remains of some gallant vessel whose distressed rigging hangs broken on the lonely waves. But were the days of the past worse than these? Ah! no; man’s inhumanity to man, the spirit of oppression on the one hand, and of predicted lawlessness on the other, are seen on all sides.3 The world is not still young, and going to grow better, as many imagine; but has grown old in iniquity, and is (this age of it) fast ripening for its long-predicted doom. 4 Hence the wave of apostacy still rolls on, and the groan of creation is still heard deeper than ever. Full of want is this sinful world, and must be so whilst without God. And such is the deceitfulness of sin, man turns not to God in his want, but refuses His Son, who alone could satisfy him. Oh, ye who may read these words, say, “Is this God my God?” Can you place yourself in the sweet “me” of this psalm, saying, “He maketh me to lie down in green pastures; He leadeth me beside the still waters”? Can you say of God, “He is my God, mine to supply all my need.” and of this Good Shepherd, “He is my Shepherd, my Saviour”? And if not, why not? Alas what loss is yours, for time and for eternity; yea, what want! With a first-felt and new-born solicitude deep down in your soul, well may you now say—

“Why burns no love within my breast?
‘Tis that in ignorance I rest.
If I, my Lord, my life had known,
Ah! to whom else should I have gone?”

 

Fourth Part

GREEN PASTURES

“He maketh me to lie down in green pastures.”

“For heart and eye, how rich the pastures spread,
When with unceasing change by day and night,
Like a fair garb, with jewels all inlaid,
A veil of freshest flowers enchant my sight.
“How well the unbroken calm, so deep and still,
My soul refreshes, long with tumult filled;
And now methinks my undivided will
May to my Shepherd’s will for ever yield.”
—THOLUCK.

WHERE in Nature shall we find a lovelier scene?—the calm day; the verdant mead the clear stream; and a flock of sheep—some drinking and others feeding, or resting

“Where spreading trees and shady rock,
Defend them from the noonday sun.”

But it is first feeding, then resting. It is proverbial of all flocks, that when they have well eaten they lie down and rest.

Sweet image of those

“Whom the Good Shepherd leads,
Where storms are never rife,
In tranquil dewy meads,
Beside the fount of life.”

Yea, image of those who, filled with Christ, lie down at rest and confidence in Him. My soul, art thou feeding and resting thus? All ordinances, all fellowship with others, and even the Word, will be of no avail, unless feeding on the Lord Himself; yea, on God, on the divine love He bears us, His purposes of grace and glory, by which we see He has separated us unto Himself, “that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love.” These are indeed true pastures in which to feed and rest. And it is He who leads us into them, even the Lord the Shepherd. But let us note the form is passive: “He maketh me to lie down in green pastures.” Blessed this His constraining power, when the Spirit through the Word works unhindered in the soul! It was He at the first who made us to lie down at the cross, leaving the burden of our sins there. It is He, now, who makes us to lie down afresh in God’s presence where we are, as Christ is, holy, righteous, accepted in the Beloved. Such pastures are green pastures, fresh springing with a delight that is eternal.

But we note further, there is progress. Sheep when they have fed on one pasture are ready to be led out to another; or having gone in first for food, are ready to be led out on march. Thus we “go in and out and find pasture.” We go in in com­munion, and out in service. When our souls are happy in the Lord, we are ready to be led out in service, or in suffering if called to it; ready also for a fresh leading into all the great departments of the hid treasures of wisdom and knowledge which are in Christ. Progress as to our standing, our acceptance, our justification, our sanctification in Christ, our rank and title before God—none;but as to service, and knowledge, and love, and joy, an infinite degree. We are to grow in these, both here and hereafter. As Paul said, ,Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended .of Christ Jesus., Progress! Yes; for ever! Who can tell , what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height,, or ,know the love of Christ which passeth know­ledge?, Yet such is our path of progress—out, for ever into where our every bliss is bounded only by what is eternal and infinite.

Now Christ the Good Shepherd is the Door into all this; and He it is who leads us in. Yes, it is a kind of lovely contradiction, singular, and sweet as singular, that whilst He is the Door, yet He it is who leads us in, and then, being inside, He leads us more and more to Himself, and through Himself into God—into the ways of His grace and love, and purposes in Christ, into all His blessed will concerning us, which will is our sanctification, our entire separation, unto Himself through the Word. It was because the Word was His Word, and led more and more to the knowledge and en­joyment of Himself, that made it so blessed to the Psalmist. Hence he could say, in Psalm cxix.—

Thy statutes have been my songs”(v. 54), and

“Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet”(v.105.)

“Thy Words are sweet unto my taste”(v. 103.)

“Thy law is my meditation”(v. 97.)

“Thy testimonies have I taken as an heritage”(v. 111.)

“Thy commandments are my delight”(v. 143.)

“Thy testimonies my counsellors”(v. 24.)

It is into this law of the Lord, these testimonies, the whole realm of His love and grace as disclosed to us in the Word—a broad land of wealth unknown—that He delights to lead. This He does by His Spirit, who teaches all things, and brings all things to our remembrance.

But the word , green pastures , more correctly is “fresh-budding pastures”; that is, pastures which by reason of revival in growth are made to bud anew. If we want to know how they are made to bud anew in the soul of one who believes, let us, as in a mirror, behold the wonderful effect produced on the disciples, after the Lord’s death, resurrection, and ascension into Heaven, when the Holy Ghost came down and dwelt within them, bringing to remembrance all the things which He had said to them, and all that the prophets had written concerning Him. And even before the advent of the gift of the Father, let us behold the Good Shepherd with the two sorrowing ones on their way to Emmaus. Their subject as they stood before Him, “sad,” was Himself; they “trusted that it had been He which should have redeemed Israel.” Foolish indeed they were, “and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken. Ought not Christ,” the Messiah of the Scriptures, “to have suffered?” Suffered what? Why those very things that now so sadden them, and then “to enter into His glory”; of which, as if He had said, His resurrection this very day is the beginning. See how He leads them out into one “fresh budding” pasture after another. Think with what new light they saw the whole ritual of suffering victims under Moses. Think of the Psalms—this xxii. Think of the cry there—“Eloi, Eloi,” &c.—the very words of His anguish on the Cross; and of the fact about His garments—“They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon My vesture.” Think, did He tell them of Psalm lxix.—“They gave Me also gall for My meat; and in My thirst they gave Me vinegar to drink”; or Isa. liii.—“He was wounded for our transgressions.” Isa. liii., again, which speaks of His being “numbered with the transgressors, and with the rich in His death.” As they listened how would the two robbers and the tomb of Joseph come to mind! Oh, what bursts of illumination on the Christ who had just died according to all these! Then He led them out into the glory to follow. His flesh would rest in hope. The Holy One, though dead and buried, would not see corruption; He would be shown the path of life, Was not this a way of leading out into pastures, fresh-budding pastures, they could never forget; And did not all these truths fresh bud, as it were, in their souls?

And were they not precious to Himself? Who knew the pastures better than He? As Man, He had often been refreshed by them, looking for divine relief and enjoying divine communion through their means. With what ever-growing interest would He trace in them the path of His humiliation, also the path of the glory which would follow the humiliation. As Son of Man He understood, as in the Song, the sweet bridal affec­tions yet to be manifested and enjoyed in the coming day of His espousals; also His connection with all the several glories of the earth and the heavens, as foretold by the prophets. Wonderful pastures were they to the Man of sorrows; ever refreshing His spirit with the joy set before Him, for which He “endured the cross, despising the shame.” Teachable men were these disciples; the unction of His Word had dropped on their inmost heart, as they said, “Did not our heart burn within us, while He talked with us by the way, and while He opened to us the Scriptures?”

Oh, my soul, it is the entrance of His Word that giveth light! it giveth understanding to the simple. The letter killeth; the spirit giveth life. It is true, they did not see the Christ before them, their eyes were holden; but they saw the Christ of the Word, how that He must rise again. They saw with the eyes of their soul; and their affections were all aglow with love and wonder and unspeakable joy, The darkness may seem to be still without, but there was sweetness within; Christ was formed in their hearts, the hope of glory. Is there nothing like this in our own experience? Are not the pastures “fresh-budding” pastures? After some new sense of His love, or some new refreshings at His table, or whilst sitting under the Word, or speaking of Him to others! “Oh, I have believed in my completeness in Christ for years,” may a believer say, “and in my sanctification in Christ before God; I have long believed in the atone­ment, and have known something of the savour of the precious blood of Christ with God; but these truths were never so precious to me as now! For years I have seen God’s purposes, but they never appeared so comforting, so sanctifying, as now; What a balm for life’s woes now for me is the atonement! What a rock under me as years grow and life decreases are the purposes of God, which cannot be altered, but must be accomplished! Christ Himself becomes revived in the soul; the pastures under His leading are thus ‘fresh-budding pastures.’ Blessed Lord, lead me into these pas­tures. Pasture me more and more by means of the glorious mysteries of Thy Word, and pasture Thy poor flock in these days that they may never neglect or become independent of the Word, or of the fresh anointing and the pure grace which they so much need.” Living on past experiences will not do; dreaming of heavenly places, and living an earthly life will not do. Oh, let it not be said now as once it was of Ephraim, “Grey hairs are upon him, yet he knoweth not!” Blessed Lord, revive Thyself in Thy whole Church. Why should not Thy whole Church be led out anew into green pastures, the fresh-budding pastures of the truth, and beside the still waters of divine consolation and joy? Why should any appear as if like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest? To the Christian we would say—

“Be not satisfied with gleaning
Scanty measures for thy soul,
While the pastures smile with blossoms,
And thou may’st enjoy the whole.
“Be not satisfied with sipping
From the wayside rill of love;
Oh, drink freely from the fountain!
This thy happiness will prove.”

 

Fifth Part

STILL WATERS

“He leadeth me beside the still waters.”

“Sweet waters these: but oh! above
The streams of life more purely flow;
There all the joys of heavenly love
His fair unblemished flock shall know.
“There we, beloved, redeemed, and blest,
The sorrows of the desert o’er,
Beneath our Shepherd’s eye shall rest,
Nor ever faint or hunger more.”
—SIR E. DENNY.

LONG with the green pastures are the “still waters”—waters of rest. We are led by the Good Shepherd beside these. He shall lead His flock like a Shepherd. He Himself is the pure river of the water of life, “a fountain of gardens, a well of living waters.” As sheep refresh themselves by the side of calm waters, so we solace ourselves in Christ. How quiet and confident a flock appears when resting in the presence of their Shepherd. “In quietness and in confidence shall be your strength,” is the word of the Lord to us by the Prophet. Quiet resting in God is what our souls need; and faith in the many great and precious promises, which are all yea and amen in Christ, is blessedly related to this quietness. It is whilst enjoying the consolations of the Spirit which flows from these, that we rest beside still waters. A sense, moreover, of what is our sure destiny now and for ever, as kings and priests, as heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ, gives the strength that comes of this quietness and confidence. None not satisfied can rest, and Christ only can satisfy. “Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst.” Do we thirst for rest? He was our rest at first when He said, “I will give you rest.” As we take His yoke, and learn of Him who was of a meek and quiet spirit, He is our rest more and more, as He says, “And ye shall FIND rest unto your souls.” But sin is the disturbing element. Hence I would draw out to our view something of those broad rivers of “wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption,” which issue from Him. It is by these we rest. Especially would I show that holiness—without which no man shall see the Lord—and rest, sweetly agree; sin and rest never.

A child of God cannot rest by still waters if the mind be troubled respecting sin, or ignorant of what holiness is. As to perfection, only One ever knew perfection. There is no perfection but in Him. It is not sinlessness or innocence that the Christian can ever have in this life. Innocence supposes no knowledge, and no thought even, of sin; holiness is compatible with both. The clear heaven of an innocent bosom was an element which, added to a very happy outward condition, made for our first parents a paradise. They were created in innocence without the knowledge of evil. We have no such innocent bosom or outward condition, yet are we holy before the Lord. It has been well said, that a definition of terms, such as those of church, inspiration, minister, regene­ration, faith, justification, sanctification, would do much to dispel the mistiness which hangs over divine truth, and save an immense amount of confusion and unrest in the minds of the children of God, and prevent volumes of controversy which issue from the pen.

Do we know rightly, we should know that it is saved sinners who, notwithstanding that they have a sinful nature, are holy before God.

Sanctification and its adjuncts—holiness, sanctfied, saint, &c.— are terms the radical idea of which is simply, separate, set apart from one thing or purpose to another.

Every child of God is thus set apart, or is holy in a threefold sense—he is holy in Christ; he is holy as possessed of a divine nature; and is called upon to be holy in his life.

He is holy in Christ; set apart from all eternity by God for Himself; accepted, “highly favoured,” as the word is, “in the Beloved.” In order that he may be righteously this—freed from sin in God’s presence (for how otherwise could he be there?)—Christ undertook to bear our load of guilt, and to put all away by the sacrifice of Himself; yea, so put all away that we can say of His whole redeemed people, that He hath “perfected for ever them that are sanctified.”

It is thus in its highest signification God has made Christ unto us sanctification. How he has done this Isaiah saw, when he beheld the Lord, “holy, holy, holy,” high and lifted up in the tem­ple. Once in God’s presence, the prophet saw his own unfitness to be there, saying, “Wretched or woe is me.” But he saw another thing—the “live coal taken from off the altar” which had con­sumed the sacrifice, which had borne the sin. He saw that live coal put to his own lips, whilst the Lord said to him, “thine iniquity is taken away”; that is, the sins of which you feel the misery in God’s sight are put away. Remember he had simply God’s word for this; for he was, as to having sin in him, just the same after as before that wondrous word. Was he then in himself utterly purged and in himself whiter than snow? No, indeed he was the same person before and after this sight, ex­cepting what he heard, and this truly is blessed; viz., that his iniquity was purged, that is was gone from before God, and that thus he was holy in His presence, in virtue of the sacrifice consumed by the live coal.

