(February 7, 1964 P.M.)
last night by pointing out a very great truth. It is:
that all the teaching and all the works of the Lord Jesus
when He was on earth related to one of the greatest
crises in history. That crisis was the removal of Israel
as a nation from the eyes of the Lord for at least this
whole dispensation. That crisis had already begun when
Jesus commenced His ministry. And it was sealed and
established when Jesus finished His ministry. The nation
of Israel, which had held the central place in the
interest of God in this world for many hundreds of years,
was then being set aside. The prophets had foretold that
that would happen. And it began to happen when Jesus came
into His ministry in this world. When John the Baptist
appeared in the wilderness, and the multitudes went out
to him, he saw the Pharisees and the Sadducees coming.
These were the representatives of all Israel. And he said
to them, "You generation of vipers, who has warned
you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth fruits
meet for repentance: and think not to say within
yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father:' for God is
able to raise up children of Abraham from these
stones." That is only another way of saying, that
those children of Abraham were rejected.
Now this is a very
important thing when you read the four Gospels.
Everything that is in the four Gospels relates to this
great crisis. On the one hand, there was the rejection
and the removal of a people that had been called the
people of God for many centuries. As we said last night,
that is what Israel as a nation has been through all
these nearly two thousand years. But that is only one
side of the story. Jesus had come to do a new thing. And
by His teaching and His works He was showing what the new
thing is. And that new thing has been going on all
through these two thousand years. It is going on today.
It is going on in this very hall. The thing which Jesus
began to do - and is still doing - was and is the
formation of a new, heavenly, spiritual Israel. While
that nation which bore that name is removed from God's
sight, God never gives up His idea. And Jesus came to
take up that thought of God about a new Israel. If you
carefully read the Gospels, you will see that Jesus took
up all that was of God in the old Israel, and brought it
over in a spiritual way into a new Israel. For instance,
Israel of old was God's Kingdom in this world. Amongst
the kingdoms of this world, Israel was God's Kingdom.
That is dismissed with Israel.
But the idea of the
Kingdom is introduced again with Jesus Christ in a new
way. Jesus said to Israel, "The Kingdom of
Heaven shall be taken from you, and given to a nation
bringing forth the fruits thereof." So the
first words of Jesus, when He began to preach, were:
"The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand."
This is a new Kingdom that He is building. This Kingdom
is a spiritual and heavenly Kingdom. Jesus said, "My
Kingdom is not of this world." But that does not
make it any the less real. Indeed, this SPIRITUAL
KINGDOM is a far more real thing than the old
temporal kingdom. But, you see, the first thing that is
taken over by Jesus is God's intention to have a Kingdom.
Matthew prefers to call it "the Kingdom of
Heaven," John prefers to call it "the Kingdom
of God." We will not take the time to discuss
whether there is any difference. The fact is, that it is
a Kingdom. It is God's Kingdom. And it is a Heavenly
Then you notice that the
old Israel was built upon the twelve sons of Jacob.
Twelve is the number of representation. Those twelve sons
of Jacob represented the whole nation. Jesus chose twelve
disciples. They were a representative company of the new
Israel. Moses had seventy elders that went up into the
mount with him. Jesus chose seventy apostles and sent
them out two by two.
Israel of old had a
tabernacle. John says, "The Word became flesh, and
Tabernacled among us." Jesus is the Tabernacle of
the new Jerusalem. It is in Him that we meet God. And in
Him all the spiritual meaning of the old tabernacle is
come to fulfillment. Israel of old had a high priest. The
New Testament teaches us that Jesus is the High Priest of
the new Israel. Israel had the great sacrifice, the whole
burnt offering. Jesus has become THE GREAT SACRIFICE.
Israel had a great altar. The Cross of the Lord Jesus is THE
GREAT ALTAR of the new Israel. And so we could go
on. But, I think, we have said enough to indicate that
Jesus came to form a new heavenly Israel.
Now, when God began the
formation of the old Israel, He began with Abraham. And
Stephen tells us that the God of glory appeared unto
Abraham when he was in Ur of the Chaldees. Do you notice
the title given to God? "The God of glory
appeared." That was the beginning of the old
earthly Israel. The beginning of the new spiritual Israel
is on the same principles. You open your Gospel by John,
at the first chapter, and after that wonderful
description of the Son of God, John says, "We
beheld His glory, the glory as of an only begotten of the
Father." That is where the new Israel began.
The God of glory appeared. Jesus said, "Your
father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it."
We do not know exactly when that was, or where that was,
but somehow Abraham saw the day of Jesus Christ and was
glad. That is always a mark of glory. Where there is
glory, there is always rejoicing. "The God of
glory appeared unto our father Abraham" (Acts
7:2). And it is as though the Apostle John was singing a
song when he opened his Gospel: "We beheld His
glory, the glory as of an only begotten of the Father,
full of grace and truth." I am surprised that there
is not a smile on every face in this hall, "full
of grace and truth." Surely that is glory.
