(February 8, 1964 P.M.)
is the last meeting of these series this week, it will be
necessary for us to do a little reviewing of what has
been said. Not very much, but just enough to be able to
go on from where we left off last night. But before we
come to that I want to take you back to the Old
Testament. Those of you who are familiar with the Book of
Daniel, will remember that in the second chapter of that
book we have the account of the dream of Nebuchadnezzar,
the king of Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar had a dream in which
he saw a great image. The different parts of the body of
that image from the head downward to the feet were made
of different materials. The head was made of gold, and
the other parts of the body were made of other materials,
until the feet and the toes were made partly of iron and
partly of clay.
Nebuchadnezzar woke up from his dream, he wondered what
it all meant, for people in that part of the world always
believed that dreams meant something. Perhaps you do
that. If you have an unusual dream, you wonder what it is
all about. The next morning, you tell somebody about it,
hoping that they will be able to explain your dream.
Well, that is what Nebuchadnezzar did. He called all his
wise men, but he did not tell them his dream. Now he
said, 'You tell me what is the meaning of this dream.'
But none of them could give the interpretation.
last Daniel was brought in and Daniel prayed to the Lord,
and the Lord explained the dream to Daniel, and Daniel
said this: 'These four parts of the image represent four
great kingdoms. The head of gold is great Babylon, your
kingdom, Nebuchadnezzar. After you will come another
kingdom, and then that will pass away, and another will
come; and then that one will pass away, and another one
will come.' Daniel told him the names of most of these
kingdoms, but the last one he did not name. Well, Daniel
explained all that, and then he said this: 'In the days
of those kingdoms, the God of Heaven shall set up a
Kingdom. And that Kingdom, unlike all these others, will
never pass away.' The Kingdom of the God of Heaven - what
the New Testament calls the Kingdom of God, or the
Kingdom of Heaven - and, beloved, we are living in the
days of that Kingdom.
is what we have been talking about this week. We are just
going to leave that for the present and come back to
where we were last night. It is rather impressive that in
the days of Daniel, Daniel said that the God of Heaven
would set up a Kingdom even while Israel still existed.
The kingdom of Israel had not yet passed away at that
time; although Israel was in captivity in Babylon, it was
not finished with. A remnant did come back to Jerusalem,
and rebuild the city and the temple, and for some four
hundred years Israel went on. It was having a bad time
with these other kingdoms. But what we have been seeing
is that when the God of Heaven did begin to set up His
Kingdom, the kingdom of Israel began to disappear. This
great kingdom of Israel was also set aside by the God of
Heaven. And what we have been seeing is that the God of
Heaven brought in a new Israel, a heavenly and a
spiritual Israel, to take the place of the older one. The
God of Heaven, Who had dismissed the others, now brought
in His new spiritual Israel. We, who are the Lord's true
born-again people, are the new Israel. And this Kingdom
is an everlasting Kingdom. It will never pass away.
Everything is being done in the world to destroy it. The
world powers are seeking to destroy this Kingdom. But as
surely as those other four kingdoms had gone, and the
Kingdom of the God of Heaven remains, so they are doomed
to failure. THIS KINGDOM IS FOREVER.
are coming over again to where we left off last night. We
come into the Gospel by John. I think you know that John
wrote this gospel toward the end of the first century of
this dispensation. All the other apostles had gone to be
with the Lord. John had had a long life, and through long
years, he had meditated much upon the relation between
Jesus and the Old Testament. John knew the Old Testament
very well, and through all those years of his life, he
thought about it. More and more clearly, by the light of
the Holy Spirit, he saw the connection between Jesus and
the Old Testament. John knew that the old Israel of the
Old Testament had been rejected by God, and he knew that
Jesus had come to form a new Israel.
Israel was not something of this world. It was a heavenly
Israel, a spiritual Israel. Everybody knows that the
Gospel by John is the most spiritual of all the Gospels.
John had come to see that the new Israel embodied all the
spiritual principles of the old Israel - although the Old
Testament Israel had been put away. God's thoughts in
Israel were eternal thoughts and John saw that all those
thoughts of God, which were represented by the old
Israel, were now taken up by Jesus in a spiritual way in
a new Israel. John saw that when God began with the old
Israel, He appeared as the God of glory unto Abraham.