We have a striking picture further illustrative of holiness, in the threefold action of Aaron on the great day of atonement. That day was a high day in Israel, in which the millions of the people were free from all servile work, all ordinary occupations, that they might keep it holy, separate from all other days unto the Lord. In the morning of the day a victim for sin, selected for the purpose, was doomed to suffer death, having been first charged with the sins of the people. This solemn ritual, the burning of the victim to ashes, was performed outside the camp, outside the place of blessing. This being accomplished, Aaron, as a further thing, took the blood with him inside the veil, into the Holiest, where God was, and there in solemn solitariness placed it before the Lord upon the mercy seat, underneath which was the law, whose claims had been answered by the blood; also “upon the ground before the Lord, as if the very earth and its atmosphere had been polluted by sin. Israel was taught to feel that their very breath was polluted; that man, till sprinkled with the blood of Christ, is not only sunk in sin and death himself, but that he is a moral and spiritual pesti­lence all around.” Wonderful words these for such a people:—“On that day shall the priest make an atonement for you, to cleanse you, that ye may be clean from all your sins BEFORE THE LORD.” This Aaron did in his garments of perfect white­ness; for in this part of the wonderful transaction he had to disrobe himself of that gorgeous dress which at other times he was instructed to wear, reminding us of Him who from the beginning was robed in the glory which He had as equal with the Father, but emptied Himself of to live for us a sinless life, and die a substitutionary death. All was pure white, indicating the perfectness of Him who offered Himself without spot or blemish to God, on the ground of which He showed Him­self qualified to make atonement for those who were full of defilement, full of the spot and blemish of sin.

This done, Aaron laid aside his white robes for the garments for glory and beauty, which had on them the names of the twelve sons of Israel, as much as to say, The victim has been slain, sin has been put away, God has accepted the blood, and now all Israel may be taken up into connection with Himself, on His shoulders, and near His heart, accepted through the blood. This Christ has done for us, only we who now believe on Him are not released from our sins for a year merely, but for ever. We are as He is, not merely as stones on His breast-plate, but members of His body, of His flesh, of His bones. To know this, is surely to lie down in green pastures beside still waters.

A further action of Aaron was that some time in the solemn hush of the evening he had to present himself to the people, who came out to look for his appearing. Under the radiant glow of the setting sun, the gold and the blue of his attire were seen to be beautiful indeed. With uplifted hands he blessed the people who were waiting to behold him. Thus, in the result, Israel on that day was holy unto the Lord; i.e., set apart unto Him as if without a sin. The sins of a whole year had been put away by the blood which had been placed before the Lord inside the veil. Our great day of atonemnt is now going on, Christ has made “once for all” an end of our sins. He Himself, now, is within the veil, there appearing in the presence of God for us; and “unto them that look for Him shall He appear the second time, without sin, unto salvation.” This is our standing as believers; this is our sanctification in Christ now and for ever before God, unchanging and unchangeably the same.

Truly we can say—

“Had I an angel’s holiness,
I’d cast aside that wondrous dress,
And wrap me up in Christ.”

But further, the believer is holy in his new nature; that nature is essentially holy; for that which is born of the Spirit is spirit, and naught else. It is in regeneration we are made partakers of this nature. We may and ever ought to grow in grace, but this nature never progresses in holiness. The old nature which is still in us, can do nothing but sin, and would if allowed, continually sin; but this new nature can never sin—“Whosoever abideth in Him sinneth not.” It is spoken of in Eph. iv. 24 as “The new man . . . created in righteousness and holi­ness of truth,” qualities assuredly in us and distinct from the work of Christ for us. And we have this new nature, not instead of the old, as many wrongly imagine, or as made out of the old, or by degrees to absorb the old into itself; but separate from it, and in opposition to it. Oh, well it is to know this! for without such knowledge the spiritual instincts of a child of God, must ever be involved. Feeling sin, he will say, “Am I con­verted? am I saved?” Not knowing that sin and self have had their doom on the cross, he may go on and on as if doom still hung over him, uttering the cry, “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” The only way to dispose of the “O, wretched,” is look­ing at Christ.

But a third aspect of this question relates to our life; an important one truly. Practical holiness is thus referred to: “Perfecting holiness in the fear of the Lord,” and means that we should cultivate in a practical way the life corresponding to our state of holiness in Christ. The same also is referred to by Paul in his prayer for the Thessalonians—“And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be pre­served blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Some may say, “If spirit, soul, and body, can be preserved blameless, is not this sinless perfection?” Certainly not; for besides spirit, soul, and body, there is a fourth element in us—the flesh.

It may not be always seen; as the fairest lake has beneath its surface a sediment which needs only to be stirred to show itself; so a child of God may in his habit of life appear as the sweet reflec­tion of a heavenly brightness, yet a word, a look even, may discover to him afresh the corruption which is still within. Is there a single text in all Scripture to show that the flesh is ever withdrawn from the child of God? No! only death will give the release. We shall then lay it aside as a defiled garment no more to be worn. Meanwhile its pre­sence still with us may lead us to say “wretched.” But occupied with God, the flesh will be in abey­ance; the mind whilst set on things above will not be set on sin. Separation unto God involves practically separation from evil, The Thessa­lonians ‘turned TO GOD FROM idols”; Ephraim on hearing God say, “From Me is thy fruit found,” exclaims, “What have I to do any more with idols?” This I say is practical holiness. We are to be dead to sin, and dead to the world.

Continuous is the rest which the knowledge of this gives, not in self, but in Jesus; rest in God’s presence, rest in our souls; a rest which spreads itself over the whole of life, down through the valley of the shadow of death, and beyond death into the land where sin and death have no more place. Oh, it is in such a condition, in such holiness bright, we can lie down as beside the waters of rest!

David meant something deeply practical and experimental when he prayed, “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow”; and again, “Create in me a clean heart, renew a right” (steadfast, fixed) “spirit within me.” Did he mean an absolutely cleansed old nature? No! he wanted a heart practcally clean, a heart fitting him for the presence of God. Sin indulged in and unconfessed, pre­vents our communion with Him. “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.” God delights in an entire consecration, a daily, continuous application to our souls of Christ by the Spirit. It is in such application the heart is benefited, the conscience at rest, and the soul fitted for every trial and for every service.

And now, with our psalm full in view, as sheep like still waters, so a child of God this divine rest. No scene can be more lovely than those fertile slopes and quiet retreats of some unlimited upland pastures, where no noise of town or of man breaks its peacefulness, and where beside still streams the flocks are lying at rest. Beautiful and refreshing image of the still waters that flow for us from God, and from Christ, to a life wholly consecrated to God! Like the waters of Shiloah these waters “go softly,” away from the troubled world of self and sin; and oh! my soul,

“Thou hearest not the beating waves,
Or angry winds that blow;
But who shall say what wonders there
Thy God to thee shall show.”

Sweet antepast of the time looked forward to by all the redeemed, when, “He that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them,” and when “the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living foun­tains of waters.”

 

Sixth Part

THE RESTORED SOUL

“He restoreth my soul.”

“Wherefore droops thy trembling soul?
Wherefore saddened is thy brow?
Clouds around thy path may roll,
But thy God is present now.
“He, the Author of the faith
Which thy spirit shall renew,
In His sacred hour of death
Finished thy salvation too.”
—Mrs Winslow’s Memoirs.

“HE restoreth my soul.” When in weakness or cast down by sorrow He does this; He re-animates it when exhausted, as in Ps. xix. 7, where we have the same word, “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting”—that is, restoring—“the soul.”

The same thought is expressed in Ruth iv. 15, where Naomi is told concerning Boaz, “He shall be unto thee a restorer of life, a nourisher of thine old age.” Note here in our psalm, the restoring, like the leading, the feeding, and the anointing, is all continuous work of our adorable High Priest, our Heavenly Shepherd. The whole life of a be­liever is one of restorings; it is not that He has restored, or that He will, but, “He restoreth my soul.”

There is a natural power in food to restore. This power is the same with all physical nature. I have seen whole flocks of sheep at the beginning of their summer season wending their way up from the dry hot roads of the low counties of the south to the rich valley pasturage of the higher Alps. On their ascent they looked exhausted and lean, as if ready to die; but feeding and resting amid their green pastures they become fat and vigorous. We know the power of food as to our bodily organism; after greatest fatigue how soon it restores!

In our own life up to a certain period, supply preponderates over waste. This all through, from infancy to childhood, and from childhood to the zenith of our days. That period passed, a change ensues; waste preponderates over supply; thence come a decay which nothing can arrest. But grace is stronger that nature. Feeding on Christ, restor­ing is continuous; it never ceases. Our outward man may perish, but “the inward man is renewed day by day.” Hence it may be with us spiritually as it was physically with Moses when one hundred and twenty years old. Forty years was he a prince in Egypt, forty years a shepherd in Midian, and forty years king in Jeshurun. One hundred and twenty in all, yet “his eye was not dim nor his natural forces abated.”

Blessed truth! Christ need never fade from our souls, or yield us less supply as we near the end of our pilgrimage; faith, instead of weakening, may wax stronger and stronger, so that I have known many of the dear saints of God at the end of a long life, holding and enjoying the truth in all its freshness and power, far more ardently than in the days of their first love. Like the Israelites’ shoes and garments in the desert, which waxed not old, the gospel to them has been as sustaining and blessed at the close, as it was when first they be­lieved. No; the hand may become palsied, and the eye dim, and the body weak; but the mind is still firm to grasp the promise and expect the crown. It was aged Paul who said, “there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness”; and how many others since have in their bodily decays ex­claimed, “My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart and my portion for ever.” Thus there is no need that first love should be the strongest, or first days in Christ the happiest. It is feeding on the Word, living in communion with God, that repairs all wastes, and satisfies all wants. Christ has a power to remove all depression, to sustain amidst all calamities, so that apart from any decline through actual sin or unfaithfulness we can say, “He restoreth my soul; He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness, for His Name’s sake.”

This, I believe, is the true thought here—“He re-animates my soul.” But some there are who read, “He reduceth my soul.” That He chastens us when needful we do not doubt. The energy of the flesh may take the place of these supplies, and the child of God may imagine it is well with him. It is then God touches the false energy, as He did the thigh on which Jacob depended when the angel wrestled with him, and which led him to hang in conscious weakness, but in reality more clearly in possession of the blessed One who was wrestling with him, saying, as he helplessly but now securely hung upon Him, “What is Thy name?” And the response was, as if this were better than the name, or as if this were His name, “And He blessed him there.”

But others take these words in the sense of re­covery from evil. This also is true—that the Good Shepherd does so recover us when we wander. We may be bent on wandering, but He is bent on restoring us again. Nothing is more liable to wander than a sheep; and when wandering it seems to have no power to retrace its way, but goes on and on, with its face to the ground, until night sets in, or hunger or some enemy overtakes it. Then is heard its cry. But who is it that hears it? The Good Shepherd may leave the ninety and nine, but not this “one.” He goeth after the one that is gone astray—until when? Until He has given up the search? No, indeed; but “until He find it.” Then the bringing back to the fold with joy! and note, not the sheep’s joy, that is not said, but His own joy! Luke xv. is a picture of all this. It tells of one who had been in the fold, and needed to be restored. The one hundred sheep were all the Shepherd’s own, the one who had gone astray as well as the ninety and nine. Not one can be plucked out of His hand; He must bring all to the fold with safe issue. It is the Father’s good pleasure that not one should perish. Wander, alas! we may, but never beyond the reach of His arm. Hence “He restoreth my soul: He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His Name’s sake.”

A backslider differs from an apostate. Judas was of this latter. Peter was a backslider, he had gone from confessing Christ. An apostate is no child of God. There are two kinds of backsliders —there are those who are such in heart, and there are backsliders in life. The backsliding in heart may be quite secret and imperceptible. “Grey hairs” were on Ephraim, and he knew it not. Alas! it is sad work; the profession made may remain fair, but the flower of it will soon bear marks of decay, so that the backsliding in the heart soon comes out into the life.

A sheep in the act of wandering, as I have said, seldom or ever lifts up its head; so with poor back­sliding souls; they do not, as once they did, look up confidingly to God or Christ. They look not as they did, with an unfaltering eye to God as their Father, to heaven as their home. Even when awakened, their eyes are down on their sins, and on their wretched selves. O, blessed are the afflictions by which God awakens from the ways of sin and self! “Before I was afflicted I went astray.” “Why should ye be stricken any more?” asks God. “Return, ye backsliding children, and I will heal your backslidings.” This is all He asks, that we should return; to return and to repent are the same thing. Moreover, He will heal us. He does this not by any renewed act of atone­ment, but by the application by the Spirit to our souls of the atonement already made, The death of the red heifer could transpire but once, yet its ashes could be applied again and again. Thus the value of the precious blood He applies anew to our sins, also His unchanging, compassionating love to our bleeding hearts. Oh, the grace, the love of our God! It is only to such poor back­sliding ones that He gives the tender, touching reminder, “I am married unto you.” Sweet thus the ways of His grace! And sweet His word, “Return to Me.” To Ephraim it was the one entreaty of His heart; and to us, as another has said—

“We are so feeble, with hearts so bad, having such depths of corruption, and the devil so strong, that we cannot cope with him alone. Hence His words, ‘Return unto Me;….without Me ye can do nothing.’” There is, often, the returning of un­belief. We come heavy laden, hardly knowing what is wrong, trying to put ourselves to rights, instead of returning on the finished work of Christ, and spreading all out before our Father.