Surely that is something to make us rejoice. The Grace of
God has appeared in Jesus Christ. But we must get on.
Will you just look for a
moment at those first verses in John's Gospel? "In
the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God. The Same was in the beginning with
God. All things were made by Him; and without Him was not
anything made that hath been made. In Him was life; and
the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in
the darkness; and the darkness overcame it not." And
verses eleven through thirteen: "He came unto His
own, and they that were His own received Him not."
THE WORD WAS GOD. And they that were His own
received Him not. "But as many as received Him, to
them gave He the right to become the children of God, to
them that believe on His name: which were born, not of
blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of
man, but of God" (KJV; NASV). So the new Israel is
introduced. It is formed of those who received Him, and
to whom He has given the right to be the sons of God.
That is something better than was ever true of the old
Israel. Here is introduced the greatest idea that has
ever been revealed from heaven, and the idea is that our
God is to have sons of God. First of all, you see the
Son, and then the sons, and the sons with the Son form
the new Israel.
Now I want you to turn
to another part of the New Testament. It is, listen to
me, it is the Book in the New Testament which embodies
the whole of this truth of the new heavenly Israel. If I
were to ask you, 'What is that book?' I wonder what you
would say. What book in the New Testament gathers up into
itself everything about the new heavenly Israel? It is
the Letter to the Hebrews. It is interesting that it has
that name, because it is all about the new Israel. Will
you please open your Bibles at the Letter to the Hebrews?
We have seen that John introduces the new Israel with a
presentation of the Son of God. Now this great letter to
the Hebrews begins with a presentation of the Son of God.
It has eight wonderful things to say about Him, but let
And we begin with God.
God is always the beginning. Well, what about God? "God,
having of old time spoken unto the fathers in the
prophets by divers portions and in divers manners, hath
at the end of these days spoken unto us in His Son."
Now, what does that mean? I am trying to be very simple
for the sake of the young people. That just means this:
that God has gathered up all His old ways of speaking
into One Person. In old times, He spoke in various
portions and in different ways. Now, at the end of those
times, He has gathered it altogether in His Son. That is
the first thing about the Son. He is the final and the
full speech of God. After this, God will not speak again.
At the end of these days, He has spoken, and that is
final. Reject the Lord Jesus, and God has no more to say
to you. But in His Son, God has everything to say. He
gathers together all His speech in His Son. Christ is
final, and Christ is full, as to the mind of God.
I do not know whether
you have the saying in Chinese, or in the other languages
which you represent, but in England, we sometimes speak
about the person and say, he or she is speaking their
mind. That is, they are letting you know what they are
thinking. Now in that way, in His Son, God has spoken His
mind. And having spoken His mind in His Son, He has said,
'That is all I have got to say to you.' Well, that is the
first thing. God has spoken unto us in His Son.
The second thing: "Whom
He appointed heir of all things." As we said
yesterday, at some time God said, 'I appoint My Son to be
heir of all things.' And when God makes an appointment,
nobody can set it aside. So He gathered up His created
universe, and put it into His Son as His Son's
inheritance, "Whom He appointed heir of all
The third thing: "By
Whom He made the ages." The Son was employed by
the Father for the making of the ages. That is what John
said at the beginning, "through Whom He made all
things." The Son was the Father's instrument in
creation. "All things were created by Him." Of
course, we usually speak about God as the Creator, and we
sometimes overlook this fact that God did it through His
Now, the fourth thing:
"Who being the effulgence of His glory, and the
very image of His substance." That simply means
that the Son is the full expression of the Father. Jesus
said, "He that has seen Me has seen the
Father." He is the full expression of God.
The fifth thing: "And
upholding all things by the Word of His power."
That is a tremendous thing to say of anybody. There is
ONE PERSON in this created universe Who is upholding all
things by the Word of His power. The world cannot go to
pieces until Jesus Christ says the time has come for
that. Let there be as many atom bombs as man can create.
Everything is going to hold together until Jesus says it
can go. He upholds all things by the Word of His power.
The next thing, number
six: "When He had made purification for sins."
Out of glory, into creation, and then redeeming creation
by His blood, making purification of sins. My, that could
hold us for many hours, but we have to go on.
The next thing, number
seven: "When He had made purification for sins,
He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high."
He took His seat at the right hand of God, and that is
where He is now, at the right hand of the Majesty on
high. The right hand is the place of honor. The right
hand is the place of power. And that is where the Son is.
He is seated at the right hand of the Majesty on high.
Now, number eight:
"Having become so much better than the angels."
He is Superior to all the angels. Now, of course, I would
like to stop to put in about an hour on angels. But you
just go through your Bible, and see how mighty they are.
What tremendous things one angel could do. A mighty army
came against Israel once, and they besieged the city, and
they vaunted themselves and spoke of how great they were.
No one had ever been able to stand against them. All
right, you mighty Assyrian armies. It says that God sent
an angel, just one angel. And when men arose in the
morning, the whole mighty army was dead. And the captain
of the army went home without his army. Only one angel.
Angels are mighty beings. And they are a mighty host.