"The God of glory appeared unto our father
Abraham," and that was the beginning, the first step
of God toward the old Israel. Then John took that over
into the new Israel, so that when he began to write his
Gospel, he spoke about this coming of the God of glory. "And
the Word was God... and we beheld His glory" (John
began the new Israel where God began the old. And then he
knew that God promised Abraham a son, and through that
son He would make a great nation, and through that son
all nations of the earth would be blessed. He introduced
a new idea. This was not creation. He was not creating a
new man; He was bringing one to birth. There is a
difference between being created and being born. The new
idea was sonship. Isaac was to be Abraham's son.
begins in his first chapter all about the Son, God's Son.
And then God was going to have a new Israel of sons in
His Son. So John says, in His birth. Isaac was on
supernatural ground, he was "Which were born,
not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the
will of man, but of God." And then John knew
another thing about the beginning in the Old Testament.
He knew that the God of glory had appeared to Abraham, he
knew that He had spoken about the son, and then he knew
that that son was quite impossible along natural life.
Isaac could not be born in the natural way. Probably you
know all about that. We simply make the statement. Isaac
was a natural impossibility. Nevertheless, Isaac was
takes that over, and he knew quite well that Jesus was
not born in a natural way. JESUS WAS THE RESULT OF A
DIRECT INTERVENTION OF GOD. Isaac was a miracle. Jesus
was a miracle not on natural ground. Jesus was on
supernatural ground from His birth. But then we saw that
even Isaac had to go into death and resurrection. You
know the story quite well. I am having to take it for
granted that you know your Bible. If you do not know what
I am talking about, go back and read your Bible (Genesis
22). You will find it all there. Isaac had to be offered
as a sacrifice, and then as in a figure raised from the
is a rather impressive thing! You are not far into the
Gospel by John in the first chapter before this Son of
God comes to the river Jordan. He comes to be baptized by
John the Baptist. You know the meaning of baptism; it is
a figure of death and burial and resurrection. But the
impressive thing is this: John has been talking about the
eternal Son of God, through Whom all things were created.
And now, before he had got much further, he calls Him "The
Lamb of God." There you have it repeated, "Behold
the Lamb of God, Which taketh away the sin of the
world" (verse 29). The Lamb has to be slain.
When you come to the Book of the Revelation, the Lamb is
in the midst of the throne, and all are worshipping the
Lamb (Rev. 5). This great Isaac has gone into death and
must just stop in this course for a moment to make the
application. You see, we have said that believers in this
dispensation are God's new heavenly Israel. What is it
that makes us members of this heavenly Israel? In the
first place, it is that we have seen the greatness of the
Lord Jesus. We are able to say in a measure, "We
have beheld His glory." Every true believer
ought to be able to say that I have seen at least
something of the greatness of the Lord Jesus. You may not
put it in these words, but this is what it means,
"that the God of glory has appeared to me."
"I have seen the Lord of glory." We may put it
in different ways, but that is what it amounts to.
Something of the greatness of the Lord Jesus as God's Son
has been revealed in our hearts, that is the first step
toward the new Israel. I wonder how many of you in this
hall tonight can say, I am a member of that Israel; I
have seen the Lord! The Lord of glory has appeared in my
heart. If not in the same words as Paul, you could say
the same thing. "For God, Who commanded the light to
shine out of darkness, has shined in our hearts, to give
the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the
face of Jesus Christ" (II Cor. 4:6). That is the
beginning of the new Israel.
thing is, we have become sons of God through faith in
Jesus Christ. We are amongst those of whom it can be
said, our real spiritual life is not by the will of man,
it is not by natural blood. We have not inherited it from
anybody. We have not got it because some people persuaded
us into it. Not by the will of man, not by natural blood,
but we have been born of the Spirit of God. We are
children of God by the will of God. Now all that is very
simple and very elementary, I know, but we have not
thing in this new Israel is this: You and I have got to
come through death unto the ground of resurrection. We
have got to know something of the power of His
resurrection in our life. What Paul calls, "being
in the likeness of His resurrection" (Rom. 6:5).