Oh! how often we try to put the mistakes of our heart right in the dark, instead of in the light of His presence. There we are restored in a minute; if longer, it is unbelief. For to faith it is said “If we confess our sins,” (that is our part) “He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins,” (that is God’s part, which ON our confessing He has pro­mised to do), “and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Alas! for our unbelief; it is our greatest enemy—the destroyer often of our peace, but happily not of our safety; that depends not on faith even, but on Christ. “Unbelief,” says an old writer, “may perhaps tear the copies of the covenant which Christ has given us, but He still keeps the original in heaven with Himself. Our doubts and fears are no part of the covenant, neither can they change Christ.” 5

But though Christ will not and cannot change, the divine life within us, alas! may. David, for example, though forgiven his trespasses, could say, “My sin is ever before me.” It was before him not to condemn, but to humble under a sense of its deep shame and sorrow. Of how many a child of God may it be said—

“Thou hast seen, Fair seed time;
better harvests might have been
But for thy trespasses.”

Blessed when such can say, “He restoreth my soul: He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His Name’s sake.” These paths of righteous­ness are paths of holiness and obedience.

Many praise catholicity and largeness of charity who are forgetful of the Lordship of Christ, of obedience to Him, and of practical separation from all evil. Ah! it is easy to profess that Christ is the way; but not so easy, fully in all His paths, to follow in His steps. Would the things many are living in—religiously, socially, and as to the affairs of this life—be theirs one moment longer if in place, and life, and walk they owned the divine Lordship, 6 and simply followed Christ? And yet where the love of God dwells, it must lead into the paths of righteousness and practical holiness—paths to be trodden daily in our own homes, in our business, in our walk before men, in the Church of God, in all our relationships in life, and in the world. All the planets revolve around their central orb. The Lord would lead all His people in these paths around Himself. We must never wander from simple practical righteousness, not even on pretence of love to others or charity, as to departures from the truth. Soon He will lead where love and righteousness will have their eternal abode; there we shall wander no more, but “follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth”, Meanwhile, if under depression of soul, or ex­hausted by sorrow or trial, or through sin, we have backslidden from God, let us betake ourselves anew to the Word, to the Good Shepherd, as revealed to us there—His blood to cleanse, His unchanging love and grace; let us read it as when we first were saved. Blessed was that new delight when first we saw the Lord; let us renew it again. Let us lie down in the green pastures, and beside the still waters of that loving, gracious, sin-forgiving presence which meets us at the cross, and lifts us to the throne; nay, lifts us to His own breast, and on that human heart of His which beats for us with truest love. Let us be attentive to His voice; moreover, to the lesson enjoined on us by one who, as to our service, our obedience, and communion combined, says—

“Childlike attend, what thou wilt say,
Go forth and do it while ’tis day,
Yet never leave thy sweet retreat.”

 

Seventh Part

THE SHADED VALLEY

“YEA though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil; for Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy
staff they comfort me.”
“No shadows yonder,—
All light and song,—
Each day I wonder,
And say, ‘How long
Shall time me sunder
From that dear throng?’”
—BONAR.

THAT which is here spoken of is called the “shadow of death.” Death, in itself, has nothing but shadow for those who enter its portals. How many fill that shadow with imaginary phantoms! The sweet singer fills it with the Lord.

“Do you ever realise,” asks one who has sweetly written on this, 7 “what will be your feelings in passing through that veil which separates from the unknown, when the curtain shall have dropped upon all below, and all around is reality? Much is contained in that word, ‘Thou art with me.’ This is the rainbow in the valley; for there is no need of sun or moon when covenant love illumines. But we must find His presence superior to any joy here, if we wish to find it superior to any terror there.”

The psalmist reasons: He is with me now, assures that He will be with me then. Grand assurance! founded on present experience as well as on direct promise. It is thus we rest in God, whose truth it is we believe; and it is thus God “giveth His beloved sleep,” i.e., whilst reposing in Him, having confidence in the truth which He has given in order to assure the soul, Christ being with it, of its full and final security, under all circum­stances, in all places, and at all times, in life or in death the same.

There are two things here: there is the scene itself, the gloomy valley, or, literally, the “death shade;” and there is secondly the confidence ex­pressed—”I will fear no evil.” As to the scene itself, it is supposed by some to extend all through this dispensation from the cross to the throne: i.e., through the whole of this evil age, on which rests the sin and shame of a rejected and crucified Christ. By others it is supposed to be the whole course on earth of the believer. Christians are spoken of as if ever passing through it. But the word “though” or “when I walk” implies that the sweet singer himself was not in the valley at that time.

Others describe it as a baptism of thick dark­ness, a season of soul misery, and suppose it to be the sure and certain experience sooner or later of every believer. But how many are taken to heaven immediately on conversion, whilst in their “first love,” They go from what to them is a bright heaven on earth, to a brighter heaven in heaven. Many indeed have darkness of soul, but though such may be the experience of a Christian, it may not be true Christian experience; it is not the experience contemplated here. The “Thou art with me,” and “I will fear no evil,” indicate that whatever the darkness may be, there will be a walking with God in it. Moreover, we must not forget the psalm is pastoral; sheep have to be led through dark and desolate places, savage gorges, which separate desolate heights. But such a shep­herd as David would surely be with them, constitut­ing the safety, the stay, and the confidence of his sheep. David himself takes the place of a sheep which may have to be led, as indeed he often was led, into times and places of great sorrow; but with such a Shepherd as his, he would not fear. Christ being with us, whatever the scene may be, however dark or sorrowful, we need fear no evil. The valley may doubtless denote some season of distress, some blinding affliction, or dreadful encounter with the enemy, or with evil in ourselves. The term is again and again used in Scripture for darkness; for depths of sorrow and woe (Job iii. 5; x. 21; xxxiv. 22; Ps. xliv. 19; Ps. cvii. 10-14; Isa. ix. 2; Jer. ii. 6; Amos v. 8).

Fellowship too with the sufferings of Christ was surely to Paul as a “valley of the shadow of death.” He bore in his body the marks of the Lord Jesus, and could say, “I die daily;” yet was his heaviest sorrow counted by him as light afflic­tion, and the sufferings of the present not worthy to be compared with the glory to be revealed in him. Bunyan, who did not look upon this valley merely as death, describes his pilgrim as passing through it long ere he reaches the river which divides our time estate from the celestial city. I would understand the passage as embracing every path of sorrow and darkness through which the Good Shepherd may lead us, not certainly exclud­ing, but especially including, our passage through the last sorrow.

The scene does not mean death itself, but the shadow cast by death, which cannot harm, and which can fall only on this side. It may indeed be darker to some than to others.

“I found it no playground,” 8 said one who being dead yet speaketh. Said another, “I have known more of Christ in this week” (the week of her death) “than I have known in all my whole life put together.” 9 Another, on the eve of de­parture, said, “When I go home, shall not my ten thousand prayers be answered in the salvation of my seed, and of my seed’s seed to the latest generation?” 10 Thus to the dying themselves it may be all light; but dark to those who are bereaved. Rachel refused to be comforted con­cerning her children; David too, concerning his Absalom, the anguish of whose soul respecting his death seems to have been complete. Suppos­ing we have just seen death in another, nature revolts at what we have seen in the death-room; though while the features are still unchanged, and the look all tranquil, one might fancy as friends stop softly over the carpeted floor as if to hush their footsteps, that this was “the disguise of sleep, and not the mask of death.” It is the bereaved surely who are in the dark shadow that falls on that room. The solemn hush that reigns there, is broken only by the sobs of the sorrowing. or by the voice of sympathy which is gentle, and the words of comfort which are tender.

In the death-room, when we see the earthly house without its tenant, what thoughts pass and repass in the mind—how much we should like to say if we could, or perhaps to unsay; how much to regret, or perhaps to atone for if we could. Let us so live with our dear ones, that when they are gone, we may have but few regrets, but few things for which our fond hearts would fain apolo­gize; let us not lay the foundation of a deeper sorrow in the death-room than death itself may make. As a lovely instance of the contrary, pre­cious from a loving son, is the following to the memory of a beloved mother—

“In childhood I have wept to think
The day must come when thou must die;
The thought upon my heart would sink,
And fill with clouds my sunniest sky.
“Yet thou host died! and though I weep,
Dear mother, as I gaze on thee,
I would not break thy placid sleep,
Nor ask thine eye to gaze on me.
“I would not for its tenderest glance,
Nor for thy sweetest smile of love,
Disturb that sweet oblivious trance,
Nor lure thee from thy home above.” 11

Thus no shadow falls on the departed; but it does fall upon those who linger around the dying couch, or stand over the open grave. With them it is a sleep in Jesus; for that is what death is to a child of God—”absent from the body—present with the Lord.” But with the bereaved, what reality of sadness! yea, what bitterness of grief! Oh, what solace at such a time, when all else seems gone, to be able to say, “Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me!” Yet viewed in whatever light, death is solemn. I speak now of our own departure—the near approach of which finds the eye bent with greater earnestness than ever over the sacred page, and the soul moulding its convictions to its sure doctrines and its eternal testimonies. For, oh! it is in death it will be seen whether our course has been a right one or not, For every soul what issues!—an eternal heaven or the second death! Dreadful must it be for the wicked; since they first pass into the power of death, and death, God’s constable, brings them into the hands of the Living God, beyond which is the judgment. Who is not awed at the thought even, of such a death?

“If unforgiven sin my conscience bear,
Weakness and fear possess me everywhere.”

But for this, there is “the sacred quickening stream of Golgotha,” which can give instantaneous peace. Christ is the one only true antidote to death. How I like, unchanged, that grand old hymn which so boldly pleads—

“Death of death, and hell’s destruction,
Land me safe on Canaan’s side.”

For the death of Christ was the death of death, and the wrath He endured was hell’s destruction. His doom on the cross was sin’s doom. Thus with his accustomed truth and energy sings Luther—

“Christ Jesus, God’s own Son, came down,
That He might us deliver,
And sin-destroying took his crown
From Death’s pale brow for ever;
Stript of power, no more he reigns;
An empty shape alone remains;
His sting is lost for ever.
Hallelujah!
“It was a strange, a dreadful strife,
When life and death contended;
The victory remained with life.
The reign of death was ended.
Holy Scripture plainly saith
That death is swallowed up by death,
Henceforth made a derision.
Hallelujah!”

It is sin that makes death dreadful, and judg­ment as immediate on death; but for a believer, sin and sins, and the vile nature which gave birth to the sins, with hell itself, all had their doom when Christ hung in death for us on the tree—”WHO HIS OWN SELF” (every word is of weight) “BARE OUR SINS IN HIS OWN BODY ON THE TREE.” Bearing our sins He bore their judgment: “There is, therefore, now no condemnation” (no judgment) “to them which are in Christ Jesus.” It is because of this, we die in the sweet confidence of this word—”Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.”

And this word “yea,” or, as some read, “more­over?” shows a further effort of faith, a bracing of that power in contemplating all possibilities, how­ever many or solemn, in the valley of the shadow of death. Ah, yes! Going down into the valley, or contemplating its possibilities, faith needs bracing, even as we would brace a limb. The result is, “I will fear no evil;” a result not only described in the Word, but seen in fact in the deaths of innumerable multitudes of the children of God.

I once asked a child of God who was dying, “Have you any fear?” “Fear?” she replied, “why should I fear? Christ does not fear. ‘Jesus is mine.’ It is not death, there is no death; for I am lying down in green pastures, beside the still waters.” Here the scene of departure was laid, not in a land of terrors, but in the very midst of a valley of peace, and she was falling asleep in Jesus, lying down as in “green pastures . . . . beside the still waters.” Truly precious is such trust! and truly precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.

 

Eighth Part

THE LIGHTED VALLEY

“I will fear no evil.”

“I DO not dread death’s valley—
To me a pasture green—
For there, beside still waters,
Is laid its peaceful scene.
I do not fear death’s shadow,
A shadow ne’er can harm;
I must rejoice in Jesus
When resting on His arm.” 12
—MRS THOMPSON.

OFTEN in Scripture we find the word “fear not,” and the bold response, “I will not fear,” or, as here, “I will fear no evil”—a declaration made in the face of all ills, especially in prospect of the valley of the shadow of death. And why not so? In the light of our glorious redemption, what is there for a child of God to fear? He is surely

(1) Not afraid of God; that is, with any inordi­nate or slavish fear. Noah was moved with godly fear to build an ark for the saving of himself and his house; and we would there was more of this fear! But what we want is the love; for the more we love, the more we fear to grieve those we love. It was a holy, reverential fear which Noah had, and not a slavish fear; he believed in God’s great grace and love towards him. It is the same with us; we are not afraid of those we love; and “we love Him, because He first loved us.”

But there must be the knowledge of God’s love to us ere we can love Him. It is never till God is seen in the Gospel, that He becomes an object for our love; to the natural man He is an object of dread. What a sea of sorrow is there in the soul, which has been made alive to sin, but has not seen the true God. Heweitson, when he felt he was one of nature’s castaways, ere he saw the love of God, to whom he cried as to an unknown God, speaks of his own state thus: “I tried to find relief in tears, but could not. . . . How miserable, above all that is miserable, to wish that the heart were full of love towards its God and Saviour, and after all to feel as cold as ice, and as hard as adamant. Only one thing rectifies this—to believe in the love God hath to us; faith’s outward and not inward look—the outward look at the Word, which tells that God is love, and that He ‘so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoso­ever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” It is only in the Word that this is seen. The beautiful in nature is the shadow of God’s beauty; the sublime in nature, the shadow of His sublimity; but only in His Word are we told of that deep, infinite, and eternal love where­with He bath loved us, in the gift of His Son. What a change, and in how short a time, the knowledge of Him thus creates in the soul! As a poor, dying man once said to me, “I am afraid to die, for God is frowning on me.” I told him the story of the love and grace of God in the gift of His Son, who came to die for sinners, even the chief. A few days after, on calling again, I said “Is God still frowning upon you?” “Ah, no,” was his reply, “God is smiling on me.” He had seen and believed the love which God hath towards us —how that, when we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Thus to the child of God there is no fear in love; for perfect love casteth out fear; and if not afraid of God, he is, knowing what God has done for him,

(2) Not afraid of sin; i.e., its doom. Though our tears may flow on account of our unfaithfulness, yet may our eyes be so filled with Christ, whose blood cleanseth from all sin, that the sense of our forgiveness may turn those tears into joy. Lady Powerscourt, in writing to a friend, said, “How it will astonish you, astonish angels, when the book of my sins is opened, except that they are so blotted with the blood of Christ as to make them illegible, which indeed they are—forgiven, blotted out, forgotten!”