Jesus said, "If I were to ask My Father, He
would send Me twelve legions of angels" (Matt.
Now, here it says, that
Jesus is Superior to all the angels. Why have I said all
this? Not just for a Bible study. Of course, it is all
very interesting. But we have one object. We are talking
about this new heavenly Israel. And this new heavenly
Israel, which the Lord is now building, rests upon the
greatness of the Lord Jesus. Until we understand
something of the greatness of the Lord Jesus, we cannot
understand what we are called to as members of this
heavenly Israel. What a wonderful Israel this must be, if
it is built upon such a One as He is! If all this that we
have been saying about Jesus, the Son of God, is the
foundation of Israel, how great a thing this Israel must
Now, Christ has this
place by God's own act. Earlier, we quoted Matthew twenty
one, and verse forty three: "The kingdom of
Heaven shall be taken away from You, and given to a
nation bringing forth the fruits thereof." Now,
if you look at that verse in Matthew twenty one, you will
see that it follows something very impressive. It follows
this quotation from the Old Testament: "THIS IS THE
STONE WHICH THE BUILDERS REJECTED, Which has become the
Head of the corner: this is the Lord's doing, and it is
wonderful in our eyes." Israel rejected This Stone,
and Israel was rejected in turn. But This Stone was
appointed Head of the corner by God. And, therefore, Head
of the corner He will be. He is the Headstone, the corner
of this new Israel.
Now my time is
practically gone, and I have not gotten anywhere. I
wanted to take you further along this line of the
correspondence between the new, and the old, on spiritual
principles. I will try to get something more of this
important thing into the next ten minutes.
We are saying that the
new spiritual Israel follows in principle the line of the
old Israel. We have seen that the beginning of the old
was in the appearing of the God of glory. So it is with
the new. But what was it that the God of glory said to
Abraham? "I will make of thee a great nation."
"In thy seed shall all nations of the earth be
blessed." What was the first seed of Abraham? It was
Isaac. Isaac was a miracle in his birth. He could never
have been at all but for a miracle of God. But this is
our point: Isaac must go down into death and come up on
the ground of resurrection. Why was that? Why did Isaac
have to go into death? And I think everybody here knows
the story of Isaac. When God said to Abraham, "Take
now thy son, thine only son, whom thou lovest, and offer
him a sacrifice." Isaac had to go into death. And in
type, Isaac had to be raised from the dead. Why was that?
You see, God's principles are eternal. The means that He
uses may change from time to time, but His principles are
always the same. And this going down into death of Isaac,
and being raised as from the dead, was in order to keep
everything on supernatural ground. His birth was
supernatural, but now his life work was to be
supernatural; it must all be on God's ground only.
Now, I expect, I think I
know that there are some doctors here tonight. You can do
a lot for people while they are alive. And we thank the
Lord for all that you can do for us while we are alive.
We say, 'While there is life, there is hope.' And we
never give up until the last breath has been breathed.
But when that last breath has gone out of the body, all
the doctors have to walk out. You might bring all the
doctors from all over the world into that room, all the
cleverest doctors that there are, they may all have
wonderful names and reputations, but when they look at
that body, they all have to say, 'We can do nothing. All
our learning and all our knowledge and all our skill is
as nothing. He is dead. Nobody can do anything at all.'
Now you see, if that one is really raised from the dead,
that is something more than natural. That is
supernatural. And only God can do that. There is no other
being in this universe who can do that. And if anybody is
raised from the dead, that is God's work only. That is
why Isaac had to die and be raised. Because this Israel
that was coming through Isaac had to be something of God
only. Nothing of man about this. All man's education, and
all man's skill, is put out. "Which were born, not
of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of man, but
of God." Every member of this new Israel has to be
on that ground.
Dear friends, the
deepest reality about a child of God is the most
wonderful thing in this universe. The deepest thing is
this, that there is something there in that life which
only God could do. No man, or number of men, can make a
child of God. There is nothing in this universe that can
make a child of God. Only God can make a child of God. So
that this new spiritual heavenly Israel is something
which in its very beginning is on supernatural ground. We
are a wonderful lot of people. We do not look like very
much. Of course, I do not mean to insult you, I include
myself. We do not look like very much. In this world, we
are not very much. But God has in this world the most
wonderful thing that He has done. He has a people which
are of the result of His own unique Divine work. That is
the beginning of the new Israel.
You see, we are right
back with Abraham and Isaac as the beginning of this
thing. God has brought that over into this new Israel.
That is the beginning. Oh, that the Lord would give
us spiritual understanding about this. I had thought
that I might be able to say something about how true this
is of the Christian life after its beginning. But if the
Lord wills, I have got another evening tomorrow, and we
can go on then.
Oh, but we have said
enough surely to make it very clear that Christ is doing
a very wonderful thing. Our name is Israel. That means a
prince with God. May the Lord help us to live up to
our name, recognize the great dignity that has been put
upon us, and to understand the wonderful thing that He
has done in us. The Lord bless you.