This is a very important thing, not only at the beginning
of the Christian life, but this is something that has got
to characterize the new Israel all through history. Just
look at the history of the people of God during these two
thousand years. Before God finally destroyed that great
Roman Empire, that Roman Empire massacred ten million
Christians. How many Christians there must have been?
That mighty iron empire determined to destroy this new
Israel, that was the first great historic baptism into
the death of Christ. You wonder that anybody remained.
But it was the Roman Empire that was destroyed. The only
thing you know about that Empire today is to go to the
city of Rome and see a few ruins.
where is the heavenly Israel? It is everywhere in the
world. You see, this Israel is indestructible. But since
that first baptism into death, it has had many others,
right up to our own day. The heavenly Israel has been
baptized into death in China, has been baptized into
death in Russia, and it is the same in other parts of the
what is going to be the end of this? It is a great pity
that those people who do this do not read history; if
only they would read history, this is what they would
see. The Jewish nation tried to kill Christianity and the
Jewish nation has been set aside. The far greater Roman
Empire determined to kill the heavenly Israel, but it is
the great Roman Empire that has been killed. The heavenly
Israel just goes on and many other great powers have
tried to do that. But where is the heavenly Jerusalem?
This spiritual Israel just goes on. THE GOD OF HEAVEN HAS
SET UP A KINGDOM WHICH SHALL NEVER BE DESTROYED.
baptism into Christ's death and resurrection is not only
a historic thing, it is not only a thing in history, it
is a thing in personal experience. The Lord, again and
again, takes us into an experience of death - an
experience when we feel that the end of everything has
come, and it looks as though we are never going to get
through. It may be for one reason or another, but there
it is. It looks as though we are at the end. And that has
happened to us many times. But we are still alive. We are
still going on.
Apostle Paul spoke of his own experience of this when he
said, "I would not have you ignorant, brethren, of
what befell us in Asia. We were pressed beyond our
measure. We had the sentence that it was death. We
despaired of life, that we might not trust in ourselves,
but in God Who raiseth the dead" (II Cor. 1). When
the apostle wrote that, that was an experience in the
past, and he was now writing in resurrection. Sometimes,
it is like that in the work of the Lord. Things seemed to
go right into death. We feel that the end has come -
there is no more. We go through deep experiences like
that. Why does the Lord allow this? Why has He allowed it
in the history of the Church? Why does He allow it in His
own work? And why does He allow it in our own personal
why did He allow it in the case of Isaac? You remember
where we finished last night, we said that it was in
order that everything should be kept on supernatural
ground, This new Israel is a supernatural thing, and it
has got to be kept on that ground. Because resurrection
is something which belongs to God alone, and it has got
to be said about everything that is God's. "This
is of God, and not of man." Our lives have
got to bear the mark of God in them. While we have
strength, we feel we can go on. But sometimes the Lord
takes away our strength, and we feel that we can go on no
more, and then His strength comes in. His strength is
made perfect in weakness. Resurrection of the Lord Jesus
is not only something which happened 2000 years ago. It
is something that has got to be continually happening in
all of us. The Apostle Paul had lived a long life. He had
lived a very full life. I doubt whether there was anyone
else who had a fuller knowledge of the Lord than he did.
But right at the end of that life, he was saying, "That
I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection" (Phil.
3:10). Right to the end, there is still more in the power
of His resurrection for us to know. That is the nature of
the new Israel. You see how John is following the course
of the old Israel in a spiritual way?
if I have time just to take you one step further. Do you
notice the next thing that comes in John's Gospel? You
will find it at the forty-third verse of the first
chapter. Now note how true to principle John is keeping.
At that point Jesus is calling His twelve apostles. He is
saying to this one and to that one, "follow Me."