“I myself am a sinner,” remarked Luther, “and good works do not make a good man.”

“It is hard with some to believe this,” said Tholuck; “it is hard for a man to descend from the leaves and fruit of his sin, to a recognition of the stem and the root.” It was not only our sins which Christ judicially put away on the cross, but our bad, vile nature, the root of them all, that Christ nailed to the tree. Blessed declaration! “Christ died for our sins according to the Scrip­tures;” how welcome it is to those who are hungry and thirsty for pardon; God searched them all out, and laid them upon Him, “My sin” may a sinner believing say. “Oh, merciful Shepherd, search out Thy sheep, whose sins they were; lay them on Thy shoulders, and put them on Thy bosom, where Thou canst say, ‘Their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.’” With sins put away, the strength of the law, as being any longer against us, is put away. Hence we are

(3) Not afraid of the law. Many speak of a miti­gated law, as if God could lower His claim on His creatures, which claim is that man must be sinless or die. Speaking to such as cherish the hope of being judged by a mitigated law, the late Adolphe Monod asks: “Will you support it by the Bible: by the Bible? If I were to open the Bible that is before me, and read thus: ‘If you cannot fulfil the entire law, do what you can, and God will require no more. If you cannot refrain from sin altogether, at least abstain from the commission of heinous crimes: have a certain degree of charity, of patience, of holiness; act thus and you may be sure that the law will be mitigated sufficiently to absolve you from its penalties,’ would you distinguish the language of the Bible in this? Would you not exclaim, ‘Stop, faithless minister! you are not reading; you are inventing?’ So contrary to the spirit of the Bible is this doctrine of a mitigated law, that if you attempt to appeal to its testimony in support of it, all your feelings, all your recollections, all that is in you of the Christian character. revolts against this attempt upon your credulity. But I am now going to read without inventing, from the Epistle to the Gala­tians: ‘For as many as are of the works of the law, are under the curse; for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them;’ and again, ‘For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all;’ further, ‘For I testify again to every man that is circumcised’ (wishing to be justified by his works), ‘that he is a debtor to do the whole law.’ What shall I say more? ‘It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God;’ ‘For our God is a consuming fire;’ He is ‘of purer eyes than to behold evil,’ and will by no means clear the guilty,’ and a thousand similar passages. What do you say of them? Do you think that this is the language of a God disposed to alter His law in order to suit it to the weakness of sinful man? And if your mitigated law cannot stand before dispassionate reasoning, what will it be before the Bible?”

No; God can never separate the law from Him­self, or lessen its claim on His creatures. That claim is obedience or death. Man gave not the obedience and Christ gave the death; He became a curse for us. Hence the law is satisfied, it has “no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus.”

Oh, sweet, when the thunders of the law are thus hushed by Calvary! “It is finished!” answers all claims, all demands, great or small; it is the one pillow on which the sin-stricken, law-condemned conscience can find its rest. And, as the law can no more bring to death, the child of God is

(4) Not afraid of death. It was once said by a friend, “Death is a terrible monster; I hate it.” To which the reply was made, “What, and where, should you and I have been but for that terrible monster, as you call it, and which you so hate?” For death, in the use God has made of it, has become our boast and our song. It was by death that God found a way to save us from death. Thus Paul, telling out our blessings, says, “Death is ours.” What a terror to Israel the Red Sea would have been, had they not seen that it was now a way of life! Passing through it, in the midst of death they were in life. The child of God has, so to speak, dissected death. He has seen him first with his sting, which is sin; and then, after the cross, the sting is gone. For him death has no sting; the Ruler of life has placed it among his spoils which he wrested from the powers of evil, making a show of them openly. Death, to a child of God, is but a shadow which, like the shadow of a sword, can never harm. After death is the judgment; but if sin is gone, the judgment is gone. Hence a child of God is

(5)  Not afraid of judgment. Jordan signifies judgment; suggestively, judgment lay between heaven and us; and “Christ must dry up that sea, fathom­less to man, ere man can pass throught it.” Jordan had to be passed thus, ere Israel could reach the land of Canaan. To cross that impetuous river at its flood was impossible. The river at barley harvest, when the sun is at its height, and the snows of Lebanon are fast melting under the tropical heat, is flooded to the very edge of its greater or outer bank, and rushes down with violence to the Dead Sea. Once borne down to that sea there is no hope. Its waters are too dense to swim it, and too strong to allow of sinking, thus ensuring a kind of living death.

Christ has emptied the Jordan of both death and judgment. Oh, happy child of God, who, thus standing on the banks of the river, can by faith see the judgment, no longer a barrier. Between him and God, between him and the sweet fields of the better Eden, there is no barrier, the tree of life is now blooming for him. And the child of God is

(6) Not afraid of him who has the power of death. It may seem a mystery why God allows Satan a place against us at such a time as death. “But He who so allows will give us grace to help in every time of need. His shield will be interposed when the air fills with darts of the enemy. His strength, by which the worlds are sustained, will uphold us when heart and flesh are failing. His hand will clasp and guide us when the last im­penetrable gloom begins to thicken around us, and a darkness that can be felt veils the place on which we next must set our foot. Nor will his grasp slacken till He has drawn us through the night, and our eyes are dazzled as we behold that for which He has caused us to hope—the golden gates of the paradise of God.” Of all these, the child of faith will not be afraid.

(7) The promises prevent our fears. From the moment we start on our course, and for every possible necessity, God puts so many promissory notes into our hands, saying, “You will need them, and as you need them use them.” If it be a question of passing through waters, here is the promise: “When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee.” Or of fiery trial:—”When thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.” Or of conflict with the fiery darts of the enemy:—”No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judg­ment thou shalt condemn.” if the fear is of being left alone, this word—”Thou art with me,” is founded on a promise, “He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” Nothing short of that promise will do for us. And then, as to all be­yond, we are

(8) Not afraid of the issues. Absent from the body, we are present with the Lord. To die is gain—gain to be with Christ, gain to be where death has no more place. Thus, as night ends in day, so death ends in life; and as to departure, it leads to the real scenes of a blest reunion. Our dying ones seem to be going a long way from us—we grieve on parting with them, we grasp the hand of the fondest and dearest for the last time, and utter our loving farewell, but in reality death puts us where all will soon meet. It is a move for a coming meeting, instead of a long parting; and our partings will be short. Meanwhile we look up, and admiringly say of the departed—

“How bright these glorious spirits shine!
Whence all their bright array?
How came they to the blissful seats
Of everlasting day?
“Lo! these are they from sufferings great,
Who came to realms of light,
And in the blood of Christ have washed
Those robes which shine so bright.
“The Lamb who dwells amidst the throne
Shall o’er them still preside;
Feed them with nourishment divine,
And all their footsteps guide.
“Midst pleasures green He’ll lead His flock
Where living streams appear;
And God the Lord from every eye
Shall wipe off every tear.”

To the unbeliever, Death is a king of terrors—it is death indeed. For some vessels to draw anchor certain destruction awaits them. To die, with the wicked, is to be lost. Hence, what terrors will set in when this king of terrors appears to take posses­sion for him who hath the power of death, and who will use it for his own awful ends. Like the pillar of cloud, which to Egypt was all dark, but to Israel shining with the light of day, death to those who die in sin brings only ill, but to the righteous rest, and hope, and triumphant day.

Glorious redemption! or rather glorious Re­deemer! how hast Thou turned our darkness into light, our night into day, nay, our hell into heaven, which heaven Thou hast procured for us by Thine own most precious blood, giving us the same blessed title to be there, which as Man Thou dost Thyself possess, filling us with all joy, preventing all fear, and giving us to see that death places us beyond death; that Thou who art the God of life art the God of death; that the last pang of all his so-called terrors is the one which will see the end of his broken sovereignty over us, and the begin­ning of a day which has no eve—a day whose bliss is infinite, and whose duration—eternal.

“Oh, night and sleep and death—dim brotherhood,
Omnipotent in evil and in good!
How calm the quietude which mutely still
Awaits the purpose which ye each fulfil;
For sleep brings rest; and night the morning ray;
And death?
Lo! is it not the gate of Day,
Where night and sleep are not? for, ‘mid the Blest,
Perfection craves no sun, and needs no rest.
Oh, chilly night, the dawn hath smiles for thee!
Oh, darksome death, what shall thy morning be?”

 

Ninth Part

THE TRODDEN VALLEY

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me;
Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me.”


“The valley of the shadow groweth brighter,
Brighter and lighter, as we walk with Thee;
Its heretofore untrodden places
No more a terror, as Thy face we see.
“While passing through it keep us, Saviour, ever
Safe in the shadow of Thy radiant form,
Which moveth on Shekinah-like before us,
And with its brightness doth the path transform—
“Into a shining way of peace and gladness,
Where we may walk triumphantly with One,
Before whose face the darkness parts asunder,
As part earth’s mists before her rising sun.”
—PIGOTT.

I WOULD linger on this verse, not so much on its doctrines as on its simple imagery. Who but a divine artist could produce such a pic­ture? First we have a valley, obviously a lighted valley; then a lone traveller therein, walking calm­ly and peacefully with his guide; next, a rod and a staff comforting him. Let us look at these now as descriptive, not of ordinary trial, but of our last nearness to the home that awaits us. Observe

(I) It is a valley; not a boundless interminable plain, over which we may endlessly wander. A valley may lie between two near eminences, both which may be held in view when passing through it. We may still see the scene we have left and the one to which we are going. Thus at our de­parture at death there are two eminences: the life we are leaving is one, and the life we are entering is the other. The patriarch-father Jacob, on dying, looked back upon the past as if the whole of his life had been a waiting time. “I have waited for Thy salvation, O Lord;” but what filled his dying eye doubtless was the salvation itself, that which aged Simeon saw when he said, “Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace: . . . . for mine eyes have seen Thy salvation, which Thou hast prepared.”

And Paul the apostle said, on the eve of his martyrdom, looking back on the past, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:” but looking forward to the future, his eyes being filled with Christ, he said, “Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love His appear­ing.” Note, he does not say, “the Lord, the righteous Saviour,” but “the Lord, the righteous judge.” A child of God is as much at peace and rest in the thought of God as Judge, as when he contemplates Him as Saviour; and that not as a merciful Judge merely, but as a righteous one—all claims having been settled once and for ever as we have seen, by the Cross. Thus Jacob on going down into the valley, looked for God’s salvation as a blessed, but not fully defined or perfected object before his gaze; but Paul definitely looked on the crown of righteousness and on “the Lord, the righteous Judge,” who would give him the crown at that day. Blessed occupation truly for a dying hour!

The martyr Stephen saw but the one eminence. He saw the Lord Himself standing to receive him, so that, save the prayer for his murderers, life and death, himself and all else, were perfectly eclipsed by the sight. In Acts vii. 53, 56, we read: “But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, and said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing on the right hand of God.” Glorious vision! adorable sight! And for such as Paul and Stephen, and others who became martyrs for His sake, how infinitely happy! Seeing Jesus, whilst dying, has been the testimony of thousands since, on their coming to this valley. And will it not be so with ourselves? We may indeed look back from it, as we have said, to our own poor lives, our marred services, and to our sins; but what surely will fill our vision is the Lord Himself, who died for our sins, and our heavenly home, to which on the ground of the merit of that death He will bring us. Oh! it is upward, and not inward; upward, and certainly not backward, except at the Cross, that our eyes in death should be directed. “Put me looking upward,” said a dying soldier; adding, “It is a glorious thing to die looking up.” Blessed in life or in death to be looking up, not at the things which are not seen and eternal—at God Himself, at Christ, and at the bright home to which He is bringing us. But

 (2) The valley is a lighted valley; dark in itself, yet lighted, and the light all the more seen because of the darkness. But for night we should never see: those golden luminaries, those glorious stars and all their accompanying systems of worlds beyond less distant worlds, which people with their beauty and magnificence the vast fields of immensity.

“Darkness shows us worlds of light we ne’er had seen by day.”

A solitary light in a dark place! how prominent, and how welcome! Travellers amidst savage de­solate mountain gorges at night, have by lighting a mere match, illuminated scenes they can never think of but with horror. There are paths among the Alps one would not traverse in the dark for worlds; but how easy and safe in the light; the sun shining on them makes all the difference. It is the presence of the Good Shepherd that can light up the dark valley of the shadow of death. Oh, who can tell what it will be to have Him, THE Light of the world with us, when all other lights are withdrawn. He only can support in a dying hour, or bring home to the Father’s house with its many mansions. Christ being with us, no scene can be dark. A pavilion of light, the very portico of heaven, must be the scene where, in departure, He becomes visible to the soul.

But some timorous one may say, “Will He be with me?” Will He? Hath He not said, “Lo, I am with you always”? We sing, “Abide with me;” but does He not say, “I will never leave thee”? Would it not betray a singular mistrust, if, when a friend assured us he was remaining with us, we were ever asking him to remain? No, we must not regard appearances, or our own erring thoughts. Our confidence is founded not on feelings, nor on any frame of ours, but on the written Word of God alone, which says, “I AM WITH YOU,” and which warrants us to say, “Thou art with me.” No; the believer can say, “I cannot be overborne with my sins, for my Saviour, who put them away, is with me. I cannot be filled with despair, for He who is the God of hope is with me; or with sorrow, for the God of all grace and consolation is my God.”

(3) Further, this imagery presents us with the picture of a solitary traveller, who, with his guide, is simply walking through the valley. “Yea, though I walk through the valley.” It is “I,” a solitary child of God, going with his Saviour on a lonely march, his Saviour being his guide. How wonderful this must be in death! Faith issues in sight, and the soul is found alone with the Lord. All else gone from view. No man, but Jesus only.

When the Lord comes, there will be no solitary one walking through the valley with Him as now. We who are alive and remain, with those who sleep in Jesus, will be caught up together, an in­numerous company, to meet the Lord in the air. Corporately the whole of the glorified redeemed, from Adam down to the close, will meet Him. A glorious multitude! Those who had died, their corruption will have put on incorruption; and those who had not died, but are alive at His coming, their mortal will have put on immortality. But not one, as to seeing Him, in the resurrection, will be before another. Dying, the child of God would seem to have the blessed Guide all to himself, as we sing—

“He and I together entering
Those bright courts above;
He and I together sharing
All the Father’s love.”

Mark, now, the mein of this traveller. He is not exhausted; or hurrying as though excited or alarmed; but is walking in peace and security, as if in sight of the golden gates of the city of his God. What gives so calm an attitude in life or in death is not only a sense of right—the Christian being the “righteousness” of God—but a sense of fitness. Hence, “Blessed are those who wash their robes, 13 that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city,” . . . . a declaration on which the soul can repose, as having the gospel of the grace of God in Christ’s redemption before it, with a rich unction, and beautifully showing the holiness of those gates of pearl through which nothing that defileth shall ever enter, set in immediate connec­tion with that cleansing whereby a title is given to enter in as ransomed, forgiven, and saved.

(4) Besides these images, there are the rod and the staff, or, as some read, “Thy rod and Thy crook.” The crook at the end of the rod is of use in bringing the sheep near the person of the shepherd when in danger; the rod to keep off the foe. The ordinary shepherd, in bringing his sheep into the fold, makes them pass under the rod (as in Ezekiel), to see that their number is complete—not one lost or missing. With the  Good Shepherd all is secure. The rod, moreover, is used for directing, chastening, and guiding. By it deep waters are ascertained to be such. When Christian, in Bunyan’s dream, got down into “the river,” he asked his companion, “Brother, is there any bottom?” when in fact it was all bot­tom, as the rod could have told him. As with Israel and the empty Jordan, so with the dying of a saint, not a droplet of judgment is left. Hence we ought not to be as the poet mournfully sings—

“But trembling mortals start and shrink
To cross this narrow sea,
And linger shivering on the brink,
And fear to launch away.”

For though, alas! such fear is often the experience of the Christian, it is not Christian experience. Rather ought he to sing, “What ailed thee . . . thou Jordan, that thou wast driven back?” “O death, where is thy sting? . . . The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Such is the valley of the shadow of death, and such are the consola­tions and supports which await us there.

And now, leaving this valley of blessing, we would exclaim with the psalmist, “Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright: for the end of that man is peace;” and with the Christian bard—

“How calm the hallowed ground!
How cool the air around!
So peaceful does the body rest;
The spirit, too, how greatly blest!”

 

Tenth Part

THE PREPARED TABLE

“Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of
mine enemies.”


“Living Bread from heaven,
How richly hast thou fed Thy guest!
The gifts Thou now hast given
Have filled my heart with joy and rest!”
—PRIST.


IN this verse of our psalm, there are three beauti­ful figures setting forth the Lord’s care of us. First, a table which He prepares; second, a gladdening and a refreshing unction with which He anoints us; and, third, a cup too full not to over­flow with the blessings with which He blesses us. The flock ceases not to be nourished because its enemies may be near. Concerning these, the psal­mist writes in great confidence, as if quite unfear-ing, saying, “Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies.” Thus when He, the Good Shepherd, “giveth quietness, who then can make trouble?” The Lord puts us to eat at His table in peace, saying, “Eat, O friends: drink, O beloved.”

The first figure is a prepared table. It is no unusual figure in the Word. It denotes design, purpose, also abundance. Sometimes it is for the individual, as here; also in Luke xv., where we see the feast spread for the returned prodigal, the father’s welcome; a welcome according to the love of his heart, as seen when it is said, “He fell on his neck, and kissed him.” Tender expression of love! Sometimes it is for the redeemed in their corporate blessedness. Thus we are carried on to the time of Isaiah xxv. 6, when, after this long night of Gentile rule and apostacy, all Israel shall be saved, and “the Lord of hosts shall make unto all people . . . a feast of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined.” This will be the sunny season of the earth’s millennium.

Other feasts are spoken of, such as the marriage supper of the Lamb, the scene of which is laid in heaven, and indicates a time of heavenly glory, when we shall sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of the Father. The table will not then be in the midst of enemies; for there will be no foe there. The marriage feast is called a supper; the work-day of earth for its favoured guests, will be overpast; and the sweet rest of their eternal Sabbath will have come.

But the scene of this table is obviously here, in the midst of our wilderness dangers, and in the very face of our enemies.

The feast itself which the Gospel spreads, is one of design, and according to an eternal purpose; a design and purpose indicated by the words, “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him.” It was God, before the worlds were made who, in His eternal grace and love, purposed these things; and it was through Christ that He accomplished the purpose. Paul the apostle, in Titus i. speaks of “eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began.” Promised to whom? Not to the world; for it was not made. And not to the Church; for as yet it was not formed. To whom was it but to Christ; so that all the great eternal blessings which we now have were what satisfied Him, and were more than an equivalent for all the sufferings and sorrows He endured. Eternal life, with all it contains, was laid out in the mind of God for us before all worlds, and promised to the Son for us as a fruit of His soul’s travail. The Spirit reveals these deep things to us. What deeper things could there be than God has so ordered it in our redemption that He Himself is our portion; that we are as Christ; having the same life, set down before Him, far above all principalities and powers; all obstacles between God and us having been once and for ever removed out of the way. The Spirit it is who, through the truth, brings us to Christ, and Christ brings us to God; God has constituted Himself an object for our hearts, having made us the especial object of His own. Oh, if we look back on the eternal past, to God’s thoughts respecting us; on the present, at what Christ is to us now before God; and into the eternal future, at what God will be to us in Him for ever, we shall in a measure comprehend how abundant is the table He has spread, that it is an infinite and an endless pro­vision. Even now, He has the blood of His own

Son for our conscience; His Person for our hearts and His heaven for our home; for, freed from sin, .and death, and the kingdom of darkness,

“A new, another hand,
Now draws us to our Fatherland.”

Meanwhile we have many and great enemies; we have—

I. Enemies internal. “The carnal mind is en­mity against God,” and against the divine life which is in us. The law in our members wars against the law of the mind, and is never at peace with it. Notwithstanding we have, in re­generation, a new nature, the old corrupt one is still in us, and is “deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.”

In a brighter age there will be no old serpent, for he will be chained a thousand years; and for a people who will be “all righteous” there will be no old nature. Hence the promise to Israel, “I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land. Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart will I also give you, and a new spirit will I put within you; and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put My Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in My statutes, and ye shall keep My judgments, and do them. And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be My people, and I will be your God.” This relates to the day of the earth’s glory, when God will give Israel not only a new heart or nature, as He now does to us, but will take the old com­pletely away, which, for the present, He does not do with us. There is not one word in the Bible which says He does, but many to show that it is still in us, not to be made holy in us, but to be mortified by us.

The consecrating oil, under Aaron, was never put upon’s man’s flesh. God never sanctifies our sinful nature. What He did with it was to con­demn it on the Cross. This enemy would cut out sad work for us at any moment, as it did for Ananias, when in his heart he lied against the Holy Ghost; and as it did to David in his great sin, and also when he said in his heart, “I shall now perish one day by the hand of Saul.” Note, it was in his heart, not from God’s truth, he said this—a heart full of unbelief; for the Lord had told him that he was His anointed, to sit as king on the throne of Israel, Better always to speak from the Word of God than from our own treacherous hearts. Alas! we know how soon its unbelief would raise questions, doubts, fears, and would lead us to say with Jacob, when God is working for our good, that “all these things are against me.” It is our greatest enemy, and at all costs, and notwithstanding all appearances, we must believe God and not our own hearts.

This enemy, unlike all others, is within us, and works quite unseen. We are always in the pre­sence of this foe. Even when seated at the prepared table of our God, it is there; and when we would do good, it is present with us. But it has had its doom in Christ, and it will utterly cease when God takes down this earthly house of our tabernacle, which because of its infection, must be dissolved; and “absent from the body” we are “present with the Lord.” We have

II. Enemies external. The flesh, as I have said, is internal, but the world, Satan, and his emissaries are all around us, and are ever present with us. Our lot is cast in an “evil age;” its powers are all around us—each one an enemy. If we walk as Christ walked, the world will hate us. A poet so calm as Paul Gerhardt could say—

“Who joins him to that Lord,
Whom Satan flies and hates,
Shall find himself despised, abhorred;
For him the burden waits
Of mockery and shame
Heaped on his guiltless head,
And crosses, trials, cruel blame,
Shall be his daily bread.”

But what with the worldliness of professing Chris­tians, and the religiousness of utter worldlings, such hatred is but little known. Rather, instead of hatred, is it not friendship? Scathing words on this, are those of the apostle when he says, “Ye adulterers, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever, there­fore, will be a friend of the world, is the enemy of God.” Two cannot walk together except they be agreed. Yet the Church and the world in these days so walk. Any line between them has been so trodden on both sides that it becomes invisible. Hence it has been well said, 14 “I look for the Church, and I cannot find it, for it is in the world; I look for the world, and I cannot find it, for it is in the Church.”

It is a solemn thing to be loved by the world; for “the world would love his own,” and the friend­ship of the world is enmity with God.

The world’s love is a mean, selfish love. It gives its friendship and its favours only for what it can get. If it can get pleasure or worldly advantage from a Christian, it will use him for its own purposes, giving him—what costs but little—its applause or its honour. In such way the world will love and use him as its own. “If a man abideth not in Me,” saith the Lord “he is cast forth, . . . and is withered, and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.” It is as if He had said, “I cannot use you if not abiding in Me; but men will use you for their own plans, and in carrying out their own purposes.” It is in the midst of such an enemy the Christian’s table is prepared. What fortifies him against it is the table itself—feeding on the Word, on Christ, the true bread. It was the Cross which crucified the world to Paul; it was by it he was crucified to the world.

III. Enemies infernal. “We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness or (wicked spirits), in heavenly places.” Such are the unseen hosts leagued against us. We ourselves, because one with Christ, are “in heavenly places;” we have died with Christ, are risen with Christ, and are seated together in heavenly places in Him. But if we are to possess and enjoy what God has for us there, we must expect conflict with these hosts of wickedness, who also are there. As with Joshua, when he had crossed the Jordan, he found the enemy in full force in the land, so we, in being raised with Christ, find we have many and powerful enemies who have access to the same scene to which we have been brought. Principali­ties and powers contend with us at our coming; they occupy themselves with spiritual wickedness against us; they rule over the darkness of this world; they “reign as demons in exercising their power over the lusts of man, and over the terrors of conscience.” It is because of these, when in the enjoyment of the place to which God has brought us, that we find it so difficult to maintain it; and it is because of these that, when out of that enjoy­ment, it is so difficult to regain it. But the neces­sary armour is not withheld; we have God Him­self, and we have His Word; His truth is our shield and buckler. Our foes may suggest we are not saved, but His truth tells us we are. We have also principalities and powers of good who are with us. “Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?” We do not think enough of this angelic army, set apart by the great Captain for the benefit of His own.

But besides these there is the great adversary—”the devil walketh about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” Note, when in hunger the lion is most ferocious for his prey. Thus Satan is seeking for his prey as if in a ferocious search. Our Lord thus speaks of him to Simon: “Satan hath desired to . . . sift you as wheat,” showing how, as in the case of Job, he has still access to God in his efforts against us. “But,” added the Lord: “I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not.” As if the Lord foresaw how, after his fall, he might easily doubt, either as to his ever having been a disciple, or that the Lord would ever receive him into His love and confidence again.

Peter, the Lord saw, was vulnerable, and Satan soon had him in his grasp. No other apostle speaks of him as Peter does, calling him “a roaring lion.” A sheep is of all animals the most helpless. With what could David’s little lamb defend itself against the lion and the bear? But David’s eye was upon it; and the Lord’s eye is upon us as it was upon Peter. David put his hands on the jaws of the lion, and took the prey from out of death itself. Who does not seem to hear the greater than David say, “Thine they were; Thou gavest them Me. They shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of My hand.” Blessed utter­ance! How has it sustained in the darkest day!

“Oh, I have seen the day,
When with a single word,
God helping me to say,
‘My trust is in the Lord,’
My soul hath quelled a thousand foes,
Fearless of all that could oppose!” 15

Such trust may we have, blessed be His name, whilst in the presence of our enemies. The Good Shepherd protects His own; He neither slumbers nor sleeps; His ear is always open so that He hears the ravening wolf or the roaring lion. What is this world as yet but Satan’s prowling-ground? and we are in the midst of it. But, blessed Lord, Thou dost strengthen us for our warfare by setting us down to eat and drink at Thine own table. Let but the enemy get a sight of Thy blood, and he is put to flight; Thou art our strong tower, into which the righteous enter and are safe.

Sweet it is to think that “for every demon devising evil against us there is an angel of Thine guarding us and ministering to us” penetrating the realms of air, encamping round about them that fear Thee, and protecting from the malignant foes before whom they might otherwise fall an easy prey, These are our heavenly guards now, and soon Thou wilt appoint them to be our convoy, as we take leave of the conflicts of the wilderness for the Canaan of our everlasting rest. Thus though we have enemies internal, external, and infernal, we have none of them eternal.

“In Thee we every glory view
Of safety, strength, and beauty too;
‘Tis all our rest and peace to see
Our sanctuary, Lord, in Thee.
Whatever foes or fears betide,
In Thy dear presence, Lord, we hide.”