He is selecting twelve. That is the number of the
tribes of Israel. So, He is constituting the new Israel
on the principle of twelve. But as He is doing this, He
calls one man, and that man's name is Nathaniel. One of
the others brings Nathaniel, and as Nathaniel is coming
and Jesus sees him, Jesus says, "Behold an Israelite
indeed, in whom is no guile! Behold an Israelite indeed,
in whom is no Jacob!" Nathaniel said, "Master,
how do You know me?" Jesus said, "Before your
friend called you to come, I saw you under the fig
tree." Why had Nathaniel gone under the thick fig
tree? He wanted to pray, and he did not want anybody to
see him. He wanted to be alone, quiet, where no one would
see him and disturb him, and so he went under the fig
tree. Jesus said, "I saw you when you were under the
fig tree." It must have been a very thick fig tree,
because Nathaniel was so surprised, so surprised that
anybody could have seen him that he said, "Master,
Thou art the Son of God; Thou art the King of
Israel." Now listen to what Jesus said to him.
"Because I said, I saw you under the fig tree, do
you believe? You shall see greater things than that.
Afterward thou shall see the heaven open, and the angels
of God ascending and descending upon the Son of
with Abraham, we went to Isaac, now we come to Jacob.
Everybody knows the story of Jacob's dream - how he
journeyed and when the sun went down, he lighted upon a
certain place, and he went to sleep, and he had a dream.
He saw a ladder set up on the earth. The top of it
reached into heaven. And he saw the angels of God
ascending and descending upon the ladder. And the Lord
was above the ladder. And the Lord spoke to Jacob. Now
John has taken that over also. Perhaps we would be better
to say the Holy Spirit is taking it all over. So we come
to Jacob. Where did everything of God begin with Jacob?
What is the great thing about Jacob? There are many
things about him that we can forget for the moment. And
we just remain with this dream because Jesus put His
finger upon that. He said to Nathaniel, "an
Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!" And then to
him He said afterwards, "Thou shalt see the heavens
open, the angels of God ascending and descending upon the
Son of Man."
course, that was all type and figure. We will see in a
minute what it meant. We have got to go back to the Old
Testament again. You know right from the day when Adam
sinned in the garden, the presence of God was shut and
closed to him. All through the Old Testament, God is so
separate from man that man cannot come near God.
Everything in the Old Testament says to man, "Keep
out! Come not near, this is holy ground." That court
around the tabernacle said to man, "Keep out. You
cannot come in here, only the priests can come in here,
you keep out." You see, man was excluded from the
Presence of God. It was a terrible thing to come into the
Presence of God. If ever anybody felt that God had come
near, they would have been afraid for their life. Heaven
was closed. The old Israel had a closed heaven.
"Thou shalt see the heaven open." A WONDERFUL
FEATURE ABOUT THIS NEW ISRAEL IS THAT IT HAS AN OPEN
HEAVEN IN JESUS CHRIST.
Nathaniel come to experience what Jesus said he would?
You open your New Testament at the beginning of the Acts
of the apostles. You will read the names of the people
who were gathered together after the resurrection of
Jesus. It says now there were so-and-so, so-and-so,
so-and-so, and Nathaniel. Oh, Nathaniel is there! And
they were all gathered together in one place. And
suddenly there came from heaven the sound as of a mighty
rushing wind. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit
(Acts 2). The heaven is open. Why? Because Jesus has gone
through and opened it. And on that day, and from that
day, they lived under the open heaven. That is, they had
a freeway through to God. No longer were they kept
outside. The Holy Spirit says now you can come with
boldness to the Throne of Grace. It is no longer a closed
door to God. The heavens are open. That is the
inheritance of the new Israel.
we are having a little bit of the experience of that
today. We have an open heaven here tonight. We know
something about the Lord speaking to us from heaven in
the Lord Jesus. God's messages are coming to us from
heaven. I trust that is true. That is our great privilege
as the new Israel. Now I have got to stop. And I only got
to the first chapter of John, and that goes right through
the whole Gospel of John to the end. All that which is in
that wonderful gospel has to do with this new spiritual
Israel. We are brought into a wonderful thing through the
Lord Jesus, to the God of glory, to the wonderful miracle
of spiritual sonship. We are learning to know the power
of His resurrection and we are coming to experience more
and more of the meaning of the open heaven. This is not
just Bible teaching. This is wonderful spiritual
experience. IT IS ALL THE INHERITANCE OF THE CHILDREN OF
THIS NEW ISRAEL!