 

Eleventh Part

THE ANOINTED HEAD

“Thou anointest my head with oil.”
“Precious ointment, very costly,
Of chief odours, pure and sweet;
Holy gift for royal priesthood,
Thus for temple service meet.
Thus the Spirit’s precious unction—
Oil of gladness freely shed—
Sanctifying and abiding
On the consecrated head.”
—FRANCES RIDLEY HAVERGAL.

A SECOND figure is that of an anointed head. “Thou anointest my head with oil”—makest fat, vigorous, flourishing, as the word is in the margin; that is, with joy, cheerfulness, prosperity. It was customary at feasts to anoint the guest with oil. It added brightness, joy, to the counten­ance, and made the guest agreeable to his host by the sweet fragrance it emitted, and the freshness it imparted.

The oil of which the psalmist speaks was for no merely human joy. He knew of the divine unction—the Lord’s anointing oil. That oil, as used by Moses, was made of the most precious ingredients—spices, and other costly things, valued for their fragrance, and for their medical virtue. Their was deep meaning in the Lords words when He said, “Thou shalt make it . . . an holy anointing oil untoMe,” reminding us how the true anointed One was made, by God and for God, unto us “wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.”

I have loved again and again to linger in thought over the value God set upon this anointing oil. He instituted it for His own divine use. Any one who made it for their own, or for the use of any other, would be cut off from among the people; teaching how dreadful it is to merely imitate the things of God.

God Himself, to secure its perfectness, appointed the ingredients. How it was: made we read in Exod. xxx. 23-25: “Take thou also unto thee principal spices, of pure myrrh, 16 five hundred shekels, and of sweet cinnamon half so much, even two hundred and fifty shekels, and of sweet calamus two hundred and fifty shekels, and of cassia five hundred shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary, and of olive oil an hin: and thou shalt make it an oil of holy ointment, an oint­ment, an ointment compound after the art of the apothecary: it shall be an holy anointing oil.”

As to what was to be anointed, we are told in the same chapter. The tabernacle of the congre­gation was to be anointed; the ark of the testimony, the table, the candlestick, the altar of incense, the altar of burnt-offering, with the laver and his foot —these were all to be anointed. All must have this sweet odoriferous oil upon them, and all with special reference to service; and service as acceptable and pleasing to God as the presence of pre­cious odours. Acts x. tell us how “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power,” according to what was prophesied of Him by the prophet:—”The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me; because the Lord hath anointed Me to preach good tidings unto the meek: He hath sent Me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” Thus He was anointed with the Holy Ghost for the mission He had to accomplish—a mission distinct in the mind of Him who anointed Him; seen by Him from all eternity! and to be finally accomplished when all things shall be made new.

The oil on Aaron, was not confined to the head on which it was poured; it ran down to the skirts of his garments. We have an unction from the Holy One—we are in the one glorious anointing with our divine Head. The name “Christ” signifies Anointed, or the Anointed One. He is called such in Psalm ii.—“The kings of the earth set them­selves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against His Anointed,” which they did at His first coming, but which they will do on a far vaster scale under His great adversary, the antichrist, at His appearing again. In Psalm xlv. He reigns as Messiah; Christ, the Anointed One. Beautiful description!—”Thou lovest righteous­ness, and hatest wickedness; therefore God, Thy God, hath anointed Thee with the oil of gladness above Thy fellows.” “This psalm,” says a late writer, “brings before us the conquering Jesus, the reigning Jesus, the glorified Jesus; not Jesus put to death by conspiring Jews, but Jesus in His glory.” Now when Jehovah says, I have “anointed Thee with the oil of gladness above Thy fellows,” it brings before us the amazing outpouring of joy which shall rest on the head of the Lord Jesus. But when? When His whole mystical body shall be gathered; when He shall present it to the Father “not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing”—complete in Him—and when He, with His entire company of glorified saints, will reign over the whole kingdom under the heavens, King of kings, and Lord of lords, the Ruler of princes and of men. For this end from all eternity has God set Him apart. “I have laid help upon One that is mighty; with My holy oil have I anointed Him.” And note, for all this glorious service—that He shall die for the nation; that He should be the Saviour of the Church; that in Him should all nations be blessed; that the whole earth may be filled with His glory; that principalities and powers may see in us the exceeding riches of His grace, and the manifold wisdom of God, displayed throughout all eternity.

We cannot contemplate this anointing apart from His people. He of whom Jehovah said, “With My holy oil have I anointed Him,” was, as Servant and Man, filled with unsearchable riches. For the whole fulness of God was pleased to dwell in Him. And why? That we, from out of that store, might be blessed with all spiritual and eternal blessings in and through and from Him. We have a beautiful figure of how this fulness is communi­cated in Zech. iv. First, a bowl, a golden bowl, on either side of which is an olive tree dropping its rich oil into it; and next, from the bowl there were seven pipes to carry the oil to the seven lamps. 17

The olive trees tells us of God Himself, who is the original source of all; and the bowl, which is supplied from them, is Christ; the lamps ourselves. On the bowl we might write, “In Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily;” and on the lamps, “Of His fulness have all we received.”

“Nothing can be a greater necessity for man than that he should receive from this fulness. The whole history of man shows that apart from what Christ has for him he is lost, dead, corrupt, in ruin before God and for eternity. It is when something from Christ enters him; when God puts His Spirit upon him, he has a new creation. Nothing instead will do; no gifts, no natural endowments, no amia­bility of disposition.” But once, by faith, touch the hem of His garment, and we become associated with Him in all the virtue and value of the atoning blood which He shed for us, and with all the riches stored up for us in Him, and which will flow to us from Him both now and through all eternity.

This oil was put on Aaron when arrayed in his “garments for glory and for beauty.” It was always upon him when he went before the Lord, and it was put upon all the vessels of the sanctuary, and upon every ministering servant of God who was occupied with the service of the sanctuary. “See,” says another, “how God will not use a single thing or person in His service that has not His mark upon it. There must be a touch of His consecrating oil upon us, ere He can accept our service.” On Aaron it was poured, but not on his sons; for they, as the Church with Christ, were in the same pour­ing, and the same anointing. Such pouring, such odours, could not but make the person of Aaron pleasant; portraying thus before the eye and heart of God His own beloved Son.

How we are associated with Christ in this unction we see in Aaron. His head was first to receive the anointing; thence the oil reached the ephod, and mingled with all the precious stones whereon were engraven with the engraving of a signet, the names of the twelve tribes of Israel; thence far down it reached, even to the hem of his garments. This was the great anointing. Mark, not garment, but “garments,” as if to show that there was not a thread in all those garments but what was in the same anointing with the head. This of itself, the thought of it, is as a sweet unction to our souls. God had told Moses to pour it upon Aaron’s head. With such pouring how could the oil but flow to his garments? “Oh, if I be but a thread in those gar­ments,” may the youngest or weakest believer in Christ say, “I am as He is, in the same anointing, holy unto the Lord, righteous, accepted in the Beloved.” Suggestively—Aaron’s head we may take to represent Christ; but, from the neck down­wards, in the garments for glory and for beauty, we may see the redeemed—suggestively again, the Church which is His body, forming with the Head one new man. The fulness which is in Him is that in which the Church is complete—COMPLETE IN HIM!

A beautiful image of this is recorded in Psalm cxxxiii.; viz., “The dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion.” An intelligent traveller writes of this passage: “Many have overlooked its beauty from not considering the geographical position of the mountain, which was one of the highest, if not the highest, of that mountain range. It was generally topped with clouds, which rested upon it. Those clouds were wafted gently on and distilled in dew upon Jeru­salem and the surrounding country. Beautiful thought! a figure truly of the precious things of heaven which are lodged in the Lord Jesus Christ; and which He causes through His Spirit to distil upon us who live in these lower regions.” It is thus we love to think of Him who is especially and emphatically the Anointed One. Yes; for the dew, like the oil, is soft and healing; it blesses but never breaks the tiniest flower on which it falls. Thus the blessings logded for us by God in Christ in the loftiest heaven descend upon “the Church which is His body, the fulness of Him that filleth all in all.”

How the blessings descended on the early Church is thus told by a beloved disciple who is now with the Lord: 18 “Look,” he says, “at the character of the Spirit’s presence in the Church immediately on His being given. What an ‘oil of gladness,’ what a spirit of liberty and largeness of heart, is He in the saints there! Jesus had received Him in the ascended place, where He Himself had been made full of joy with God’s countenance, and giving Him forth from such a place, He manifests Himself here accordingly, imparting at once something of that joy of God’s countenance into which their Lord had entered. The Holy Ghost in them was joy, and liberty, and largeness of heart. It was the reflection on the saints here of that light which had fallen on Jesus in the holiest. The oil ran down from the beard to the skirts of the garment. Indeed we can form but a poor idea of the value of such a dispensation as this, which the Comforter was to bring to a soul that had been under the skirt of bondage and of fear gendered by the law. What thoughts of judg­ment to come were now bidden to depart! What fears of death were now to yield to the conscious­ness of present life in the Son of God! And what would all this be, but anointing with an ‘oil of gladness’?”

And observe how the anointing oil must ever betray its presence! It is in the nature of an odour to betray itself. “All Thy garments smell of . . . aloes, and cassia, out of the ivory palaces whereby they have made Thee glad.” Of one filled with Christ, therefore, it need never be asked, “Is he a Christian?” I cannot wear a rose on my person, but its fragrance tells of its presence. Can Christ in­deed be mine, and I not shed abroad to others some­thing of that love of His which is shed abroad in me? No; the oil told its own story. Among the thousands of vessels lying along the great wharves of our land it may be difficult to tell from whence the most of them have come; but there are others which at once betray the secret. They are from Ceylon, or some other of the “balmy isles,” and tell whence they are by the very spices they bring. The believer who hails from heaven, bearing with him Christ, will evidence the same. What we want is, a continuous fresh anointing for communion and for service. The Holy Ghost through the Word putting Christ afresh upon us again and again is what the Church wants. In any scene of blessing where Christ has been, I have found as if His savour were still remaining. Thus the Bride, in the Song of Solomon, when she puts her fingers on the handles of the lock where those of her Beloved have been, found them dropping with the myrrh that had been left from His own. The myrrh told her that it was He who had been there, and told others also how that she had come from where He too had been.

The word ,Thou anointest,, as I have said, is a continuous word. Too many are satisfied with being merely saved. They rest in their conversion as if that were enough, when in fact it is only the beginning. We need a daily renewing; a constant taking from the fulness there is in Christ; the experi­mental and practical value of which who can tell?

Thus when we feel anew the power of the atoning blood it is a fresh anointing; when our souls are anew filled with the hope of His coming it is a fresh anointing, a fresh application of Christ; in fine, whatever of Christ is put upon us, teaching, strengthening, or refreshing our souls, is as a new unction of the Holy One.

It will be observed how penetrating oil is; how it diffuses itself through the substance on which it is poured; the head receiving it is made to flourish, the face to shine. Oh, that thus the anointings of the Lord, the preciousness of the Lord Christ, the Holy Ghost dwelling within us, may pervade our inmost souls, and be seen diffusing itself into all our life, words, and ways.

How interesting I feel it all is—this consecrating oil! and how wonderful are such types as setting forth divine mysteries—mysteries which were in the mind of God from all eternity! Think of this “tabernacle of the congregation” where He would dwell with man in this world; of “the ark of the testimony” where he would meet with man and commune with him, bringing him into the very presence of His glory; of “the cherubim,” under whose wings He Himself would rest, His delights being with the sons of men; of the “laver,” that fountain open for cleansing; of “the golden altar of incense,” where was owned the preciousness of the blood, that fountain opened for all sin and uncleanness, the precious atoning blood of Christ; of this “oil of consecration,” this seal of divine power for service, this “unction of joy”—think of these being in the mind of God before the foundation of the world, and all as setting forth the dearest and greatest purposes of His heart. A faint analogy of this may be seen in what transpires in our own minds, an analogy however which may well illustrate the distance between the creature and the Creator. The author of “Earth’s Earliest Ages” writes—”We know that by force of imagination we can not only place before our eyes scenes in which we were long ago interested—spots which we fain would revisit in the body, departed forms dear to us as our own lives—but are even able to paint in fancy future events as we would wish them to be. . . . The vision is however shadowy, fleeting, and, alas! too often unholy. Somewhat then, per­haps, as we produce this dim and quickly-fading picture, the thoughts of God, issuing from the depths of His holiness and love, take instant shape, and become not an unsubstantial and evanescent dream, but a beautiful reality, estab­lished for ever, unless He choose to alter or remove it. Hence it may be that a great part, or perhaps the whole host of innumerable suns and planets which make up the universe, flashed into being simultaneously at His will, and in a moment illuminated the black realm of space with their many-hued glories.”

And hence also these types, setting forth re­demption, any one of which, regarding the work or person of the Son of God, must have been clothed in the divine mind with a far greater interest than the creation of a world, or any system of worlds, which He has made. Thus who can measure that word, “So great a salvation”? “So great” that God, it would seem, made this world in order to plant the Cross on it by which He will accomplish it. But as with creation, so with these thoughts of God issuing from His eternal wisdom and love,—if not flashed into being as were the innumerable suns and planets, yet they were personally made known to Moses to illumine the blessed pages of His Word; to teach us what He is; what His Son is; what we are in Him now; and what we are destined to be when with Him, for ever. How magnificent the words by which the Anointed One is described, “God, Thy God, hath anointed Thee with the oil of gladness above Thy fellows. All Thy garments smell of myrrh and aloes, and cassia, out of the ivory palaces, whereby they have made Thee glad.” This is said of the Lord; but of the re­deemed it is sung, “The King’s daughter is all glorious within” (in spirit, in mind, in affections): “her clothing is of wrought gold. She shall be brought unto the King in raiment of needlework: the virgins her companions that follow her shall be brought unto Thee.”

 

Twelfth Part

THE FULL CUP

“My cup runneth over”

“Jesus! Thou art enough
The heart and mind to fill,
Thy life to calm the anxious soul;
Thy love its fears dispel.”

THE third figure is a full cup: “My cup runneth over.” This in sight, perhaps, of some surprising deliverance; or on a review of some long accumulation of blessings. What child of God is there who, with heart overflowing, has not been led to say—

“When all Thy mercies, oh, my God!
My rising soul surveys,
Transported with the view, I’m lost
In wonder, love, and praise.”

Thus is it when our own cup overflows; nor can it but run over when its portion is the Lord. There is no blessing the mind can imagine, or the heart crave, but may be found in Him. This figure is frequently met with in Scripture, whenever a large supply of blessedness is spoken of. Thus the psalmist says, “I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the Lord.” “It brings before our eyes” (I speak from another) “that from which the figure took its use. Not only had the Jews in their ceremonials these cups of blessing, but the heathen also observed this social and religious custom, so that when Paul is writing to the Corinthians he tells them that there ought to be an apprehension of the divine mercy as exhibited in the Supper of the Lord; and he says, ‘Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils.’” The figure brings before us the freedom of the accepted guests at the Lord’s banquet, just as it is written in that verse in the Song of Solomon, “He brought me to the ban­queting house, and His banner over me was love.”

Wondrous cup, truly! “With this cup,” Augus­tine remarks, “were the martyrs inebriated when, going forth to their passion, they recognised not those that belonged to them,—not their weeping wives, not their children, not their relatives; while they gave thanks, and said, ‘I will take the cup of salvation.” Nor martyrs alone. Christians dying on their couch, like the apostles who were said to be drunk with wine, have been filled with an ex­ultant joy, which found expression for itself in words of ineffable bliss. The same writer, speak­ing of this cup as a metaphor, says, “Various and remarkable are the metaphors in Scripture in general. For instance, we are told of the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ upon the conscience, as if upon that conscience there were so many plague-spots and sores, if we may so say, on which the blood is to be sprinkled. There is to be a distribution of the substance into parts, as the word literally signifies, that it may go over every part of the wounded conscience, and cleanse it, and purify it.”

And thus, to return to the figure before us, the cup represents the full blessing which the Lord betows for the cheering of the hearts of His people, the cordial which the Master of the feast Himself bestows upon His servants. It represents the Lord’s mercy as spread out before His people, each servant of the Lord being an accepted guest at the banquet, there to partake of that mercy, so that our Lord Jesus Christ says, “He that eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, dwelleth in Me, and I in him.” Not referring to the Lord’s Supper, for it was not at the time instituted, but bringing before the mind this great truth, that every one who lives on Jesus eats His flesh, drinks His blood; that is, he drinks into the precious truths of a “covenant ordered in all things and sure,” and finds them refreshing cordials to his soul.

The figure, however, is not always expressive of blessing. It is fearful when used in reference to calamity. See Jeremiah xxv.—”Thus saith the Lord God of Israel unto me, Take the wine cup of this fury at My hand, and cause all the nations to whom I send thee to drink it.” A dark fore­shadowing this of a heavy calamity which impends over an unbelieving and ungodly world. Psalm xi. tells of the cup of the wicked. “Upon the wicked He shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest: this shall be the portion of their cup.” But why these cups? Not from passion or malevolence, but from God’s love of righteousness. It is because of this “the worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.” Romans ix. tells of “vessels of wrath”—awful words!—vessels of wrath fitted for destruction. Mark, “fitted.” Sin naturally fits for hell. But vessels of mercy are prepared for glory. God has to put His own hand directly, as it were, for this blessedness. Mysterious was the cup which He gave His Son in Gethsemane’s garden. What was it but that exceeding bitter draught presented to the Lord Jesus as our Sub­stitute? But what was in that cup? Sin, death, hell, THE WRATH OF GOD! And for whom did He drink it? Not for angels, or for saints as such, but for the sinner. And oh, marvel of marvels! He took that cup as a trembling Man. “Being in an agony, He prayed . . . ‘Father, if it be possible let this cup pass from Me’”; and added, “Not as I will, but as Thou wilt.” If that cup had not been taken by Him, the whole pedestal of salvation would have rocked and reeled to its foundation, and this sin-stained earth would have sunk down as it deserved into an endless hell. Say, did He leave one drop not taken! Not one.

Hence, now by faith, when we look into that cup, we see it quite emptied of wrath and filled with salvation; filled, as we have been reminded, with “many of the ingredients which were in His own.” His life—“Because I live, ye shall live also;” His love—“As the Father hath loved Me, so have I loved you;” His friendship—“I have called you friends;” His wisdom—“Made unto us wisdom;” His fulness—“All that I have is thine;” His sorrows—“If the world hate you, ye know that it hated Me;” His strength—“My strength is made perfect in weakness;” His joy—“These things have I spoken unto you, that your joy might be full.” This is the present portion presented in the believer’s cup of blessedness; the only in­gredients kept back, absolute rest.

But stay. Does some one complain, “My cup does not run over; I am poor and needy; I am empty of bliss. Nay; I am full of sin, and sad foreboding of judgment; I have no cup but one of fear and trembling.” Is it so? Then I ask you not to give but to take. To take this cup of salvation purchased by the precious blood of Christ! How long does it require to take an offered cup? Only a moment. Oh, then, “let not conscience make you linger!” If you had all the misery of earth and hell combined, I could send you to that precious blood which cleanseth from all sin. The value of it is written along the palaces and corridors of heaven; for there are robbers, persecutors, murderers, all washed and made white in the blood of the Lamb, God would have you TAKE His cup of salvation, saying, “What shall I render unto the Lord?” Filled from this cup, is to be filled with the Spirit, who fills from Christ, in whom dwells all the fulness of God.

“Filled—filled to overflowing!
Say, my soul, can it be so
Filled to overflow for others—
Filled from God’s own overflow.
Oh, if filled from Him I be,
His outflow must flow from me.”

 

Thirteenth Part

GOODNESS AND MERCY

“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.”

“Shall I not sing praise to Thee?
Shall I not give thanks, O Lord?
Since for all in all I see
How Thou keepest watch and ward;
How the truest, tenderest love,
Ever fills Thy heart, my God.”
—From the German.

THIS psalm, which we have seen throughout to be full of divine confidence, brightens at the close. Not merely does the psalmist say, “The Lord is my Shepherd,” or “Thou art with Me,” but “Surely goodness and mercy” (loving-kindness, as the word is) “shall follow me all the days of my life.” He does not say “they have followed,” or “may followed me”; but, looking unfearingly on into the untrodden future, what­ever it may be, he says, they “shall follow me all the days of my life.”

Observe how this again is pastoral. I have seen vast flocks on their way to their summer pastures with the shepherd going before them—they peace­fully and, as it were, reverently following him; but then following them again were the shepherd’s faithful; helps, perhaps two or more. Nothing could meet them from before without first meeting the shepherd, and nothing reach them from behind without first reaching the helps. Thus it is with us—all the redeemed children of God. The Good Shepherd goes before His sheep, and nothing can meet them from before without first meeting Him, and nothing can reach them from behind without first reaching His goodness and loving-kindness, which are there.

Note I. The nature of that of which he is so assured. Goodness and loving-kindness are spoken of as personating the Divine Being; in other words God Himself. For God is goodness, and God is loving-kindness. Psalm ciii. shows how God hath crowned us with a crown of loving-kindness, set with gems of tender mercies

It is the privilege of God’s people to know and never to doubt that He is with them. He was with Enoch, who walked with God. He was with Abraham, to whom He said, “Walk before Me, and be thou perfect.” In the wilderness His pre­sence was in the midst of, and all around the sandaled army. At one time God told Moses that His angel should accompany them. Alas! some would be content with an angel; but Moses, who had seen God face to face, could not do with such. He said, “If Thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence.” Sweet the promise, in answer to his prayer, “My presence shall go with thee,” or, as the word is, “My faces shall go with thee,” as though God looked every way on His people’s behalf for their protection and care—on the right and on the left, before and behind. All His attributes are gloriously engaged on their behalf. A mighty bulwark are they all around His redeemed ones in this wilderness. His omni­science is with us. Beautiful assurance!—”The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and His ears are open unto their cry.” And again, “He that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.” His wisdom is with us in devising means for our supplies, our safety, and our succour; and His omnipotence, by which in the old time He emptied seas and rivers of their waters, and ren­dered poisonous serpents innocuous. Mighty in strength, the angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear Him. Blessed character is theirs. They fear the Lord with a holy, filial, reverential fear, as did Noah, and Joseph, and Obadiah, of whom it is said, he “feared the Lord greatly.” Around such He encampeth as if on special watch, purposely to guard and keep. Such indeed is the God we have! And it was this God, the God of Israel, that was before the mind of David when he said, “Surely goodness and loving-kindness shall follow me all the days of my life.”

Corresponding to what we have said was the position assigned to Israel. The cloud went be­fore them, and the water out of the rock followed them. The Rock was Christ. Thus the hosts of Israel were between the cloud and the Rock, whilst right down in their midst was the tabernacle itself, with the ark of the covenant and shekinah of glory. Beautiful image of how He never leaves and never forsakes! Now, as the stream followed Israel in the desert, so goodness and loving-kindness are following, never leaving nor never forsaking us.

David spoke as if prophetic of his own experi­ence. It was goodness and loving-kindness that had made him an elect object of their care, which at the first had placed him among the sheepcotes at Bethlehem—type of the greater Shepherd than David; it was goodness and loving-kindness that delivered him out of the paw of the lion and the bear; and in the valley of Elah, from the uncir­cumcised Philistine of Gath; and what was it but goodness and loving-kindness that unveiled to him the character and glory of God as seen in the noc­turnal heavens? “When I consider Thy heavens, the work of Thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which Thou hast ordained; what is man, that Thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that Thou visitest him?” So with all else in the life of David. It was goodness and loving-kindness that saved him from the hand of Saul, and which in fact had never ceased to pursue him in love until his advent to the kingdom and the throne—typical of Him who, having put down all rule and all authority, His enemies being his footstool, will yet reign King of kings, and Lord of lords. And now, just as the stream in the desert and the cloud moved together until the travelling days with Israel issued in the rest of the land promised to the fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob,—and just as God was with David, so also is He with us. It was goodness and loving-kindness that fixed the bounds of our own habitation, and cast our lot where the Gospel is shining. They fixed our first and second birth; they have been with us to pre­serve and help in all times of trial and sickness, of weakness and want. And because they have been with us all the days of the past, we may look confidingly to the untrodden future, knowing that as a matter of divine counsel and promise they will be with us still. Experience, promise, and hope all join in assuring us of this.

“His love in times past forbids me to think
He’ll leave me at last in trouble to sink;
Each sweet Ebenezer I have in review
Confirms His good pleasure to help me quite through.”

Note II. The term of their continuance. “All the days of my life,—the dark days as well as the bright ones; those of depressing sorrows as well as of elevating joys; days of scarcity as well as of plenty; days when our dear ones are as olive plants round about our table, or days of bereave­ment, when their seats are vacant, and their loved forms are with us no more. Yea, “all” the days of our vicissitous sojourn here till the morning of heaven dawns, and we shall have reached, beyond time and beyond the tomb, the evergreen shore of our new and eternal home.

Blessed Lord! how would we praise and glorify Thy Name for all this, Thy great love towards us! Blessed now Thy ways which, as with Moses, Thou dost teach us; blessed to know that, whatever the future, Thou wilt be with us in life and in death; yea, beyond death, when we shall see thee as Thou art, and be like Thee, and shall praise Thee and serve Thee for ever!

“Yes, when the storm of life is calmed,
The dreary desert passed,
Our way-worn hearts shall find in Thee
Their full repose at last.”

Perhaps some one is saying, “This is not for me. How different is my lot! No goodness and no loving-kindness follow me; nothing of good follows me. I have no second birth, I have no certain hope of heaven; no rock following me, and no cloud guiding me. Alas! I have nothing, I am poor and needy and desolate.” Poor desolate one! where shall I send you? Shall I send you to the cold world that only loveth its own? No, for thou art not its own. To the law, which con­demns thee? No! for the law can only demand; it cannot give. Shall I send you to your own desolate self? No. I will send you to Calvary, to the Cross of the crucified One; I will send you to Himself. He is saying, “Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” He says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they that mourn; for they shall be comforted. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.” Come then, you who are nothing, come to Jesus. Come to the Friend of the sinner, the Saviour of the lost. Come beneath the droppings of His Cross. “The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin.” There at the Cross you may at once sing—

“Ah! little have I, Lord, to give,
So poor, so base, the life I live;
But yet till soul and body part
This one thing will I do for Thee—
The love, the death endured for me,
I’ll cherish in my inmost heart!”

 

Fourteenth Part

THE SURE DWELLING

“I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever”

“There shall I dwell for ever,
Not as a guest alone,
With those who cease there never
To worship at Thy throne.
There in my heritage I rest,
From baser things set free,
And join the chorus of the blest,
For ever, Lord, to Thee.”
—PAUL GERHARDT.

THIS verse is one of the three futures in the psalm; all the rest are in the present tense. The first future is, “I shall not want;” the second, “I will fear no evil;” the third, “I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.”

David, it is thought by many, wrote these words of confidence when still young. It does not belong only to experienced Christians to be assured of spiritual blessings; however tender in age or young in grace, the youngest of God’s children are entitled to all the great and wondrous things He has given to faith.

But what was the Psalmist’s hope as expressed by these words? In communion with God he had learned by faith to dwell in the secret place of the Most High, under the shadow of the Almighty.

When a fugitive, in his own land, he envied even the swallows that made their nests in the eaves of the altars. But David could forecast the time when he should awake in the likeness of David’s Son and David’s Lord.

It is interesting how the Old Testament saints, though they had one great hope as to their salva­tion, yet had different hopes as to the glory—hopes whose objects extended from the Eden of earth to the far-distant glories of the Eden of eternity. Enoch had knowledge of a far-off hope; he prophesied of the coming of the Lord with ten thousands of His saints, or with His saintly myriads, which event will be after the present dispensation of the Church has ended. The Lord had revealed to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and the patriarchs another thing; they were the first to tell of a HEAVENLY CITY. “God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He hath prepared for them a city,” even a heavenly. Therefore they “looked for a city which hath foundations,” (not a fading or a transitory one), “whose builder and maker is God.” God is not only the builder, but the artificer of this city. He is the One who had previously planned, as well as built it. What city can this be but the bridal city of Rev. xxi.? 19 But there will be one glory of the celestial and another glory of the terrestrial. David knew of, and believed in, the hopes of his people in a Messiah reigning over them on the earth. Those hopes are inseparable from their history. “The history of Israel without a Messiah,” remarks Adolphe Monod, “is like a body without a soul; nay, is a contradiction in terms. Without the prophecy of the Messiah, we can explain neither their origin nor their history; their distinctive point of character always has been, and is to this day, their expectation of the Messiah.” As Messiah, when He came to His own, His own received Him not. As King, He received noth­ing; no reign, no kingdom. But reign and king­dom He will yet have.

The psalms, and the prophets, treat largely of this expectation. Isaiah sings, as to those days, of the mountain of the Lord’s house on the tops of the mountains; David, of dwelling in His courts. Psalm lxv. is a beautiful rehearsal of what the time and circumstances will be. In principle much of it blessedly applies now; for we are satisfied with the goodness of His house, even of His holy temple. The river of God is full of water. God does crown the year with His goodness, and His paths drop fatness. We have our times of refreshing, days and seasons of blessed revival. As in nature when the earth cries for rain, and God makes it “soft with showers,” and His paths drop fatness, so in grace He opens the windows of heaven, and pours us out such a blessing that we have not room to receive it. Infinitely more we may have than we have ever received. But the psalm is future. Praise is silent; praise is laid up. And why? Because the circumstances to call it forth have not yet come.

When Zion shall crown the earth’s blessedness, men will be satisfied with the goodness of God’s house, even of His holy temple. What praise then shall break from the innumerable multitude on earth! Hence what a history is there to come! greater and more splendid than any history of any nation that has ever yet existed. Mean­while their house is left unto them desolate. Scarcely had the Lord foretold this than the desolation commenced. 20 What waves have rushed over the Jewish race! One Roman Emperor rased the city to the ground, and left not a vestige standing; another changed the name of Jerusalem into Eliah, and forbade the Jew to go within some miles of it, that he might not even look upon his city, ploughed and left desolate. But is the Jew subjugate? And shall he have no more to do with the world’s history? No, in glori­ous prospect he is still one of earth’s nobles, and will have to do with earth’s history. The same Messiah that came once will come again; then the blessed hopes of Israel will be all accomplished, and the nation saved, and all nations blessed in them. The Jews looked for glory on the earth, a temporal kingdom, that kingdom of which Daniel speaks, whose scene is not heaven, but “UNDER THE WHOLE HEAVEN”; and in the midst of that kingdom a temple, a house of the Lord. Magnifi­cent is the description given of it in the Word, Glorious the days of heaven on earth, when the Lord shall be worshipped there, and when He shall say, “This is My rest!” How should we long for those days; we also are in all these great hopes of theirs; as all things are ours. This world itself, which now “rolls amidst the spaces of creation with a lurid light, telling of the evil that has befallen it,” will yet be ours; ours as one with Christ, who has redeemed it for Himself. We are “heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ”; and we shall reign with Him. The one great centre of that reign may be the Jerusalem on the earth, the capital of all nations; or “the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven,” which will take up its position over the Jerusalem on the earth, to be its light and its glory, during the thousand years of the earth’s blessedness.

But we have a special and more immediate hope; not merely the hopes that were kindled for the lighting of the Old Testament saints, for, being one with Christ, all the innumerable glories which belong to Him, as Head of His Church, will be ours also. The kingdom under the whole heaven will be reigned over by Christ, and we, and all the risen and glorified saints, from the earliest ages down, shall, I believe, reign with Him. “The glory which Thou gayest Me I have given them.” These are but part of His ways. But until the Lord was about to leave His disciples there was no mention of the “Father’s house,” which He says He has gone to prepare. We look in vain in the prophets for any mention of any such coming again as is described in John xiv. and I Thess. iv. A coming “to the air” simply for His saints, to receive them to Himself, that where He is there they may be also. This was quite new—a unique promise—and is our near, immediate hope, one which may be accomplished at any moment.

It is for the glorious accomplishment of this that we now wait. From over the long interval of nearly nineteen centuries have these words reached us—”I will come again, and receive you unto Myself.” Their sweet sound is still with us. If we take a shell from the ocean’s shore, and bear it miles away, we may apply it to the ear, and the sound of the ocean is there. True, it is not the ocean, but it is its voice. Thus John xiv. is not the Lord Himself, but it is His voice. The words are like a ladder, reaching one step higher than another. First, the many mansions in the Father’s house; that house for the eye of faith to see, and the heart to desire. Again—for that is not enough—”I go to prepare a place for you.” His own chosen delight is to do this. Next, “And if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again.” He will come in person, not by delegation, but Himself. And as if this were not enough, He says—which is nearest and best of all—”I will receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” This is our true hope. How blessed and how sanctifying! For “every man that hath this hope in Him purifieth himself, even as He is pure.”

It is an important principle, that none can tread the world beneath their feet until they see what is fairer and better. When the Lord Jesus, in all His beauty, love, and grace, as in this hope, is before us, our ears become deaf and our eyes dim to other objects. The beauty of the “all beauteous One” makes other attractions appear as nothing, all other loveliness unlovely.

The Old Testament saints were waiting for the salvation of God, but had they any thought of the God-man coming simply as Son from heaven to gather His people to the air, and thence to the Father’s house with its many abodes, ere they could come publicly with Him to the world, over which they with Him and with us would reign? They had seen Him, according to Enoch, coming in the solemn array and pomp of judgment, but not “in like manner” as He ascended privately from Olivet. He went up from Olivet alone, the cloud bearing Him up; with only His disciples to behold Him in His glorious Home-going. After the cloud had received Him out of their sight, and as they still gazed up into the heavens, two angels suddenly came upon the scene, and spoke with them, as if the Lord had said—

“Go, tell yon group that this same (the) Jesus which is taken up from you shall in like manner come again.” Blessed advent! But the last soul to be saved of this age must be gathered in by the great Soul Gatherer, the Holy Ghost, through the truth, ere the Church is complete, and ere He can come to take all to Himself. We are then to be caught up to meet the Lord in the air, thence to be presented to the Father, and to be ever with the Lord in the house of the Lord; this it is for which we are looking.

But who can tell what it will be—the beauty, glory, and accommodation of our abiding places there? Amongst ourselves, when about to visit any abode, our expectations are regulated by our knowledge of its owner—his character, his interest in us, his riches, or otherwise. Let us con­sider this. For who is He to whom we are going? What is His character, His love for us, His resources? For long ages, the Lord has been pre­paring for us our heavenly home with all His vast riches, and according to all His immense skill and love. We know what He has done in this lower department of His creation. He it was who, with His own hand, built up the majestic mountains, and formed the verdant vales. He it was who made each fertile hollow, and spread forth each lovely plain—who created with so lavish a hand the fruits and flowers of earth, and the grand azure ranges of sky in the heavens with all the bright luminaries which so gloriously adorn them; and He it is now who is preparing our new abode, those abiding places, situate in the paradise (the garden) of God. How He is doing it we can only imagine. Earth’s preparation we know was not all at once, and the New Jerusalem city we know is to come forth as a bride prepared for her hus­band showing special thought and design, which will be seen to an infinite degree as executed by the Builder and Artificer of our blest home in the heavens.

We may gather too a little of what the Lord will do from the promptings of our own poor hearts. For when we receive our friends, it is our happiness to bestow upon them our very best. Let us consider this also in its application to Him, whose love for us cannot be told. Oh, think, what will be the best which He will provide! and what all the blessedness which thus awaits us!

And yet a further thought. When, as one with another, staying with those we love, we give our­selves up to a happiness which must be shaded with the feeling that the time is limited, that the end must come. But our connection with the Lord, and with this “house of the Lord,” will not be as visitors; or merely as guests; but as children, to remain; as sons and daughters of the Lord God Almighty; as heirs of God, having come with Him who loves us into possession of our eternal inheri­tance, to be shared for ever with Him. The order is, first, children—first to be received at home as such, and then “heirs,” to possess the property—heirs of an inheritance incorruptible; heirs of God; and in a dwelling whose paradise will never fade, whose heavens will be without a cloud, whose morn will have no eve, for “there shall be no night there.” What an inheritance! what a morning! Well may we sing—

“O blessed Lord! we little dreamed
Of such a morn as this;
Such rivers of unmingled joy,
Such full unbounded bliss.”

And then the enjoyments of this house, who can tell? We shall behold His face. “His servants shall serve Him.” He will receive us, not to the house merely, but to Himself. John was received to His bosom here. Will it be less that He will give us there?

It is not the house that will make the heaven, but having Him with us as One who has loved us with an everlasting love, and who by the shedding of His blood purchased us for Himself. Think further of this word, “for ever.” “For ever” will sit enthroned on all we are, and on all we have. “THERE SHALL BE NO MORE DEATH, NEITHER SORROW, NOR CRYING, NEITHER SHALL THERE BE ANY MORE PAIN: FOR THE FORMER THINGS ARE PASSED AWAY.”

Blessed indeed is the certainty of it all! “I WILL dwell.” How sure, how positive, the glad singer in the psalm is! But not surer and more positive than he ought. Some would say this was pre­sumption. But no; it is the faith in which God delights, because it is founded on His Word. Who can believe John x. and xiv. and not be confident? “I go to prepare a place for you”—you disciples, you believers—and “if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you”—you disciples, you who believe—”unto Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” And not the great only, but the small also. “Small and great,” says Rev. xix. 5. “Having a legal ten­dency,” said the late Mr Bellett, “I have enjoyed the thoughts that have arisen in my mind from this verse. Be willing to be among the small; and not uneasy if you judge yourself little in either fruitfulness, or devotedness, or grace in comparison with others. The glory has made its reckonings accordingly. The millions of His saints are there as well as ‘apostles, prophets, martyrs.’” But the question is, Am I to be there? or rather, Am I one of His sheep? If so, all is secured. Do you ask, How may I know the Lord is my Shepherd? Because, as before said, He is God’s gift to the sinner: and if I have taken the place of a sinner, and believe on Him as my Saviour, He has assured me I shall “NOT PERISH, BUT HAVE EVERLASTING LIFE.”

Sweet Psalm which suggest to us all this! We are loth to leave it. Yet leave it we may not, but take it with us into all places and conditions of our life, in sunshine or in shade, through the dark cloud of suffering and sorrow or in the bright day of rejoicing; it will always tell of what we need—divine provision, sure protection, gracious restorings, and peaceful leadings; also of guardian attendants and of mansions being prepared for us in that Heaven of unending bliss.

To breathe the atmosphere of this Psalm is to walk with God, and to be assured of no fear and no want, so that in all circumstances, pleasing or painful, living or dying, we may say, “The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want.” Ah, yes! “My!” “Mine!” “The Lord is MY Shep­herd.” Let the heart say “MINE;” for unless He be such, all else is of no avail that is said of “green pastures” and “still waters,” or of dwell­ing “in the house of the Lord for ever,” or of that immediate glorious hope of His soon coming again, in prospect of which we now leave this meditation in the hand of the blessed Spirit, to use it as He pleases, to the praise only of the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ.


1.  The Jews commonly called Him “the hanged One,” and said that “His judgment was perdition.”

2.  Which a pious antiquity calls a fifth Gospel.—ADOLPHE MONOD.

3.2 Peter ii. 11-12, also Jude 10 to end.

4.See Papers for the Present Time; “The Millennium,” &c.

5.RUTHERFORD.

6.Two passages in the Word are important on this—Rom. x. 9 (Revised Version), ,If thou shalt confess with thy mouth Jesus as Lord,, &c., and I Pet. iii. 15, ,Sanctify in your hearts Christ as Lord., Many take Christ as their Saviour, who are not subject to Him as their Lord.

7.VISCOUNTESS  POWERSCOURT.

8.MAJOR MALAN.

9.MRS HARINGTON EVANS.

10.MRS MARY WINSLOW.

11.SIR E. DENNY.

12.While this page was in the press, the beloved writer of these lines passed through the valley “in great peace.”

13.TREGELLES, Revised Translation of the Revelation.

14.DR HORATIUS BONAR.

15.COWPER.

16.“Myrrh is the living juice of the tree, which yields its drops through bruised and broken parts, like blood from the veins, or tears from the eyes.”

17. Observe, not candles. It is said of the Son of Man that He “walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks,” so near is He to them, and so observant of them. The word “candle­stick” ought to be translated “lamp-stand.” The distinction as setting forth the Christian is important; for a candle only burns what it has in itself. It is self-supplying and self-consuming; but a lamp is supplied by oil that is poured into it from without. The supply being continued, the lamp continues its burning, as in the tabernacle of old; but the candle bums itself away, and accordingly soon goes out. The distinction may appear small, but indeed it is not so.

It has been well said that “the lights and perfections of the sacred Word are only discovered by a clear attention to the jots and tittles. Attention to the words and grammar of the Holy Ghost is the telescope and microscope by which the great things and the very little great things of God are discovered.”—NEWBERRY.

18.J. G. BELLETT.

19.See Brides of Scripture, descriptive of the Bride, the Lamb’s wife.

20.It has been well said, ,God has set forth two peoples on the earth—the Jew, who is under judgment now, but for whom grace is in store; and the Gentile, who is now under grace, but for whom judgment is in store.,—R. MAHONY.